In its second year after a 12-year hiatus, the Rome Relays promises to be bigger as organizers continue to build it back up to the way it was once.
Featuring nine schools last year, the one-day event will see 17 schools — including host Rome High — hit Maddox Track at Barron Stadium on Saturday.
The Relays will begin at 10 a.m. with field events, while the 4x1600-meter relay will kick off the running events at 10:30 a.m. Other events will include the 4x100-meter relay, the shuttle hurdle relay and the sprint medley relay.
Rome High head coach Nick Bridges is eager to see the teams compete and carry on the new tradition of the Relays.
“We have a running community,” Bridges said. “This is a Rome High event, but this is for the community. I know coaches who ran it back in the '80s and they still have the medals.”
The Relays will have a nostalgic flare with faces from the past attending the event. Frank Pinson, the Rome Relays director for more than 40 years, will serve as the honorary starter. Former Rome athletes Corey Kinnebrew and Alvin Powell will also be in attendance.
Along with the high school competitors, Bridges is opening the door for runners unaffiliated with a high school to compete. The Relays will offer a chance for the public to run in an open 100-meter dash and an open mile run for a fee of $5. Medals will be given out for the top-three finishers in the open mile, and proceeds will go the the Rome-Floyd County youth track and field program.
“That’s for anybody in the community to find out if they’ve still got it,” Bridges said. “We’ll find out if they have it.”
Those interested can follow Rome track and field on Twitter, @RomeTrack, for a link to the signup form or email Bridges at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rome High team recently had a big day at the Rome Invitational on March 2 when the team broke 22 meet records including two that were held by Rome High athletes. Jataria Jackson finished the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.84 second, and Montrell Millsap took the 300-meter dash in 38.55.
Bridges is eager to see his team compete in a scenario that will be out of the ordinary.
“I expect them to compete,” Bridges said. “We have over 180 kids in our programs, and I don’t think they all know each other. It’s going to be a unique experience. They’ll need to lean on each other. That’s what I love about the Relays — there’s more folks working together. That’s a huge life lesson. You can’t always do it by yourself. You have to have others to help.’
Schools competing on Saturday include Baylor, Cedar Shoals, Cedartown, Central-Carroll, Chattooga, Etowah, Haralson County, Hillgrove, Kennesaw Mountain and McEachern.