A multitude of track athletes converged Wednesday afternoon at Sparks Stadium for the fourth Pierce County Parks and Recreation meet of the summer.
Coordinator Jeanette Sieler said attendance this summer has eclipsed the previous four or five years.
“We have been averaging between 400 to 450 people,” she said. “Even last week (June 26), with the pouring rain, we had a huge turnout.”
The event costs $7 per participant.
Sieler said the meet brings together a wide age range of people.
“I think people are looking for fun ways to be physically fit,” she said. “We have people as young as 2-year-olds all the way to a few guys who are in their 70s competing. It’s fun watching grandparents and grandkids compete in the same meet.”
Former Washington State University track athlete Justin Temple, who is the head coach of Team Blackout based in Tacoma, said he enjoys seeing athletes improve their times.
Temple ran the 800-meter dash and the 1,600 meters at WSU during the early 2000s.
“For me, it’s bigger than just being competitive,” Temple said. “I want the kids to develop a sense of sound sportsmanship. I really push them to push themselves. I want them to be competitive, and I let them know every week they are actually racing against the clock instead of racing against other individuals.
“As long as they come out here and do their best and try to get a PR (personal record) each week, then I’m happy.”
Temple said Cinque Maxwell of Blackout is one of the fastest athletes in the state. The 8-year-old has posted the best times in his age group in each of the 100, 200 and 400.
Rogers High School hurdler Eric Simpson, who won the Class 4A state title in the 110-meter hurdles, attended the meet and competed in the 100. He said it felt great to be back in a competitive environment.
“After the track season ended, I took about a week and a half off,” Simpson said. “Right after that, I started getting back to doing drills and doing my workouts again. I came here today just to gauge where I am at. The 100 meters is a fun race, and I don’t get to run it very often.”
Simpson, who will be a senior this fall, said he has been practicing with the Rams’ cross country team this summer in order to build his endurance.
“Hopefully training with those guys will translate into better results for me in the 300-meter hurdlers and 1,600-meter relay,” he said.
Fellow Rogers track athlete Tyree Fort took a break from his daily football workouts to join Simpson at the track meet.
“I’m just trying to keep my flow going,” Fort said. “I’m focused on football, but I wanted to incorporate some track workouts this summer. This gives me an opportunity to do that. I want to do everything I can to maintain my times.”