Daniels | Let's reinvent the Honor Roll Meet

Apr. 26—A few years ago, amid the early throes of the COVID-19 pandemic and amid all the uncertainty, a veteran high school athletic director uttered a statement that has stuck with me.

"High school athletics are all about experiences for the student-athletes," the AD said. "It's why we spend so much time with it. And I'm sure that plays a factor in the articles you write at the News-Gazette, right?"

Right. High school athletics are still the most pure form of athletic competition these days.

Rare is it for the majority of high school athletes to go on and earn a college scholarship. Even less go on and play their favorite sport professionally.

We chronicle these athletes' stories all the time in The News-Gazette. Their achievements. Their successful endeavors.

Like we've done with The News-Gazette Honor Roll track and field meet for the better part of four decades.

The pandemic paused the 2020 and 2021 versions of the Honor Roll Meet before we brought it back at the last minute in 2022. But after several discussions with area administrators, coaches and our own staff, we are again pushing the pause button on the Honor Roll Meet in 2024.

With hopes to bring it back, better than ever, starting in 2025. Meaning we need your help.

We would like a new date for the meet. Traditionally, it has taken place the Monday before the IHSA girls' state meet, which also falls before IHSA boys' sectional meets across the state. In recent years, the date has presented conflicts with area teams not wanting to have their top athletes compete at the Honor Roll Meet given the proximity of the IHSA postseason events.

Totally understandable. So that's the main reason for a pause this year is finding a new date for next year.

We also need a facility to host the meet. Urbana High School graciously filled in and hosted the meet starting in 2015 after an 11-year run at the University of Illinois.

We'd like to keep the meet in Champaign County so it is as centrally located as possible for the 40-plus high schools in our coverage area, but have been unable to secure a facility that is willing to spend the time, money and resources to pull this off. Also understandable because it is such a big commitment.

This is an opportunity for the area to reinvent how the Honor Roll Meet is held. We value your input and feedback, and look forward to bringing the Honor Roll Meet back in 2025.

Matt Daniels is the sports editor at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at 217-373-7422 or at .