Detailing The Bizarre 3200 Race, And Decision, At Iowa State

By Cory Mull - Milesplit USA

Update: On Monday, the IHSAA decided to re-award Anderson with a gold medal, while others received changes in their official medals, per KTIV

Original: A bizarre state championship race got weirder on Friday when officials of the Iowa High School Athletic Association made the decision to revise results from the previous day to award a runner who completed just seven laps of an eight lap race the Class 1A 3200m Championship. 

Of course, that determination stemmed from an unfortunate mistake made by an official on Thursday.

At the conclusion of the race's sixth lap, the official rung the bell, which always signifies just 400 meters left in a given race. 

George Little Rock's Joe Anderson, who was working his way through a tactical race, was a little confused. His competitor, Gehren Catholic's Will Roder, begun to make a move. Heading into the state championships, both boys' PRs were within three seconds of each other. Anderson owned a best of 9:50.86, while Roder had gone 9:53.38.

"Two to go, he starts taking off like it's the finish," Anderson said. "So I go with him." 

That confusion only got amplified when the stadium PA treated the lap as it were the race's last. 

"The announcer was going with it,  saying it's the final 200m,"  Roder told KMEG14 news. "I picked it up and sprinted, crossed the line, and I thought the race was over." 

While Roder made his final sprint, Anderson kept pace. He later said that, while he made a similar move to the finish, he had counted the laps and knew there was one to go. 

Ultimately, the IHSAA's miscalculation impacted the rest of the competition, as many athletes stopped after seven laps or were adversely effected by the stop-and-go moment. 

Anderson did go on, and was named as the Class 1A champion. But a day later, the IHSAA decided to make an unprecedented decision and handed the title to Roder, explaining that because the eighth lap was so altered, the true champion could only be determined by what appeared to be the bell lap. 

A statement by the IHSAA, first published in the Des Moines Register, read: "Race officials determined through examination of Finish Lynx finish line images that most of the race's participants stopped at the conclusion of their seventh laps. Those stoppages negatively affected the eighth lap and race officials ruled the race completed after seven laps." 

Rather than re-run the race a day or two later -- the Iowa State Track and Field Championships were held across three days at Drake Stadium in Des Moines -- the IHSAA instead accepted its mistake, apologized and moved forward.  

While disappointed by the final outcome, Anderson kept it in perspective. He later posted his thoughts on Twitter. 

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