Nearly 2,400 athletes competed at the seventh annual Bryan Clay Invitational on April 17, the largest turnout in meet history. Azusa Pacific track and field also hosted the California Invitational and the Mt. SAC Relays Combined Events on April 15 and 16.
The following is a behind-the-scenes look through various perspectives:
The “Well-Oiled Machine”
For Azusa Pacific Director of Track and Field Mike Barnett and men’s track and field head coach Kevin Reid, preparation for the week began months in advance.
The logistics include opening the meet for coaches to enter athletes and contacting on-campus offices such as campus safety and facilities management.
“All of those little pieces have to come together,” Barnett said.
Preparation also includes coordinating volunteers to run the events the day of the meet.
“That’s probably the biggest thing, is getting quality people to run the events as well as people to come out and do work,” Reid said. He is the meet director for the California Invitational and Mt. SAC Relays Combined Events.
The lead volunteers are typically alumni while the “grunt work” is assigned to athletes from other sports. According to Reid, more than 100 volunteers are involved in the meet operations; a majority of those could be found working at one time.
According to Barnett, staffers are asked to be there as early as 5:30 each morning to begin to set up. To give a little context, the last of the volunteers didn’t leave Cougar Stadium until after midnight on Friday.
While the volunteers ease the burden of the operations, Reid and Barnett face continual demands during the meets.
“It’s non-stop,” Reid said. “I’m not really doing anything specific during [the Bryan Clay Invitational] other than making sure people are where they’re supposed to be and things are getting done.”
“The planning that takes place for these three days is along the same lines as when Grand Valley State was here at the beginning of the football season,” said assistant athletic trainer Jesse Cops, “getting the medical coverage that needs to be here, getting the volunteers that need to be here to run this because we can’t do this without support from the athletic training program.”
Up to 20 volunteers were present at any given time to assist in the medical coverage. Volunteers included not only athletic training staff and students, but also physical therapy and applied exercise science students.
According to Cops, the trainers are responsible for treatment of minor problems such as blisters from new shoes to cuts or scrapes that require medical attention to pulled muscles to sprained ankles to concussions.
The staff reportedly burned through an entire roll of ice bags by Friday night, which is somewhere between 1,500 and 2,000 bags. At one point, all four of the available ice machines were empty.
“I’ve never been involved in any type of athletic event that has been this big,” Cops said.
Physical preparation of Cougar Stadium begins two to three days before the meets begin. For lead equipment manager Bret Charleston, this includes power-washing the stands, painting the field and allocating resources, such as trash cans.
Equipment management is also responsible for installing the boards for the long-jump pits.
“We have to physically make the long-jump boards. These are just temporary,” Charleston said. “[The boards] have to be a solid surface, so we have to go buy 2x10s, grip them down and paint them — the whole nine yards.”
The finish-line camera takes a static photo with each athlete’s time in every event which is tracked by former Azusa Pacific athlete Rob Jarvis.
There were 22 track events during the Bryan Clay Invitational alone, not accounting for the California Invitational, Mt. SAC Relays nor the number of heats per event.
And Jarvis is the only one designated to this job.
“The nightmare part of the day is from 9:20 to 4:10. I don’t want to talk to anybody,” Jarvis said. “We do what’s called real-time seeding, which means my job while the meet is going on is to assign lane assignments to ensure the meet runs on time. It pretty much falls on my shoulder to make sure we’re on time.”
He laughs, “No pressure.”
Jarvis’ job isn’t done when the meet ends. He’s responsible for uploading all meet results to the Track & Field Results Reporting System to ensure they’re ratified for NCAAs.