Boys, Girls Advance to the Starting Lines

A young long-jumper hopping into the pit during last year’s event.

A young long-jumper hopping into the pit during last year’s event.

Laguna Beach High School’s Hulst Field hosts two back-to-back track meets, beginning with the 32-school Trophy Meet on Saturday, March 16.

Gates open at 6:30 a.m. and the first event begins promptly at 8:41, in honor of distance legend Eric Hulst’s state record time in the 3200, a mark that stood for more than 30 years.

The following week, the city recreation department’s annual Boys and Girls Track Meet will take place Friday, March 22 from 5 to 8 p.m., also at the LBHS field.

All children born in or after 1998 and reside or attend school in town are invited to attend.

The Trophy Meet was started in 1937 by Laguna Coach Red Guyer to give Laguna and other small Orange County schools a chance to compete against each other and was held annually until 1983.  In the ‘70s, Hulst thrust Laguna into the international spotlight, setting a state cross-country title as a junior and national grade-level records that lasted for decades. He also won the World Junior Cross Country Championship as a senior, leading the U.S. team to victory.

A brain tumor eventually took Hulst’s life in 1992.

When Coaches Steve Lalim and Scott Wittkop decided to revive the meet in 2010 after a 27-year hiatus, they established the Eric Hulst Memorial 3200 meter race and school officials named the track in his honor.

Thirty-two teams from all divisions are scheduled to compete under what is predicted to be sunny skies and warm temperatures, a marked contrast to last year’s monsoon-shortened event.

A bevy of Laguna sprinters, including a boys 4×100 team that has broken the school record twice this season, will match their speed against some of southern California’s top athletes. Among those runners are the speedy Drake Martinez and Robert Clemons III, two Breakers football players known for their work inside the track, not on it.

In the city meet, participants may enter a maximum of three events plus relays.  The top finishers in each age division and event are eligible to compete at the county track meet in May.

Entry forms are available in the Community Services Department, 515 Forest Ave., at the Community and Susi Q Center or online at www.lagunabeachcity.net.  To register, please submit a completed entry form along with $15 entry fee per child ($20 at the track meet) to the Community Services Department by Thursday, March 21. For questions, contact Recreation Supervisor Tom Toman at [email protected] or 497-0303.

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