2024 MSHSAA Track & Field Season is Here!

The 2024 Missouri high school track and field school season kicks off on Monday, February 26 with the first day of practice.

While not as mild a winter as last year, which felt like the warmest and with the least amount of snow and ice in 30 years, this year's winter has been pretty comfortable. That has meant more time to train outdoors, and more indoor meets planned for and competed in by Show-Me State preps. That should mean even better spring outdoor seasons. 

There are many exceptional athletes and talented teams that could produce special performances this season which should keep fans attentive. The biggest of which may be the Cardinal Ritter girls, who are seeking an incredible 4th consecutive state title. The Lions will try to do so in just their 4th season in the highest classification, Class 5. 

This year will and has seen numerous changes. The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) has made several adjustments that will impact teams and athletes. Class 3 schools will see their season shrink by one week. They will compete at Districts, Sectionals, and State on the same timeline as Class 1 and 2 schools with District meets on May 4, and Sectionals on May 11, before the Class 1-2-3 State meet on May 17-18. Unfortunately, that gives coaches and athletes one less week to get additional district qualifiers, get healthy, and fine-tune before and amidst competing for post-season hardware.

The change will free up space for coaches at the state meet at Licklider Track and Field. Many large, Class 4 and 5 schools' coaching staffs have greatly expanded in recent years, making things tight around the Jefferson City facility. Part of the growth of staff is a result of the addition of the javelin and para events. 

Another change is at the top, at the sport administrator position. After a couple of years of overseeing track and field and cross country, along with football, Lou Mazzocco has gone back to overseeing just one sport per season. While still overseeing football, he added wrestling duties to his plate in the winter while leaving the cross country and track and field duties to MSHSAA newcomers.

Doug Fessler oversaw cross country in the fall while Stephanie Turner took over in track and field. Turner arrived from South Calloway High School, northeast of Jefferson City, after teaching and coaching track and field there. 

It may be the first time, but it's the first time in at least 30 years that the MSHSAA administrator for cross country and track and field is not the same person. It doesn't seem ideal as most of the people involved; coaches, officials, and athletes in cross country are also involved in track and field.

Having one person overseeing both and having some connection and contact through both the fall and spring competition seasons as well as the leadup to those seasons between MSHSAA staff and school staff or specifically coaches, seems like an advantage. Having one administrator build relationships with coaches over a greater period would seem to build trust and confidence that might allow for quicker resolution of issues and provide the opportunity to make improvements, making things better and easier for all involved. 

The education of an MSHSAA administrator into the intricacies and best practices of a particular sport that they may not have actively been involved with recently can take a while. That education usually comes from the MSHSAA director of officials for the sport and the state event co-director in events that have them. and coaches that the administrator gets to know and trust. 

Stephanie Turner steps into the role having been a track coach, so that transition should be smoother than most. Only time will tell if having different administrators for cross country and track and field will be a detriment. 

As for Mazzocco, track and field participants may hear his voice again soon, as he could return to his role of announcing the awards at the state track and field championships, which he did for years while an assistant athletic director at Jefferson City.

2024 MSHSAA Track and Field Important Dates

February 26 -- First Day of Practice

March 7 --Deadline to withdraw from classification processing for post-season

March 8 --Deadline to complete coaches' online rules review and test

March 15 --First day of possible competition

March 15 -- Class and District Assignments released

April 15 -- District Submission Window Opens

April 29 @ 4pm -- Class 1,2,3, Additional District Qualifier Submission Deadline

April 30 Class -- 1, 2, 3 District Entry Deadline

May 2 @ 12pm -- Class 1, 2, 3 District Pass List Deadline 

May 4 -- Class 1, 2, 3 District Meets

May 6 @ 4:00 p.m.-- Class 4, 5 Additional District Qualifier Submission Deadline

May 7 @ 12pm -- Class 1, 2, 3 Sectional Verification Deadline

May 7 @ 12pm -- Class 4, 5 District Entry Deadline

May 9 @ 12pm Class 4, 5 District Pass List Deadline

May 9 @ 12pm -- Class 1, 2, 3 Sectional Verification Deadline

May 9 @ 12pm - Class 1, 2, 3 Sectional Pass List Deadline

May 11 -- Class 1, 2, 3 Sectional Meets

May 11-- Class 4, 5 District Meets

May 14 -- Class 4, 5 Sectional Verification Deadline

May 15 @ 12pm -- Class 1, 2, 3 State Verification Deadline

May 16 @ 12pm -- Class 4, 5 Sectional Pass List Deadline

May 17-18 Class 1, 2, 3 State Track and Field Championships

May 18 Class 4, 5 Sectional Meets

May 21 @ 12pm Class 4, 5 State Verification Deadline

May 24-25 Class 4, 5 State Track and Field Championships