As the only track club in the area, members of the Augusta Flyers have to leave town to find other clubs to compete with. But this weekend, 35 Georgia clubs will come to them.
The 2006 Amateur Athletic Union Georgia District Track and Field Championship, which will be held at Westside High School today through Sunday, is the first track and field event Augusta has played host to in three years, said meet coordinator George Taylor.
Many of the 927 athletes, ranging in age from 7 to 18, who are registered for this weekend's meet have performed well in past state competitions.
"It should be a real good meet," Taylor said.
The top six finishers will move on to the regional championships, which will be held in Savannah, Ga., on June 22-25.
The top four at that event will qualify for participation in the Junior Olympics, which will be held in Hampton Roads, Va., from July 26 to Aug. 5.
"Every year, (the Flyers) have had kids do well in the Junior Olympics and we expect this year to be the same," Taylor said.
The club, which began in 1991, operates largely as a summer program for youths, many of whom participate in middle or high school track programs.
Taylor said these students often join the Flyers in the summer to stay in shape for school competition.
"(It has) benefits just like summer basketball; the more you do it, the better you become," he said.
The team usually travels to compete, mostly to Atlanta, but also to Savannah and Spartanburg and Mount Pleasant, S.C., Taylor said.
"We don't have enough clubs in the area for us to practice against, so we have to travel to give the kids a chance to run against other kids," Taylor said.
According to the Augusta Flyers' Web site, the program's purpose is "to provide a rigorous program of character development through youth participation in the sport of track and field."
Nearly 40 club athletes have received college track and field scholarships through participation in the Augusta Flyers since its inception.
This weekend's meet will begin at 11 a.m. today with team events such as the decathlon. These will continue through Friday afternoon, when the individual events begin. Taylor said Saturday will be the biggest day because of the preliminary races. Finals will be held Sunday. Friday through Sunday's competitions will begin at 8 a.m.
For more information about the Augusta Flyers or the district championship, go to www.augustaflyers.com.