Youth Track and Field

The Dalles welcomed 75 track and field athletes for the annual Elementary School Meet held last Wednesday afternoon on the campus of Wahtonka High School at Sid White Field. All told, boys and girls from kindergarten-through-fifth grades learned about the sport and also competed for top-5 ribbons in eight events.                                                                                                                 Contributed photo

Last Wednesday at Wahtonka School in The Dalles, 75 local children were in action at the Elementary School Track and Field Meet on the campus of  Wahtonka High School at Sid White Field in The Dalles.

This meet is hosted by the physical education teachers at Chenowith, Dry Hollow and Colonel Wright, and students and high school track volunteers were on hand to teach the events and pass out ribbons, which were provided by the Colonel Wright and Dry Hollow PTO and PTA.

This event featured several new and returning kids from The Dalles, Mosier, Dallesport, Dufur, and Maupin put out their best efforts.

“The atmosphere is low key, and all we ask of the athletes is for them to get involved, do their best and never give up,” said event coordinator Tom Conklin. “The times of the races are called out, but not recorded. Parents have the ability to write down the time and distances, but it’s not the leading goal of each race.”

The first order of business focused on an hour of teaching field events, ranging from long jump, high jump, hurdles, javelin and the proper techniques for starting out of the blocks.

Each station had several of the young athletes observe, and after 20 minutes of teaching, they would compete and then rotate to a new event.

Over the second hour of the meet, boys and girls from kindergarten-through-fifth grade, participated in running events such as the 100-, 200-, and 400-meter races, and then finished with the 800.  

Ribbons were awarded to top-5 placers in each event.

“It seems that most of the kids will participate in every event,” said event coordinator Tom Conklin, a long-time P.E. instructor at Colonel Wright. “It is wonderful to see how a ribbon can motivate and satisfy these youngsters. In fact, these types of events will most likely produce our future middle and high school athletes. That’s worth the investment in itself.”  

More than the final times and ribbon awards, however, the whole goal of Conklin and his fellow physical education instructors, J.R. Runyon (Dry Hollow) and Samantha Tenneson (Chenowith), is to establish a love of athletics for these students.

While many athletes participate in several different avenues of entertainment, the main source of motivation is being in the outdoors, under the sun, with a smile on their faces, while friends and family cheer loudly around them.

“I just hope these youth events establishes two things, enjoy moving and competing and consider track and field, basketball, and many other sports in their future,” Conklin said.

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