Geography helped USATF draw a record number of people for the Masters Track and Field Championships at North Carolina A&T last week. Temperatures cooled and smoke from the Canadian wildfires disappeared just in time to keep competitors comfortable.
But the chairman of the USATF Track & Field Masters said Monday that a key piece of equipment at Truist Stadium is needed to help ensure that Greensboro would host a future championship.
“Unless things change at the facility, I don’t think we could go back,” chairman Jerry Bookin-Weiner said. “And that’s because there’s only one long-throws cage and we really need two.”
Those cages would be needed for the hammer throw and discus. The throwers competed outside the stadium behind the east stands. Bookin-Weiner said that’s not a problem for a college track and field meet, but in an event of the magnitude of the Masters, two cages would have helped those events move more quickly, he said.
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One solution that was implemented was to put a throwers’ circle on the A&T women’s softball field for the weight-throw competition. Otherwise, Bookin-Weiner said, the competition might have been canceled, especially if A&T officials hadn’t been willing to allow the softball field to be pockmarked with divots from the throws. A second cage had been located at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, but Bookin-Weiner said it was too large for the truck sent to haul it to North Carolina.
“If we’ve got two, we’re not going to wind up running late now,” he said, noting that having a lighted throwing area could also help. “If we run into bad weather, it wouldn’t hurt because we could then extend the day.”
The cages would have to be placed around 400 feet apart, according to Bookin-Weiner, to allow separate throwing events to proceed simultaneously. Or they could be placed back-to-back with throwers working in opposite directions.
On Wednesday, the Triad was shrouded in haze from the wildfires continuing to plague Canada. When the meet started, the smoke had disappeared. Also, temperatures came down from near 90 degrees thanks in part to overcast skies.
“We were, frankly, quite fearful of the weather, and then you throw in the Canadian wildfires. We were worried about that, too,” Bookin-Weiner said. “We had no rain, which is always a possibility in this part of the country at this time of year, and so we were able to adhere to our schedule, which we counted as a huge win.”
As for the geography, Bookin-Weiner said that a third of the Masters competitors are in the eastern part of the country, and with a meet in Greensboro, many competitors chose to drive. And with the decision to allow competitors between 25 and 29 years into the meet, the numbers were significantly higher; in all, nearly 1,400 people showed up for the championships.
Bookin-Weiner had praise for A&T, including Billy Edringston, the school’s director of facilities and game-day operations. He also called the work of the Greensboro Sports Commission “marvelous.” There were also plaudits for Hill Carrow, the founder and CEO of Sports & Properties, Inc.
Carrow, who has spent many years bringing world-class athletic events to North Carolina, notes that Greensboro has its own significant history of bringing all sorts of national and world-class competitions to the city, from swimming to figure skating, to table tennis. It will have an important role in the World University Games coming to the state in 2029. He called the Masters event a test run for the show just six years away and deemed the city capable of handling it.
“Greensboro is a place that can get it done, and Greensboro has been tremendously supportive of all this type of stuff,” he said. “So, everybody in Greensboro ought to keep playing together as a team like they’re doing because Greensboro really stands out well in this sector of sports.”