EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - Members of the East Saint Louis High School track team and dozens of their classmates walked out of school Friday to protest what they’re calling an unfair punishment.
Members of the East St. Louis track team were are devastated after the track season was terminated following a fight at the Southwestern Conference track meet on Tuesday.
The students walked to East St. Louis District 189’s administration office, where the students hoped Superintendent Arthur Culver would reverse his decision. The clock is ticking.
Culver has until Monday evening to decide if he will allow the team members who were not involved in the fight to compete in the state competition.
Students say it's not just a sport, it's their lives.
"I was crying. This is my life. If you take it all, this is too much," said student-athlete Raymond Mix, who competes on the varsity team.
The track team claims only three members got involved in the fight, but all 40 team members are being punished.
"We really need this season. Without us running, some of us will not be able to get a scholarship," said student-athlete Marcus Lampley.
Mix said the decision affects graduating seniors, who are competing for scholarships and a shot at a state championship.
"People come here every day and we put our heart into this and for (the superintendent) to take it anyway from us means a lot," he said. “This is affecting my scholarship to Southern Illinois University. I can get more money if I compete in the sectional and state meet."
A district spokesperson said the superintendent is reflecting on his decision and a board meeting is set for Monday morning at District 189 to decide if they will allow those track members who were not involved in the fight to compete in the state championship.
"This is the way out of East St Louis,” Lampley said. “No one wants to be stuck in East St. Louis their whole life. It’s a ticket to make it out.”