MOUNT VERNON — The area’s best track and field athletes are gearing up a strong night of competition when the 2010 Mount Vernon SpecTRACKular showcase kicks off on Friday. Athletes from 10 area schools will challenge each other to see who is the best, and ultimately, who is the Most Valuable Competitor.
SpecTRACKular was the brainchild of former News sports editor Joe Wasiluk. Wasiluk, who printed the top 10 News area athletes with the best performances in each track and field event each week, had the idea to showcase these athletes on Mount Vernon High School’s all-weather track.
It was decided that there would be no team score, but instead the idea was to emphasize the accomplishments of the individuals in the area schools. In 1980, the News coverage area included the teams from Centerburg, Clear Fork, Danville, East Knox, Fredericktown, Highland, Mount Vernon, Northridge and Utica. Johnstown was added to the area for the seventh meet that took place on Friday, May 2, 1986.
Originally, the coaches voted for a Most Valuable Competitor award for a boy and a girl each meet, but over time, a more even system of points scored during the meet was adopted and is still used today.
The 31st running of SpecTRACKular will be held at Mount Vernon’s Yellow Jacket Stadium. A few changes have been made this year, beginning with the start time. The pole vault competition will begin at 5 p.m., while the shot put, discus, long jump and high jump events will commence at 5:30 p.m. Track events will begin at 6:30 p.m. this year, and will be run in order until completion. Awarding of the Most Valuable Competitors will be held at approximately 9:45 p.m. Also this year, commemorative T-shirts will be available for a nominal fee.
The major change this season is the addition of Fully Automatic Timing. FAT eliminates human, hand-held timers at the finish line as cameras record the finish. This allows for more precise results. FAT is used at many of the bigger meets, including the District, Regional and State tournaments. On The Mark Timing will be providing FAT for the SpecTRACKular.
SpecTRACKular is coming off a banner year in 2009, a year that saw seven records broken or tied. Most Valuable Competitor honors went to Mount Vernon High School seniors Danae Rockwell and Thoren Lindsey. Rockwell broke two records individually — the 100-meter hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles — and ran the third leg of the winning 4x100-meter relay team, which also set a new meet record. Finally, Rockwell ran the anchor leg of the Jackets’ 4x400-meter relay team which won first. Lindsey was part of the winning boys 4x200-meter relay team, which set the meet record, and the 4x400-meter relay team, which finished first. In addition, Lindsey won both the 400-meter dash and the 100-meter dash.
This season’s competitors will all be running for the top spots on the podiums, and a few will challenge for the Most Valuable Competitor honors. The returning champions from a year ago are: Dana VanDervort (Long Jump); Leevi Stump, Mount Vernon (Long Jump); Jessica Roden, Mount Vernon (High Jump); Nathan Cubbage, Fredericktown (High Jump); Kaitlyn Newkirk, Fredericktown (Pole Vault); Austin Morgan, Utica (110-meter Hurdles); Caleb Thomas, Mount Vernon (300-meter Hurdles); Kaila Cramer, Johnstown (800-meter Run); Taylor Jones, East Knox (200-meter Dash); and Erica Garn, Clear Fork (3,200-meter Run).