Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Entering athletes and teams into Track and Field meets with false entry times

The Stanford Invitational will take place this weekend with some of the top individuals and teams in Northern California.  Unfortunately, some of the best individuals and teams will not be competing because their coaches entered honest times for them.  Nevermind the fact that according to the Stanford Invite high school info, the top 36 teams will be accepted and yet you have 40 boys 400m. relay teams, 48 boys 1600m. relay teams and only 32 4 x 800m. teams and 34 DMR teams.  I know for sure there are some teams that somehow didn't qualify for the distance relay events.  That is an issue for another time.

Back to my original intent of this post.  This past Friday, Los Gatos HS hosted the 35th annual CCS F/S Top 8 meet.  I entered all my athletes with their season PRs.  One of my runners ended up being the first alternate in the 1600m. with his actual PR.  Looking at the results now, there were 12 boys who ran slower than his entry time.  He did make it into the meet along with other alternates but why was he an alternate in the first place?  It's very clear in the instructions that only electronic times are accepted and somehow there were 12 athletes with .00 1600m. times entered.  I understand that most of those athletes should be in the meet but some of them do not belong which leaves some athletes out of the meet unfairly.  There are plenty of sites out there (milesplit, lynbrooksports. athletic.net, dyestatcal, prepcaltrack etc) that have the lists of personal records of every competitor.  Can we now start confirming some of these entry times/marks?  We are at a time and age when this can be done without too much extra time being added to the meet director's workload.

Of course on the other end of the spectrum is the times entered by some coaches at meets like the Dan Gabor and the Dublin Distance Fiesta.  At those meets, some coaches undersell their athlete's marks in order for them to "win" a T-Shirt.  It's pretty evident who the biggest culprits are as their runners end up winning the most T-Shirts.  Perhaps if all coaches could be honest, we could have fair competition and the deserving athletes are the ones that end up at the top of their heats.

I am sure my opinion is shared by others but feel free to note any inaccuracies or if you disagree with me.  Comments?  Thoughts?  


Anonymous said...

I agree with you Albert, it is a problem and has been for a long time. For the record this annoys me deeply. It is simple to follow the instructions and enter the marks that are requested by the meet director. Some meets ask for current marks, others allow marks from the year before. It is important that everyone be honest and enter appropriately.

I could have missed someone but looking at the entry lists I don't see anyone blatantly undeserving. Also many athletes do not run their personal bests which could account for many of those running less than their seed time. I do agree wholeheartedly however that in this day in age there should be a confirmation process that does not enlist human hands to pick through each entry. Personally I do not want to enter an under qualified athlete who would feel embarrassed by such a quality field.

I know for elite meets like Stanford, Mt. Sac, Arcadia, CCS Top 8 (varsity) you must type in the location and the date the athlete achieved that mark. Any mark not from the 2014 season must include a note and include their 2014 mark. All coaches should have done this when entering. One simple fix is that meet directors take a stance and make it clear that entering false marks will result in all athletes from that team being dropped from the meet.

With the large data base from websites like athletic.net and direct athletics it makes it easy to enter: there is a button to click their season best. You can override of course, one safeguard for this would be to simply require a note of expiation for each override.

As for meets like Dublin and Dan Gabor (and even K-Bell) it is suggested you "estimate" their times. That is hard for the first race of the year with an athlete who has never run before. For veterans there's not really much of an excuse.

Ultimately all of this is on the Coach. Don’t be lazy, don’t lie, follow the rules.

Perhaps as a follow up you should start publishing names of programs that are deceitful.

Anonymous said...

Clearly lazy, but not liars -
Saint Francis High School

Boys 3200 from the Frosh-Soph Top 8:

9:50.00 9:57.68
10:20.00 10:07.05
10:30.00 10:15.12
11:00.00 DNF

Anonymous said...

It happens all the time, and it will continue to happen. My son is 1 of the kids that underperformed in the 1600. Has he run that time that he was entered in? Yes!!! What you don't know is that he ran a crucial dual meet the day before, and due to the lack of depth on the team he ran the 1600 and 3200 the day before. Did I suggest to him not to run at the F/S Classic? Of course I did, but he was so excited about running in the race against great competition that nothing was stopping him.

Or what if 1 of the last 12 that was entered was ill that day and ran a little slower then usual.

Basically what im saying is that marks entered at invites will always be 'fudged' a little, and sometimes they are legit. It's the coaches decision to put the kid through that especially in the 1600/800/3200.I BET IT HAPPENS MORE IN THE SPRINTS AND FIELD EVENTS. You just notice it more because how spread out they are in the distance races. It's a invitational and EVERYONE pays good money to compete. You just have to hope that coaches be as honest as possible, and if they aren't, oh well. They paid their fees, supported the program that's hosting the meet, and the youth gets to compete.

Last thing we want is an upset coach/parent who's kid was an alternate run up to the coach who's athlete came in last or the actual kid that comes In last and start yelling at him and calling him a liar or anything like that.

It's no big deal. It happens all the time, and will continue to happen. Let the kids compete, and see how they stack up against the Best. Might make the kid more hungry if he comes in last. Maybe he's a freshmen and comes In last, and next year he wins the race. Maybe it was coming in last that motivated him to get better and it was all Thanks to the coach that 'FUDGED' his time by 10 seconds so he can get into the meet and be 1 of the slowest guys to realize goals that he wants to achieve.

So end of discussion, and good luck to everyone the rest of the season.

Anonymous said...

The huge issue with Stanford 3k is this: coaches enter 3k times instead of 3200 times a screw up who gets in and who doesn't. When I raced there, there were kids that never even broke 10 min. 3200 that got in.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 12:19 PM

Not the end of discussion. And you are part of the problem. You want to get in go to meets, run faster instead of "fudging" to het in.

Try "fudging" on your taxes... or to a judge. Your spouse or on a test. Your acceptance of lying is alarming not just for you personally but as a society.

There is a simple fix: HONESTY.

Anonymous said...

OK, let me see if I have this straight...Anon 12:19 thinks it's no big deal to lie about a time, perhaps replacing an athlete who worked harder and/or is legitimately faster, an athlete who has earned the right to compete, well, because everyone does it and it might motivate the distance athlete when they comes in last....Oh, now I get it.....April Fools! You had me there for a moment!

Anonymous said...

To:12:19 PM,
Look in the mirror...You are the problem!
The 'fudging' that you are justifying may deprive a deserving kid the only opportunity he may ever have to run in a high quality invitational.
You state, "...hope that coaches be as honest as possible, and if they aren't, oh well."
Are you serious?
If a kid needs to finish last to become motivated, there is something wrong with him and/or his coach.
What message are you sending to the kids when "you" (the coach) 'fudge' a little?
Just be honest. It ain't that hard.

Anonymous said...

I would rather focus on a championship in May when entry is defined as advancement based on place from a qualifying meet. Otherwise, the all consuming pursuit to running fast times amounts to a plethora of money grab invitationals that the masses buy into as critical to pull them to fast times that qualify them for more invitationals that attract the attention of colleges who lure scholarships in front of them while always looking for faster athletes to come their way. Stop the insanity, tell the truth, and let your feet do the talking.

Anonymous said...

I would rather focus on a championship in May when entry is defined as advancement based on place from a qualifying meet. Otherwise, the all consuming pursuit to running fast times amounts to a plethora of money grab invitationals that the masses buy into as critical to pull them to fast times that qualify them for more invitationals that attract the attention of colleges who lure scholarships in front of them while always looking for faster athletes to come their way. Stop the insanity, tell the truth, and let your feet do the talking.

Coach Ozzie said...

Some meets check times well; some do not. Stanford is a meet that classically does not check times well. It is known and accepted by coaches and people take advantage of it. Last year I entered a couple of athletes whose PR's were better than others who got in. I made an appeal, which was denied. I mentioned it to another coach, who told me, "It's Stanford, you can't enter their real times and expect to get in."

Thankfully they all got to run in relays and did pretty well (those guys were pretty pissed off and ran like it). This year I entered honest times again. My 9:53 guy didn't get in, but I think that's probably just. Relays are always tough because you just don't have many opportunities to run them. Stanford asks that you don't estimate times, but allows you to use last year's marks. That's what I used this year even though I think we'll be slower (we graduated half the group). I included an estimated actual time in the note. I don't know what they'll actually use.

At the Dan Gabor Invitational, we ask coaches to estimate and most do so honestly. There will always be athletes who surprise because they are finally in competition or have made huge strides since the previous season, but guessing wrong is totally different than intentionally underestimating. It is easy to see when this is happening. Coaches know it here too. When you watch the slower heats, where seed times are separated by about 10 seconds, and athletes from the same school are regularly 10-20 seconds ahead of the entire heat, that raises a red flag. If it happens once, it's one thing, but the coach is not underestimating all of his or her athletes by that much. There are a couple of schools who have been guilty of this and it pisses people off. The fast heats are pretty easy to police if people are lying to get into those, but the slower heats are much more difficult.

Anonymous said...

Maybe 1 of those last 12 finishers ran bad because they were I'll, Or maybe the family dog passed away that morning and he was depressed or maybe he failed a geometry test and was sad that day. If a coach entered the time, either the kid ran it before or he feels that he can run it that day. No coach is gonna put a kid on the track to embarrass him.

It's a invitational, and People pay to run. They support the school that's hosting. Every coach is probably guilty of doing this at some point. So let's not be hypocrites and bad mouth others.

Anonymous said...

The problem that I have with coaches not stating the correct times: what are we teaching the kids, it’s okay to lie to get what you want, I hope not.

4:30 is slow said...

I say stop crying about it and #getfast

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 12:19, yes, I will assume what you wrote was satire, or yes, an April Food's post.

If you are serious in your post, you have no business being involved in athletics.

Character is more important than athleticism. Young people need to know there is integrity in their coach and hopefully at meets.

And your second post about hypocrisy is ridiculous. You assume "every coach" lies when they enter times or marks. You assume wrongly. Paying "good money" to run at an invite is irrelevant.

One easy method of validation at top meets especially is to require that the coach indicate the meet and date the time entered took place.

Coach Kyle said...

5:06, you're either the same person as 12:19 or just as ignorant. Most people who have observed HS track and field for a few years are able to tell the difference between a runner who is clearly having a bad race and a runner who never should have been there to begin with.
You were right when you said "it's an invitational, and people pay to run." Correct, people pay to race those who are of the same skill level as them. Why do you think the Dan Gabor invitational is a great place for every level of runner to PR? It's at the beginning of the season and every heat has someone in it that you can beat. If your son/daughter/athlete is only motivated by people beating them handily when he/she should have been in a slower race, then continue to be dishonest and screw other kids out of a fair chance to race.

If your kid doesn't get into the race with his/her honest PR, then you aren't paying for them to be there anyway. So the money is a non-issue

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 5:06 do you work for Goldman Sacks? If not you may want to apply for a job. You would fit right in with their culture.

Now I know why track is the around the 50th most follower sport in the US. You can make up any time and get into a meet.

I think the only meets that check times are Arcadia and CCS varsity top 8 meets.

hank said...

Just because someone enters the date and meet of where a mark was achieved does not validate the mark. It still takes someone to verify that mark and then to do something about it and that is no easy task. I have been verifying marks for the CCS Top 8 meet for the last 4 years (maybe more) for the fudging had gotten out of control. Now the marks are legit and though Willie may still make a call to allow someone in... it is rare (and it's his ball afterall...). It takes a good amount of time to verify and communicate with the coach about the athlete's mark in question, and then you have to re-verify. If you think it's a no-brainer to verify marks then I invite you to sign up for it at a meet and see how much work it entails.


Albert Caruana said...

Some very good points so far. Hopefully with the increased use of technology in entering meets, we can get to the point were coaches won't need to make up fictitious times. Meet directors can also help with this matter by being very specific in their entry instructions.

Peter Brewer said...

It seems that the whole commentary here is about the high profile meets. The times and marks that are used as entry considerations into these elite meets are ostensibly achieved at earlier, low key meets. So, what's the fuss about the elite meets? Isn't a time a time? Does it matter where it is set? It doesn't seem worth the bother to get riled up about Stanford or Arcadia or Mt. SAC or the CCS Top 8. There are lots of other meets that offer competition, aren't there? And if you have the athlete that has the legitimate mark and it's real good, that athlete will get in regardless of the truth-benders.

Anonymous said...

Why call out Saint Francis High School? That was very random I must way.

Anonymous said...

Did you not read the post? They clearly did not enter the verified electronic marks requested by meet management (9:50.00, 10:20:00, 10:30.00, and 11:00.00). And that was just the frosh soph boys 3200.

Anonymous said...

To Peter Brewer,
The issue concerns the runners who get left out of the meet not the elite runners.
If you fudge a little and get an undeserving runner in, you are depriving another runner that spot.
Say I am the last legit runner to make it into the race but some coach fudges a little on his athlete's time....I get left off. Maybe I am a Senior who has dreamed of running in The Stanford Invitational for the last four years. I may never be an elite runner, but I made my goal of running in a big invitational...wait, no I didn't. Some kid with a slower time took MY SPOT!

Anonymous said...

@10:27 Who cares if the times are .00 if they are the athletes actual PR rounded to the nearest whole number? That still makes them accurate, and is being honest. Saint Francis High School did this.

Anonymous said...

Can't believe coaches would under sell their athletes just to win a T-shirt. It is a disservice to their athletes. The goal is to compete in a little better heat so that you can improve and move up to the next level.

Anonymous said...

As for rounding the the whole number...

Meet management said it requires "ELECTRONIC TIMING." So they rounded to the nearest 10 seconds? It is very evident they estimated on their marks. Did they even run anywhere close to those times (in 2014) before the Frosh-Soph Top 8 meet? If so great, but it still shows a lack of integrity and laziness. Maybe coaches who do this give the appearance of being unorganized.

No one is saying the St. Francis runners in the race did not perform in a way that they were not deserving to race but I will say the coach was lazy and did not follow the entry guidelines.

So are made up marks estimating their performance honest?

Nils said...

As a database geek, I would applaud any move to verify times, esp. if there's a way for coaches to cite an entry-number to expedite checking by the meet managers. It would help if runners' names were accurately recorded; my son's last name was scrambled in prepcaltrack when he was a freshman and has never been right since.
Of course the websites would have to maintain the data in a format that would be easy to verify, too.

Anonymous said...

Two of the Saint Francis runners in that race were running their first ever two mile so it would be impossible to give exact times, while the third was entered under his PR from last year rounded to the nearest whole number as he had not ran a two mile this year yet.

Anonymous said...

If was not for Hank checking the top 8 marks and Rich checking Arcadia marks I could be like the Saint Francis coach and enter my kid into Arcadia Saturday night 2 mile. I could guess that my kid could run a 8:59 two mile and he would be enter into the race. How fair is it for a kid that ran a 9:01 two mile and did not get into the race? I guess it does not matter since my kid got into the race.

Now I know why I like the state meet. You cannot 'bullshit' your self in.

Anonymous said...

Annon 10:39,

Thank you. So the truth is St. Francis made up marks for its runners. The Top 8 asks for CURRENT 2014 marks only. So clearly they fabricated entries and should not have been allowed to enter. You want to run in a meet that has qualifying marks? Run a meet to qualify!

Again, they ran great... but the coach lied to get them in. This is the problem with our sport.
HONESTY people, not that hard! The coach should have put them in at NM and asked the meet director to make an exception.

Does St. Francis do this for other qualifying meets as well?

hank said...

Remember, Willie (or any Meet Director) can determine if he wants to accept an athlete or not. Who's to say that any coach didn't contact a Meet Director, tell them their story and the Meet Director says "OK, enter them with a mark that you feel is accurate". I don't know what coaches go through to enter their athletes (and neither do you), so let's error on the side that we don't know the whole story.


Anonymous said...

How is ESTIMATING the same as LYING? The times entered were honest estimates, not lies that unfairly robbed someone of the chance to run.

Anonymous said...

Hank @ 7:33 PM comment,

Have we come to entering time, meet achieved, date, and a link to click on for verification? Maybe so. Few meet results are not on line anymore, and if one argues small league meets are not on line, then start using athletic.net where even any form of competition can be entered and locked.

Why falsify a mark for a t-shirt? H***, my athletes want the sombrero. Just saying...

And to Hank's 12:24 entry about "Who's to say that any coach didn't contact a Meet Director..." I called out an athlete's entry a few years ago. She was entered at a fast time that she had never run before to get in the race, so I contacted the meet director, and that is exactly what took place. The coach had contacted the meet director, asked and obtained permission to convert another time. End result: She didn't even come close.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:55 PM how do you know it did not rob somebody of running in the meet.

What are we teaching the kids? Don't need to work hard and run in races to qualify. Don't worry about that I can just write down a time.

Now on I will suspect any Saint Francis time enter into a meet.

Anonymous said...

Stop arguing about a single school.

Saint Francis had three runners in that two mile.
NONE of those three runners had official times from any invitational in 2014.

The first saint francis runner was seeded at 9:50 and ran 9:57. You can't ask him PR after winning the mile AND PRING IN THAT EVENT. He also had not run a two mile this year and his entry was his 3000m converted.

The second saint francis runner also did not have a 3200m and his seed was a converted time. None of these kids have official 3k/3.2k times from any invitational, so would you rather have a coach 'estimate' accurately, or blatantly falsify the .00?

The third runner does not have any time for 3000/3200m. I just checked online, none of these boys have official times, so how can you get mad at a coach when he UNDERestimated his athletes AND THEY PERFORMED BETTER THAN EXPECTED. this argument specifying saint francis is trivially pointless and deviates from the overall point of Albert's post.

In conclusion, stop singling out a certain team/coach/athlete.

Anonymous said...

@1:06 Can you read? I know it did not rob anyone of running because all three Saint Francis runners qualified for the finals. Clearly that states that they deserved to be there, so how do you think that there's even a possibility they robbed someone?

Head Coach ('14) said...


(A) It's not just high profile meets where this happens and has a negative impact on honest coaches and their athletes. In the 800m race at our League Champs last year my runner was bumped from the 7th seed to the 9th seed because a coach of two runners entered times that were fictitious. That meant that my runner would have had to compete in a heat with 15 others, rather than the final heat with just 7 others. He was trying to qualify for NCS. I raised a BIG stink (asking for verification that the coach could not provide) and was able to get him in the final heat. One of his runners was 12 seconds off his entered 800 time.
(B) Don't estimate times. At the Dan Gabor meet I had two freshmen that I figured could probably run 2:25 or so for an 800, but they had never run an 800 in a race. The only honest entry time is No Time (NT). This is what I did.

Just Be Honest.

Anonymous said...

Well, I just think we should apply the Lance Armstrong defense:

"But everybody's doing it."

So it's not cheating if everybody is doing it, right?

"As coaches, we regularly fancy ourselves role models and teachers of life lessons. Bastions of morality and righteousness in a world of voyeurism and ‘me first’ selfishness. Of ‘team first’ and ‘fair play’ above ‘individualism’ and ‘winning at all costs’.

"And I’m sure it’s all true…

"Except when we need to get our team in the seeded heat. Or make sure our team gets accepted into the meet.

"Then those central tenets of our coaching philosophies get temporarily pushed aside because, well, everyone else is doing it.

"When we only follow the rules when they’re convenient, we might as well not follow any of the rules.

"We can’t expect ‘those other coaches’ to do better if we’re not willing to do better ourselves. Lying is lying."

- This subject was hashed out on another site. To read see that discussion, go to:


Anonymous said...

No one said the Saint Francis runners did not deserve to be there. But the meet requires 2014 marks. Their coach "estimated" or "fabricated" or "lied" to enter their kids.

Again. All deserving. All lies.

Perhaps now lies and exaggerations are accepted truths. But I was taught a lie is a lie. They learn that in mass at St. Francis too.

Coaches estimate/lie to get kids in. All deserved to run but certainly part of the problem. They could have easily ran a dual meet.

Anonymous said...

I think I need to remind you all that the seeds entered were slower than what they ran, except in the case of the 9:58 runner, who had no one within a fifty meters.

Fact is, I guess some people don't want the best competition on the track because their coach estimated their performance. I mean, this is essentially CCS for the frosh-soph division, why wouldn't you want the best in the section out there? I mean, this is supposed to be the TOP athletes in the section. There are other meets like K-Bell where no one gets rejected, so race there if you want to be in a competitive race.

By estimating the seeds, there was no harm done. This is why we have trials; we get a real seed before the race that really matters. This argument really sounds like someone just doesn't like St Francis and were trying to detract from the performance that these three individuals had on the track last Friday.

Anonymous said...

To Head Coach ('14):

If you had an idea that your freshen could run 2:25 in the 800. Why didn't you enter them at that mark?

Wouldn't entering two kids in with a no mark, when you have an idea of what they're capable of, be worse than entering them at 2:25 when they haven't run the race?

I'm just saying, having those 2:25 kids in an heat with no marks is usually worse when they're going up against kids who can't even break 3:00.

Anonymous said...

Annon 10:32

CCS for frosh-soph should have the best competition. But if everyone estimates we have the problem we are discussing. Calling the coach a liar is a bit harsh but it is part of the problem being discussed. These kids should have run one earlier to get in. Just follow the rules. Run a qualifier. It's not hard to do.

Anonymous said...

For those defending St. Francis - how many other teams did not use real times? If all of the other teams had real times, then it speaks for itself.

Nils said...

I just have a question- with so few league meets run before this invitational's entries were due, *how* is a frosh runner going to have any electronically-recorded time at all? I guess the answer is that the coach has to make sure that their frosh runners are *all* entered in at least one early invitational like Dan Gabor or DDF.

Thus these invitationals become gateways to this Top 8 meet, the coaches have to enter their frosh runners in them to get recorded times, and THEN can enter the Los Gatos Top 8. No estimates, no fudging or nudging. Am I wrong?

Anonymous said...

There were three weeks of invites and two duals before the deadline. St. Francis also had a scrimmage. I believe in 6 meets you could fit a 3200 in. Otherwise enter one of the events they have times for. No excuses.

Anonymous said...

Is this not why we have trials? Even if people put in estimated times, the best sixteen runners get through. Trials act as some sort of safety net against these practices.

Anonymous said...

Are people hating on St Francis because they are CCS Champions? Because other schools did this, but they seem to be the only team people are dishing on. I guess it's true: when you're at the top there is a big target on your back, and all people want to do is tear you down,

Albert Caruana said...

Somebody used St. Francis as an example above which is why they were singled out. Obviously they were not the only school to enter their athletes with similar marks.

I appreciate all the posts from everybody and keeping it somewhat civil :D

Anonymous said...

I think hammering on one school at this point has become nonproductive.

Time to move on.

Coach Tim said...

On F/S Classic:
It's not about St. Francis. It's about the fact that the expectations for the meet are unclear. It's a fact that the meet information doesn't say anything about marks being verified or not, it just states they must be electronic. I interpret this to mean that the kid has to actually run a race, with FAT, that results in the same time I enter. And I'm going to run my team in a way that enables me to fulfill those expectations. Others interpret the rule to mean "must have two decimal places," which clearly offers more freedom.

If verifiability isn't the case, and estimates are acceptable, I can run my team very differently. I can make different scheduling decisions (racing and training), different transportation decisions, etc. And, I'll be far more willing to cut slack to schools in the situation of St. Francis (especially when the kids perform to the level they did, clearly deserving).

As is, I'm in a position where I made decisions that weren't optimal for my team in order to meet expectations that weren't there. I forced myself to follow rules that other people didn't. And I feel animosity towards St. Francis that isn't fair or justified. And that's really annoying.

Coach Tim said...

Another point in general:

It's one thing to have the technology available, and another to use it effectively. You can probably verify marks within Direct Athletics/Athletic.net (if not, would be a useful feature for meet directors). Unfortunately, I've checked my school's DA account for XC and track, and for the past several years, every meet on the schedules still lists "awaiting results" (including meets like K-bell, Stanford, and Mt. SAC). So either the interface is lacking, or the meet directors aren't fully utilizing the system. Both contribute to our current problem.

hank said...

If you want to know what the detail expectations are for meet entries (I'm only talking about the F/S Classic right now since that seems to be the main meet of this discussion), why doesn't someone email the Meet Director (Willie Harmatz) and ask him. Or give him a call and interview him, get his side of the story... get the facts out there (especially on this board for then it can be searched for reference for future years). You can "what-if" all you want but until you get it from the MD, it's all just opinions and conjecture.


Anonymous said...

Or better yet get some guts and ask the coach themselves to their face. I'd love to see if anyone has the courage to call them lazy or a liar to their face. Instead their smile, shake hands and be a coward. Perhaps a bit extreme but my point is it's easy to just ask at the next meet.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to just assume the Varsity 3200 entries for Top 8 will be updated. 2 St Francis kids ranked 1,2, and 3 Willow Glen kids with made up times.

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