Little Olympics reviews close race and calls it a tie

Pete Garcia, The Sports Guy

Maybe it was the excitement of the moment or the roar of the crowd in Memorial Stadium for the Little Olympics Monday afternoon, or maybe it was just flat-out competitiveness. Either way, at the instant the starting gun went off to signal the start of the kindergarten girls' 50-yard dash, Schallert's Kayla Hernandez and Noonan's Hanah Rodriguez sprinted down the field just as fast as their little legs could take them.

Fifty yards later, the two little girls finished the first race of the afternoon in a photo-finish.

At that moment, Hernandez was declared the winner with a Little Olympics record time of 8.60 and Rodriguez was given second. But that race was close. Real close; so close that Little Olympics coordinator Flynn Dennis wanted another look. He wasn't trying to spark controversy either. He simply wanted to make sure, for the little girls' sake.

"The worst thing for a child is to feel injustice," Dennis said. "No one had said anything and none of the parents had even brought it up, but it was just so close that I wanted to make sure we got it right. We would have done it for any race."

Days after the event, he went to the Alice High School TV studio to view the official video of the event. However, mother nature got the best of the TV crew that day and the humidity of the afternoon fogged the camera making it impossible to video the first race. Dennis found another video of a parent lined up directly with the 50-yard finish line. A frame-by-frame review revealed exactly what suspected. The race and its finish were close; so close that it was impossible to say one girl finished in front of the other.

The only right thing to do was declare it a tie. That's what Dennis, Alice ISD's parental involvement program coordinator, did.

Rodriguez was given a first place blue ribbon and her name was added next to Hernandez's in the Little Olympics record book.

No angry parents. No coaches screaming foul and no controversy. It simply ended up with two little girls owning the same record for running the fastest 50-yard dash in the 34 years of the Little Olympics.

Hernandez and Rodriguez's record was one of four set Monday.

In the boys' second grade broad jump, Orlando Espinoza set a record with a leap of 6-2. Ironically, earlier in the event, the previous record of 5-11 was broken by Schallert's Andres Garza with a jump of 6-1.

Hillcrest third graders Mikaela Martinez and Shelby Miller broke the sack race record of 8.43 with a time of 8.40. Martinez also set a record in the third grade 75-yard dash with a time of 9.80, shattering the old record of 10.38.

pete.garcia@aliceechonews.com