One year after it was canceled due to COVID-19, the Hall County Track and Field Championships are back, and will kick off on Thursday at Cherokee Bluff High school.
The first events at the meet will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday afternoon, with finals coming on Friday.
As the event has drawn closer, Bears coach Matthew Brick said there’s been a buzz around his team as they prepare to compete for the county title.
“I feel like there’s a lot of motivation right now,” he said. “We’ve been training pretty well. Taking a year off and coming back, I feel like we’re pretty motivated. You never know when something could be taken away from you. That’s why you appreciate the past couple of months.”
Brick and the rest of the Cherokee Bluff athletic department have been preparing the school’s facilities with prep work for the past two weeks, doing everything possible to turn the venue into “something Hall County can be proud of.”
The event will be perhaps the biggest edition of the Hall County Championships, as it is the first time the county will hold a junior varsity championship alongside the varsity competition.
Brick said that increased interest in the track & field across the county is what prompted the inclusion of JV athletes.
“This is one of the fastest growing counties in the state, and this is a big sport,” he said. “So getting the opportunity for younger kids to compete is good, especially on a championship level.”
For many of the competitors, the Hall County meet is one of the only opportunities to go up against childhood friends from across the county they wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to compete against.
“There’s a little rivalry across the county,” Brick said.
Gainesville track and field coach Richard Corbett also said the rivalry aspect of the Hall County meet is always a great motivator for the athletes.
Although the county championship may not be as important as regional, sectional or state meets later in the year, Corbett said the members of his teams reserve a certain type of excitement for going up against their friends from across the county.
“I try to keep it in perspective and not put too much emphasis on it so we don’t back off of training too much, but the kids always like to be able to say that they were county champs,” he said. “That stays with them forever. I think there’s some excitement about being able to go head to head with the local schools and see who’s got the best performers out there.”
After missing out on much of the track & field season in 2020, local programs will not be lacking for competitive spirit come Thursday afternoon, and Corbett said he’s excited to see what his team and teams around the county are able to do.
“This will be a good opportunity for the kids to be able to compete against a bunch of friends of theirs,” he said. “There’s a lot of respect between the programs”