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As the 2007-2008 high school competition year draws to a close, we asked five staff members who spend a great deal of their time at meets to look back over the last twelve months and select their five favorite events, moments, match-ups, interactions, observations, confrontations or celebrations. The things that stood out, stayed with them, stuck to memory long after the coverage was over and the headlines had faded. The only catch was that they had to actually have been there. Floored by Fernandez’ California double, but you were in Michigan at the time? Doesn’t count. Blown away when Chanelle Price led the Pre Classic women’s 800 with 150 to go, but you were watching on TV in New Jersey? Not good enough. Five favorites you saw with your own eyes.

So, without further ado… a week’s worth of moments we were “in the house” to see.

Thursday | Donna Dye
For Donna's 5, where else to go but the side? There is so much on the side, that it’s hard to pick just 5. At first, I thought I’d pick a favorite wave … but I couldn’t do it. Those waves and smiles are young, old and in-between and all great. To me, the waves are all special. Over the years, I’ve become identified with the wave. People see me now and simply wave and smile. I walk through the stands and have the time of my life visiting with fans, parents and athletes. It is my Favorite Thing. But they said I had to pick 5 favorites for the year. So excluding the waves, here we go:

The crowd at the Arcadia Invitational – First of all, the crowd is huge and fills up both seating areas that flank the field. You have to get there early to make sure you get a seat, and you sit close together to make sure every possible spot is used. Secondly, while many crowds are filled with knowledgeable track and field fans, there seem to be a whole lot more crammed into those stands at Arcadia. The crowd most times reacts as a unit with the oohs, ahs, claps, screams, whooping and hollering. It doesn't get any better!

Davis High School at the Firman Invitational – Typically, when I take a picture of a group, I say, “Give me some personality or attitude.” This year, I got a lot of great responses. But the group that gave me my favorite this year was Davis High School (Utah) at the Bob Firman XC Invitational; they were full of mischief and just plain fun. Davis girls kept the attitude into the NTN Regionals in Tempe AZ, where they won a spot at the NTN Finals. When they heard the news, they exploded into hollering and cheers. Then at the NTN pre-race activities, Davis was right there leading the fun charge.

Elliott Jantzer Fans at the BorderClash – I see a lot of things on the side. But some fans at the BorderClash in Oregon this past fall left a lasting impression on my mind. The rain was coming down hard and it was very chilly. It was toward the end of the boys’ race when I saw them. They were dressed in bathing suits and each had a letter on their backs to spell out “Elliott.” They were cheering and jumping up and down. I missed getting their picture on the course, but caught up to them later to find them shivering in the rain, anxious to get dressed. But they were good sports and gave me a big smile. By the way, their cheering was pretty effective, since Elliott (one of Oregon’s top runners) finished 3rd.

Simplot Games Parade of Athletes – Every year, the Simplot Games has a parade of athletes. There isn’t anything like it at any other high school track and field meet. Athletes gather by state (photo of Nevada, right, by Donna Dye)and parade around the track, drawing cheers and support from the stands. Each group frolics and plays to the crowd. This year there were 2000 athletes with 22 states and Canada.

Usually, J.R. Simplot and his family greet the crowd. This year, Mr. Simplot (left, photo Donna Dye)was too ill to attend. Sadly, we have learned that he died in May at the age of 99. We will all miss Mr. Simplot. But his memory will go on through the Simplot Games.

Also, this year, Carol Lish, Executive Director of the Simplot Games (left, photo Donna Dye), retired after almost 30 years of meet involvement. We will miss Carol, but she plans to still be involved and will attend and enjoy the Simplot Games.


Coach Sacrifices – This year there were three coaches who “sacrificed” hair and/or mustache for the team. “If you win, I’ll shave my head/mustache.” And so it was. After the Fort Collins (Colorado) girls won a place at the NTN Nationals, Coach Suppes shaved his head. So proud of him were the girls that they accompanied him to the barber shop and took the picture on the spot.

Likewise, at the Nike Outdoor Nationals, Warwick Valley Coaches Rich Furst and Ryan Candia made a promise to do some shaving if the Warwick girls won the Distance Medley at the Nike Outdoor Nationals. So, Coach Furst lost his mustache and Coach Candia went bald (before and after, below, photos submitted). Boy, it’s tough running the race on the side.

My Favorite 5 Index