The high school track and field season will get underway Saturday when Chadron State College hosts an indoor meet in the Nelson Physical Activity Center. The field events will start at 9 a.m. and the track events at 11.
Chadron State Coach Riley Northrup said Wednesday that while entries will be accepted through Friday afternoon, officials from approximately 15 high schools have notified him that their teams will complete.
This will be the 35th year that Chadron State College has been the site of an indoor meet since the Nelson Center was completed. The first meet took place on March 28, 1987. The initial meets were sponsored by the Chadron Rotary Club and primarily featured teams from the immediate area.
A few years later, Chadron State track coaches, aided by their athletes, also began sponsoring an indoor meet that drew participants from larger schools in the Panhandle, South Dakota and Wyoming. The two meets continued until 2010, when they were combined.
The meets had taken place 33 years in a row before the COVID 19 invasion caused the 2020 meet as well as all the other track and field activities that season to be cancelled.
Thankfully, last year things got back on track. About 300 athletes from nine schools—some of them the largest in the Panhandle and some them the smallest—participated. The meet was a welcomed with open arms by both the coaches and the athletes.
Indications are this year’s meet will be considerably larger.
Northrup, who will be the meet director, said many high school coaches appreciate having an early-season meet that they can count on. He noted it helps them evaluate their team and also energizes the athletes, giving them a chance to compete under ideal conditions.