NEW BRITAIN - There was a steady increase to the heat as Saturday wore on, but that didn't stop the crowds and athletes from gathering for the track and field portion of the Nutmeg Games at Veterans Stadium.
With over 600 athletes from all ages, the track and field portion is one of, if not the most, popular events put on by the Nutmeg Games.
“It’s probably our largest individual sport,” Patrick Fisher, the Nutmeg Games Executive Director said. “We have participants from all over. Some out-of-state participants as well. We have basically every event one can offer on the field side and then on the track side.”
The Nutmeg Games is the largest, multi-sport, Olympic-style event in the state of Connecticut. This year it will have close to 7,000 athletes participating from the 169 cities and towns in Connecticut.
But what is most unique of the track and field portion of the games Fisher said is the age groups of the participants.
“You’ll see kids as young as four and five competing and you’ll also see people in their 80s competition,” Fisher said. “So that's kind of unique to track and field.”
“It’s definitely one of the premier events for us, we’d like to think,” added Jesse McCray, the Nutmeg Games track and field meet director. “Track and field has exploded on every level and our numbers have shown it. Each year our numbers have increased.”
For some, the games offer a chance to continue to compete once they’re out of high school and college. For others, competing is a chance to stay in shape outside of the high school or collegiate season.
But for D’Asia Duncan, she’s just simply having fun. The 10-year-old, Newington native took first place in the long jump. She also got a personal best in the javelin, throwing 45 feet. Duncan also competed in the shot put, high jump and the 200-meter dash.
“I just love to run,” said Duncan, a 2018 long jump national champion and three-time All-American on the AAU circuit during the spring season. “I’m very competitive and I like to go against other people.”
The games bring in big numbers at the youth level with many of the day's participants coming from track clubs throughout the state and the Northeast to go along with the more experienced and older athletes.
“We have throwers from every level and they’re very competitive,” McCray said. “We have a lot of collegiate throwers who compete against each other during the season. On the youth side of the field, we have some great clubs from Danbury and New Haven. They’re very competitive and we just have a lot of fun. It’s one of the most competitive events that you’ll see in the region.”
Shelby Iava can be reached at (860) 801-5096 or firstname.lastname@example.org