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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa – At its inception, the Mike Petty Memorial Track and Field Meet was considered an unofficial Far East meet, since in 2003 there was no such thing as the latter.

Over time, DODDS Pacific established a Far East championship for track, with the first meet taking place in 2010. But the meet simply known these days as “Petty” still takes an important place in the Pacific season, a “mid-season Far East,” meet organizer and Kubasaki coach Jon Fick said.

For the four DODDS and five international schools attending Far East, “Petty” serves as gauge and shows where teams stand against each other and schools they don’t normally see, in a setting very much like the two-day Far East meet in May at Yokota.

“We’re trying to uphold that this is the premier event in track and field at this time of the season,” said Fick, who’s in his second season as both meet director and Dragons coach. “It’s going to be good track.”

“Petty” began in 2003 with just five teams and peaked two years later, so much that JV and middle-school athletes were separated out into a “pre-Petty” meet Friday morning, leaving varsity athletes competing with just each other.

The meet’s been held every year since 2003 except two years ago, when it was canceled after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Yokota, Zama American, Kubasaki and Kadena and seven international schools will compete Friday and Saturday in the 10th Petty meet at Mike Petty Stadium, named for the father of high school track and field on Okinawa, the late Kubasaki athletics director of the same name.

Forecasts call for clouds and rain both days. Should bad weather occur, high jump and hurdles events will likely be scrapped.

Field events are scheduled the first day along with the 3,200 and 800 finals and qualifying heats in sprint events. Those finals are slated for Saturday.

Fick expects distance events to be highly competitive, with a loaded field of competitors from all locations. He also sees the boys 100 and 200 as races to watch, with his own Rahman Farnell and Jarrett Mitchell - returning from a leg injury - and Yokota’s Stanley Speed in the field.

The bad weather forecast could further drench Saturday’s Kubasaki Spring Fling Baseball Tournament diluted by the loss of regular competitors American School In Japan and St. Mary’s International. The Mustangs didn’t get administration approval to travel and the Titans have a regular-season doubleheader against Yokota.

“At least we got to go up there earlier” in March, said coach Randy Toor, referring to when Kubasaki played against ASIJ and St. Mary’s at Yokota. “We were hoping they could come down here. But it will still be good baseball.”

Kubasaki and Kadena will take turns playing against Ohya Baseball Club and Chatan High School, two Japanese teams.

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.
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