Though trailing behind the others, the little girl with glasses kept on running. As the runners crossed the finish line, the crowd at Hearnes Center’s field house began to clap. They were applauding not for the winner, but for the girl who was just making the last turn around the track.
Despite being the youngest participant in her heat, Shelby Stowt, 7, finished the girls’ 400-meter dash at full speed to the applause of the crowd.
Shelby was joined by her three siblings in the annual Missouri All-Comers track and field meet on Saturday. The event marked the 21st year Missouri has held the all-day event, which is open to anyone.
Participants paid $10 to enter the meet and were split into age groups which featured pre-high school, high school, collegiate and those 40 and older. The meet drew close to 650 athletes from across Missouri and Kansas.
Many of the competitors competed in the high-school division. Timberland coach Ray Tuterrow said the All-Comers meet allows the athletes to get back on the track before the high-school season starts.
“It’s the first chance they can compete for fun,” Tuterrow said. “This is the time they can kick it and rib each other.”
Tuterrow said it was the second year he has brought his team to the event. The meet drew a better talent pool this year because of an increase of previous state qualifiers he said.
The meet is also beneficial to the Missouri track and field team. Coach Rick McGuire said the meet serves as an elimination meet.
With the Big 12 Conference Indoor Championships next week, the team has some decisions to make. It has 95 athletes on the roster, but only 52 of them can go to the meet. So McGuire sees the All-Comers meet as a chance for his athletes to show him why they deserve to be on the team.
With so many of the competitors in high school, the event also provides a recruiting base for the team, McGuire said. He said he does not approach the event with that in mind, but that it seems like every year he will have people on his team that took part in this competition the previous year.
Outside of what the event does for his team, McGuire also enjoys the friendly atmosphere that surrounds the event. He often receives thank-you notes after the event is completed.
“I want the people to leave with a smile on their face and go home happy,” he said.