As a handful of Chautauqua Striders milled about Strider Field on Tuesday afternoon, each taking the easy-going and, sensibly, injury-free approach to training - the 2013 USA Track & Field Region 2 Junior Olympic Championships are just two days away, after all - program director David Reinhardt pulled two of his athletes aside to discuss the finer points of crossing the finish line.
At this event, which features some of the best young athletes from the Niagara, Three-Rivers, New Jersey and Mid-Atlantic regions, every second counts; scratch that, every thousandth of a second counts. So if one, or both, of those two athletes to whom Reinhardt was speaking - on Tuesday it was Henrry Tapia of Jamestown and DaShawn Jackson, a Pittsburgh native who recently moved to Falconer - can get a shoulder, a nose or a torso across that line just a millisecond faster than the competition, it could mean the difference between the event ending in disappointment or an exciting trip to the USATF National Junior Olympics in Greensboro, N.C., later this month.
Normally, which way to lean across the line isn't the kind of thing an athlete has to worry about much, the timing just isn't accurate enough.
Members of the Chautauqua Striders participated in a practice on Tuesday at Strider Field in preparation for this week’s USA?Track & Field Region 2 Junior Olympic Championships. Above, Henrry Tapia runs a leg of the 4x100-meter relay, while, below, Summer Haight, left, and Hannah Seiders show their form in the hurdles.
See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photos by Rob Tucker
But the Striders are special - special because they're one of the few organizations in the area, or even the state, that has the ability to employ one of the most technologically advanced timing systems available.
"It's called the FinshLynx Timing System," Reinhardt said. "It's used at colleges, at the Olympics and the World Championships. It takes pictures (at the finish line) every thousandth of a second and then takes another (and another) right after that, pancaking them so that while it looks like (competitors) are running through the finish line, it's actually only their time running at the line. Then we're able to look at the picture, click on (an athlete's) torso going across and get their time."
"It's one of the things that sets us apart from everyone else."
And it's that ability that has helped to make the Striders, and Strider Field, attractive hosts to events like the one taking place over the next few days; an event that will draw some 1,500 athletes, and their many family members, to the area.
"The Striders invested in the system many years ago when we got into the business of running track meets," Reinhardt said. "Since then we've been able to upgrade and keep up with the technology so that we can bring these kinds of meets here."
Combined with another system that Reinhardt calls the "High Tech Meet Manager," which allows for the easy organization of every athlete into age group, event, etc., the Striders will be able to post results online and on the Strider Field scoreboard in what is essentially real time.
"The two systems share information," Reinhardt explained. "We'll take the start list from the High Tech Meet Manager, time (the race), save it, process the results and have them posted within minutes of the race's finish.
"The times will be going up on the scoreboard while races are going on. That's the interactive part of the facility - everyone sitting in the stands won't need a stopwatch, you can see the results instantaneously."
Live results will be available by following the link at www.chautauqua-striders.org.
This rare ability has led those who work the timing system for the Striders to a great many places, among them are Syracuse University, the University at Buffalo, Edinboro and every high school invitational from here to Buffalo (and beyond).
"Our springs and summers are very busy," Reinhardt said with a laugh.
The next four days, especially.