LONGMONT — This year’s Longmont Ford St. Vrain Invite has a different name than in its past nine years and a few other wrinkles.
On Friday at Longmont High School’s Everly-Montgomery Field, meet sponsors, event sponsors and cash prizes will combine with the an expanded field of elite competitors to make this year’s contest much more than the average prep track and field meet.
Gold medalist from the 2000 Olympics, Nick Hysong, will highlight the field in the men’s elite pole vault.
Former Colorado Buffaloes sprinter Jeremy Dodson and Rubin Williams, a 17-time NCAA All-American, will compete in the elite 100-meter dash. CU assistant track coach Drew Morano will run the men’s elite 400. National indoor record-holder Brenda Bumgardner and 2011 USATF national champion Stephanie Simpkins will be featured in the women’s pole vault.
The elite field will include 100-, 200- and 400-meter races for men, men’s and women’s true mile races, and an elite pole vault for both men and women. The elite events will be sprinkled in between the prep events at a meet that includes athletes from more than 50 schools. The meet begins at 1:30 p.m.
“Basically, the elite vault, they are trying to hit Olympic qualifiers,” co-meet director Mark Roberts said. “It is fantastic. Just having the chance to see those kinds of athletes go through their warmups and do their drills, it’s inspiring for our high school guys.”
The elite races are also a chance for the Boulder County and St. Vrain area to showcase some of it’s own elite athletes. Boulder High sprints coach James Davis set the American record for 35-year-olds in the elite 400-meter race at last year’s race. Competing again this year, Davis relishes the chance to show his stuff in front of the athletes he mentors on a daily basis.
“Any time I get to run in front of the kids I coach, it means a lot to me for them to see me do that,” Davis said.
Davis himself played a huge role by using his contact in the sport to attract out-of-state athletes to this year’s meet, particularly in the sprints.
“Especially in the 100-meters, we’ve got guys who have gone under 10.2 or better this year,” Davis said.
Hoping to avoid past late nights vaulting until 11:30 p.m. or midnight, the event directors have also added a second pole vault pit this year.
“The vault has been the thorn in our flesh trying to get all the vaulters through,” Roberts said.
With so many high schools represented at the meet, entries are restricted to raise the level of competition. The intermingling of top-level prep competition with the elite star power makes the St. Vain Invite a special experience for both the prep athletes and the next-level elite.
“It’s an opportunity for a lot of these guys who came through these types of programs to give back to the sport,” Robert said. “Most kids tell us this is their favorite meet.”
With the exception of Nederland, Roberts said, every school from Boulder Valley and the St. Vrain school districts will be represented this year. When Roberts and Longmont High head coach Tim McIntire started the invite, they didn’t expect it would boom into what it has.
“When I came up with the meet nine years ago and asked Mark to come in and co-host, I never imagined we’d bring it to this level,” McIntire said.
Follow Brad on Twitter: @BradCochi