For the first time since St. James High School opened its doors to students in 2003, all nine Horry County high schools competed against one another in a track meet at Loris High School on Wednesday.
The focus of this historic event was not so much about competition and winning, rather those who were doing the competing and winning.
“It’s all about the kids,” Loris athletic director Barry Brooks said. “It gives them a chance to compete against other folks and celebrate being outside. It’s a beautiful day.”
Myrtle Beach track coach John Sedeska seconded Brooks’ comments.
“It’s good to see all the teams in the county come together and compete,” Sedeska said. “You call tell the kids are having fun. They’re positive. They’re supporting one another. It’s just a really great atmosphere.”
This event has been in the works for a while, North Myrtle Beach athletic director Joe Quigley said.
“Obviously the track had to be completed, which it was. And we had to have all nine high schools agree to have it here,” Quigley said. “Our main focus was we thought it would be a great way to introduce the new tracks coming into the county.”
Loris is one of three schools in the county, including St. James and Carolina Forest, that have seen their tracks renovated this academic year. And while the track certainly was gleaming in the bright sun, the community of Loris was also in the limelight Wednesday.
“We wanted to bring out Loris,” Quigley said. “I think they do a tremendous job. Their AD Barry Brooks does a tremendous job and we thought it would be a great way to not only run on a great surface but also get a great look at Loris.”
For Loris boys track head coach Adrain Grady, he was “excited” to see everyone come together and see who is the best in Horry County.
“That’s a good honor for them to have, being the best in the county,” Grady said. “It’s a mix of classes so you get to see some of the better competition and you get to see some of the smaller schools compete with some of the bigger schools.”
Out of the five classes in high school sports, the nine county high schools are represented in four of them. Class 2A is the only class that does not feature an Horry County school.
With a meet like this, Sedeska agreed with Grady about the importance of meets like Wednesday’s and going up against all different types of competition.
“We’re using this a a prep for our region meet,” Sedeska said. “We have a great region. All the teams are good. We’re going to have to compete extremely hard to compete for our region so we’re using this as a tuneup.”
For athletes like Loris senior Jaquan Jackson, another day to compete “feels good.” Prior to the season starting, Jackson was hoping to break the school record in the 110 m hurdles. He did that Wednesday.
“It felt good beating that school record,” Jackson said.
Jackson still had another round to compete in for the 110 m hurdles and he “hoped to beat” his own record that he set earlier in the day.
He did just that.
Jackson is hoping for days like Wednesday to help him get on the radar of colleges and hopefully “get offers.”
For North Myrtle Beach senior Jenna Downey, she said it was amazing to be part of the all-county event.
“I have ran since I was in middle school, but I always ran against everyone that’s here separately,” Downey said. “So to have everyone at one place, especially on a brand new track, is amazing. You have all your competition and you have all the people you got to talk to over the years. It’s just nice to have everyone together in one place.”
Wednesday was not only a day to showcase Loris‘s new digs but also track athletes.
“To me, track athletes are never really in the limelight,” Quigley said. “And so, today is a day for track.”
As special a day as Wednesday was, it’s not going to be a one time thing.
“Our goal is to go to a different school every year,” Quigley said. “Every nine years, you’re hosting.”
Quigley, who is retiring at the end of this year after three decades of service to North Myrtle Beach athletics, is glad to see an event like this come to fruition.
“I’m glad to see that we are finally getting together,” Quigley said. “We all believe in the same thing.”