Track-field day for kids 9-14 slated for Saturday

Need to jump, throw or run off some out-of-school, summer energy? Sign up for this Saturday’s Hershey’s Track and Field Games for boys and girls, with a full day of events planned for ages 9-14.
Registration is free and can be done online or at the Homer High School track from 9-9:45 a.m. Saturday. Registration will close promptly at 9:45 a.m. so the games can begin on time.
“We’re really excited about promoting health and fitness, track and field and having fun,” said Mike Illg, coordinator of the city of Homer’s Community Recreation Program, sponsor of the event.
This is the first time in six or seven years the event is being held in Homer.
“Interest had kind of dropped off and there weren’t enough kids signing up,” said Illg. “Then, of course, the track conditions were never right.”
With Homer High School’s new track, however, Illg has seen increased enthusiasm.
“This is definitely one of the premiere venues for utilizing the track and a great way to get kids into track and field,” said Illg.
With support from the Kachemak Bay Running Club and community volunteers, the day’s activities include five track and two field events.
Participants are divided into age groups: boys 9-10 and girls 9-10, boys 11-12 and girls 11-12; and boys 13-14 and girls 13-14. Each registrant chooses between two track events and one field event or two field events and one track event.
“There will be a total of 42 separate events,” said Illg of activities that include the 50-, 100-, 200-, 400-, 800- and 1600-meter dash, the 4×100 relay, long jump and softball throw. Some of the events are reserved for the older age group.
The top five finishers in each event will receive ribbons, everyone gets a certificate of participation and the winners of events get T-shirts.
More volunteers also are needed and will receive free T-shirts.
The Hershey’s Youth Program dates back to 1975 and Dr. Donald Cohen, who also founded the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in the United States. It was Cohen’s idea for battling the declining physical fitness of this country’s 9- to 14-year-olds. Cohen proposed introducing that age group to fitness through track and field events.
It began on 36 playgrounds in Charleston, W.Va. According to information provided on the games’ website, it has now spread across the country with more than 400,000 youngsters participating.
Illg anticipates Saturday’s games will last until mid-afternoon.
Now the only thing that remains to be seen is the weather.
“It’ll happen rain or shine,” said Illg.
Cloudy skies and temperatures hitting the 50s and 60s are forecast for Saturday by the National Weather Service Alaska Region.
“I saw the weather report,” said Illg. “We’ll continue to keep our fingers crossed.”
• Pre-registration is available online at: https://www.hersheystrackandfield.com/track-meet-central/find-a-track-meet.aspx.
• Registration forms also are available at the Community Recreation office located at Homer High or the City’s Parks & Rec website: http://www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/recreation/hershey-track-field-meet-ages-9-14
• To volunteer, contact Illg at 235-6090 or millg@ci.homer.ak.us
• For more about the Hershey’s Track and Field Games, visit hershystrackandfield.com.
McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.

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