Track meet for the masses

by: Vern Uyetake, Kaylee Nicoll, 8, of Lake Oswego, looks up as Ryan Beaver of Gresham passes her one lap ahead during the predict-a-mile Tuesday night at the Lake Oswego High School all-comers track meet.

The great thing about an all-comers track meet is that anybody can show up and compete.

The participants don't have to be great athletes. Nor do they have to be particularly skilled. First-time competitors are more than welcome. And age is definitely not a factor.

Tuesday evening, at the Lake Oswego High School's third all-comers meet of the summer, virtually all of those people showed up and then some.

There were little tykes competing in mini track events. And there were slightly older kids competing in full-scale events. There were a number of adults there as well, plus a few star-studded athletes, including one who has been breaking records about as often as he competes.

'We're trying to make this a tradition here in Lake Oswego, not only to promote track but also make it a community event where families can come and enjoy the day and have competition,' said meet organizer Eric Lider, who is also the head track coach at Lake Oswego High School.

Lider said the youngest competitor to show up was two years old and the oldest was an 85-year-old lady. That's right, an 85-year-old lady not only showed up for one of the meets but she competed in the 1,500-meter run, turning in a time of approximately 14 minutes.

'It was a crazy story,' Lider said. 'She actually thought she was done one lap early. But at the finish line we had to tell her that she had one more lap. So, there was a disgusted look, but she took off and she did it.'

Regardless of how well the competitors did or where they placed, they all got ribbons at the end of their events. And they also got a popsicle, which was a huge drawing card for many of the competitors.

'That's what track is all about,' Lider said with a big smile.

One of those who earned a popsicle was Ryan Bailey, the sprinting phenom who recently graduated for Salem's McKay High School. Bailey has been making a habit lately of breaking state records. He's done it twice in the 100 meters and twice in the 200.

The latest came at last week's all-comers meet when Bailey turned in a hand-held time of 20.7 in the 200. That would be rounded up to 20.94 when converted to electronic timing, which is the standard used in Oregon.

That 20.94 time easily eclipsed the state record time of 21.11 that Bailey set at this year's state high school meet. But it probably won't count in the record books since all-comers meets like the one at Lake Oswego are not officially sanctioned.

But Bailey really didn't care. He was just eager to compete and maybe to make up for some of the meets he missed early in the spring after being injured.

'I was always hurt. If it wasn't one thing, it was another thing,' he said after winning Tuesday's hurdle race with ease. 'This year, my biggest problem was my quad and then my back.'

Once he finally felt healthy, Bailey started knocking off records left and right. The 20.94 he ran in last week's 200 was done without much competition. So it will be interesting to see what happens when someone really starts to push him.

'Hopefully I'll run faster,' he said with a chuckle.

Bailey turned in a 21.34 time (when rounded up) in Tuesday's 200. But Bailey said that will be his last meet of the season.

'I've had a long season and I'm leaving for college, hopefully, in a little bit,' he said.

Bailey said he plans to compete at a small college, either in Texas or in Illinois, and then begin a training regimen that he hopes will lead to a qualifying spot on the U.S. Olympic team in 2012.