Officials have a tough task at hand where they have to make a split second decision when it comes to athletes breaking rules. The boys 1600 at the NCHSAA 4A State Championships had a questionable disqualification of eventual winner Connor Lane who edged out Cameron Ponder Lane's official time was not shown on the scoreboard, but Ponder was clocked at 4:20.64.
Originally it was stated that when Lane made a move from the back of the field to the front that he ran through athletes pushing his way through the field. This was a false statement on the violation, as it was actually at the start saying Lane had Illegal Contact impeding other runners off the line. Watching the race video doesn't seem to have actually incurred this violation and nothing truly looks abnormal about the beginning of the race. The photo above by Phil Ponder was taken after the start line where the violation incurred. Lane didn't shoot to the front immediately after the gun, he actually went straight to the back of the pack.
Three officials around the start area all made the same call at the beginning of the race and we very well could be missing something. But it seems like it was something very minor and did not designate a disqualification.
Lane's coaches protested the event, but was the protest was to no avail and the decision did seem pretty much final after it was called. The protest was on the judgement call of the official was incorrect and that Lane did not impede anyone. With the meet director not being able to review photos or video of the race to see if Lane did have an infraction it brings up the issue of why is that a rule? If Lane didn't wrongfully impede anyone and their is evidence that supports that why can't it be used? Other sports like basketball have adapted to review issues with the clock or who the ball went out of bounds on and even if someones shot was a three pointer or two.
So do you blame the officials for possibly making the incorrect call? No. It's a tough situation and officials are doing the best job they can on making a split second judgement call. The real problem is with the process on how these incidents are able to be reviewed, because to me it seemed like the protest was likely a lost cause from the start.
One of the harder things to watch though was when Lane crossed the line and celebrated high-fiving teammates and coaches celebrating his third individual state title. But then looking on the results on the board to notice his name was not atop the list and realizing that something was likely wrong not knowing what he did wrong. It certainly caused mass confusion from the athletes who competed and the majority were furious to heat about the ruling. Especially the winner Cameron Ponder. He knew the two boys just had left it all on the track and that Lane had rightfully won. It was certainly a bitter-sweet day for Ponder who won his first individual state title, but not in the way he wanted to. Ponder was a true-class act in his interview about the race found below.
Lane ended up being able to compose himself to double back for a 3200 state title where he ran 9:14 dominating the race. But all of the hard work put into earning a state title and having it taken away from you is what pained him the most.