Open Track Meet gives everyone a chance to run

NINE-YEAR-OLD ABAGALE STONE from Palisade jumps more than five feet Thursday in the standing long jump competition at the Lincoln Park Open Track Meet. There will be another open meet on July 23.

The Lincoln Park Open Track Meet gives everyone the opportunity to run, throw and jump.

Thursday was the first of two track meets this summer at Stocker Stadium put on by the Grand Junction Parks and Recreation department that allows athletes of all ages to compete.

“We want to promote track as well as being active and healthy,” meet organizer Shon Birch said. “Running is a life-long sport, you can do it forever.”

The age groups for the meet begin at 3 and under, with divisions for ages 4-6, 7-10,  11-14, 15-17 and 18 and above. Birch said most of the roughly 100 competitors Thursday were in the 3-14 age range.

The youngest runners enter in sprint events from 50 to 200 meters, with longer distances offered for older athletes. Field events are the softball throw and long jump.

There are no heats, and all the competitors receive a ribbon for racing.

The next Lincoln Park Open begins at 7:30 p.m. on July 23.

“Both track meets are pretty large,” Birch said. “It’s very popular. People like to bring their kids down and run track.”

Olivia Stoffel, 4, and her sister Syndi, 7, took their turns at the long jump as they waited for their running events.

The girls’ father, Henry, said this is the first year the two have entered the track meet, and said the girls were a little nervous.

“They both had butterflies,” Henry Stoffel said. “Olivia said to us, ‘My tummy hurts,’ but
it’s a wonderful event to get the kids out.”

Stoffel said it was a good opportunity for the young girls to go from spectators to competitors.

“They always get dragged along to their older siblings’ sporting events,” Stoffel said.

“Now they are excited because they actually get to participate and compete.”

Birch agreed, saying the track meet allows younger kids to compete against their own age group, no matter how old they are.

“There are age requirements for soccer and tee-ball, so this is an event that is good for 2- or 3-year-olds to come out and get exposed to sports,” Birch said. “They can compete against kids their own age, which makes it fun and fair for them.”

Along with the large contingent of Grand Junction-area runners, the Glenwood Springs Springers brought roughly 70 kids to Thursday’s meet.

Myriah Blair, a coach for the Springers, said the organization teaches children about track during a seven-week program.

“We want to have the kids learn about track and field, but also learn about nutrition,” Blair said. “And for us, having fun is always important.”


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