After the start of the Dr. Daniel Cepero Memorial Track Meet was rained out last year, meet director Stella Neboh was thankful there was no repeat of that Friday at Ratliff Stadium.
The 15th annual event got fully underway under warm conditions and a breeze that made a hot day just a little more comfortable.
It was the kind of day that Neboh could look back and see the smiles on kids’ faces whether they were finishing a run or a jump.
“It’s an honor and I feel very proud for the people that put in the hard work to help put this event together,” Neboh said. “We start planning in December so we can have this in June.
“The good thing is that you sit back on a day like today and see the benefits of that work with how happy the kids and parents are.”
The event has also turned into a community staple that now brings people from all over West Texas.
Athletes from Lubbock, San Angelo and as far as Canyon came to compete in the event and have enjoyed being a part of the atmosphere.
“We met the Nebohs at the first meet we came to and they’re great people,” said Jon Behrens, head coach of the Canyon Track Club. “It became something that we decided to do annually as a group. Those that come have a good time and they do some special things with the meet.”
From the entertainment of the opening ceremony to the Old Folks relay for the parents and coaches, the first day of the meet had something for everyone.
Friday was also highlighted by the running of the Tiny Tots division, where kids from 2 to 6 years old get to enjoy just being outside.
“Our goal is to get our kids excited about running,” Behrens said. “We want to have a bunch of kids coming out here, exercising and having a good time.
Canyon’s Rylee Walker, 11, returned to compete at the meet for the third year in a row.
She said she enjoys the chance to compete and travel away from home. Walker competed in the long jump as well as the 100-meter dash Friday.
“It’s nice because we don’t have as much competition where we are,” Walker said. “I always have a good time when I come down here.”
For Neboh, who is also the director of the West Texas Track Club, she enjoys interacting with members of the community in Odessa and across the state. Seeing that reaction from those who travel to the meet gives validation for Neboh who enjoys interacting with everyone that she interacts with.
“It just gives me faith and hope that we’re doing something right,” Neboh said. “For people to travel to come down to Odessa and compete in something like this tells me that we’re doing something right for the community.”
The meet concludes Saturday with a 5K run starting at 7 a.m., followed by field events at 7:30. It will be a rolling schedule capped off with the awarding of the Dr. and Mrs. Ralph Cepero Scholarship.