SALAMANCA — Sidelined by the pandemic since 2019, one of the traditions of Southern Tier track and field is set to make a return Friday night with Salamanca’s Super 8 Meet of Champions.
From 1987 through 2019, the annual track and field invitational had been a showcase for the very best in the area due to its selective nature: only eight competitors per event, with one heat for all track races. But with the canceled spring season in 2020 and the compressed schedule last spring, Salamanca had to put the tradition on hold until now.
Tonight, athletes from a field of 31 submitted teams from across Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties will descend on Salamanca’s track for the 33rd annual Foy-Abdo-Davies meet.
“I think like most other teams that host invitationals, we are feeling a bit nervous about the preparation, hoping that we aren’t overlooking anything,” Salamanca boys coach Michelle Hill said. “We haven’t hosted the Super 8 since 2019, which means we are rusty, but also, we only have a few athletes and parents that have experience in running the meet. We are also anxious because this event is a huge point of pride for the Warriors.”
The boys pole vault event will get an early start at 4:30 p.m. while all other field events start at 5:15 and track events begin at 6. Salamanca’s coaches said the initial list of competitors was set by Tuesday, with scratches and replacements in place by Thursday.
“As a coaching staff, we are determined for a smooth-running event, but still ready to modify and adjust to any potential hiccups,” Hill added. “Luckily, our Salamanca track and field team past and present always finds a way to come together to run a successful and memorable meet. We will have many track alumni return as volunteer staff. We are thrilled to potentially coach present athletes in the meet, pending qualification, but also cannot wait to see our past athletes and their looks of excitement in taking part in this special event.
“It looks like the weather is going to cooperate,” Hill added. “We are finalizing the last small details, and then on Friday we will take in some of the best competition that has taken place this season, where the best of the best will be there competing in each event.”
SHS girls coach Laurie Lafferty-John said she’s thrilled to be able to host the meet again.
“I really don’t think there is another meet around like ours,” she said. “I have talked with coaches from all over the northeast and they are always amazed at the format of our meet and how challenging it is to qualify. There is something about competing under the stadium lights on a warm spring night that resonates with track and field athletes.
“Past qualifiers from all over frequently stop us and share their fondest memories of this meet. It is definitely something special. It’s an experience that brings tremendous pride to our team and our district and our community. Over 30 schools are invited and the coined phrase, ‘the best of the best’ rings so true. Competing side by side with others brings out the best in all of us.”
Lafferty-John said she’s hopeful to see some home team represented in the meet.
“Seeing the red and gray competing definitely increases the investment,” she noted.
The meet began the year after the current Salamanca track, named for late SHS coaches Lou Foy and Bob Nugent, was built behind the school. The track could soon see a replacement if the next phase of a district capital project, which would include new tennis courts and softball fields, passes next week.
“Our sport’s history began at Vets Park around the cinder track and then being the only all weather track in the Southern Tier for many years,” Lafferty-John said. “(We talk about) the names of the men our track is named after, Lou Foy and Bob Nugent, and what they mean to our school history. It’s an important talk and (a) very nostalgic time for us here in Salamanca. We look forward to carrying on this tradition for many years ahead.”
The full list of schools considered for qualification for the 2022 Super 8 meet: Allegany-Limestone, Bolivar-Richburg, Cassadaga Valley, Cattaraugus-Little Valley, Chautauqua Lake, Clymer/Sherman, Cuba-Rushford, Dunkirk, Falconer, Fillmore, Forestville, Franklinville/Ellicottville, Fredonia, Frewsburg, Genesee Valley, Gowanda, Jamestown, Maple Grove, Olean, Panama, Pine Valley, Pioneer, Portville, Randolph, Salamanca, Scio, Silver Creek, Southwestern, Wellsville, West Valley, Westfield/Ripley.