By KEVIN WEAKS
The best is back.
The Rotary Relays, entering is 35th year, returns on Thursday with 14 teams converging on War Memorial Stadium for what is one the state longest-running high school track and field meets.
Action begins with the field events at 3:30 p.m. The 3,200-meter run starts at 4:30, and the remaining track events get going at 5:30.
The meet is also annually praised as one of the best across the Volunteer State, a direct reflection on the Union City Rotary Club, which has members volunteering their time to oversee every venue and event.
“It’s the best track meet in the state and we’re not the only ones who say that,” UC boys’ head coach Darren Bowling said. “We hear every year from other coaches about how well this meet is run and how smoothly everything goes. The coaches can come here and just coach their teams. They don’t have to worry about timing a race or measuring in a field event because the Rotarians do such a good job of running the meet.”
And, because the local Rotary members are so good at what they do, they will be called back into active duty the following week. Members of the club will help organize and run the sub-sectional meet May 8 and 10 at the UC facility.
“We have a great place here, and we’ve been wanting to get a bigger meet,” Bowling said. “With help from members of the Rotary Club, we’ll be able to have the first round of the postseason here at home.”
The War Memorial venue, which has all the events literally within a few steps of each other, received a major upgrade prior to last season’s meet. The six-lane Dave Shatz Track was resurfaced, along with the high jump pit.
A double sand pit to accommodate both the triple and long jumps was also installed.
New this year will be an automated timer at the finish line to determine the placements of any running events that end in a photo finish.
The meet itself will again feature some of the top athletes from West Tennessee and western Kentucky.
Union City’s place in the field will be determined by its distance and runners on the boys’ side and throwers in the girls’ meet.
Golden Tornado junior Daniel Williamson has picked up where he left off in the fall cross country season by faring well for the Twisters in the 1,600 and 800 meter distance events.
Union City, last year’s meet champion, could also make some noise in the relay events.
For the Lady Tornadoes, Jasmine Dysart and Jackie Hudson should do well in the shot put and discus events, while Chloe Smithson is making a name for herself in the 1,600-meter run.
“Jasmine and Jackie are doing well right now,” UC girls’ coach Preston Martin said. “They’re starting to peak, and Jasmine really came on in Friday’s meet. Chloe’s running well and, hopefully, will be able to get us some points on the track.”
While Union City has a solid track history, evidenced by the many state meet appearances and several state championships, Bowling believes the program will get even better in the years to come thanks to the progress of the middle school program.
“We’re already starting to see the benefits of our middle school track program,” Bowling said. “They are coming here prepared and knowledgeable of how to compete.”
Schools expected to join UC include Dyer County, Dyersburg, Haywood, Humboldt, McKenzie, Munford, Obion County Central, Ripley, South Fulton and Trinity Christian Academy from Tennessee and Fulton County, Graves County and Mayfield from Kentucky.
Sports reporter Kevin Weaks can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 5.2.12