Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Track Shorts - Spotlight on the Preps

Once every Blue Moon high school athletes take the spotlight in this sport. This weekend is one of those Blue Moons here in California as The Arcadia Invitational takes center stage in Southern California.

Once just a small local invitational meet, the Arcadia Invitational has grown to become the mid season "Preview" to the State High School Championships every year, as the top high school athletes from all over the state gather for early season bragging rights. The meet has become so large that it also attracts athletes from other parts of the country, with top athletes from Nevada and Arizona being semi regulars at the meet, and national leaders from many corners of the country often stopping in to take aim at California's best.

This year's meet will feature Reggie Wyatt (La Sierra HS) who ran a same meet 400/300IH double of 46.67/36.59 a couple of weeks ago to lead the nation in both events. He will be focusing on the hurdles at Arcadia and will be taking aim at the National High School Record of 35.28 set by Jeshua Anderson in 2007. How good is that mark? Well Bershawn Jackson (35.39) and Kerron Clement (35.42) last year's bronze and silver medalists in the intermediate hurdles in Beijing both fell short of this mark when they were in high school! It is indeed a stellar record. And Wyatt a stellar athlete that is very much capable of taking this mark down. His attempt to do so is reason enough to take in this meet.

There will be solid fields in every event and event by event previews can be found at Arcadia is one of the top meets in California every year - and that includes collegiate and elite meets. The competition, the atmosphere, the excitement, all make Arcadia a meet that is as good as it gets.

Speaking of high school meets, the past couple of weekends I've spent time at local invitationals watching high school athletes compete. Pleasant weather sitting in the stands watching lots of young people giving their all. If you haven't watched high schoolers or youth athletes compete recently, you should. As a matter of fact, elite athletes and coaches should be required to watch at least two such meets every season. Because these young people are the essence of the sport. They remind me of why I fell in love with this sport. The joy of competition. The community atmosphere of the sport. The thrill of setting a new personal best. The purity of simply doing the very best you can in pursuit of your own sense of excellence. And just plain having FUN! Go watch a high school or youth meet and catch that spirit all over again.

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