Fourteen future area track stars will be headed down to Hudson this weekend to put themselves to the test against the rest of the state in the Hershey’s Track and Field Games Massachusetts Finals.
“The program brings exposure to track,” said coach Mike McCormick, who runs the local Hershey program for the Winner’s Circle Running Club. “Kids learning how to run and the basics of track. We have a lot of kids in the Newburyport High track program who have come through our program like Ryan Dionne, who was a league champion. So it also gives some kids some exposure.”
The largest youth sports program in the United States and Canada, the Hershey’s Track and Field Games promotes fitness and a love of competition. The Games involve hundreds of thousands of kids and whittles those numbers down to mere hundreds for the North American Finals in Hershey, Pa. McCormick who, along with his wife, Stella, has been running the local program for the past 13 years, has fielded six Hershey finalists along the way.
“Every other sport has a youth program except track,” said McCormick. “So that is one of the reasons why we started it.”
These young athletes, ages 9 through 14, started training back in April and hail from the Newburyport, Amesbury, Georgetown, Pentucket and Triton towns and school systems. McCormick says that he looks for his group to finish well in the 400- and 800-meter races.
“The idea is to give the kids some exposure without too much coaching,” said McCormick. “So it is limited by age group. The 9- and 10-year-olds do the 50 (meters), the 100, the 200 and the 400. That’s it. The 11- and 12-year-olds do the 100, 200, 400 and the 800. The 13- and 14-year-olds (also) do the 1,600. And the only field events are the softball throw and the standing long jump for all age groups.”