By John Goralski
Former teammates competed on the track. Others were throwing the shot put for the first time since high school graduation. Last year, Blue Knight track coach Matt Shea decided to gather some of his old teammates to compete on the high school track as a sort of make-shift alumni track meet.
They had a cook-out. They shared some laughs as former jumpers tried to sprint and distance runners tried to throw. They raised some money to donate to the high school teams, and they had a little fun.
It was so much fun that Shea decided to grow the event in 2013. He’s expanded the number of events. He’s opened up the competition, and he’s increased the number of competitions. For most track and field athletes, competition ends at graduation. Sure, distance runners have road races, but how about the rest?
Shea said that the 2013 Southington Alumni Track & Field Meet Series might be just what the doctor ordered.
“I see all these people running 5K and 10K events, but I was a sprinter in high school. There weren’t any events for those people that still like to train but don’t like to do those longer events,” he said. “This state has a lot of people that have done track, and I’m sure that some of them still want to see how well they can do. Can they still run the times that they used to? Do they want to know their times in the 100m or their distance in the javelin? It’s a cool event, and it’s something that I always wanted to run.”
The series will include three different competitions on Sunday, July 21, Thursday, Aug. 1, and Tuesday, Aug. 13. All three meets will be held on the Southington High School complex with check-in at 5:30 p.m. for the weekday meets and at 9:30 a.m. for the Sunday competition.
“We’re trying to make it kid-friendly so you can come down here with your family to see mom or dad run,” said Shea. “We’re trying to make it a nice all-day event for everybody. We’ll have the concessions set up. We’ll have food and drinks. We’ll have electronic timing, and we’ll be donating the profits to the high school track teams.”
Pre-registration is already underway with forms available at the high school’s athletic website (www.SouthingtonSports.com). Pre-registration is $10. On-site registration is $15, and pre-registration for multiple meets has an additional discount.
Entrants are able to compete in three open events and one relay. Track events will include the 4×800 relay, the 50m dash, the 50m hurdles, the 1600m, 100m, 200m, 800m, 400m, 3200m, and the 4x100m relay. The field events will include the long jump, high jump, discus, and shot put.
Relays will be open to mens teams, womens teams, and coed squads. Shea is considering other events at the final meet if there’s an interest. He’s considering things like team field events, medley relays, or unique relays.
“We’ll have some college athletes running, but we’re hoping to get some of the recreational crowd as well,” said Shea. “We’re going to do everything except the pole vault, so we’re hoping to attract those guys that used to throw in high school or college. Maybe they’re even stronger than they were in high school, so they want to try throwing for the first time. Maybe they just want to do it again or show their kids. We’re trying to structure this thing as a fun event. It’s a new way to have some fun and compete.”
Last year’s competition was marketed just to Southington High School alumni, but Shea has opened the meet to anyone who’s interested in competing. It’s a chance to compete on a state-of-the-art facility in Southington’s brand new turf complex, and he hopes to create an annual event for the community which will benefit the high school teams.
“We’re really looking to expand this thing, so we’re going to open it up to anybody that wants to compete,” he said. “We want to get as many people as possible to support our program and have some fun. We’d love to see a rival that we used to compete against in high school, a former high school athlete, or someone who wants to compete.”