Clerical mistake might cost reigning hurdles champ Layton chance to defend at WPIALs

Sewickley trib logo Paul Schofield

Saturday, May 11, 2019 | 6:41 PM


Rick Layton is heartbroken.

The third-year Waynesburg High School track and field coach made a clerical error that will cost his son, Daniel, a shot at defending his WPIAL Class AA title in the 110-meter hurdles.

The WPIAL track and field championships are Thursday at Slippery Rock for the first time. The WPIAL moved the event from Baldwin to Slippery Rock, which is in District 10, because of an apparent disagreement with the Baldwin administration.

The southern half of Butler County is in the WPIAL, but the northern schools are in Districts 9 or 10. Slippery Rock High School, which was once a member of the WPIAL, participates in District 10.

But the more important issues occurred Wednesday when Layton thought he pulled his son from the 300 hurdles and left him in the 110s. But, he said, apparently the computer click didn’t work, and now the fastest hurdler in Class AA won’t be competing in the 110s.

“When I found out the mistake, I called the WPIAL and talked to track committee chair Tom Norris, and he said nothing could be done,” Rick Layton said. “I would hate to see an athlete denied a chance at winning a state title. My mistake is costing Daniel.”

Layton said he would be upset even if it wasn’t his son. His mistake hurts even more.

“Basically Tom told me things are final,” Layton said. “We’re having a hearing Monday at the WPIAL, and we’re hoping things will be changed.”

Daniel Layton will compete in the pole vault, 300 hurdles and with the 1,600 relay team. He wanted to be pulled from the 300 hurdles so he could help the relay team.

The WPIAL eliminated qualifiers two years ago and went to a new system where coaches enter the best times or distances.

Connellsville athletic director Rich Evans is a member of the track committee. He said the coaches wanted the new system because it would qualify the top athletes in each event on pereformance. The top 24 athletes in Class AAA and top 16 in Class AA qualify for the finals.

“There are some things we still have to tweak,” Evans said. “One thing is having coaches inserting times and distances on a timely basis. They are waiting to the end when they should be doing it earlier.”

Rick Layton said he doesn’t have a problem with the new system.

“I was told by Tom that Daniel isn’t the first athlete to be omitted from competing,” he said. “I would resign or be suspended as long as my athlete wasn’t penalized. Daniel deserves to be in the event.”

Daniel, a senior who will attend William & Mary, is the top pole vaulter in Class AA.

Last year, Layton made the PIAA finals in the 110 hurdles and had the fastest time. But he hit the first hurdle in the final and ended up finishing eighth.

“Daniel has been looking forward at getting another shot at winning a state title, and now he probably won’t get that chance,” Rick Layton said.

Hempfield coach Ron Colland said he spent extra time Tuesday making sure all of his athletes were in the right events. He said last year Mt. Lebanon had a girl entered in an event she wasn’t planning to run, and she couldn’t be scratched from the event.

“Because of a rule, if she decided to scratch from the event, she would have been scratched from all of her events,” Colland said.

The other concern by the coaches was the new venue.

Norwin coach Brian Fleckenstein said never has been to Slippery Rock, so he doesn’t know want to expect.

“We’ll have to leave a lot earlier,” Fleckenstein said. “I’m sure things will be fine. The athletes will just have to get used to the facility.”

Evans said the move to Slippery Rock was because it was the only facility that could handle the meet.

“You need a place that is capable of handling the field events,” Evans said. “I knew there were other sites, but Slippery Rock was the best. It has two of everything to hold field events.”

As for Daniel Layton, he is hoping for a miracle. The rest of the athletes from the WPIAL will be eager to see how the new venue handles the meet.