Thousands of young runners in Bull City for Blunt Invitational
DURHAM — Upgrades underway at Duke University to enhance the school’s athletics facilities necessitated a venue change for the 36th Russell E. Blunt East Coast Invitational track meet that starts today at Durham County Memorial Stadium.
“It’ll be more intimate,” meet director Frank Davis said. “Fans will be up on the athletes.”
Wallace Wade Stadium, which seats 33,941, normally hosts the Blunt meet. County Stadium holds 8,000.
Roughly 100 teams from inside and outside of the United States will bring at least 3,000 athletes between the ages of 6 and 18 to the meet, along with their parents, coaches, college scouts and spectators, according to the Durham Striders Track Club, which is hosting the event.
The Blunt meet is regarded as the country’s most competitive invitational track competition of the summer running circuit, according to the Striders. The general public is welcome to watch at no charge. The meet continues Saturday and wraps up on Sunday.
A complete event schedule appears in Scoreboard, page B2.
Russell Evans Blunt, the late and legendary track and football coach at Hillside and Southern high schools, is the namesake of the meet of which details are available online at durhamstriders.com.
Davis, the longtime leader of the Striders, said County Stadium is one of the best facilities in the country and, with a few additions such as a larger scoreboard, could host the USA Track & Field National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships that will be contested next week at N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro.
The field of participants at the Blunt meet is smaller than it has been in past years, partly due to coaches and parents counting the costs of being in North Carolina for two consecutive weeks, the nod going to the national meet, Davis said.
“The numbers are down some,” Davis said. “I think it’s more the economy.”
Track clubs around the country are falling by the wayside because of the costs associated with the sport, such as hotel expenses, Davis said.
The Striders’ support system is pretty strong, allowing the club to maintain its numbers, Davis said. Since this year’s national meet will be roughly an hour away in Greensboro for the Striders, club members will have the option of commuting from Durham during the three-day meet, avoiding the cost of hotels, Davis said.
“It’s a plus,” Davis said.
Roughly 60 Striders have qualified for nationals, but first comes what’s affectionately known as The Blunt, where Striders 17-18 jumper Isaiah Moore will take his place on the track after having recently competed in the Ukraine as part of the International Association of Athletics Federations World Youth Championships.
Moore, from Burlington, sprang 24-8.5 feet in the long jump, winning a bronze medal and outdoing his personal best by at least four inches.
Durham’s Coleman Mitchell, a fierce runner, will represent the Triangle Champions Track Club in the 800.
Triangle Champions sprinter Isaiah Southerland has the top seed times in the 100 and 200 among 13-14 boys but is nursing a groin injury and won’t run in the Blunt meet, preferring to play it safe, Triangle Champions sprint coach Dennis Alston said.
Bull City Express Track Club coach Omar Beasley said coaches this time of the year tend keep closer eyes on the number of races their athletes run in an attempt to get them peaking without wrongly tweaking their bodies.
“They don’t want a lot of kids having too many races on their legs,” Beasley said.
Beasley said he’s got a fine middle-distance runner in Kacey Pratt, who should put on a good show at the Blunt meet in the 11-12 girls’ 800.
Davis said he’s not changing his approach, which avoids holding back runners on the notion that their bodies won’t hold up. The Striders are in terrific shape, and The Blunt simply is the next step before it’s time to show and prove on the big stage, he said.
“We won’t run our best times in the Blunt meet,” Davis said. “It’s a thing called peaking.
“We’ll be running our best times at the nationals.”
Russell E. Blunt East Coast Invitational
Today through Sunday
Durham County Memorial Stadium
FRIDAY, JULY 19
Track Events (10 a.m.)
200 hurdles (finals)
400 intermediate hurdles (finals)
4x100 relay (final)
4x400 relay (semifinals)
Field Events (10 a.m.)
High jump (9-10, 11-12)
Triple jump (13-14, 15-16, 17-18)
Pole vault (All)
Shot put (8 & under, 9-10, 11-12)
8-10 a.m. — Javelin (13-14, 15-16, 17-18)
SATURDAY, JULY 20
Track Events (9 a.m.)
80 hurdles (semifinals)
100 hurdles (semifinals)
110 hurdles (semifinals)
4x100 relay (semifinals)
Field Events (8:30 a.m.)
High jump (13-14)
Long jump (13-14, 15-16, 17-18)
Discus (13-14, 15-16)
Shot put (13-14, 15-16)
Mini javelin (8 & under, 9-10, 11-12)
SUNDAY, JULY 21
Track Events (9 a.m.-6:30 p.m.)
Mothers/Fathers/Coaches 4x100 relay
Outstanding Athlete Awards
Field Events (8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
Shot put (Young M-W)
High jump (15-16, 17-18)
Long jump (8 & under, 9-10, 11-12)