The South Carolina Track and Cross Country Coaches Association will use chip timing at two high school meets this fall.
The association agreed to try chip timing this fall and in 2013 at the Coaches Classic and at state. The decision was made at the association’s summer meeting in Greenville.
Chip timing is used at the Eye Opener in Spartanburg, since the mid 2000s, according to Eric Cummings, president of the association and cross-country coach at Riverside High School.
Cummings said over the past few years the coaches have received a number of proposals from chip timers to move to chip timing, but many were reluctant to take that step primarily because of its cost.
“Even though everyone now uses chip timing for road races, many of the coaches were uncomfortable with it,” Cummings said.
Cummings said he worked with Ed Boehmke, longtime coach at Eastside, who has handled timing at both the Coaches Classic and state.
“Ed and I sat down and worked out the numbers, looking at what we spend to do the Coaches Classic and state meet as far as timing and setting up workers,” Cummings said.
With that dollar amount in hand, the two then met with Jimmy Stephens, owner of Event Timing Solutions LLC.
“Jimmy’s numbers were very close to what we were already spending on timing,” Cummings said.
Stephens, who started timing meets in the mid-80s while attending USC, said that while chip timing is more expensive than traditional recording methods, “when you look at the manpower and the result production, it is definitely worth it. No chutes, no pull-tags, just cross the line and keep moving; then instant results.
“There is also the capability to do live, instantly posted unofficial results,” Stephens said.
He said runners would use what’s called a B-Tag that’s embedded in each racing bib. The tag is triggered when a runner crosses over the mat with the antennas enclosed. The runner’s time and place is automatically transferred to the scoring software.
Race results are available as soon as the last competitor crosses the line, Stephens said.
“The B-Tag is more in line with NCAA rules,” he said, with a runner’s torso used in establishing a runner’s place in a race.
Stephens said his company first used the B-Tag at the Eye-Opener and now uses it at several collegiate-level events.
Cummings said any expansion of chip timing beyond the Coaches Classic and state would be left up to the coaches and their schools.
Another highlight of the SCTCCCA summer meeting was the appearance of Jim Ryun, former Congressman from Kansas and Silver medalist in the 1500 meters at the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City.
Cummings said he started inquiring last December about Ryun possibly coming to South Carolina.
“The process was unreal because he has always been someone I have looked up to,” Cummings said, adding that a number of current high school coaches in the state recalled watching Ryun compete at the Mexico City games.
While in the Upstate, Ryun dined with a small group of state cross-country coaches and spoke to around 350 students from a dozen high schools across the state.
“It was a tremendous event for the association and the state,” Cummings said.