I just got back from a meet today and it was the talk of the meet (it was a distance meet in Baltimore). I don't care for the comments saying that the team Z people are doing something wrong, they signed up just like everyone else. The people at the zone level need to make sure it doesn't happen again.
On the other hand to say we are elitest or something else is off base, championship meets should seek out the fastest people who want to race, once that's done then if it is logistically possible, then let everyone else in. That's how triathlons are run as well, you don't just let anybody roll up to the national championships and step on in. At triathlon regional levels, things are undersubscribed and in fact you usually can just enter, but certainly not always.