Children running, jumping and throwing in Jefferson City is a sure sign summer is right around the corner.
Organizers held the YMCA's annual Little Olympics on Saturday, estimating that more than 500 fourth- and fifth-graders participated.
Eschewing competition, the children cheered each other on.
Cole Berhorst, the YMCA sports director, said physical education teachers sign up the children involved in the event. They put them together and "we have a fantastic event," Berhorst said. He pointed out that more than 2,000 people gathered in Adkins Stadium for Saturday's action.
"That's a special thing, when all the parents and all the grandparents come out and cheer on all the kids," he said. "That's a really good thing. The crowd's fantastic for all the people participating."
Games included the 40-yard dash, 60-yard dash, Tom Ward (60-yard) Relay, Sone (75-yard) Relay, ball throw and broad jump.
"It's all about sportsmanship," Berhorst said. "Hats off to a lot of the P.E. coaches. They deal with the kids on a day-to-day basis and instill the sportsmanship in them."
The YMCA just comes in and helps facilitate the events, he added.
"They really have a good environment that they have brought here," Berhorst said. "This is just for fun. No one pays for anything. The Y has put this on for many, many years for the kids and for the community."
Andrew Terpstra, P.E. teacher at Lawson Elementary School, said children involved in the event are committed to having a good time.
Joslyn Mator, a 10-year-old fifth-grader from Lawson, said she wasn't able to participate in 2022 and was happy to do so this year. She said she competed in the 40- and 60-yard dashes, and the Tom Ward Relay.
"I did pretty good. I got first and second place," Joslyn said. "And then I tied on the last one."
Owen Shewmaker, an 11-year-old fifth-grader from Lawson, said he competed in ball throw, broad jump and Sone Relay.
"Sone Relay, I came in first," Owen said. "For the ball throw, I threw it over this, and for the broad jump, I jumped 6-2."
Joslyn said she enjoyed showing off her talent. Shewmaker agreed, and added he gets to represent his school.
"You get to show off how good your school is," he said.
A group of St. Peter fifth-grade girls stood and discussed how they did during the event. Jenna Rush, 11, said she participated in relays and a dash.
"I feel like it's fun and it's awesome to be with your friends," Jenna said.
Riley Phelps, 11, did a dash, relay and ball throw. She said she had no idea how far she threw.
"This is just to kind of have fun," Riley said. "It's just like a mini track meet."
Riley Hulsey, 11, said she thought the event was cool because it starts the summer, and because it was her last year to compete.
Abigail Sekelsky, 11, also ran a sprint and relay and threw the ball.
"I got 95 (feet). It's fun. It's not like something I would practice every day to win something," she said. "I just want to do it for fun."