Olympic oval hosts high school track meet
Mar 16, 2020 03:09PM
By Greg James
The Olympic Oval hosted a premier indoor high school track meet where several indoor personal records were set. (Greg James/City Journals.)
By Greg James | [email protected]
We know the Utah Olympic Oval boasts the fastest ice in the world. It is the site of many world and Olympic records, but did you know it also has one of Utah’s only indoor tracks?
“Most people do not realize what we have here,” Hillcrest High track coach and the UHSTCA Indoor Invitational event organizer Scott Stucki said. “It is a beautiful facility, and the track is fast. The wide corners allow runners a chance to have some very fast times.”
The Utah High School Track Coaches Association hosted the Indoor Invitational Jan. 24–25 inside the Utah Olympic Oval. More than 75 volunteers and 1,700 registered athletes converged on the home of the fastest ice in the world to set fast times of their own.
“Putting on an event like this brings on many sleepless nights,” Stucki said. “It is a big thing to put this all together. For some of the events we have to bring in special equipment, like the pole vault.”
Indoor track is not sanctioned by the Utah High School Activities Association but has become a head start on the outdoor season. Many schools in the area encourage their athletes to participate and train if they are not participating in another sport.
“It breaks up the monotony of getting miles for a long-distance runner,” Stucki said. “It gives them a chance to race a little. For the sprinters, it is a chance to work on technique in the blocks and on the hurdles. Most coaches run an indoor program, and there are a few track clubs that pull in other kids from most schools.”
The oval’s 442-meter track surrounds the speed skating ice. It has four continuous lanes plus an eight lane 110-meter sprint zone. It provides year-round training capabilities inside a climate-controlled facility.
“In terms of athletes, this meet is probably the biggest indoor event in the state,” Stucki said. “BYU’s indoor meet had about 1,200, and Weber State will have about 1,400. We get teams from Idaho and Wyoming that come down to be part of it.”
Sydney Holiday from Cody, Wyoming, was the girls 60-meter winner, and Braiden Ivie from Emery High School placed first in the boys race.
Local racers such as Carter Guiness from Herriman posted a personal record in the 400. Sherry Nima from West Jordan placed fifth in the girls 400, only one second behind the leader.
Dallin Thornton from Bingham and Joshua Park from Riverton finished first and second, respectively, in the pole vault. Thornton jumped 14 feet 7 inches.
This is the eighth year for the event to be held. The UHSTCA Indoor Invitational posted 15 of the top times for this year’s indoor season.
The Oval also hosted the Utah Distance Challenge Feb. 7.
The Oval was built for use during the 2002 Winter Olympics held in Salt Lake City. The 5-acre facility houses the 400-meter speed skating oval and two international sized ice sheets. It has become a multi-use facility. It is available for public skating, hockey, figure skating and curling.