Even as driving wind whipped through Ratliff Stadium, and unfavorable conditions pushed around the field events venue nearby, that wasn’t going to stop the gathered athletes from getting on that track, or stepping in that throwing circle.

Against the conditions Saturday, nearly 200 dedicated athletes competed in Special Olympics Texas’ Spring Games track and field event at Ratliff, in the face of steady winds around 20 miles per hour, as competitors gathered from Odessa, Midland, the surrounding Permian Basin area and the Big Bend.

Athletes participated to qualify for the statewide Special Olympics Texas track and field event set for May in Arlington — and showed their dedication to competition throughout the day, in pushing through that wind.

“We hardly ever miss track,” said Gary Roark, coach of the participating Yellow Jackets team from Kermit. Roark said his athletes wouldn’t skip Saturday’s event no matter the weather, adding that West Texas’ love for track and field as a sport translates into Special Olympics track events.

“They love getting medals,” he said.

Athletes from various age ranges, Saturday, competed in traditional running and field events, as well as modified events, such as assisted walks, wheelchair races and ball throw competitions.

Special Olympics Texas director of field services, Norm Arias, said track and field is among the most popular sports among the organization’s participants in West Texas, who make up the organization’s Area 18.

“You talk about dedicated,” Arias said, standing just outside the stadium during a break in Saturday’s action. “As windy as it is, our athletes are still coming out ready to compete. The weather didn’t stop them. If that doesn’t give you an indicator that they love to run, and they like to compete, this should.

“These guys were ready.”

Saturday’s participants competed to meet qualifying standards for the statewide competition scheduled for May 24-27 in Arlington.

Special Olympics Texas’ next event in the area is its soccer competition, set for May 12 on campus at UTPB.