Ruling keeps Olympic-caliber teen runner from state championship

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ElisaHahnK5

KING5.com

Posted on May 24, 2013 at 6:13 PM

Updated Friday, May 24 at 8:21 PM

A King County Superior Court judge refused to grant a temporary restraining Friday that would have allowed a Federal Way high school student to run in the state track and field championships.

Hannah Cunliffe is a premiere sprinter for her age group, among the fastest in the country. But as a home schooled student who has run for three high schools in three years, she's been in a legal battle with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association.  The WIAA claims she doesn't meet the transferring student requirements.

Friday's hearing was not for a final ruling in the case, but to ask a judge to grant a temporary restraining order against the WIAA that would allow Cunliffe to run in the 100m, 200m. and 4x100m relay for Federal Way high school.

The attorney for the WIAA argued that allowing Cunliffe to compete would push out another runner.

"We don't dispute Ms. Cunliffe has good times," said attorney John Olson. "But she has not competed in any races this year and she would be displacing somebody if the court was going to put her in that event."

Cunliffe's attorney and her father, who is a track coach himself, both argue that she could be added to a race without impacting another runner. Instead of two heats of 8 runners, the event could have three heats instead.

The judge sided with the WIAA.

"For me to ask them to rearrange any number of events, any number of young people, coaches, their families, is asking quite a bit," said judge Carol Schapira.

Cunliffe spent Friday afternoon sitting in the bleachers at the state track and field championships, cheering on her teammates.

"It's really frustrating, because I've wanted to run at state since freshman year," said Cunliffe.



 

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