The Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Assocation indoor track championships are being held Friday afternoon and evening at the Prince George's Sports and Learning Complex. Mount Saint Joseph, a 12-time champion expected to contend for this year's private-school league title, is not there.
Mount Saint Joseph follows Baltimore County Public Schools in terms of school closings. Because schools were closed in Baltimore County on Friday, Mount Saint Joseph was closed as well. School policy also states that when schools are closed, all athletic activities are canceled — even if it's a league championship.
"It's an unfortunate decision, and I do feel very disappointed that our athletes can't compete," principal Dave Norton said. "We have a good track team, and I think they would have done well."
When asked if the school had considered making an exception, Norton said there was some talk among the school's staff about doing so. In the end, though, they opted to follow the policy and the Gaels stayed home while the rest of the MIAA teams competed.
"For schools to change their policies for a track meet is not the way to go," said Norton, a longtime baseball coach at the school before taking over as principal. "I consulted with my administrative team, and we decided that the safety of the students should be our top priority. I was a coach for many years, and I know the disappointment."
Norton was asked why other area schools were allowing their athletes to participate, while Mount St. Joseph was not. He said the circumstances aren't the same for every school.
"Most of those schools are in Baltimore County, while we are in the city," said Norton. "They may have different policies. Frederick Road, outside of our campus, is down to one-and-a-half lanes in some places. Our campus, as far as snow removal is concerned, is in good shape. Some of the surrounding streets, however, are not. If I can prevent even one of our students from getting hurt, then I'll do that. That's my role as a principal."