There are always more questions than answers going into the Lady Dragon Relays girls track and field meet.
Which teams will be impacted most by absences because of spring break? How will athletes perform at an early-season meet? What role will the weather play?
Twelve teams including defending champion Dunlap will gather today at Pekin’s Memorial Stadium for the 22nd annual all-relays meet that has a substantially different format than the standard track meet.
As many as four athletes can compete from a team in each of the six field events. Traditional relays will be run — 4x100, 4x200, 4x400 and 4x800 — along with 4x100 hurdles, 4x1600, sprint medley, middle distance medley and distance medley relays.
The 4x800 and distance medley relays are new this year.
“Those were added because we didn’t have enough distance events,” said Pekin coach and meet manager Christina MacEwan.
Varsity and frosh/soph running events will count in the team scores. There will be only varsity races in the 4x100 hurdles and 4x1600 relays.
“We tried counting frosh/soph races last year and nobody complained,” MacEwan said. “I like getting frosh/soph athletes more involved in the meet.”
Eureka has entered the field, joining Tremont as small-school entries.
Pekin will compete alongside fellow Mid-Illini Conference members East Peoria, Dunlap, Limestone, Metamora and Morton. That adds up to six of the eight conference teams.
Peoria Manual, Peoria Notre Dame and Normal Community will represent the Big 12 Conference and Springfield will have the longest bus ride.
MacEwan said she’ll be missing about a half-dozen of her better athletes because of spring break. Combine that fact with a young team and the coach admits she has no idea what to expect today from the Lady Dragons.
“I could tell from our three indoor meets and an outdoor meet we had Thursday at LaSalle-Peru that we have potential,” she said. “I want our girls to have good splits in their races (today), beat the person next to them and have fun. That’s all. It’s so early in the season.”
The first-ever Kouri’s Pekin Times Star of the Meet will be selected today by the Times sports staff with input from MacEwan.
The Pekin athletes chosen for the award at the four invitationals the high school is hosting this spring — girls track and field, boys track and field, boys tennis and girls soccer — each will be the subject of a feature story in the Times and receive a $25 gift card to Kouri’s Pub at 2929 Court St.