High School Runner’s Disqualification Controversy

A very common accessory that got this Kansas girl DQ'd from her track meet.

James LeBeauby James LeBeau

Everyone knows the saying, no good deed goes unpunished; but in the case of Russell (Kansas) High student Miranda Clark, trying to do the right thing not only got her punished, it also got her disqualified.

The 'dq' happened after she ran the 1,600 meter race at the Ellsworth Invitational. Right before the match, Clark noticed that she had forgot to remove her earrings, which were the result of a recent piercing. Knowing that the Kansas High School Antivities Association forbids the wearing of jewelry in a race, Clark put tape over the earrings and ran her race.

In attempting to abide by the rules, however, Clark only managed to make things worse for herself. After the event ended, a track official approached her and inquired as to what was under the tape. When she told him, the official then disqualified Clark for the entire meet after he judged she was exhibiting “unsportsmanlike conduct”. Clark was scheduled to run the 3,200 meters later in the day.

The ironic thing about this disqualification was that if she had run the race with the earrings visible, she would have only gotten a warning about it. But by covering them up, she violated a bigger rule and earned a harsher sentence.

"The state should be encouraging runners, not making it difficult to participate," Clark, who finished the 1,600 meters in 10th place, told Prep Rally. "If KSHAA is insisting on being so picky with what is allowed to be worn at sporting events, they need to be consistent. I think it was completely unfair for me to be disqualified and rude to call me unsportsmanlike. I was definitely not trying to hide my jewelry. I was just trying to follow regulations the best I could."

After the entire event, the Clark family emailed KHSAA assistant executive director Mark Lentz about why Clark was disqualified for 'unsportsmanlike behavior' when she was doing her best to conform to the rules. In his response, Lentz said that the teen should only have been disqualified if she had been warned about wearing the earrings earlier in the event. Lentz stressed the importance of "preventive refereeing"; warning athletes like Clark that they are at risk of a violation before they actually start an event.

In the response, Lentz failed to address whether the official's decision to ban Clark was right or wrong, but agreed that it should have been done on the basis of "unsportsmanlike conduct" because it was related to jewelry.

The lack of consistency in this response is what is most frustrating for Clark's father, Marty Clark, who attended the meet and is still unsure as to why his daughter was disqualified.

"I have been attending track meets for years and there is not a meet that I attend that a person does not make a comment about the inappropriate uniforms that are allowed, but I have yet to hear a comment about tape on an ear or an athlete having an earring," Marty Clark told Prep Rally "Miranda was wrong for having the jewelry in her ear and she knows that, but I feel that to be disqualified from competition because they are putting tape on it is a little extreme. This is just high school sports, we should be promoting and encouraging our young people to compete and be active, not discouraging.


James LeBeau is a sports contributor for CraveOnline Sports and you can follow him on Twitter @JleBeau76 or subscribe on Facebook.com/CraveOnlineSports.