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39th annual Simplot Games back in Pocatello

The 39th annual Simplot Games kicked off in Pocatello on Thursday.

More than 2,000 athletes from the U.S. and world will compete in the games. Some of the countries represented are Mexico, Canada and Australia.

The Simplot Games are known as one of the premiere high school indoor track and field events in the nation. Several future Olympians have gotten part of their start at the Simplot Games.

There are no specific requirements for athletes to compete; it’s an open meet. Athletes compete in running events, high jump, pole vaulting and more. It’s a three-day competition and will conclude Saturday with medal ceremonies beginning around 1 p.m.

This year, the games are host to six Olympic medalists. Some of the athletes are Andre Phillips, Kristen Armstrong, Steve Hooker, Willie Banks, Stacy Dragila and Dick Fosbury, who is also the Simplot Games Chairman.

The athletes will get a chance to meet the Olympians at a special dinner on Friday night.

Athletes who compete said it’s a great opportunity and it’s great to learn from the best in the nation.

“It’s just like a competitive environment so it pushes me to do my best and i know it does the same thing for other people here too as well,” said Kaite Ellig, who is competing for her third year.

“Just warming up today I was just staring at some of the athletes in awe of how fast they were and you just get to see and learn from techniques and you just watch how they warm up,” said Brittany Boles, a second-year competitor. “You generally take up some of their habits because you know that they’re really good.”

“I just heard about the great competition and having all the other kids around here I’ll be able to open pathways and maybe start communication with kids from another country and see where this will take me,” said Cyrus Brundage, first year competing.

Fosbury and Hooker both said this is a great opportunity for up-and-coming athletes to compete in a great environment and learn from the best. Both said they enjoy coming to the games and are proud to be a part of it.

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