By WARREN DILLAWAY - email@example.com
HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP —
Two area athletes will join nearly 1,000 competitors Thursday as the National Association of International Athletics Indoor Track and Field Championships get under way at Spire Institute.
Landon Hamilton and Jonathan Gears, both Pymatuning Valley graduates, will run in the 5,000 meters and 3,000 meters, respectively, for the University of the Cumberlands.
Hamilton is scheduled to run the 5,000 meters at 4:45 p.m. on Thursday and Gears is scheduled to run the 3,000 meters at 5:45 p.m. on Friday.
Chris Stancliff, events manager at Spire Institute and meet manager for the national championship event, said putting on the event gets a bit easier each year but is always a challenge.
After the Big Ten Indoor Track and Field Championships completed on Saturday the staff took a short break and got back to work preparing for the NAIA meet which is being hosted at Spire Institute for the third straight year.
She said organizers had to prepare coaches packets, credentials, coordinate timers, communicate with a photographer and many other important details that need to happen for a meet to be successful.
Athletes started arriving on Tuesday.
“Morningside (Iowa) is already here. They wanted to beat the weather (a major Midwest snowstorm),” Stancliff said.
The NAIA schools tend to be smaller than the larger Division I universities that have competed at Spire Institute the last several weeks.
Stancliff will coordinate a group of 50 meet officials and timers and another 10 volunteers needed to run all the events ranging from pole vault to the 3,000-meter walk.
The women’s pentathlon will be the first event competed starting at 1 p.m. Thursday with the 60 meter hurdles followed by the high jump, shot put, long jump and 800-meter run.