Local elementary school students compete in a 50-meter dash during the third annual Community Track and Field Meet at Mountain View High School in El Monte on Wednesday, April 3, 2013. About 300 boys and girls between the ages of 9 and 14 that reside within the boundaries of the El Monte Union High School District are invited to participate in three events, which include the long jump, high jump and the softball throw in the field event competition or the 50 meter, 100 meter and 200 meter dash for running events. (Watchara Phomicinda/Staff Photographer)
EL MONTE -- Hundreds of students enjoyed some physical fun in the sun on Wednesday at the third annual Community Track and Field Meet at Mountain View High School in El Monte.
The event, hosted by the city and the El Monte Union High School District, invited boys and girls, ages 9 to 14 from elementary and junior high schools in the El Monte City and Mountain View school districts, to try their hand at six events, long jump, high jump, softball throw and 50 meter, 100 meter and 200 meter dash.
"For many, this is their first opportunity at track and field events," said Eddie Covarrubias, El Monte city sports and recreation coordinator. "Hopefully it will motivate them to get into the sport in high school or college. "
Staff from local afterschool programs including THINK Together and ASPIRE encouraged their students to participate at the meet and were on hand Wednesday to help support and coach them.
"Some of our students are nervous because it's their first time (doing track and field events)," said ASPIRE tutor and coach Sal Palacios.
Palacios brought about 30 students from his afterschool program at Rio Vista Elementary. Many of the students didn't even know what track and field was before. He said he talked to them about the sport and shared his experience from his high school days.
"Today, we're doing pretty well," he said. "(The students) are having fun. "
The top five participants in each event and age group were awarded a ribbon. All participants got their own meet t-shirt and a free lunch. Parents, family and friends were also on hand to support the children.
"I was kind of scared but excited," said 11-year-old Dafne Duarte of Cogswell Elementary of competing in the 50-meter dash.
The sixth-grader, who took part in last year's meet won 1st place in her group.
"I like that we get to compete and just have fun," said sixth-grader Clarissa Macias of Madrid Middle School who also took part in last year's event. She placed second in the 50-meter dash.
Some students had never taken part in the events before Wednesday but were not new to sports. Eighth-grader Randy Quezada of Frank Wright Elementary School was competing in long jump for the first time but plays soccer at his school and at Lambert Park, and has taken part in a Mt. San Antonio College Youth Days Track and Field Meet before.
"I like the hurdles," said the 14-year-old of participating in the Mt. SAC event. "I'm just here to have fun. "
Quezada was enjoying taking part in the long jump, high jump and 50-meter dash, and placed in all three.
Volunteers, including school teachers, retired coaches, Mountain View High School track athletes and other community members, helped the city parks and recreation staff coordinate and run the different events at the meet.
"It's important for the children to learn about fitness and health," said Covarrubias. "We even have healthy items in the snack bar."
Offerings at the snack bar included hot dogs, Sun Chips, fiber brownies, fresh fruit and more.
Covarrubias said he remembers taking part in community track and field meets as a student in El Monte but the event was stopped for some time before being brought back three years ago.
"This is something we definitely want to continue," he said. "It's something our community needs. "