Classic times ahead for elementary school track athletes
For the third year in a row the top elementary school track stars on the South Shore will be at the South Tahoe Middle School Olympic Track complex for the annual Fourth- and Fifth-Grade South Shore Track Classic.
Eight local schools will be sending their top three competitors to the event this Thursday.
Started in 1999, the meet has evolved into one of the area’s premier track events.
“The first year we just kind of threw it together,” meet director Anthony Davis said. “Last year, it was canceled because the South Tahoe Track Foundation folded.
“But I took it over with my business and this year we notified all the coaches as early as January so they could prepare their athletes.”
As the meet has become more organized, more and more schools have become involved. This year, Bijou and Meyers held qualifying meets to determine who will represent the schools on Thursday.
Scott Hudson, a Meyers physical education teacher, has been running his event for about 12 years and sees how the addition of the South Shore Classic has helped rejuvenate interest in the sport.
“I was at Sierra House this afternoon and saw a lot of kids practicing and getting ready for the event,” Hudson said. “It’s great to see more and more people getting involved.”
Bijou’s qualifying event is new this year and should help its children compete for the team title, which Meyers has won three years running.
Returning to the Meyers squad are Bryan Burnham, Morgan Cook, Patrice Bergsohn, Jordan Dalton, Gary Graham and Kristen Tolbert. They each won events as fourth-graders. Burnham almost single-handedly carried the boys’ team as he won the 200-meter dash, 400, 800, 1,600 and was a member of the 4×100 relay team.
He, along with his teammates, have their eyes on setting new meet records.
“There were 19 records set last year and I expect at least 10 to fall this year,” Davis said.
Hudson isn’t sure his team is a shoe-in for another title.
“We have a pretty good group with a lot of returners,” he said. “But each year is different. You never know what will happen.”
Tess Braun is the top girl runner for Tahoe Valley. As a fourth-grader, Braun won the 100, 200 and long jump and holds the meet record in the 100 (14.3).
There is a couple new twists to this year’s event as each competitor is only allowed to compete in four events, unlike in the past when they could do as many as they wanted.
“We made the change because the meet is a scoring event and we wanted to limit the events,” Davis said. “We score all eight spots and give ribbons to the top six.
“That way it gives the kids incentive to work hard to get into the top six.”
Also, Davis has added third-grade relays to give the younger athletes a taste of the meet.
The one-day event will start with field events at 3:45 p.m., with the track events starting at 4:30 p.m. at the middle school.
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