THE JEFFERSON Relays aren’t the typical track event, but perhaps that’s what makes this long-standing meet appealing to teams.
The relays return to Memorial Stadium for the 48th year Saturday. Action starts at 10 a.m.
“You’ve got a lot of tradition with the Jefferson Relays,” Jefferson coach Chad Cheatham said. “They started way back when … I think it’s a fun format because you get a lot of kids involved.”
As referenced by the name, the Jefferson Relays features six relay races — several of which aren’t standard — along with the traditional events in the field and on the track.
The relay events include the 4 x 100, the 4 x 200, 4 x 400, 4 x 800, the sprint medley relay and the distance medley relay.
Cheatham points to an event like the 4 x 800, which gets a lot of 800-meter runners on the track at the same time.
“The top four kids go and they get to battle because the region meet is coming up and they’re trying to see who’s going to run the best split,” Cheatham said.
Then there’s an event like the distance medley relay that includes a 400-meter leg, an 800-meter leg, a 1,200 meter-leg and a 1,600-meter leg.
“A lot of distance kids get involved and it gives them good training,” Cheatham said.
Since Memorial Stadium is the annual site of the all-classification boys’ state track meet, it also gives teams a chance to preview the venue before returning in May.
“We get a lot of calls during the year from people who just want to come up here and train and run on the surface and see the atmosphere and stuff like that,” Cheatham said.
Of course, there’s also a downside to a non-traditional meet this late in the season.
“You’re not running what you’re going to run next weekend at region or two weeks at sectionals and then the state meet,” Cheatham said.
Still, the relays usually draw a few teams from outside the area in addition to those nearby. Schools from as far away as middle Georgia (Spalding County) are in this year’s field of teams. Cheatham said 15 teams are coming Saturday, “which is down a little bit,” Cheatham said.
That means all teams will compete in the same grouping. In previous years, schools were separated into large school and small school divisions.
“It will be good for our small schools, and the big schools, they’ll get to see what some of the small schools have,” Cheatham said.