A special kids track club and youth meet on May 4 in Pratt helps kids explore competitive opportunities.
Gannon Craft, 6, loves to compete, loves sports and loves competing with his friends, according to his mother, Melissa Moffitt-Craft. This is what made Saturday's youth track meet in Pratt such a special day for him, and for many other young athletes in the area.
"Both of my children, Iliana and Gannon, love the track meet and enjoy doing it every year," Moffitt-Craft said.
This was the third year that the Pratt youth track meet has been held, brought back after several years of hiatus by Pratt High School track coach and math teacher Derek Liggett, assisted by Jason Gallagher and Zach Deeds.
"We all have kids in the lower elementary age and know how much they love events like this," Liggett said. "We do it just to give kids a chance to get out and compete, and plus, as a high school coach, I like that it gives young kids a better understanding of what track events are and what they like to do, so later when they get into middle school and high school, they already have an idea of the events."
On Saturday, May 4, more than 150 local and area children competed in events like softball throw, the 50-yard dash and long jump at Pratt High School's Zerger Field. Pratt High School track athletes helped run the events and get kids where they needed to be for their chosen competitions.
"We had kids here from Greensburg, St. John, Coldwater and Cunningham, in addition to Pratt," Liggett said. "It was kind of chaotic but it's a fun experience for the kids. Parents love to watch their children and cheer for them. Everybody gets to participate and we all have a good time."
The youth track meet started three years ago with 75 participants, grew to 115 last year, and then had 150 this year.
"We're just amazed how this has caught on and grows each year," Liggett said. "Some of the kids love it so much that this year we started a track club and practiced twice a week all through the month of April. We had three track meets that club members, from kindergarten age to 6th grade, could participate in. We went to Cheney, Garden Plain and then ended the season here in Pratt."
For parents like Moffitt-Craft, whose children love the chance to spend time with their friends and compete, the track club was a great idea.
"It is fun to watch them grow stronger each time, while having fun," she said. "We are so thankful to the coaches and all the volunteers who organize the track club and the Pratt track meet."
Though the kids track season is now over for this year, Liggett said the track club would definitely be offered again next spring with the Pratt track meet again put on as the grand finale.