Lack of Lincoln home track meets irks writer

Sports Commentary

It’s time for the drought to end. While I could be talking about our recent lack of rain and the soaring temperatures that have accompanied it, that’s not the one I have in mind.

It’s a drought on the local sports scene, and one that also needs to come to an end as soon as possible.

I’m referring to the lack of a home track meet for the Lincoln University track and field teams.

Sure, it’s not exactly the time to be thinking about track and field, as the Blue Tigers’ most recent season came to a close at the end of May.

But Lincoln’s been on my mind the last few days as several current and former Blue Tigers have been taking part in the Olympic trials in their home country of Jamaica.

Two members of the Lincoln community have already locked up spots in the London Olympics, as current student Roxroy Cato earned a berth by finishing third in the 400-meter hurdles, and former Blue Tiger Wilbert Walker advanced by winning the triple jump.

Those are feats worthy of celebrating, and will be, up to and including watching with bated breath while they compete in the Olympics, which run from July 25-Aug. 12.

But the first thing I thought of when I found out they had qualified was, “I sure wish I’d seen them compete.”

Therein lies the problem. In my now 181⁄2 years working for the News Tribune, I can recall one home track meet for Lincoln during that time, and it’s closing in on a decade ago, because I can’t honestly remember when it happened.

That’s a crying shame, especially when you consider Lincoln has the closest thing to a dynasty this town currently has in any sport.

A few numbers bear that out.

In the past 10 seasons, the Lincoln women have won 10 national championships. Included in that is the 2004 season, when the Blue Tigers won team titles in both the Division II indoor and outdoor seasons.

That’s probably impressive enough that I could stop there. But I won’t.

In slightly more than a decade, more than 150 athletes have been named All-American, and more than 50 have been national champions.

And while the women’s team has been dominant, the Lincoln men aren’t exactly chopped liver. Even if they haven’t been able to come up with a team title, they’ve been close several times and have cranked out numerous All-Americans.

Yet the Blue Tigers have essentially operated under the radar, mostly because the closest thing to blips on that radar have been celebrations held for the teams long after their great accomplishments. Again, that’s because there’s been no way to celebrate them in person while, if you’ll excuse the pun, they’ve been running circles around the competition.

I’m not here to assign blame. I don’t care why home meets don’t happen. I’m just here to plead for that to change.

It’s bad enough when you have national champions in town, and the Blue Tigers churn them out like Central Dairy churns out ice cream. But it’s even worse when you consider there are Olympians in our midst, and we never get to appreciate them.

I, for one, would like to witness greatness with my own eyes. Hopefully I’ll get that chance sometime soon.

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