Carnival of Speed returns to Milton-Freewater

The 75th Carnival of Speed welcomes 19 track and field teams to town Friday.

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MILTON FREEWATER - The carnival is coming to town.

The Carnival of Speed, that is.

About 350 athletes from 19 schools in Oregon and Washington descend on Mac-Hi's Shockman Field Friday for the 75th Carnival of Speed track and field event.

But while the attendance is significant, it is down from previous years, said Mac-Hi track and field coach John Milleson.

Oregon schools were on spring break last week and Washington schools release for break on Friday, making the timing between the two a challenge, he said.

The carnival will still have 18 events for both boys and girls, and a non-scoring thrower's relay at the end, Milleson said. Some of the larger events will have up to 50 athletes each.

The 19 attending teams will not keep an official score, but the top boy and girl based on points will be honored.

All of those events come with an army of volunteers.

About 60 volunteers, including Milleson, his assistant coaches and parent groups will be at the field.

"These assistant coaches are worth their weight in gold to the program," Milleson said. "It allows me to spend more time with the individuals (on the team) and give quality hands-on help in those events."

And it's working.

Pioneers are all over the top 10 in 4A track and field athletes, and Milleson expects them to represent at districts and state.

"We're surprised at how well we're doing," he said. "We started the season a week late (due to OSAA regulations) and our athletes have caught up. I'm encouraged about that, and we're in pretty good shape right now."

Mac-Hi will host the district meet in May and WWVA will host a meet on the Mac-Hi track in April, meaning local athletes will spend plenty of time in Oregon.

And on Friday, it won't just be track and field athletes.

Mac-Hi will also host a tennis match and a golf tournament, and the track team will hold a fundraiser on the field, selling citrus fruits.

Fundraising so far has netted the team enough money to buy new uniforms - sorely needed, as they races in a mish-mash of three old varieties and sweats.

Last year's Carnival was weathered-out, with sleet and hail ending the day before athletes could even finish warming up.

This year, the current forecast is partly cloudy and around 65 degrees.

"According to the weatherman, it's supposed to be the best day of the week," Milleson said. "We're supposed to have sunshine."

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