Rifle’s Hershey track meet won’t see bittersweet end
Citizen Telegram Sports Editor
The annual Hershey Track and Field meet held at Bears Stadium won’t be the same after its last running on June 7.
It turns out this past Saturday’s event, which drew close to 50 competitors of all ages, will be the last with the Hershey label on it. Steve Samson, a recreation coordinator for the Rifle Parks & Recreation Department, said Hershey will make this year the last for its open, free-of-charge, nationwide event.
That won’t keep a summer track and field meet from happening annually in Rifle, however. Swanson said the rec department plans to keep the meet running in the years to come, helping increase the emphasis for children’s physical fitness.
Suffice to say, there won’t be a bittersweet end to the event.
“We’re a recreation department, so our business is all about promoting things that have to do with physical fitness,” Samson said. “Things like this spark interest at an early age. It’s not about winning and losing, because a lot of these kids aren’t old enough to understand that. These kids will remember the fun they had, and it will carry on down the road.”
That young audience turned out to be the meet’s target audience. Many of the participants were between the ages of 3 and 8 years old, which is below the 9-year-old limit Hershey requires to advance to its North American Final meet from July 31 to Aug. 3 in Hershey, Pa. Athletes who placed high in their individual events could advance to a district Hershey meet prior to the final.
Among those young competitors was Abigail Berglund, a 5 1/2-year-old who’ll be a first grader at Graham Mesa Elementary School in Rifle in the fall. She gave a gallant effort in the softball throw, but was beaten out in the event by her older sister, 8-year-old Madelyn.
That didn’t really matter to Abigail, though. “I go speedy,” said Abigail, who was also running in the 50 meters later in the day.
But just how speedy?
“Speedy,” she replied with a smile.
Granted, there were plenty of other older competitors in the meet. The Glenwood Springers track club had a large turnout, making up close to half of the meet’s field.
Still, the Berglund girls weren’t the only younger kids competing. Six-year-old Audrey Parkinson, who attends Highland Elementary School in Rifle, had her reasons for coming out to the meet other than beating her kid brother, 4-year-old Jaden.
“I like to run because it keeps you exercising and keeps you strong,” she said.
Older competitors, however, are already keeping track of how much progress they’ve made in certain events.
“That’s my best jump,” said 11-year-old Kobe Ottosen of Silt, after he went 5 feet, 5 inches in the standing long jump. “I’m pretty happy with that.”
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