Wentland calls out USATF for failure to explain HJ record rejection
Gwen Wentland-Mikinski competed for Kansas State University in the 1990s and was a two-time USATF national indoor champion. So Olathe nationals was a perfect venue for going high. (She even got a profile on USATF.) The result? A national record 1.77 jump (5-9 3/4). Her celebration was soured in December when she learned the mark wasn’t ratified as an American age-group record вЂ” despite having been set at our marquee event. “I guess someone in USATF Masters threw out my record,” Gwen wrote me this week. “I do not know the inner workings of USATF Masters, but the USATF Web site shows Patricia Porter, not me, as the W40 American outdoor record holder. Maybe someday I will find out what happened to the record I set at Olathe.” I wrote to USATF masters records chair Sandy Pashkin and received this reply: “I am not going to look at email until after 12/25/2013 Please resend after 12/25 Thank you.”
In March, a blue-ribbon committee of masters athletes and observers chaired by world-record sprint champ Steve Robbins issued a report aiming to fix our broken records process. Had it been in place this summer, Gwen would have known the status of her record much earlier.
The Robbins committee said:
The current process provides no feedback to athletes when records are rejected. In fact, athletes typically only learn if their record has been approved when it is announced (or not announced) at the annual USATF meeting in December. Athletes deserve to know the ongoing status of any record application. As such, the committee recommends the establishment of a website that lists all record submissions, their pending status, and an explanation if that application has been rejected. We further recommend all record submissions be posted and reviewed within 90 days of receipt. If rejected or in question, a specific explanation must be posted. In cases of rejected applications, the athlete should have 45 days from the date of posting to appeal the decision to a 3-person review panel.
Of course, records set at masters nationals normally are automatically accepted (except in the case of sloping fields or timing equipment failures). So Gwen has a right to be angry.
Gwen may be guessing that age verification is the holdup, but since she’s gotten no explanation, she’s left to write me:
This past July I participated in my first Masters Track and Field Championships. I competed in the women’s 40-44 high jump eclipsing Trish Porter’s record of 1.76m by clearing 1.77m. To the delight of family, friends and other track athletes watching we all celebrated my new American Record and moved the bar up the world mark which I did not clear.
Recently, the new records were posted following the USATF Annual Meeting. Much to my surprise, my record did not appear on the official list. I guess someone in USATF Masters threw out my record. I do not know the inner workings of USATF Masters, but the USATF Web site shows Patricia Porter, not me, as the W40 American outdoor record holder.
Throw out my record at the USATF Nationals? Well this really got me going. So I started asking if this had happened before and I found out it has happened on several occasions with another female high jumper from Alaska and Alisa Harvey in 1500m.
One of the reasons masters records have been thrown out in the past because of lack of age verification.
The last time I checked, the entry into the masters meet meant that I needed to submit age verification in the form of a passport or birth certificate or I could not enter the meet. Besides if there is any question of my age by USATF they only need to check their own website that states my DOB at April, 29, 1972.
I am also age-verified through the Coaches Registry as I recently served as the 2012 Olympic Games coaching staff for jumps and combined events.
So then I wondered if the officials did not know about the record, but that could not be the case since they announced it over the PA and the officials were the ones who gave me the marks for the AR and WR when I was high jumping.
I am really вЂњup in the airвЂќ about why my record was not ratified since it was produced at the Maters Championships. There is a rule that states if a record is broken at the Masters Champiosnhips it is therefore a record.
Chopped liver or not, I wanted to bring this to light because I realize how hard all of these athletes train to compete at this meet. It is a challenge to set a PR or break a record, let alone a national record. Of all the meets to call into question the legitamacy of a mark, the national championships would be the last one I would suspect.
Being involved with masters track and field is a truly inspirational experience. I witnessed some of the most gutsy perfomrances I have seen in track & field. I would hate for people to assign a second rate look at this genre of track & field because it may be the most amazing groups in our sport.
Sandy Pashkin owes Gwen an explanation, if not an apology.
By this time next year, the USATF annual meeting in Anaheim, California, will have considered the Robbins committee proposals. Changes are long overdue. But so is the issue of Gwen’s Olathe record.