What started out as a vision to get the area's schools together for a track meet has turned into an important event in the middle of the season for those schools.
The Boulder County Invitational meet has taken place for over 40 years and will add to its latest chapter this Saturday at Everly-Montgomery Field in Longmont. With good weather scheduled for the weekend, the schools are anxious to compete with one another and see how well they will do.
More importantly, this meet serves as a prelude for what could come in May at the state meet.
"A lot of us in the area treat the state meet as the final test, so this is an important midterm for us," Lyons coach Mark Roberts said. "With this meet, obviously a lot of pride on the line for team titles, but not everyone is in the battle for those so other awards are out there for smaller programs. Between the two districts there is great camaraderie and competition."
With multiple trophies given out to teams and athletes, that means all the teams will have something to compete for in Longmont.
In addition to the team titles, the BoCo Meet also gives out the Bob Charles Award Trophy to help schools with lesser enrollment compete for a trophy using a pro-rated system that began in 1993. There will also be the Nancy Nixon Girls MVA and Don Meyers Boys MVA awards, the Outstanding Performance Awards for boys and girls, and the Lonnie Nixon Award Trophy for boys and girls handed out at the meet.
The multiple trophies and quality competition at the middle of the season makes this meet one of importance for the teams.
"We circle this one in our program and I know that others do as well," Roberts said. "Everyone that is somebody in the track world is excited for this meet. There is a lot of great competition and pride on the line but also love for the sport and how the kids from other schools get along."
And though the teams support each other during the season, they would love nothing more than to beat their local competition and stand out this weekend.
"My former athletes that I'll hear from want to know how this meet will go," Roberts said. "There is a level of interest that is unusual for a meet like this except for state. I'm sure the emphasis we put on it is part of it."
Athletes to watch
A stacked field is scheduled to compete at the BoCo meet. Entering this week, there are two boys, five girls and two relay teams that boast the best marks in the state in their respective events.
Cruz Culpepper of Niwot has emerged as one of the top distance runners in Class 4A and currently holds the fastest time in the 800 at 1:55.22. The other male athlete with a top mark in the state is Monarch's Max Manson in the pole vault, having cleared 17 feet at the Mullen Invitational on April 6. His mark is one of the best in the nation and trails the top mark set by Haze Farmer of Lake Hamilton High School in Arkansas by two inches.
Fast times are also found on the track for the girls, starting with Broomfield's Sydney Holiday in the 100 and 200. With times of 11.87 and 24.34 set at the Broomfield Duals back on March 28, she holds the fastest time in each event. Taylor James of Niwot is the fastest in the 400 with her time of 54.72 set at the Broomfield Shootout on March 23, and she helped the 800 sprint medley relay team run a time of 1:46.64 that is the best in the state in that event as well. The other girl to watch in sprints is Abbey Glynn of Mead in the 300 hurdles as she holds the best time in the state of 45.06 set at the Mullen Invitational.
A couple of distance times that are the best in the state come in the 1,600 and 4x800 relay. Marlena Preigh of Fairview ran the 1,600 in 5:00.43 at the Mullen Invitational, a mark that enters the week as the best in the state. At the Lyons Invitational on March 30, the 4x800 relay team from Peak to Peak won easily with a time of 9:31.98, a mark that still holds as the best in the state for the event.
Mia Manson, the other pole vaulter from Monarch that won a state title last year, enters the meet with the best mark on the girls side having cleared the bar at 12 feet.
Competition begins Saturday at 8:30 a.m.