KINGSPORT — The 35th Times-News Relays at Sullivan North begins Thursday with the pole vault competition. On Friday, the remainder of the field events begin at 4 p.m., followed by the running finals at 6.
Once again, the event is presented by Marsh Regional Blood Center. Marsh receives a significant amount of blood each year through high school donations, so its involvement in the Times-News Relays is a great fit.
“This year the percentage of blood received from our high school donors has risen from 15 to 18 percent,” said Don Campbell, director of the center. “We added in more schools this year. It is so neat to see these young people helping out their communities.”
The Times-News Relays recognizes athletes and coaches for their outstanding contributions to the meet, and this year’s honorees are record-setters.
The female deemed to be the most outstanding in field events receives the Deanna Stayton Award. Stayton, who competed for Dobyns-Bennett, is the record holder for the T-N pentathlon. She scored 3,760 points to win the event in 1996.
This year’s most outstanding female runner earns the Ashton Bishop Award. Bishop set the Relays record in the 800 meters in 2005 when she posted a winning time of 2:14.69.
The most outstanding male runner receives the Chris Pruett Award. Pruett, out of Virginia High, set the meet record in the 3,200 meters in 1981. His time of 9:26.00 has been a mark that few have come close to matching.
The most outstanding male in field events receives the Phil Robbins Award. Robbins was the ultra-successful track coach at Powell Valley High School, which he led to team state championships in 1994 and 2002, and he coached several boys and girls to individual state championships.
On a personal note, much of what this writer knows about running a track meet came from watching Robbins in action.
The Relays has been blessed with many great athletes, coaches and volunteers over the years and the success of the meet owes much them all.
The Relays is a special meet because athletes must qualify for the event. Pitting the best against the best produces great competition and outstanding performances.
Come out to Sullivan North on Thursday and Friday and see the best track and field athletes in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia go head to head.