Speed to burn
A bright, sunny Saturday morning brought lots of energy out of the dozens of kids who came out to run, jump and throw at the Hershey's Track and Field Games, put on by Lee County Parks and Recreation at Southern Lee High School.
All the energy on and around the track was such that, at times at least, Ben Lucas, one of the meet organizers for Parks and Recreation, needed plenty of his own energy to get each sprinting event going. He called it, "controlling chaos" but Lucas, himself a former track athlete at the prep and collegiate levels, has helped lead this growing program.
The Hershey's meet, with this the third year of it in Lee County and with it growing steadily in participation, comes as the finale for all the kids in the parks and recreation track season for elementary- and middle-school kids who probably wouldn't get introduced to track and field otherwise.
"Track is a great thing for kids, especially kids this age, to be involved in," said Lamont Piggie, one of Southern Lee's track coaches who was helping Saturday.
Boys and girls ages 9-14 compete, or are just trying out for the first time, in relays, a softball toss, broad jump and track distances from 50 meters to 1,600.
Along with producing a few more Cavalier or Yellow Jacket track athletes down the road, fostering self esteem and self confidence, along with plain old healthy exercise, are certain positives as well, Piggie said.
Unlike some other sports, even at a recreational level, good athletic shoes are the only gear needed to play. Ability and experience help, as the Hershey's meet is competitive - with the top finishers moving on to a district meet, then from there state finals, then perhaps as far as the North American Final Meet in Hershey, Pa. Aug. 1-4.
At the long jump pit, after the first round of three in the boys 11-12 year-old group, the broad jump contest became about each kid topping his first mark more than who had the lead.
The top two in each event at Southern Lee earned spots to the district meet at Mills Park Middle School in Cary on Thursday. The top two per event at the district level qualify for the state meet at Meredith College in Raleigh on June 28.