By MAGGIE MCMURRAY
Moapa Valley Progress
The track at Moapa Valley High School was full of lightening on Thursday. Not the kind that lights up the sky, but rather it was lightening-fast elementary school runners competing in the annual Speed Meet.
The Speed Meet takes the fastest of the fast from four regional elementary schools and pits them against one another in a day that is fun for everyone. The meet, which has taken place for several years now, is the brainchild of Bowler Elementary PE teacher Denise Hoy. Bowler, Perkins, Virgin Valley, and Beaver Dam Elementary Schools all participate. The kids that qualify get treated to a day outside playing games, running races, and making new friends.
The event started with the distance runs. The third graders ran a ½ mile race, while fourth and fifth graders ran a distance of ¾ mile. Winners in each grade were awarded a medal in an olympic-style ceremony at the end of the day.
After the distance races were over, the sprints began. Each school was allowed to bring their fastest girls and boys in each grade to race. These runners raced in multiple heats of eight at a time. After all girls or boys for that age had run, the times were examined and the fastest eight from each pair of heats were given bracelets and a berth in the finals later that day.
Timing for the races was electronic so the most accurate results could be achieved. This year timing was provided by NTS Timing, courtesy of Brandon Jones and Shane Hickman, who spent the day helping out at the event.
When not running or warming up, the students were in groups that rotated through a series of stations providing outdoor games and actitivies. Some of the stations included long jump, scoop ball, lunch, flag tag, and other games. The groups mingled the students from various schools so they had a chance to get to know each other and make friends with kids from other schools, which is one of the main goals of the whole event.
New last year was a relay event which was such a success it continued this year as well. Schools provided teams of 4 runners that each ran 1 leg of a relay. The younger students ran a 4 X 50 relay, while the older students ran a 4 X 100 relay. Students were excited for the relay events because it gave many of them a second chance to run and gave them a feeling of being part of a team.
The last event of the day was the finals for each grade, after which the awards were given.
This year’s medals were sponsored by Darren Hadley’s company: NRC. Winning students ascended blocks of various heights similar to what they see in the Olympics and had a medal placed around their necks. Medals went to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place runners in the distance heats and the sprints, as well as the winners of the relay events.
The event is a favorite of students and parents alike. Mom Kori Bevan came to watch her two boys Damon and Gideon run.
“This is a great event for the kids because it contributes to their learning and growth,” Bevan said. “It stretches them to try something hard and learn to succeed.”
Mom Rebecca Hardy agreed. She was also there watching her kids and helping run the meet. “I think it’s really good for them to run,” she said. “Even if they don’t win, they work hard and learn they don’t have to be the best to have a great time.”
The kids did, indeed, seem to be having a great time. Smiles were everywhere and not just on the kids who came in first.
“This is such a fun day,” said Bowler student Abigail Bailey. “It’s awesome because we get to run and we get to miss school. We also get to spend the day with our friends, so it’s great.”
Hoy thought the day went very well. “I really appreciate all my parent volunteers, as well as those from other schools,” she said. “Amanda Monk does a great job running the concession booth, and I appreciate our timers, too. We really appreciate NRC for sponsoring our medals. I really love this event because I totally love to see the kids building relationships with the kids from neighboring valleys. I also love to see their smiles because they have such a great time.”