Track & Field/Cross Country Rule Changes for 2022-23 Season

Every year the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) reviews the rules for every sport looking to improve the experience for student-athletes.

Last month, the NFHS revisited the rules for high school track & field/cross country. The two most notable changes were made to Rule 3-4-3, defining specific case book guidelines, and the introduction of Rule 9, which specifically addresses rules for indoor track and field.

Below is an excerpt from the NFHS track & field/cross country rule revisions.

track“Assisting meet referees in the administration of track and field and cross country meets was a point of emphasis where applicable by the NFHS Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee when it met in June,” said Julie Cochran, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee. “Although the rules are in good standing, the committee felt we had the opportunity to provide meet referees with rules that are more specific and better organized for event day administration.”

The rules committee’s changes to Rule 3-4-3 defined specific case book guidelines to offer consistency and guidance to meet referees when ruling on reruns. New to the rule are scenarios to assist referees in determining when a rerun is necessary and stipulations that must apply for a rerun to be considered.

The change to Rule 3-4-3 affects Rules 5-9-2 and 5-9-3, which address instances in which interference occurs. The most notable impact was to Rule 5-9-2, which now states that in the event of interference during a preliminary heat, and when a lane is not available for the offended competitor or relay team, the meet referee may add a heat in that round or in the next round of heats.

Due to recent changes to outdoor track and field rules, the NFHS Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee adopted Rule 9 to exclusively address indoor track and field. With the continued emergence of indoor track across the country, which includes sanctioning in 21 states, more than 150,000 participants, and 17 state championships, the committee determined a separate rule was in order.

“The NFHS Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee continues to emphasize student-athlete health and safety and risk minimization in our rules review,” said Cody Inglis, chair of the NFHS Track and Field and Cross Country Rules Committee and assistant director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association. “This emphasis can be seen in the committee’s work for the 2023 rules book. In addition, the committee has worked to make the book easier to use for officials, coaches and others over the last few years by separating rules into their own sections. This year, the indoor track and field rule has been put into its own section which allows the user to easier access the indoor track and field rules as states continue to add this version of the sport.”

The rising popularity of mixed relays resulted in the adoption of Rule 7-2-2g as a new item among special events. The committee noted that mixed relays are becoming more commonplace at high school meets. By adding mixed relays to the special events section of Rule 7-2-2, it allows the committee to offer guidance to member state associations on how to effectively conduct these events.

Among other rules changes was the increase in relay entries from six to eight individuals. Only those individuals who actually run will be considered official participants. Cochran noted that providing two additional names, it presents yet another opportunity for student-athletes to be involved in not only regular and postseason track meets, but also high school athletics and activities.

A complete listing of the track and field and cross country rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Track & Field/Cross Country.”