With the Public School System/McDonald’s All Schools Track and Field Championships still suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, moving the annual competition to the Fall season has become an option.
“That’s a possibility, but events may be limited and we have to concur the decision with our partners—the Public School System, the private schools, and McDonald’s,” said Ramon Tebuteb, president of Northern Marianas Athletics—the lead organizer of the All Schools.
Tebuteb added there are also other factors to consider like the age group requirement and the season itself because NMA usually reserves the months of October and November for cross-country races. As for the age group concerns, new rules may have to be changed since cut-off dates would be the first quarter of the school year instead of last.
“These are the challenges we will be facing if we will consider having the track season in the Fall season. Again, we have to sit down with our partners before any decision is made. Right now, we have to follow the government’s directive to refrain from holding any event that gathers a crowd. Our priority is our student-athletes and coaches and the community’s safety,” Tebuteb said.
“We can’t say that the track season is canceled and we can’t make any plans as we have to wait for the development in this pandemic,” the NMA head added.
Had it not been for the COVID-19 crisis, the All Schools track meet should have been getting ready for the tournament proper. In the past, NMA used to hold qualifying events in March and April and schedule the championships in May.
Qualifiers are divided into elementary division (U7, U9, and U11 age group), middle school (U14), and high school (U18). The elementary group competes in the 60m, 100, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1,500m, and 4x100m relays runs, long jump, and softball throw, while middle and high school participants do the same run races plus 3,000m, 4x100m and 4x400m relays, long jump, and discuss, javelin, and shot put throws.
Saipan student-athletes vie for slots in the May tournament, while Rota and Tinian are given outright berths in the finale.
The All Schools meet is NMA’s grassroots program and has produced talented athletes who represented the CNMI in international tournaments, such as the World Championships and the Oceania Area Championships. The event has also served as a training ground for young athletes wanting to don the Commonwealth colors in regional competitions like the Micronesian Games and Micronesian Championships.