Lisle to host national youth track meet
Keeping your eyes to the skies and feet on the ground takes on new meaning in Lisle for this year's Independence Day holiday.
The popular Lisle Eyes to the Skies Festival is a long-standing family event with hot air balloons and fireworks filling the skies Thursday to Saturday, July 2-4.
The feet on the ground, in a starter block, suggests the 2015 USA Track and Field events running Tuesday to Sunday, June 30 to July 5, at the Village of Lisle/Benedictine University Sports Complex. Many talented athletes, officials, trainers and families will travel from around the country to participate and encourage young athletes to do their best.
"Participants typically produce several youth national records at these events," said Lorrette Cherry, USA Track and Field Illinois Association secretary, who works in the organization's Lisle office. "The best athletes challenge one another to enhance their performances."
The USA Track and Field is a national governing body that oversees the sports of track and field, long-distance running and race walking. USA Track and Field 2015 World Youth Trials and the USATF Hershey National Youth Outdoor Track and Field Championships will overlap events at the Lisle sports complex.
An estimated 2,500 young people between the ages of 7 and 18 will compete on the certified fields in more than 300 events over six age divisions within the six days. Awards go to both teams and individuals. Events start at 8 a.m. each day and conclude in the late afternoon.
National events for boys and girls age 7 and 8 are long jump, shot put and mini javelin as well as 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 400-meter dash, 800-meter run, 1500-meter run, 4x100-meter relay and 4x400-meter relay.
All these same events are held for boys and girls ages 9 and 10 with the addition of high jump, 1,500-meter race walk and a triathlon that includes high jump, shot put and either a 200-meter run for girls or a 400-meter run for boys. In race walking, the athlete's back toe cannot leave the ground until the front foot touches the ground.
Boys and girls ages 11 and 12 compete in all of the above events as well as a 3,000-meter run, a 4x800-meter relay, long jump, 80-meter hurdles and discus. For this age group, the triathlon is replaced by a pentathlon that has 80-meter hurdles, shot put, high jump and long jump and an 800-meter run for girls and a 1,500-meter run for boys.
In the 13 to 14 age divisions, boys and girls participate in all the above events with the addition of a 3,000-meter race walk, a triple jump, pole vault and hurdles in 100 meters and 200 meters. The mini javelin that is 330 grams changes to the regulation javelin at 600 grams. There also is a 3-inch difference in the height of the hurdles between the boys' and girls' races.
For 15- and 16-year-old boys and girls, and the 17 to 18 age division, all the same events take place, however the hurdle height increases by 6 inches for boys and 3 inches for girls, and the 200-meter hurdles is now 400 meters. New at this level of the competition are a 2,000-meter steeplechase, hammer throw, a decathlon for boys and a heptathlon for girls.
To be considered for the World Youth Team and represent the United States in Cali, Colombia, in July for the World Youth Championships, 17- and 18-year-old athletes need to qualify at an official competition organized in conformity with International Association of Athletics Federation rules. At the Lisle event, some athletes will attempt to qualify for a position on that team.
Athletes, who must qualify to participate, will travel from San Diego and Cincinnati, from Oklahoma City and Aurora. Organizers estimate more than 200 teams will compete as will 250 "unattached" athletes who are not on a team.
Two ancillary events also will take place at the sports complex. From 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 3, Hershey sponsors a celebration of athletes with carnival games, DJ and food. The Hershey Company promotes healthy lifestyles for children with USA Track and Field. There is a $10 fee to attend and no cost for the athletes.
At 7 p.m. Saturday, July 4, in Krasa Center at Benedictine University, an event will honor Dorothy Dawson. A pioneer in women's sports, Dawson earned a bachelor's degree in physical education and math from Grambling State University, and a master's degree in physical education from Iowa State. She taught for 35 years at Dunbar Vocational High School in Chicago, becoming dean of students and assistant principal as well as coach of the girls basketball, and boys and girls track teams. She worked with gangs in the Chicago Youth Centers in Chicago. She convinced the Illinois High School Association to include sports for girls. She worked as head coach for women's track and field at Chicago State University, and conducted cross country workshops for Chicago Public School elementary schools, culminating in regional and city championship meets. She helped establish the Zephyrs Track Club, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Illinois High School Basketball Coaches Association in 2003. Complete ticket details and registration is at USATFILLINOIS.org/Dorothy.
The USATF Hershey Youth Championships are a great way to introduce children to the track and field sports. Spectator admission for each multi-event day is $8, or $40 for all six days; both are available at the event. Separate tickets for the Hersey celebration are $10 each and the buffet dinner honoring Dawson is $50.