USATF to hold state meet at Memorial Stadium

Published 6:59 pm Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hundreds of athletes will compete for state championships Saturday at Memorial Stadium in the Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships.

The championships are part of the United States of America Track & Field Championships, which are for children ages 8-18. Organizers are expecting around 450 athletes to compete from track clubs around the state.

“For it to be here in our hometown, it’s going to be awesome,” said Jeffery Walker, organizer of Selma’s Walker Track Club.

Dale Beard, who is the meet director and chairs the USATF Alabama youth committee, said he wanted to move the meet around from year to year. In past years, the meet has been held in Birmingham.

“The reason we are doing it is to move the meet around each year so it can get more exposure in different places,” Beard said.  “I know a lot of times people don’t realize such a thing exists as summer track.”

Beard said he’s expecting around 700 people to travel to Selma this weekend to either watch or take part in the meet. The meet is scheduled to take place from 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. on Saturday and 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Track clubs are expected to compete from Gulf Shores, Huntsville, Mobile, Gadsden, Birmingham and Montgomery.

“You have quite a few teams that are coming and staying in hotels and because of that most of the hotels are booked up,” Beard said.

Selma’s Walker Track Club will have as many as 14 athletes competing, but Walker said several of his team members may be out of town for vacations.

Rashni Walker, Josiah Walker, Malachi Walker, Jaquavious Levins and Jaterious Levins have all confirmed their participation, coach Walker said.

“They are really excited and also nervous about it,” coach Walker said.

Lebo Jones, interim recreation director for Selma’s Parks and Recreation Department, said the city will provide radios and golf carts for the meet.

“They’re running the show,” Jones said. “We’re just providing the facility for them.”

In the past, Memorial Stadium has hosted the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s state meet, but that meet moved to Cullman last year.

The stadium also hosts the Alabama Independent School Association meet each year.

“We’ve got the equipment and we’ve got the facilities and we love to offer events here,” Jones said of renting out the stadium.

The top eight qualifiers from each event will move on to LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for regional’s.

The USATF national championships will be held July 25-31 at Sacramento State University in Sacramento, California.

Admission to this weekend’s meet in Selma is $6 a day or $10 for a two day pass.