The controversy and wait around deciding the ultimate outcome around the fight that occurred between members of Miami Northwestern and Rockledge track and field teams after the FHSAA 3A Region 4 Meet at Traz Powell Stadium in Miami last Thursday has reached some form of a resolution.
While the three other classifications in the FHSAA in 1A, 2A, and 4A knew who was qualified for the state meet this past weekend, the 3A classification teams, coaches, and athletes were all left in limbo while waiting on investigations by the FHSAA, officials from both schools, and others into the brawl that occurred following the conclusion of 3A Region 4. The FHSAA initially disqualified both schools entire boys track & field squads from competing in the FHSAA State Championships coming up at University of North Florida on May 17th through 20th.
At least in terms of the official FHSAA state qualifier list which was released on Thursday afternoon for the 3A classification, all of the qualified athletes and the relays originally disqualified for Miami Northwestern have been reinstated and can compete in the state meet while the 4x400 meter relay and other athletes from Rockledge not directly involved in the fight were reinstated such as state qualified distance runner Devin Makousky.
However, two members of Rockledge's 4x400 meter relay squad as well as two other teammates still remain disqualified in Lorenzo Bell Jr., Marquel Dean, Jaylen Heyward, and Taeshaun Mallard.
There were three athletes disqualified from Northwestern, but none of those athletes actually qualified for the state meet or even competed in the regional meet as well so their disqualifications will not have any impact on the potential team finish of Northwestern at the state meet.
The news with the release of the 3A state qualifier lists illicit a strong reaction out of many members in the Florida high school community including coaches and parents with vocal publicly believing that Miami Northwestern avoided any real punishment while Rockledge on the other hand was punished unjustly when in comparison of the two parties involved in the altercation.
There were many prior to the decision though that were hoping the FHSAA would grant some leniency as well and reinstate athletes from both teams who were not involved or engaged in the fighting after initially doing a blanket DQ for the whole squad, so the state association was stuck in a tough situation trying to uphold their sportsmanship conduct code in appropriately identify and punishing those who violated those rules while being fair to those who did not.
Video evidence and eye witness accounts showed members from both teams as aggressors in the fighting, but the shear number of athletes and unfortunately adults as well involved was overwhelming on the Northwestern side in the fight to optically not provide a good look in in the melee.
One of the disqualified Rockledge athletes in Heyward was knocked unconsciously out by members of Miami Northwestern and needed medical attention. Heyward was a member of the Rockledge 4x400 meter along with Lorenzo Bell Jr, but as currently stands will not be competing in the state meet. Their 4x400 meter relay will certainly not be at full strength at the state meet, while their top sprinter and individual state title contender Rios Prude Jr. was reinstated.
flrunners.com will provide further updates on the situation if any new information is provided.