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Top track athletes are coming to town

June 08, 2010|By ANDREW MASON

HAGERSTOWN -- Wayne Kretzer Jr. built it. And some of the top high school track and field athletes in the region, and in some cases the country, are coming.

The first Jack Griffin Mid-Atlantic Prep Track & Field Classic will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday at North Hagerstown's Mike Callas Stadium.

Roughly 200 athletes from about a dozen states already have registered to compete at the meet, which is sanctioned by USA Track & Field.

"I wanted to set up a regional championship," said Kretzer, of Hagerstown. "There's always been all this talk about a meet of champions, trying to get the best together -- like how would the Maryland 1A champ do against the Maryland 4A champ, how would the Pennsylvania champ do against the Virginia champ? This meet allows everyone to come together under one banner. ... If you want to prove you're good, this is a chance to step up and do it."

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Three of Washington County's biggest stars are set to see how they stack up -- Smithsburg's David Wilson in the 2-mile run, Williamsport's Justin Bowie in the 110-meter hurdles and Clear Spring's Paige Shirk in the shot put and discus. Each of the three owns multiple Maryland 1A state titles.

The three-day showcase will feature most of the same events that the local high school meets have, and some different ones, such as the decathlon, heptathlon, hammer throw and steeplechase.

There also will be a "Fastest Kid in Hagerstown" 100-meter dash competition for all Washington County boys and girls in grades one through eight.

"It's a great way for elementary and middle school kids to get out and get involved with the meet and see what is possible when they become high school age," Kretzer said.

Jack Griffin, the three-time Olympic track coach for whom the meet is named, will be on hand to present awards, as will some former national stars, such as 2004 Olympic triple jumper Tiombe Hurd.

"It's going to be a great meet, something for the area to be proud of, and everyone should come out and watch it," he said. "It's what the track was built for. Mike Callas would be proud of it."

Kretzer has worked around the clock for months to make it happen.

"It's been a lot of work, but I'm excited about it, and it's going to be worth it," he said. "I want it to become an annual event and keep getting bigger and bigger. It can only take off from here."

For more information, including a complete schedule of events, visit the meet's Web site at http://www.midatlantictrackclassic.com or contact Kretzer at coachwk86@aol.com or 301-739-1366.

While online registration ends Wednesday at midnight, athletes will still be able to register at the meet.

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