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Beachwood High School runners miss registration deadline for state indoor track championship

The athletes are not taking part in the big meet because their coach, Willie Smith, didn't register them in time for the event.

BEACHWOOD, Ohio — The Ohio indoor track and field championships are set for this weekend at Geneva's Spire Institute. But several athletes from Beachwood High School, some of whom are among the best in the state, won't be able to participate.

The runners are not taking part in the big meet because their coach, Willie Smith, didn't register them in time for the event. 

Smith acknowledges it was his responsibility to do so, but says this year the registration dates were different than he expected. The Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches (OATCCC), which organizes the meet, says coaches were sent several emails and were given information at an annual meeting held in January that Smith attended.

According to the OATCCC, Smith called the organization on Sunday, February 27, asking for an exception to the rule. "He (Smith) admitted that he missed the deadline and promised not to tell anyone if the OATCCC would let his team in after the deadline so it would not appear that OATCCC offered him any favors. He also offered as a solution that the OATCCC at least allow his boys’ team in and not his girls’ team," the OATCC wrote in a statement.

The bottom line is the OATCCC is not budging on adding the Beachwood athletes to the competition. They also say 326 other schools and nearly 1,700 athletes were able to register on time.

"The OATCCC is saddened that Beachwood High School was not registered to compete in the 2022 Indoor State Championship Meet as a result of Coach Willie Smith not taking the responsibility to know and confirm the registration deadline," the OATCCC wrote in a statement to 3News. "The request of Coach Smith to make an exception for his team and to sacrifice the Beachwood girls’ team was simply unethical, improper and does not coincide with the values of the OATCCC."

You can read the entire statement from the OATCCC below.

On Thursday, Beachwood Mayor Justin Berns and State Rep. Kent Smith sent letters to OATCCC organizers pleading for them to let the kids participate.

"Their omission from the competition due to an administrative error which was committed without malice or disrespect is not, in my view, a sufficient justification to deny their participation. In short, a clerical error should not stand in the way of these athletes’ ability to compete," Rep. Smith wrote.

"Your decision punishes them for a mistake that was beyond their ability to impact the situation," Berns added. "They are pawns caught between the OATCCC and their coach, and the collateral damage to their potential futures, their already imperiled mental health and the subtraction of their ability to bring pride and honor to their school and larger community, will exact a painful toll."  

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