Prep track and field | IMG near deal with FHSAA to host state championships
BRADENTON -- The Florida High School Athletic Association and IMG Academy are working on an agreement to bring the state track and field championship to Bradenton, a FHSAA spokesman said Thursday.
"We anticipate that will be the location," FHSAA public relations specialist Corey Sobers said, "but there is no signed agreement yet."
State track championships were held the past four years at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville. Winter Park was among previous host sites.
This would be the first time IMG plays host to the event.
IMG has played host to postseason prep track and field events before, including the Class 4A-District 8 championship in 2015. That event was hosted by Manatee despite being on IMG's campus. In addition, IMG played host to the FHSAA state lacrosse championship in the spring.
Manatee head coach Mike Smith, who sent six athletes to last year's Class 4A state meet, is aware of the negotiations and said he has mixed feelings about staying in the area for the state meet.
"When you go to the state meet, it's kind of a reward," Smith said. "We'll do something, though."
The IMG facility, however, lends itself to a large-scale event such as the state championship meet.
"I think it'll be wonderful," Smith said of IMG's 450-acre campus and state-of-the-art facilities. "The track is fast. It's good for spectators. It'll be good."
In previous years, the championships were held across two weekends with each of four classes competing on its own day. Last year, the FHSAA collapsed the state meet into two days with two classes competing each day. Florida divides all high schools in the state into classes based on the number of students enrolled.
Under the planned format this year, all four classifications would compete May 6-7. Most field events would take place the first day with most track events completed on the second.
The meet opens at noon May 6 with jumping events in all classifications, followed by Class 2A and 4A throwing events starting at 2 p.m. The first running events get underway at 3 p.m. for all classifications.
Jumps in all classifications, and Class 1A and Class 3A throwing begin at 9 a.m. Saturday. Track events start at 10 a.m. for all classifications.
Athletes qualify for state championships in 17 track and field events by advancing through district and regional competition. The top four athletes or relay teams from each of four regional meets qualify for the state final.