POULSBO — Track and field season is winding down for junior high athletes, but the final district meet looms on the horizon for many Poulsbo, Kingston and Bremerton junior high sprinters, throwers and jumpers.
The district finale meet is usually dominated by ninth graders who are more physically mature than their fellow teammates in the seventh and eighth grades.
But those who didn’t qualify for the district meet, got an opportunity to perform one last time this season against athletes of their own ability and age levels at the annual seventh and eighth grade meet Tuesday afternoon at North Kitsap Stadium. Nearly 150 athletes between the three schools laced up their spikes for the competition.
PJH coach Joe Power said it gives the younger kids a chance to shine in front of a large crowd.
“The objective of this meet is for athletes to participate in events they really haven’t done that much earlier in the season,” he said. “Sometimes ninth graders take the spotlight during the season. This gives the younger kids a chance to get into the spotlight.”
Power said placings and times are not what the meet is about. Even so, the competition is fierce.
“Each athlete goes against someone close to their ability levels. Usually it’s seventh graders against seventh graders and eighth graders against eighth graders.” he said. “We want our younger athletes to finish the year with a good feeling about track.”
Power said this is more important than ever, considering the junior highs in North Kitsap will become middle schools in the fall.
“We’re counting on a lot of this years’ seventh graders to be our leaders of the team next year,” he said.
KJH throwers coach James Andrews agreed with Power.
“This meet’s all about the kids having fun,” he said. “It’s a fun relaxed atmosphere. It’s a fun day.”
Andrews said each athlete benefits from competing in a meet with countless competitors.
“It’s a great chance to get them associated with a big meet like this. A lot of people are watching. It gives them a taste of what postseason meets are all about.”
Most importantly, it gives athletes one more chance to perform in front of family members and friends.
“For the kids who didn’t make it to districts, this gives them a chance to have a big finish to their season,” he said.