Despite the unpredictable weather area high school track and field teams arrived at Pace High School early Friday morning, March 7th to participate in what is known as one of the premiere track and field invitational in Northwest Florida. By the afternoon the athletes had the perfect day of sunshine and competition to enjoy.


This all day event is exciting to each and every athlete that is involved, as they are able to witness and compete against the best of the best in all of Northwest Florida track and field athletes despite the size classification of the school.


33 years ago Frank Lay had a vision for this event, to bring together local competition. Lay, was coaching the Patriot Track and Field teams at that time. “It certainly has grown over the years,” Lay reflected. “This event takes a lot of work every year. The Pace administration, coaches, athletes and even Pace students who are not in the competition step up to make this day happen.”


“My vision was to organize a quality meet, that was efficiently run with events starting on time and in order throughout the day, for the smaller schools” Lay continued. “I am very pleased with the growth of the event and with the hospitality Pace High shows to all who attend, it is the Patriot Tradition.”


Coaches are treated to a southern style eggs and grits breakfast upon arrival followed by lunch at noon.  Athletes enjoy the sprawling stadium where they set up their team tents and stake out their area to relax when they are not competing.


As one area high school athlete ended her day Friday with a post to her Facebook, “I am so glad I got invited to the invitational today.”


Complete results of the invitational competitions will be published in the Saturday, March 15th Press Gazette.