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Youth sports: Kids to take a bite out of Hershey's track

WORTHINGTON — Kids from throughout southwest Minnesota will be in Worthington Saturday with the hope of running, jumping or throwing their way to state.

Once again this summer, Worthington is the host site of the southwest regional Hershey’s Track and Field Meet. Meets are held nationwide throughout the summer, with boys and girls ages 9-14 having a chance to qualify for the national meet in Hershey, Penn. Worthington’s meet is a state qualifier, with the top four athletes in each event advancing to the state meet in St. Peter on June 28.

“It’s been really nice to be the host,” said Worthington YMCA programs director CJ Nelson. “A lot kids from town can do it because they don’t have to go anywhere. It also gives kids a chance who are in baseball — if they don’t have a tournament — to give it a try. Or maybe even just kids who aren’t in track and field; it’s a good opportunity for kids to have a good time and learn what track and field’s all about.”

Although there were a few kids pre-registered prior to Saturday’s meet, Nelson said most usually will sign up when registration begins the morning of the meet. This year’s competition, which is at Trojan Field, begins at 10 a.m. today with the sign-up period opening an hour beforehand.

In terms of how many kids will compete, Nelson said a lot of that will depend on the weather. In years past, he said they have had as many as 200 kids competing and as few as 100; the latter of which occurs when there is poor weather. If conditions are bad enough to postpone the meet, a makeup date has been scheduled for Monday.

The competition will begin with field events — standing long jump and the softball throw — at 10 a.m., followed by an 11 a.m. start time for the running events; which include dashes of 50, 100 and 200 meters, 400- and 800-meter runs and a 4x100-meter relay. Kids ages 9-12 can compete in a total of three events (must be two track and one field or vice versa) along with the relay. Ages 13-14 can compete in up to three events.

Cost to compete is $5 per athlete and there is a $5 gate fee for parents or spectators. Kids must also bring a copy of their birth certificate for registration.

The young athletes will also get a chance to work with volunteer assistants, including Worthington High track and field coaches and student-athletes.

“It’s just a fun day for a lot of people,” Nelson said. “It’s fun to see kids achieve things. Any time kids hear anything about ‘going to state’ they think it’s a big deal. And it is. We get to send kids to state and seeing their excitement is always fun.”

Zach Hacker

Zach is the Daily Globe sports reporter. He has previously been a sports editor at both the Waseca County News in Waseca, Minn., and The Emporia Gazette in Emporia, Kansas. He is originally from New Richland, Minn., and now lives in Worthington with his dog; a beagle-corgi mix named Homer. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with family and friends, pontooning on St. Olaf Lake and watching professional and collegiate sports.

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