Good morning beech!! Now, the way it was explained to me is as follows "There would have to be more athletes that are consistently running , or HAVE RAN those times in order for there to be so big a time disparity." I myself am a bit perplexed by that as Sprinters like Peoria's Serene Williams, South mtn.'s Terra Evans and the like are all 5 -a SPRINTERS...
I was also told this: My understanding is in 4AI & 4AII, the top three finishers in regionals go onto state. The rest is based on automatic qualifiers. The mark is based on the average time/distance/height of the 4th place finish at the State finals over the past 5 years.
In 5AI & 5AII, only the regional champion earns a spot at state. The rest is filled with automatic qualifiers, which based on the average of the 9th place finish at the state finals over the past 5 years.
Basically less qualifiers from regionals makes for an easier automatic qualifying mark for 5AI & II.
Although, From our experience I believe its only the Top 2 finishers in 4A advance automatically. Nonetheless it just made me scratch my head.