By Conrad Dudderar
Thousands of people are expected to visit on Yukon this summer for a four-state athletic competition, which organizers and city leaders say will boost the local economy.
An AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) Track and Field regional qualifier meet will be June 22-25 at Miller Stadium, 1777 S Yukon Parkway. Youth ages 4-18 years will compete.
“We’re expecting 2,600 athletes over four days, plus two to three times as many family members,” said Norman’s Bryan Daniels, sports director for Oklahoma AAU Track and Field. “That makes for a huge crowd.
“This will be a full, four-day meet. I hope to have the schedule finalized for our committee by the end of this month.”
Daniels believes this large regional track meet will provide substantial economic benefits to Yukon stores and restaurants – starting Wednesday, June 21 and continuing through Sunday, June 25.
AAU Region 16 covers Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and southern Missouri.
Daniels referred to Yukon High School’s “top notch” facilities which will host all the track and field athletes and spectators.
The state AAU official expressed appreciation to Yukon Millers’ athletic director Brian Hinson.
“Brian was more than gracious,” Daniels said. “This is his first year there, and he immediately thought about what business this could bring into the Yukon area.”
Daniels has been working closely with Yukon Chamber of Commerce CEO Pam Shelton as plans develop for the regional AAU track and field meet in Yukon.
“Pam’s eyes lightened up and the chamber is doing everything they can to help us get it off the ground,” he said.
Shelton shared the news during the Jan. 3rd Yukon City Council meeting inside the Centennial Building, 12 S 5th. The Yukon Chamber chief predicts this event is going to huge.
“We’re currently working on filling the Yukon hotels first,” she told city officials. “We know with 2,500 participants – plus parents, aunts and uncles, and grandmas and grandpas – we will have more than that attend here.
“I will be working with my businesses to obtain sponsors. Restaurants will work with us, and we’ll have a lot of things happening. Get ready for that in June of 2023!”
AAU officials have been “very impressed” with the positive reception they’ve received about the June regionals, Daniels added.
He referred to the “excitement that’s been generated” across the Yukon area.
If YPS built steeple-chase water jump pits at its track, Daniels said he could “definitely commit” to having this regional meet in Yukon every three years.
“We want to be able to hold every last event in one location,” he noted. “Moore High School and the University of Oklahoma are the only two locations in the metro area that have steeple chase.”
The AAU Regional 16 qualifier rotates every three years among Oklahoma, Arkansas and the Missouri Valley.
Yukon last hosted the AAU regional track and field meet in 2013, when fewer than 800 athletes participated. That’s when the region included just Oklahoma and Arkansas.
The last time this regional qualifier was in Oklahoma was 2019, when 1,700 athletes competed at the University of Tulsa.
There were 2,000-plus athletes in 2020 at the Region 16 track meet in Bentonville, Ark. and more than 2,300 competitors in 2021 for the regionals in Carl Junction, Mo.
5A/6A STATE TRACK MEET
Ward 1 Yukon City Council Member Rodney Zimmerman piggy-backed on the AAU track and field announcement during Tuesday night’s council meeting.
“Yukon High School – on the second Friday and Saturday in May – will be hosting the State 5A/6A State Track Meet, bringing in participants from the 32, 6A schools and 72, 5A schools to compete over those two days,” he said.
“We’re real excited to have that back.”
Zimmerman is a YHS U.S. History teacher and girls’ track/cross country coach. He has served on the five-member city council since May 2022 after defeating incumbent Rick Cacini in the Ward 1 council election.
Cacini and Tim Peters are now running for the at-large council seat held by Jeff Wootton.