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Tri-Cities Track Classic coming to Tipton Stadium

Madison Mathews • Feb 20, 2013 at 9:08 AM

If you build it, they will come.

That’s the logic being put toward the inaugural Tri-Cities Track Classic, which will be held April 19-20 at Science Hill High School’s Kermit Tipton Stadium.

The massive stadium features a nine-lane oval track that rivals most collegiate facilities, and meet organizers plan to utilize Science Hill’s facilities to host high school athletes from more than eight states during the two-day event.

Knoxville Youth Athletics is partnering with Science Hill to host the track meet.

“We’re very excited about this new partnership we have with the Knoxville Youth Athletics group to bring this new track event to Johnson City and to Kermit Tipton Stadium,” Johnson City Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Brenda Whitson said.

During the two-day competition, Whitson said the athletes, families and coaches who have traveled to Johnson City will contribute more than $200,000 to the local economy.

That type of economic impact is no stranger to Johnson City, which sees a similar boost in tourism during the USA/Amateur Softball Association softball tournaments that are held at Winged Deer Park during the summer.

Knoxville Youth Athletics Director Marty Sonnenfeldt said the concept of the Tri-Cities Track Classic was to bring a national-caliber outdoor track and field meet to Johnson City in order to take advantage of the incredible facilities Science Hill offers.

Keith Turner, Science Hill athletic director, said hosting a track meet of this nature was part of the vision when the stadium was constructed three years ago.

“We’re excited for the track and field and for our kids locally and nationally, and we just want to put on the best event that we possibly can, and I know that our people will do that and our city deserves that,” he said.

Even though the event is two months away, Sonnenfeldt said it has already drawn national attention in being named a National Scholastic Athletics Foundation Select Meet for 2013.

The track meet has also been named a part of the Bring Back the Mile national tour. Bring Back the Mile is a national movement that seeks to bring back the mile run as part of track and field events.

The mile run will be named after Ray Flynn, a former Olympian and East Tennessee State University graduate.

“Having that national tour has really lit up the eyes of individual milers across the country,” Sonnenfeldt said.

The event will also feature a 3,000-meter steeplechase, an event that isn’t typically held in high school events.

The steeplechase will be named after former Olympian and meet partner Tony Cosey, who said he is excited to see what an event of this kind can bring to the area.

“Track and field is a unique sport in that it’s one that doesn’t take a particular level of skill to do and so the fan base is broad. It’s vast, so I’m excited about what this going to do for (your) community and I’m excited about what it’s going to do for our high schools and the opportunity for us,” he said.

For more information on the meet, visit http://bit.ly/YF4Per.

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