I dread it every year.

The University Interscholastic League’s Track & Field State Meet is one of my most hated high school events.

First off, covering it is typically a giant logistical nightmare.

With numerous kids competing in multiple events during the three-day meet, the workload can quickly become extremely overwhelming.

And often times, if I’m not racing from event to event, the opposite occurs, and I sit idly for hours upon hours until the next area kid’s time to compete arrives.

But that is only one reason I hate it.

Held at Mike A. Myers Stadium located in the heart of the University of Texas’ campus in Austin, traffic is almost always unbearable.

In fact, upon arriving last Friday, I sat on Interstate 35 for more than an hour before even getting in line to obtain my credentials.

Then, it took another hour to meander my way to the media parking lot, which, of course, was full, forcing me to settle for a spot about eight blocks away from the venue.

And there are always issues with the unpredictable weather.

This year, there were not hours upon hours of rain and lightning delays similar to those endured in 2016 and countless years prior, but the sun was unrelenting.

With shade at a premium, the rays were brutal, dehydrating and frying most in attendance.

All in all, it is a miserable experience.

But then, I realize the truth — all the headaches and sunburns that come along with covering the state track meet are worth it.

After all, there is nothing else like it, bringing people from every corner of the state to compete in some of the most awe-inspiring events.

Additionally, as a writer, regardless of how the athletes or teams do, there are always lots of great stories to report.

More importantly, former colleagues, coaches I once covered, friends and acquaintances all descend on the state’s capital, allowing time to reunite and swap stories about some of the premier athletes who are on hand.

And there are always at least a couple Texas legends in attendance.

So, while I always approach the state meet with discontent, I usually emerge exhausted but satisfied with my stay.

In the end, all the frustration does not overshadow the experience.

Last weekend, I witnessed state and national records fall, saw underdog athletes emerge with medals and watched thrilling races decided by hundredths of a second.

On top of that, I swapped plenty of stories and saw plenty of friends.

Although I dread it every year, I don’t think I could ever turn down the opportunity to attend.

The state track meet is simply too unique to miss.

For all of its drawbacks, its charm is unresistable.

Just be sure to bring extra sunscreen and plenty of patience.

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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