MOORPARK, CA – The 103rd CIF State Track and Field Championships took place over this past weekend at Veterans Memorial Stadium at Buchanan High School in Clovis. A handful of local student athletes made the trip to test their limits as some of the top competitors in the state. Of course, not all can make it to the State finals, which includes one local track and field standout who was not there, but it wasn’t because he didn’t want to go or because he didn’t earn the right. An unseen lane penalty in the Masters Meet, from another competitor, impeded Elijah Green’s shot at advancing.

Elijah’s coach Sandra Moya offered this explanation of the incident in an email, “Basically, at the CIF Masters Meet (held Saturday, May 20, at Moorpark High School) a runner from Mater Dei, who was in the lane next to Elijah, hit one of the hurdles as he crossed over it, which flipped it up and Elijah clipped the base of the flying hurdle with his trail leg foot. The incident caused him to fall and not finish the race in a time that would help him qualify for the CIF State meet.”

That type of result usually calls for a disqualification of the athlete that committed the fault. Which is not what Moya, or Green’s family wanted per se, but they definitely thought some kind of different result would be brought about by CIF Southern Section officials since Elijah’s fall was not of his own doing.

Moya didn’t even know exactly what had happened until she was told and watched a video of the incident almost immediately after the event. That’s when she put in a protest. While unfortunate events like this are bound to happen when fast-paced faults can get overlooked, it was the aftermath of how the situation was handled that seemed to bother all those involved the most.

“I made a protest right away,” Moya said. “Officials called us saying it was denied because the other officials on site didn’t see the violation happen. We told them there was a streaming video by the company MileSplit and we were told we could appeal the decision, since there appeared to be public evidence. After we appealed, we waited, and never got a call back. That night, I reached out to the Meet Director, and he told us it was denied again.”

“With the protest, we were only requesting Elijah be reinstated without the other kid getting disqualified despite their own rule, since the fault was clearly missed by the officials on site”,” Tamara Lee, Elijah’s mom, said.

Here comes the conundrum. While the 2023 NFHS Track and Field rules do state on page 12, Rule 3-2 (The Games Committee), Article 8.b. that “Electronic devices shall not be used for any review of an official’s decision,” the meet was being live streamed by an official company that sponsored the meet. Furthermore, when asked why an electronic review cannot be done when a company is on site filming the event, the CIF Southern Section had no response.

Murrieta Mesa’s Elijah Green is one of the most decorated track and field athletes for the school from this past season. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Elijah Green, who was one of the most decorated male track and field athletes this past season from Murrieta Mesa High School, has definitely had a season to remember. As the 2023 team captain, Elijah was the Southwestern League champion in the 110 hurdles (and in 2022), a school record holder in that same event, an Arcadia Invitational and Mt. Sac Relays medalist, the Citrus Belt League 2023 Athlete of the Year and the 2023 CIF runner-up in the 110 meters. But unfortunately, the last thing he will remember from his outstanding season is how CIF Southern Section track and field officials failed him.

Not only did the officials from the event fail him, but nobody from the CIF Southern Section took the time to provide official responses to the multiple appeals or evidence submitted, outside of an email stating, “The CIF Southern Section has no further comment on this issue.” This statement was relayed to Coach Moya, as well as the Valley News, in a final message Thursday, May 25, from CIF-SS Assistant Commissioner Thom Simmons.

Moya only wanted to know what decision would be made for the rule that states that if a hurdler impedes another hurdler, he/she will be disqualified. The CIF Southern Section officials simply responded that the official didn’t see the lane violation.

“It’s so upsetting,” Moya added. “I don’t even know if they took the time to watch the video. It is my intention to do what I can to change that rule because it makes no sense. Some events happen so fast, like in this case, and why would there not be eyes on every lane?”

Murrieta Mesa senior Elijah Green is pictured here hurdling at an event earlier in the season. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Oddly enough, at the CIF State Championship Meet, an open lane existed in the same heat Elijah would have been in. A clear sign that Elijah should be in that spot says his mom, who is still in shock over the decision. Lee is a local nurse and while she dedicates so much of her time to helping others, she makes it a point to support Elijah every step of his way.

“I’m so proud of him,” she said. “He has only been doing track and field for two years and it’s upsetting that this is being taken away from him for something he didn’t do. I had so much faith in the Commissioners at the CIF making this right. I thought they would see that video, make the only ethical decision, and reinstate my son. I am still in disbelief that a video streamed from the meet, that was even reposted on countless social media pages, including the CIF-SS, blatantly showing exactly what happened, could not be used.”

Without any explanation on an open lane in the Finals, Lee is right to think that no one would have been affected as the goal was never for anyone to be disqualified.

“It was clearly an accident,” she added. “Removing him from the race all together from a fall that was not his fault is so unfair. These calls can affect their future…mental health and so much more. Shame on them for not acknowledging what their officials missed and for not trying to make it right. It’s hard to believe the same people that awarded him Citrus Belt Athlete of the Year would turn around and take this opportunity from him. After all his hard work and dedication, it’s devastating. They have to do better!”

As Lee mentioned, on May 8, Elijah was joined by many other standouts at the Citrus Belt League awards conference, where he was personally honored by outgoing Assistant CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod as one of the Male Athletes of the Year.

Being the upbeat, good-natured teen he is, Elijah congratulated everyone after the race, even the Mater Dei runner who tripped him, and has kept his head high. He knows he has no control over the situation. “It is what it is,” he said. “I would have liked another chance, but I would not have wanted him to get disqualified; it was an accident, it happens.”

Murrieta Mesa standouts Elijah Green (track and field) and Jasmyn Burns (softball) are honored as Citrus Belt League Athletes of the Year Monday, May 9. Both are pictured here with CIF commissioner Rob Wigod and CBAADA president Jim Vaughn. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Spoken like a true competitor, Elijah is focusing on the Nike Nationals next month, for which he earned an invitation to attend. Perhaps there he will get a shot at redemption. After graduation, while he still has decisions to make on where he will be attending, Elijah hopes to compete at the next level where his plans are to major in Kinesiology, and eventually be a track coach and speed trainer.

“I unfortunately have to see both sides of the coin,” said Murrieta Mesa’s Athletic Director John Broussard. “I was very sad for Elijah when this happened, but life in sports is not always fair and he carried himself very well though the experience. He is a special student athlete to us, and we can’t wait to see what he does next.”

Moya, in the meantime, is hoping she can help get the rule changed involving playback reviews so that future athletes can have another avenue to travel down if or when a mishap in a track and field event happens.

“If the means are already in place, why not have the option available?” she asked, adding that since the power of electronics is a part of our everyday lives, this area should not be any different. Especially when the lack of it leads to such a devastating decision.

This was the first time Moya has had to lodge a protest and she hopes she never has to do it again. “But I will always stand up for the athlete and do what I should do to defend and protect them,” she said.

JP Raineri can be reached by email at