After months of planning and preparation, Dave Marson couldn't help but smile as he looked out at all the young athletes competing Saturday on the opening day of the Pacific Association Junior Olympics track and field meet at Carson High School.
"To see 1,000 competitors here together, that was a blessing," said Marson, the Silver State Striders-Carson coach who served as director of the two-day meet. "It was great for me personally, and it was great for Carson City. This is only going to help the sports program here."
Some blue-chip athletes were showcased at Carson's Jim Frank Track and Field Complex.
Among the top performers was Kent Centers who set a meet record by clearing 6-5 to win the boys 15-16 age group high jump. Centers was a California state meet qualifier in the high jump this year as a sophomore at Bellarmine Prep.
Paul Brown, who is competing for Kids On Track and will be a senior in high school next year, soared 23-4 to win the boys 17-18 long jump.
Kyle Hammerquist of 3M Track hurled the discus 156-2 to win the boys 13-14 discus. Second-place went to the Silver State Striders' Joe Suder, a South Lake Tahoe 7th grader who threw a personal record 127-11.
Jim Daikoku of San Francisco, who won the 17-18 boys 5,000-meter run Saturday morning, placed second in the 1,600 (4:10.95) at the California state meet as a junior for Lowell High School two weeks ago.
Jimia White of the Alex Van Dyke Track Club went 17-10 to win the girls 17-18 long jump, an event in which she placed third at the California state meet for Casa Roble High School.
Chris Chappell, who graduated from Douglas High School on Friday, cleared 15-6 to win the boys 17-18 pole vault and had three near misses in his bid to clear a personal record 16-1. Chappell was a two-time 4A state champion for Douglas.
The top eight finishers in each age group event qualified to move on and compete at the Region 14 Junior Olympic meet on July 1-2 at Ratcliffe Stadium in Fresno, Calif.
Some local athletes earned invitations to the regional meet, including Nicole Scott with a second-place performance in the girls 13-14 age group high jump. Scott, a Carson Middle School student, cleared 4-7 to shatter her own personal record.
"Her P.R. was 4-2, so that was major," Marson said. "I told her she had to go 4-8 if she wanted to go to Buffalo (for the Junior Olympic nationals), and I guess she took it to heart."
In the boys 13-14 division 400-meter dash, Mark Davis of Yerington and Jonathan Dunbar of Gardnerville placed fifth (58.21) and eighth (1:01.99), respectively. Both compete for the Silver State Striders.
"It wasn't my best race," said Davis, a Yerington Intermediate School 7th grader who also qualified for today's 100- and 200-meter dash finals. "I want to qualify to go to Buffalo. I've run 55.1, but I want to run 52. That's what I'm working toward."
Dunbar, a home schooled student competing in his first-ever track meet, qualified for the 200 finals and then showed no signs of fatigue at the end of his 400 as he accelerated down the homestretch.
"I play year-round soccer; I think the conditioning helped me (at the end)," Dunbar said. "My coach (Chuck DesJardins) said he thought I would do well in the four (400). I didn't know I would do this well. This was fun."
Two other local Silver State Striders runners cracked the top eight: Cassia Roth was fifth in the girls 13-14 division 3,000-meters and Ali Marson finished seventh in the girls 13-14 800 meters.
Meanwhile, Carson City's Aaron Henry had a busy day on his way to qualifying for the finals of the boys 13-14 age group 100 meters.
Henry and his older brother, Ryan, played in a morning Babe Ruth game at Governor's Field that went eight innings. After the game ended, they changed into Silver State Striders uniforms in their car on the way to the high school. They arrived in plenty of time, and Aaron ran 12.4 seconds to qualify with the fifth-fastest time for the finals.