Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Exiled to the JV: The Jakub Zivec Story

Today's Star-Tribune has THIS story about Grand Rapids senior Jakub Zivec, a Czech national who, because he attends his Minnesota high school without being part of a recognized international exchange program, is not allowed to compete in varsity competition.

Zivec is definitely varsity material -- he has track PRs of 3:57.07 for the 1500 meters and an 8:19.35 for 3000m and recently ran a 5K cross country race in 14:53, albeit in JV competition. He hoped to run unattached at the Griak Invitational this weekend, according to the Michael Rand story, but instead will watch from the sidelines.

Zivec came to the United States this summer to live with his uncle, biathlon coach Vladimir Cervenka, in the hopes of improving his English and attaining a athletic scholarship to an American university. Zivic plans to return to the Czech Republic in January.

What's Your Take? After reading the story, tell us what you think of situation. Is the Minnesota State High School League's rule barring Zivec and athletes like him from varsity competition in the best interests of the sport and its athletes?


Coach Moorhead said...

The same thing happened during the '88 season. I was fortunate enough to coach the current German Jr. National Champ for XC and the 5K in Track while he attended St. Louis Park HS. He was not on a recognized exchange program, so he as not eligible to compete. Similar scenario as Zivec, he was 17, had yet to graduate from high school, had a host family, but was not on a "MSHSL approved" program.
He did get to compete unattached at Swain and didn't count in the score. As this was pre-season for him, I asked that he run with my #'s 1 & 2 till the 2-mile.
This kid was fast!!!

Charlie said...

I'm still forming my opinion on the situation, but I'm puzzled by the "only-JV" aspect of the rule.

Seems like an odd middle ground to put an athlete in.

-- Charlie

Coach Moorhead said...

My guess is the MSHSL is taking the Pandora's Box viewpoint. What if elite caliber foreign students start filtering to MN to gain exposure for potential college scholarships. It's the old home grown vs. simply visiting dilemma.

At the time my athlete wasn't allowed to compete even JV. He was however a remarkable asset to my team, as his presence helped the team immensely.

rd said...

I'm not sure on how I feel about him being able to run at state/sections, but I think that he should be able to run at the Griak this weekend. If he didn't run as a member of the Grand Rapids team, he wouldn't affect team scoring, and it would be great for all athletes in the race to be able to run against a runner of international caliber. I don't really like how some foreign exchange programs are okay, but others not. If somebody is attending school in MN, whether they're with a program, or coming to live with family (which is what Jakub is doing), they should abide by the same rules and regulations. All I have to say is that if he was eligible to compete at state, that record would be toast!

Chris said...

It seems like the rule is designed to prevent scholarship-seeking foreigners from moving to Minnesota before their senior year and winning everything. As a spectator I would love to see Jakub race--and more than likely defeat--the top Minnesota talent. However, if I were a Minnesota high school senior with a shot at a state title who had been training hard every day for four years for the opportunity, I would not want to see that chance go down the drain.
I agree with rd that even if he were banned from section/state competition, why not let him run an invitational? A clarification--is it the MSHSL that is prohibiting him from running unattached this weekend or is it the Griak meet officials not allowing unattached competitors? It seems like the high school league would not have much to say about unattached running (plus, he's ineligible anyway, what more could they do to punish him?).

Bottom line: if there is a 17-year old running in this state with 3:57/8:19 credentials, I want to see him race.

terrence said...

It'll be interesting to see where he ends up next year...

Chad said...

Maybe he'll choose NOT to go to the U of M BECAUSE the MSHSL league wouldn't let him run.

Unknown said...

Apparently Jakub is back in the game and will attend 3 Time National Champion Florida State University !!