USATF-Nevada, in partnership with the Clark County School District and Niketown Las Vegas, hosted the Las Vegas Valley's first ever Middle School Mania Track and Field Championships on March 14 at Palo Verde High School.

As an Association, USA Track and Field-Nevada wanted to not only give back to the community, but to also stress the importance of physical activity in our youth, said Roy Session, the organization's youth chair.

Hayden Ross, Secondary Physical Education Facilitator for the Clark County School District’s Curriculum and Professional Development Center, said the middle school students who participated in this event, experienced a high quality track meet, and that for some of them, this may have been their first time competing in any athletic related event.

Nearly 400 students participated in Middle School Mania -- A lot of them stepped onto the track for the first time.

“We really wanted to give those who have never competed in the sport of track and field an opportunity to try something new, something different, said event coordinator, Kim Spurlock. You never know, there may be quite a few talented individuals who started their track careers today.

The weather made for a perfect day, as the enthusiasm on the participants’ faces and the competitiveness of the P.E. teachers added to the excitement for the day. Schools were cheering and screaming their teams on as they ran to the finish line.

“I had a good time and my kids had a blast,” Bob Miller Middle School P.E. teacher Karen Robertus said. She added that the USATF-Nevada staff was very helpful with the participants.

“I know this was a lot of work for (USATF-Nevada). It was organized and the volunteers were patient with our kids.”

Bragging rights went to Johnson Middle School as they took home the First place Championship trophy. Becker Middle School placed second and Brinley Middle School placed third. MeDals were awarded to 1st-3rd place finishers and ribbons awarded to 4th-8th place finishers. Each athlete received a Middle School Mania t-shirt and certificate of participation. Event participants also qualify for the Hershey State Games on May 16th.

The Clark County School District, the fifth largest school district in the nation with 60 middle schools in the Valley, was impressed with the meet as well as the number of talented students within the middle schools.

“The parents, school administrators and students were so excited and the feedback from all involved was extremely positive. USATF provided coaching materials for the middle school track coaches, and the coaches were then able to go and train the youth runners at their school site. Students practiced in physical education classes and before and after school. Our school district is very thankful that the USATF approached us to host this great event for our students!” said Hayden Ross.

Samantha Hall, Art Teacher and Track and Field Coach for Becker Middle School, said the meet was wonderful. “All the kids had a great time and loved their shirts too!”

Her enthusiasm was echoed throughout the day by everyone -- And the anticipation of next year is already brewing. . .”I hope this is just the beginning of many more middle school track and field events for CCSD and other schools! Thanks from all of Becker Middle School!”

This is only the beginning, Kim Spurlock, event coordinator said. We plan on making this an annual event, as well as getting other organizations involved, so that we can work towards helping our youth maintain a healthy and physically fit lifestyle.