Not been to the state track meet for a while? Or a first-timer? Never been stuck in West Dodge Road traffic or searched for a parking spot? Here's a primer to the two day carnival at Burke Stadium:
Check the forecast. On Friday, it could be partly cloudy and 70 degrees for a high temperature. There's a chance of an evening thundershower. Saturday could be windier and slightly warmer and have a 50-50 chance of rain and thunderstorms starting in the afternoon. Sunscreen never hurts. Wear comfortable shoes with a tread because you may end up sitting on a hillside when the seats fill up for Saturday's finals. The hills already could be slick from our recent rains. Umbrellas and coolers are not allowed inside the stadium.
GETTING TO BURKE
From the west on the West Dodge Expressway, stay in the right-hand lanes to exit on to West Dodge Road for the move to 120th Street. Those entering Dodge from Interstate 680 should follow the signs for West Dodge Road. Our advice for parking — TAKE THE SHUTTLE. Park in the northeast lots of Westroads Mall and take the free shuttle bus, which begins at 7 a.m. each day. Buy your meet tickets there ($9 for adults, $6 for students) or purchase them online at nsaahome.ticketleap.com/nsaa-track.
Available on both sides of the stadium with a valid permit.
AT THE STADIUM
Buy a program ($4). The finish line is in front of the west grandstand on the south end. Those seats fill first. The east grandstand offers a good view of the long jump and girls pole vault pits.
It's hard to miss — the huge video board on the north rim of the stadium. Track events will be shown live, and times will appear on the board soon after runners cross the finish line.
It's the boys pole vault's turn to use the portable raised runway set up on the east half of the field.
Class A and Class C go first this year, and the opening 3,200-meter relays start at 9 a.m. Lincoln East has its state-record quintet returning in Class A, and this could be a sprint for the anchor runners. Also at 9 a.m. is the Class A boys shot put, in which state leader Jacob Long of Kearney hopes to pace a 1-2-3 finish for the Bearcats.
After the preliminaries in the high hurdles and the 100 and 400 comes the 3,200meters, in which Millard South's Katie Spencer will try to dethrone 2014 champ Jeralyn Poe of Lincoln North Star and John Nownes of Omaha Creighton Prep tries to win while improving on his No. 7 all-time mark of 9:12.56.
Pay attention, too, to how well the state's fastest girls sprinter — Bellevue West junior Chloe Akin Otiko — runs in her 100, 400 and 200 heats. She should have four races on Saturday.
The session for Classes B and D starts at 3 p.m. for field events and 3:30 for track events. The Class D boys high jump, starting at 5:30 p.m., includes the only state leader from that class, Stetson Meyer of Diller-Odell at 6-9.
By day's end, the 3,200, 3,200 relay, girls long jump, boys triple jump, boys shot put, girls discus and boys high jump gold medalists will have been determined.
Early risers can avoid the worst of traffic and get better seats, as all four classes compete together. The morning session begins with the 800meters at 9:30 a.m. State leaders are York's Erin Lee, whose 2:12.44 is fourth all time, and Fremont's Ty Hansen, seventh at 1:52.73.
At 10:45 a.m. are the 400 relays, with Omaha North's girls already on the all-time chart. About the same time, the Class B boys pole vault should be wrapping up. Will Spencer Powell of McCook, who cleared 15-6 in districts, beat the mark from Friday by Class A favorite Kevin Cahoy of Grand Island?
Next are the girls and boys high hurdles, followed by the 100-meter finals. KJ Cotton of Papillion-La Vista, back from a hamstring injury, and Akin-Otiko lead the state.
After the 400 finals that start at 12:55 p.m., the meet's best race could be the Class A girls 1,600. Spencer, Poe, Elsa Forsberg of Lincoln Southeast and Taylor Somers of Millard South all could break 5minutes if the weather is favorable.
Should Nownes have won the 3,200 and the 800, the Junior Jay could be running the 1,600 to be the first boy since Tim Wakeland of Bellevue West in 1982 to sweep all three.
Next are the 300 hurdles, then the 200 finals, at 3:25 p.m., are the finale for the state's best sprinters. The shuttle buses will keep running, so stick around for the two hours of the meet-ending 1,600 relay.