A national level track and field meet came to South Pasadena High last Friday afternoon as the school hosted the prestigious Tiger Invitational for the ninth straight year.
With a full Ray Solari Stadium looking on, competitors came from all over the country to compete in the event, which is the overflow from those just not quite qualifying for the Arcadia Invitation down the road the following day.
“The Arcadia Invitation is longstanding, and basically there are so many great athletes, our invitational was created for those just missing out in going,” explained South Pasadena High’s track coach C.B. Richards, who organizes the Tiger Invitational with a large group of volunteers. “They barely missed the cut.”
Some athletes compete in both, noted Richards, explaining they enter in some competitions that are not their main strength while focusing on their strongest event at the Arcadia Invitational.
The Tiger Invitational also includes freshmen and sophomore competitors while the Arcadia event is solely for varsity participants.
The event brought out the best in a lot of competitors as 22 meet records were established this year.
“A lot of teams that came to Southern California with their best varsity athletes now bring their best frosh-soph competitors,” said Richards. “We’re getting more and more great performers who are turning out PR’s (personal records), visiting our school, enjoying the music, and having a great time. It was our deepest and biggest event ever.”
Eight different states were part of this year’s Tiger Invitational. In the past, a team from New Zealand paid a visit.
“The competitors just seem to really like it,” said Richards, who has mastered the concept of providing a highly respected track meet in South Pasadena every year.
The event is a fundraiser for the Tigers’ track and field program as many of Richards’ 60 athletes on his SPHS team competed and held volunteer assignments, designed to make the meet run smoothly.
“Having fun,” said the South Pasadena coach, showing a bright smile when asked if he was enjoying himself. “Always having fun.”