Staying In-State

April 5, 2018

The Blue Springs School District in Missouri denied an exemption that would have allowed high school student-athletes Victor Mugeche and Victoria Findley to compete in the Arcadia Invitational on April 7th in California. While the Missouri State High School Activities Association does not forbid athletes from competing out of state, school districts can choose to enforce their own policies.

According to an article for MileSplit USA, Blue Springs senior Mugeche finished with the eighth-fastest 2-mile time during the indoor track season and Blue Springs South senior Findley finished with the 27th-fastest 3200m time. Blue Springs District Activities Director Mark Bubalo told MileSplit USA that this decision isn’t just based on the cost, but it also takes into consideration missing class time and competing as individuals instead of as a team.

“And it’s just about traveling that distance to go to a high school track meet,” said Bubalo. “We have plenty of high school track meets right here in Missouri. We didn’t feel like in terms of what our philosophy is in high school sports, we didn’t feel like they should attend a meet in California when the rest of their teammates are competing in Missouri.”

“We think both Victoria Findley and Victor Mugeche are outstanding athletes who represent their schools well and can do that in Missouri,” he continued. “I don’t feel a national track meet competition is in the best interest of our student-athletes.”

In 2014, Megeche’s brother Stephen ran in the Arcadia Invitational. Although Bubalo was not involved in this decision, he explained that the main difference between the two situations is most likely that the invitational gave Stephen, an unsigned junior, the opportunity to gain a scholarship. Both Mugeche and Findley already have Division I scholarships to the University of Missouri and did not need further exposure.

“The important part of the decision here, the decision for our district is, at what point do you put restrictions on high school athletes in order to keep them in school and part of the team?” adds Bubalo. “What are you trying to emphasize in high school athletics? The competition and the team. They get that right here in Missouri. We feel like it’s important to go with that.”

For the Blue Springs School District, decisions based on this policy are made on a case by case basis, and will continue to be made this way in the future. Bubalo also explained that the district will keep an open mind for each one.

“Our foundation of our decision is what’s best for our programs, both financially and in terms of what’s best for the student-athlete when it comes to missing class time and participating with their teammate[s] and other students,” said Bubalo.

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