Young Palm Bay students who think they might have a future in track and field had a chance to measure themselves against their peers by competing in the 2011 Hershey National Track and Field meet.

More than 500 students ages 9 to 14 competed in the annual Hershey Track and Field Classic on Saturday, April 9, at Bayside High School.

In the last nine years, we have had 500 to 1,000 participants in this event, said event coordinator Al Majoy, recreation leader for the Palm Bay Parks and Recreation Department.

The meet, which included sprints, a softball throw and a broad jump, was open to Palm Bay students, along with three select schools in West Melbourne and Melbourne, Mr. Majoy said.

Awards were given to winners and top finishers in each event for both boys and girls.

Mr. Majoy said first- and second-place winners in each event qualified for the Hershey State Meet in Miami on June 18.

There was no entry fee for participants, but participating schools were asked to donate $15 and to provide volunteers, Mr. Majoy said.

Former Palm Bay City Councilman Milo Zonka was among the volunteers. His son, Robert Zonka, 9, competed in the running events.

It's a great event and relies on volunteers, Mr. Zonka said. A lot of these kids are competing for the first time, which makes it a great event for the city to put on for them.

Qualifiers for the state meet in Miami can register by contacting Mr. Majoy or Mike Cosumano at the Palm Bay Community Center, (321) 952-3443.