Who will win the Knights Cup? Track and field meet offers fun for all ages

Track - SHSBy JOHN GORALSKI
EDITOR

Which school will score the most points? Who is faster—brother, sister, mom, or dad? On Saturday, June 11, Southington residents will be able to answer these questions and many more at the Knights Cup Track Meet.

The meet is designed as a community-wide track and field series, presented by a partnership between the Southington YMCA and the Blue Knight track and field programs. It is open to boys, girls, men, and women from fourth grade and beyond. On one track, on one day… this unique sporting event is in a class of its own.

“Last year, we ran three different meets on three different days,” said YMCA Executive Director John Myers, “but after we looked at it, we realized we could do it all in one day and create a lot more energy with young athletes and older athletes all there for the same meet.”

Don’t worry. Fourth graders won’t be competing head-to-head with parents or high school students. The event is actually three separate events rolled into one. Heats will be divided into three divisions—grades 4-5, grades 6-8, and grade 9 to adult.

Athletes will be limited to just two events, but that doesn’t count relays. Participants will be able to choose from a wide array of track and field events. Track events include the 100m, 400m, and 1600m, along with a 4x100m relay. Field events will consist of long jump, shot put, and turbo javelin (a rubber javelin weighing 300g for youth and 400g for 14 years and older).

“The big, over-arching goal in all of this is to expose the kids to track and field,” said race director Dan Dachelet. “They already have cross country and running clubs at various levels, but track and field doesn’t exist in Southington at the elementary school or middle school levels other than a very small concentration in our physical education courses.”

That’s why excitement is already building for this unique event. Varsity hopefuls can compete in a wide variety of events. Future Knights can set a baseline for future development, and former Knights can see how they measure up to past performances.

“For a lot of them, it’s their first opportunity to really enjoy the sports aspect for themselves,” said Dachelet. “They’ll actually begin to get their marks in the fourth grade and see the improvement throughout the years.”

To help the young hopefuls perform at their best, a practice session has been scheduled for the field events on Tuesday, June 7, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Members of the Southington High School boys and girls track team will be on hand to offer direction and support to young athletes.

“For those technical events like the long jump, the shot put, and the turbo javelin, it will be a big help,” said Dachelet. “We’ll be showing them the technique and teaching them some drills so that, when they show up on that Saturday, it’s not the first time that they’re attempting it.”

Each event will compete with elementary students first, followed by middle school and the open division.

The younger divisions will have a team element with students at the town’s middle schools and elementary schools scoring points in the individual events to benefit their school. The top eight finishers in each event will earn medals and points (10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1) which will be added to their school’s total.

The elementary school and middle school with the most points will be awarded the Knights Cup to guard for a full year. Kennedy Middle School and Derynoski Elementary School will be defending their 2015 titles.

“I think it’s great that we are able to use these sorts of events as a motivator for school pride,” said Dachelet. “We have nine elementary schools because we even have Southington Catholic School participating this year. They all get to go head-to-head against each other as we score the meet. They have relays that can go head-to-head, and we can even do it for the middle schools.”

Donations are suggested at $2 to $5 for each event. Proceeds will benefit youth running programs. Over the past few years, running programs have exploded at the elementary and middle school levels. On Memorial Day weekend, a number will be competing at the “Run for Ben” at YMCA Camp Sloper. Summer programs like “Sloper Trails” offer runners a chance to compete in a fun and competitive atmosphere.

Now, the field events have an outlet, too.

“We can see this thing really starting to boom, and we’ve seen in the past that it carries right over to the middle schools,” said Myers.

“We want the kids to realize that this is a great sport, and it’s something that they can see themselves doing for the rest of their high school career,” said Dachelet. “This will help us develop those sprinters, the jumpers, and the throwers… We want them all to be a part of the track program.”

For more information, contact Dan Dachelet at coachdashxc@gmail.com.

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