Athletes compete, set records at Huntsman Senior Games track event

Huntsman Senior Games Track and Field, St. George, Utah, Oct. 8, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

SANTA CLARA — Worldwide and local athletes broke records and improved personal bests as they competed in the Huntsman Senior Games track and field at Snow Canyon High School Monday through Wednesday.

huntsman senior gamesGary Patton of Rock Rapids, Iowa, participated in the 800 and 1500-meter runs. He holds the meet record with times of 2:26.81 in the 800 and and 5:05.16 in the 1500 within the 65-69 age group.

Event Coordinator Ed Christy, who has coached track and field for many years, said Patton is ranked second in the nation and fourth in the world in the 800-meter run. He is also ranked second in the nation and seventh in the world in the 1500-meter run, according to official USA Track & Field rankings.

Andy Pitas, national and meet record holder in the standing long jump within the 65-69 age group, also competed, landing an 8 feet, 1-inch distance. His national record stands at 8-8 since 2009, according to the USA Track & Field rankings.

Dale Perkins rounds the corner during the 1500-meter race at the Huntsman Senior Games Track and Field event, St. George, Utah, Oct. 8, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Dale Perkins rounds the corner during the 1500-meter race at the Huntsman Senior Games Track and Field event, St. George, Utah, Oct. 8, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Dale Perkins, 81, from Nibley, Utah, ran a 7:25 time in the 1500, which placed him first in his age group. Perkins holds the meet record for the event in his age group with a time of 7:14.

Perkins’ running career began in high school and continued as he lettered in the sport as a freshman at University of Utah. This was his ninth year participating in the games and he said staying active is the key to competing well at an older age.

Perkins runs the 400-meter dash, 800-meter run, 1500-meter run, 5K and participates in the basketball hot shot event at the Huntsman Senior Games.

“I don’t run everyday,” he said. “If I did I’d be in trouble.”

Dickson Cooke, 67, from Greensboro, North Carolina, competed in his first Huntsman Senior Games this year. Cooke began running when he was in his 30s as a way to lose weight, but enjoyed it enough to keep running.

“I just really enjoy it,” he said. “It’s fun to run, fun to finish, the camaraderie, training with people, and getting to know people I’ve never met before.”

Cooke ran the 1500-meters, where he placed third in his heat. He said the motivation of competing helps keep him focused on staying active, rather than his age.

Ethel Lehman launches off the board during the triple jump at the Huntsman Senior Games Track and Field competition, St. George, Utah, Oct. 8, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Ethel Lehman launches off the board during the triple jump at the Huntsman Senior Games Track and Field competition, St. George, Utah, Oct. 8, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Another first time track athlete, Ethel Lehmann, 85, from Largo, Florida, competed in the triple jump. Lehmann has come to the Huntsman Senior Games as a part of a softball team.

“I’ve always liked to try new things and I knew I could compete in track Monday through Wednesday and do softball Thursday,”she said. “Our team has to come every other year because it costs so much to travel.”

Trinidad athlete Daniel Laurence said he’s been a runner since he was small. The 86-year-old ran the 100-meter-dash and came in first in his heat.

He along with the other athletes said making exercise a part of daily life is essential to staying fit at an older age.

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Email: hcoombs@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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