CALN >> Darby resident Thelma Davies went through a roller coaster of emotions during the final day of the District 1 Track & Field Championships Saturday.
In the end, though, the sophomore from Girard College will get the chance to defend the PIAA titles she won a year ago in the girls Class 2A 100- and 200-meter dashes, but not without a lot of drama and intrigue that started with a communications snafu.
The strange turn of events began when District 1 officials sent out an email to the athletic directors at all the Class 2A schools stating that there would only be a final in the girls 100-meter dash because there were not enough entrants to warrant running a preliminary or semifinal round.
The email, though, was wrong. The 100 hurdles were scheduled to go directly to a final, not the 100 dash. District 1 officials quickly realized the error and sent out a second email to let the schools know of the mix-up.
Girard College coach Diamond Woolford said he received the first email, but not the second, and scheduled his team to arrive around 10:15 a.m., which was when the 100-meter semifinal was slated to start.
“There was no point to get here crazy early if she wasn’t going to run until 12:45,” Woolford said. “That’s why we got here when we did.”
Upon arrival, Davies, Woolford and the Cavaliers were surprised to learn that there was a semifinal and it was about to start. Davies scrambled to get to the starting line, but arrived just as her heat went off. Under meet regulations, Davies was disqualified for missing her starting time.
Woolford pleaded his case with District 1 track chairperson Ron Lopresti, who told Woolford that he could appeal the decision to the jury of appeals, which Woolford did. After a discussion that took more than 30 minutes, the jury of appeals ruled that Davies should not be penalized for a communications mix-up.
The problem was how to rectify the situation without punishing the eight runners who had already qualified for the final. The jury of appeals decided that Davies would run a semifinal alone and if her time was good enough to qualify for the final, she would advance, but be placed in Lane 9 so the positions of the other eight runners would not be affected.
“The precedent we used was the Olympics in Rio,” Lopresti said. “That’s when (Team USA’s) 4 x 100 team got interfered with and was allowed to run all by themselves, which they did and had the fastest qualifying time. But they were put in the worst possible lane, in that case Lane 1, and they won the gold medal out of Lane 1.”
Davies easiliy topped the other qualifying times and was put into the open lane next to Lane 1. She won the title in a meet-record time of 11.65 seconds.
“I was about to cry because you have to win districts to qualify for states,” Davies said. “I was relieved they were able to work something out.”
Davies’ euphoria did not last long. Two events later, Girard College won the 4 x 100-meter relay only to be disqualified when Davies was called for receiving the baton before the designated exchange zone.
“From my perspective, my body was in the zone, but my hand, I guess, wasn’t and that’s what disqualified us,” Davies said. “As a team captain I wanted to take them to states to experience what I experienced last year. I was disappointed that we can’t do that.”
Davies received a little consolation when she won the 200-meter dash later in the day to lock up a second spot in Shippensburg.
“I wasn’t looking forward to the 200 because I felt like I let my team down,” Davies said. “And now I feel I need to go and represent Girard College well and do the best I can.”