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GRC track gearing up for Throwdown

Calling Saturday’s meet a “home game” for the George Rogers Clark High School track team is a bit of a misnomer, since all the action will take play at Transylvania University in Lexington.

Still, the Cardinals’ fingerprints are all over it.

GRC has hosted meets at neutral sites in the past, including Dunbar and Bourbon County. But last year, the Cardinals joined up with Transy for the Heavy Metal Throwdown, and GRC coach Dodd Dixon liked what he saw.

“It was great,” he said. “It was a good first year. It was one of the top events in the state. I’d say it was in the Top 10 as far as attendance and quality of competition.

“Which is saying something. There will be 100 to 150 high school track meets in the state this year.”

This year’s Throwdown will feature 26 teams from around the state (and one from Ohio). And they’re not just any teams either.

“St. Xavier — a perennial state championship contender — came down last year. They are coming down again,” Dixon said. “Tates Creek, Henry Clay. St. Henry’s out of northern Kentucky — they’ve won I-don’t-know-how-many state titles on the team level. Just excellent competition.”

And the Throwdown, which is set to begin around 9:30 a.m. Saturday, will feature events uncommon to most high school track meets.

A steeplechase is planned, as is a javelin event using turbo-javs, which Dixon described as a combination of a Nerf football and a javelin.

The javelin event is not recognized in Kentucky because of its danger to participants and officials. The turbo jav is a safer alternative.

“It has the same feel, so as you’re developing athletes for the college level, these javelins give you that ability,” Dixon said.

Another oddity will be the throwers’ relay, which is a 4x100m relay race made up only of those who competed in throwing events at the meet.

“A lot of throwers like to run, but you put a big, muscle-bound thrower on the track with a sprinter, it won’t be close,” Dixon said.

While the Cardinals have had a strong start to the season — the boys and girls teams have each captured first and second place finishes in the first two meets of the season — they have a different goal for their own meet.

“We have no expectations of trying to win the meet,” Dixon said. “Our goal is to host a quality meet.”

That’s not to say the Cardinals won’t get the full experience. Instead of competing in as many different events as possible to improve scoring opportunities, the Cards will focus on fewer events. And Dixon will be less “track coach” and more “meet coordinator.”

It will also be an opportunity to let the Cardinals and their fans bid goodbye to the senior class.

“It gives us a platform to honor our seniors,” Dixon said. “If you never have a home meet, it’s hard to pause in the middle of a road meet and honor them. We want to give them a good send-off and have them have a positive experience.”

With the strong growth of the meet, Dixon hopes that even after the athletic facilities are completed at the new high school campus, GRC and Transy will continue their partnership — but as an addition to using the brand new track.

“I would like to have more than a single home meet,” he said. “We would like to have middle school meets, too. From a coaching standpoint, it would be nice to have smaller home meets.

“And it would be good to host a region meet. Every school in our district has had the chance to host a region meet but us.”

So Dixon would like to have home meets but still coordinate the Heavy Metal Throwdown, as it becomes one of the premiere meets in the state each year.

“Our goal is to make it the No. 1 event in the state. I would like to be in the Top 5 this year,” he said.

And a large part of that is how well Transy has worked with GRC.

“The university is a great place to get a quality education,” Dixon said. “We feel the event gives the kids a chance to get a feel for what a college track is like. I like working with them. They are a quality-run program and institution.”