CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – Kenneth Gipson hopes for more from Friday’s Mike Petty Memorial Track and Field Meet than just a spectacle of record-chasing featuring two of the Pacific’s premier girls sprinters and Yokota’s record-holding boys distance runner.
The Petty meet organizer and Kubasaki head coach is hoping that the meet, which this year features nine teams, can attract as many as 15 in coming years – the same as when the meet enjoyed its heyday in the 2000s under its founder, former Kubasaki coach Charles Burns.
“That is my vision,” said Gipson, in his second year as the Dragons’ head coach and Petty meet director. “This year is a start. We’re hoping for at least 12 teams next year, and hopefully the year after that, we’ll be back to the Petty of old.”
The star power that will be present in the 12th Petty Meet, which begins at 9 a.m. Friday, includes northwest Pacific girls 100- and 200-meter record-holder Regine Tugade of Guam’s John F. Kennedy High School.
Tugade, who set those records with times of 12.26 and 25.52 seconds last year, is expected to go up against Far East meet 200 record-holder Kaelyn Francis (25.73) of Kubasaki.
“I want to come in first in the 200 and for the 100, I want to lower my times,” Francis said, acknowledging that Tugade will “push me” in both those events. “Hopefully, I can run that same speed or faster” in future meets, she said.
“I’m expecting a good race,” Tugade said. “It’s good competition for me because Kaelyn’s times are within the same range as mine, unlike the runners back home. I’m just looking to run fast.”
Also coming is Daniel Galvin, a Yokota senior who holds the region record in the 800 (1 minute, 55.54 seconds) and held the 1,600 record until last month, when Evan Yukevich of American School In Japan beat it with a 4:21.64. Galvin’s personal best is 4:23.38.
“There should be a lot of good competition there,” Galvin said of possible rivals such as Kubasaki’s Johnathon Johnson. Yukevich and ASIJ will not attend; they’re running in a meet in Tokyo on Saturday.
“I’m definitely looking forward to running against some new and good competition and hopefully putting up some fast times down there,” said Galvin, who will run unattached. “It should be a good preview for Far East and I’m really excited to run against everyone there.”
The meet features host Kubasaki and island rivals Kadena, Okinawa Christian and Zion Christian. Coming from off island besides JFK are Tiyan of Guam. Taiwan’s Morrison Academy, Yongsan International of Seoul from Korea and a handful of Zama athletes from Japan.
The Petty meet, which began in 2003, is named for the late Dr. Alva W. “Mike” Petty, former Kubasaki athletics director who helped put track and field on the map on Okinawa in 1990. He died of cancer in 1992.