WESTFIELD -- The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association heard the uproar about its decision to cancel the sectional swimming tournaments.
Between Olympians expressing their support for the athletes on Twitter and the countless emails and phone calls from coaches, parents and athletic directors, how could it not hear the criticism?
On Monday, the MIAA decided to do something about the controversial ruling. The MIAA released a statement Monday afternoon saying that all sectional qualifiers will be eligible to compete in this weekend's state meet.
"I think that after all the feed back they were getting from parents, coaches and athletic directors they realized that they needed to do something," Wahconah coach Dave Lussier said. "By letting the sectional qualifiers qualify virtually for states, it's a way to include everyone.
"The eastern part of the state still isn't having sectionals, so this was the fairest way possible to include everyone in one meet."
Word of the decision began to spread minutes before the unofficial girls' Western Massachusetts meet began at Westfield High School.
"That's awesome, I mean it's easy for me to say that because I was so close to begin with," Hoosac's Michaella Vecchiarelli said. "I definitely think it's the better decision. A lot of people were upset about it, so it's a compromise."
Vecchiarelli missed qualifying for states by .58 seconds in the 50 freestyle. When she heard that she wasn't going to be able to get a chance to ears that slim margin, she was upset. Then when she heard the meet would go on, she was determined to hit that time. She just missed the state time again on Monday, but says she's determined to hit that time at the state meet this Saturday at Springfield College.
Taconic's Gillian Campbell also narrowly missed the cut.
"She was really excited when I told her she could swim at states," Taconic coach Marisa Plant said. "It was really exciting to see them all banding together and trying to make a difference. Everyone is excited."
The voices of swimmers from across the state were heard when the MIAA made its decision on Thursday to cancel the tournament. Swimmers took to Twitter to express their anger in the decision and started the hashtag #BringBackWesternMass. While the tournament wasn't officially brought back, the coaches still feel good about the swimmers banding together.
"It's amazing. I think it says a lot about the [swimming] community and how they are as a whole," Hoosac coach Eryn Brewer said. "It's important for the kids to have their last meet and be rewarded for all the hard work they put in this year. The fact they came together to make this happen just confirms in my head what a great community swimming is."
With the addition of every sectional qualifier, the state meet will become longer. But that doesn't matter to coaches or swimmers.
"I think it's the only fair thing to do," Brewer said. "If you're not going to give kids the opportunity to qualify for states, you have to try and meet them half way.
"I think it's going to make for a really long meet, but that's fine. We'll take it."
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On Twitter: @NAT_DigitalSam