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Snake River Open marks exciting start to track and field season

2020 Snake River Open
Athletes walk the track inside Holt Arena during the first day of the 2020 Snake River Open.

POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - The annual Snake River Open kicked off inside Holt Arena Friday. The two-day track and field event usually hosts high school and collegiate athletes, but the field was expanded to include elementary and middle schoolers this year.

"Just trying to get some younger athletes involved in competing indoors and seeing the track and getting the community out and involved," Hillary Merkley, ISU director of track and field and cross country, explained of the wider age range.

Friday's home opener was the first event of the season for Merkley and her team, providing a good opportunity to see where everyone stands.

"We have a lot of returners ... some school record holders that are coming back and hoping to improve upon those school records and then get another shot at those," Merkley said, "and we have a lot of new faces coming in.”

With athletes running, jumping and throwing, new live results and indicators boards helped participants and spectators stay on top of the events. 

"It’s more information than what they typically get," Merkley explained. "So you can see who’s competing, what their jump is, what place they’re in and all of that.”

Set up for the 2020 season has already been easier than years past due to the ISU's men's basketball moving out of Holt Arena and into Reed Gym.

“We tend to lose the facility, occasionally, when there’s a basketball game, the track comes down," Merkley said. "We haven’t had those missed opportunities for training and practice, plus the layout is a lot nicer -- we don’t have the bleachers in here blocking the view. So when it’s set up like this, it’s probably one of the best facilities in the Mountain West.”

This year, the Snake River Open is one of five meets that ISU including the Big Sky Conference Championships.

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