How Does Club Track & Field Work?
Spike Up Athletics is both a USA Track & Field member club and an Amateur Athletic Union member club. USA Track & Field (USATF) is the national governing body for track & field, long-distance, and race walking in the United States, while Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is dedicated exclusively to the promotion, development, and establishing of standards and uniformity in amateur sports.
USATF Divisions and Regions
When it comes to the club level, USATF consists of 5 divisions: Northeast, South, Midwest, Southwest, and West. Each of the 5 divisions consists of regions. The Northeast division consist of Regions 1 and 2. The South division consist of Regions 3, 4, and 6. The Midwest division consist of Regions 5, 7, and 8. The Southwest division consist of Regions 9 and 12. The West division consist of Regions 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, and 16. The regional breakdowns by state or territory are as follows.
Region 1 – Adirondack, Connecticut, Long Island, Maine, New England, and New York
Region 2 – Mid-Atlantic, New Jersey, Niagara, and Three Rivers
Region 3 – Potomac Valley, Virginia, and North Carolina
Region 4 – Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina
Region 5 – Kentucky, Lake Erie, Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia
Region 6 – Alabama, Southern, and Tennessee
Region 7 – Illinois and Indiana
Region 8 – Dakotas, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin
Region 9 – Arkansas, Missouri Valley, Oklahoma, and Ozark
Region 10 – Arizona, Border, Colorado, and New Mexico
Region 11 – Montana, Snake River, Utah, and Wyoming
Region 12 – Southwestern, South Texas, and West Texas
Region 13 – Alaska, Inland Northwest, Oregon, and Pacific Northwest
Region 14 – Central California
Region 15 – Hawaii, Nevada, San Diego, and Southern California
Region 16 - Pacific
Idaho is divided into two regions and associations: Region 11, Snake River; and Region 13, Inland Northwest. Snake River consists of the part of our state that is south of Idaho County, and the Inland Northwest consists of the part of our state that is north of Idaho County. Spike Up Athletics is a member of the Snake River Association, which consists of about 20 southern Idaho teams. All clubs affiliated with the Snake River Association must participate in the association meet in order for their athletes to compete in the Region 11 meet. All athletes who compete in the association meet automatically advance to the Region 11 meet. As with all USATF-sanctioned events, athletes only compete against other athletes who are in their age group: 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, and 17-18. The association meet will have open and a master division events following all youth age-group events. There is usually a rule regarding the maximum number of events an athlete can compete in, which is typically 3 or 4 events, including relays.
The Region 11 meet usually follows the same format as the association meet with the only difference being that not everyone who competes automatically advances to the USATF National Junior Olympics. Any Spike Up Athletics athlete who finishes in the top 5 in a running, field, or relay event and who finishes in the top 2 in multi-events will earn a spot to compete at the USATF National Junior Olympics. Multi-events are the Pentathlon for the 11-12 and 13-14 age-group boys and girls, Heptathlon for the 15-16 and 17-18 girls, and Decathlon for the 15-16 and 17-18 boys. There are no open or master division events at the Region 11 meet, but we will do our best to find a regional qualifier and national competition for our qualifying race walkers and adult athletes to compete.
AAU Districts and Regions
AAU consists of 57 districts, with Idaho competing within district 35, which is the Inland Empire (IE) district. The IE district consists of club teams from Easter Washington and Idaho. The AAU district qualifiers are the equivalent of USATF's association meets. All club teams must participate in a district qualifier in order for their athletes who qualify to move on to the regional qualifier. Any Spike Up Athletics athlete who finishes in the top 16 in a running, field, and relay or multi-events will advance to the AAU regional qualifier.
Regional qualifiers determine which athletes get to advance to the AAU National Junior Olympics. The regional qualifiers are equivalent to USATF's regionals. AAU consists of 25 regions and Spike Up Athletics will compete in Region 21 against other qualifying athletes from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington state. Any Spike Up Athletics athlete who finishes in the top 6 in a running or field event, top 4 in a multi-event, or relay team that places in the top 6 will earn a spot to compete at the AAU National Junior Olympics. AAU also offers 4 other additional opportunities for athletes to qualify for the AAU National Junior Olympics with each having their own advancement procedures: AAU West Coast National Championships, AAU Primary National Championships, AAU West Coast Junior Olympic Games, and AAU Club Championships.
Spike Up Athletics’ Competitive Seasons
Until we become better established and growth warrants expansion, Spike Up Athletics will only participate in two competitive seasons: a fall/winter (indoor) season, and a summer (outdoor) season. Our winter program typically starts each year around the end of October and concludes around mid-February. Our summer program typically starts each year around the end of May and concludes around the last week of July or 1st week of August.
What to Expect During the Fall/Winter (Indoor) Season
The fall/winter (indoor) season is the most challenging of our two seasons by default of where we live, the ages of our athletes, and the competition schedule. The most economical way for Spike Up Athletics to travel to/from competitions is by van. However, the winter weather conditions can sometimes make traveling to other meets (whether they’re in-state or out-of-state) very difficult. The other challenge we face is finding meets in which both our middle and high school athletes can compete; there seems to be plenty of meets that cater to high school-aged athletes but not middle school-aged athletes. Because we make every effort to compete as a complete team, we will most always opt to compete in meets that allow both our middle and high school-aged athletes, which means the team having to travel to places such as Pocatello, Idaho and Provo, Utah. Our season will most always conclude with the Simplot Games in Pocatello, Idaho, which is a high school aged only meet.
The fall/winter (indoor) season will not offer district/division or regional meets due to meet organizers having to limit the number of spectators and competing athletes due to the occupancy regulations associated with indoor venues, which is why we sometimes have difficulty finding meets that both our middle and high schoolers can compete. However, if we have an athlete who is competing at a high level and meeting national qualifying standards, he or she may be invited to one of the prestigious indoor championship meets such as the New Balance Indoor Championships or AAU Indoor Nationals, which are held in New York and Virginia Beach typically around early and mid-March respectively.
Our fall/winter (indoor) season is a good way for those athletes who run school track in the spring to prepare and be in top form by the time their school track season begins.
What to Expect During the Summer (Outdoor) Season
In our summer (outdoor) program, athletes have an opportunity to compete in events they don't get to compete in during their school seasons, such as javelin, 400 meter hurdles, and combined events (Pentathlon, Heptathlon, and Decathlon).
Our summer (outdoor) season typically starts the week after the Idaho High School State Track & Field Championships around the end of May each year. Our summer season typically ends with the USATF or AAU National Junior Olympic Championships, which are moved around the county each year to make it financially feasible and accessible for teams that maybe couldn’t afford to travel the previous year because of the expense.
Unlike the fall/winter (indoor) season, Spike Up Athletics will face very little challenges finding meets for all our athletes to compete in as a team, and we won’t be hampered by poor weather conditions either. During our summer (outdoor) season, we will compete in local YMCA community meets and meets hosted by other nearby USATF and AAU member clubs. And unlike the fall/winter (indoor) season, there will be district/division and regional meets that we'll compete in, to include the granddaddy of summer meets…the National Junior Olympic Championships.
The NJO is a huge, premier track & field event, giving your athlete an opportunity to compete against some of the very best athletes he or she will ever see. For many of our athletes, they won’t reach the medal podium at the NJO yet…the key word being YET!! The NJO is a week-long competition and most families who decide to go, make a vacation out of it. However, Spike Up Athletics leaves it to each individual family to determine whether their athlete or family can afford to travel to/from the NJO (as we do with any of our travel competitions), but if the athlete earned it, we recommend letting him or her go compete. If nothing else, once he or she sees how good other athletes from around the country are, it will often serve as motivation for him or her to train harder and eat better so that he or she raises his/her chances of reaching the medal podium someday, which is Spike Up Athletics’ vision.
We’ll often hold fundraising events throughout the year to make travel to/from the NJO a little more affordable for those athletes who qualify. Donations and sponsorships also play a major role in helping athletes compete at the big track meets, so if you know individuals or businesses who like to help athletes reach their dreams, please send them to this website to donate or inquire about sponsorship.