Track and Field: Minooka meets gaining momentum
By Tim Tierney For Sun-Times Media July 12, 2012 11:26PM
Tim Graf, of Joliet, receives his ribbon after competing in the 200-meter dash at the Indian Pride track meet. | Ray Luna~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 14, 2012 6:13AM
The colorful flyer that heralds the Indian Pride Track & Field meets as “Community fun for all ages!” lived up to the billing Tuesday in the second of three summer meets at Minooka High School.
From entertaining toddler events that included a 20-meter dash and a race with miniature hurdles to events for the 46 to 64 age group, the annual summer meets give everyone a chance to run faster and jump higher, and laugh about it afterward with family and friends.
Toddlers often ran right over the tiny hurdles or pushed them down while a few enterprising youngsters scooted between the hurdles on their way to the finish line and a parent with open arms.
“This was the most fun we’ve had out here,” said Minooka girls track coach Kevin Gummerson, who started the meets five years ago with sprint coach Matt Thomas. “We had a great turnout. Just to watch the young kids compete, you’ve got to love that.”
Gummerson estimated Tuesday’s meet drew more than 100 entrants, including longtime runner and Joliet East graduate Tim Graf, the 1976 state champion in the 100-yard dash. Graf, 55, took second in the men’s 100- and 200-meter dashes to Minooka senior-to-be Luke Stovall.
“He’s a good kid, he works with me and pushes me to fast times,” a winded Graf said of Stovall after the 200 meters.
Graf, a Crest Hill resident, is training for the USA Masters Track & Field Championships Aug. 2 to 5 at Benedictine University in Lisle. Graf ranked fourth in the 60-meter dash indoors for the 55 to 59 age group.
“When I turned 40 I got back into running,” said Graf, who runs Graf Speed Enhancement, a training program for runners of all ages at Joliet Junior College, with Brian Quick.
Stovall, a member of Minooka’s track team and a wide receiver on the football team, said running with Graf and the camaraderie at the meet draws him to the event.
“I like it because it gets the community together as a whole,” Stovall said. “It helps me practice for next spring. I think it’s just a lot of fun to get out here and compete. I’m just trying to help out Tim Graf.”
Casey McCollom, of Channahon, won the 3,200-meter run, the final event of the two-hour meet. McCollom, 33, runs three or four times a week and has been at almost every Indian Pride meet with his wife, Stephanie.
“We’ve got little kids, so it’s fun for them,” McCollom said. “We might have missed the first year just because we didn’t know about them, but ever since then we’ve done them.”
Word has gotten around about the meets, and Gummerson said people will ask him from time to time about the summertime program.
“You run into somebody and they say ‘Hey, are you going to have that again? We had a blast last year. My kids want to come back,’ ” Gummerson said. “That makes it worthwhile. It’s been fun to watch this grow.
“The little kids races, those numbers have really grown. Now we want to try and get more of the college-age kids out here and some more people competing in their prime.”
This summer’s final meet, on July 24, will include a 5K run on the track and the usual 100-meter dash to start the running events. A free clinic is at 5:30 p.m., registration is from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. and events, at $1 apiece, start at 6:30.
“It’s great to see this event catching on,” Gummerson said. “A lot of good help from a lot of high school kids to help run the event.”