Point Youth Runners Given ‘SPARC’
By Jacob Mathias
After 10 years of dormancy, the Stevens Point Area Runners Club is limbering up for their second track event this year.
Friday, July 19 at 6:00 marks the SPARC Point Track Twilight Meet at Goerke Track. Runners of all ages 18 and under are invited to compete in the five available events including the 100 meters, 200 meters, 400 meters, one mile and long jump.
Pre-registration for the event can be done until 12:00 p.m. on July 18 for $5 fee. Onsite registration begins on July 19 at 4:00 p.m. for $10.
A group of parents formed SPARC in the early 1980s and the club lasted until 1993 before disbanding. At times the club was quite large with well over 100 kids participating each year.
Lee Willis, SPARC co-founder and UWSP Professor, said as the kids grew older parents wanted to hand over the club to another generation, but no one stepped up and the organization folded.
“Earlier this spring, my wife Breeda, Nate Olson (a track coach at SPASH and former SPARC runner), and I decided to reform the club. So we’ve only been in existence for the last three months,” said Willis.
Willis and his wife were both middle distance runners and Olson was a sprinter.
The Twilight Meet currently has 40 registered participants, but is anticipating up to 120 runners as they had at the Point Track Classic in June.
SPARC is sanctioned by USA Track and Field so any accomplishments made by youth in the club are legitimate in the eyes of college recruiters and other officials in the running industry.
“At this point, the main function of the club is to organize events. As a USATF member organization we are able to obtain sanctioning and insurance from the governing body of the sport,” said Willis.
SPARC is an opportunity for youth unable to participate in school track and field and those looking for a longer running season to be able to continue working on their performance in the sport.
Currently, SPARC hosts two meets in the summer as well as a cross country meet in the fall.
“We are likely to host a few more informal track meets next spring and summer. The Point Track Classic and Twilight both have fully automatic timing, certified track officials, and as a result, require a lot of organization and money. We will likely host a few meets without official timing and just give kids an opportunity to come together and race each other for fun.”
“All sports benefit from a complementary club system…Hopefully SPARC will help get more kids interested in running,” said Willis.
For more information visit www.stevenspointarearunninglclub.com or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.