Brownwood’s Bluebonnet Relays is considered one of the top track meets in the state of Texas. Each year hundreds of kids show up to compete against each other for two days, seeing who can be called the best in various events. It’s a special time for the area and for Brownwood head track coach Don Hood, who has seen the event come full circle.
“This is my eighth year here in Brownwood as a coach, but I actually ran in the Bluebonnet Relays back in high school,” said Hood, who will be departing Brownwood at the end of the school year to take over the LeTourneau University track and field program. “I remember coming here and just loving every bit of it. I loved going to it and I have great memories of it.”
Hood said while the event is now growing, it was much bigger when he participated in it as an athlete.
“It was a bigger deal then in my opinion, a lot bigger than you could imagine,” he explained. “Back then, in the 1980s, the Bluebonnet Relays was considered to be a well run and well orchestrated meet all around. It still is, but man it seemed like everyone was on their A-game. Everyone wanted to be a part of it because of how efficiently it was done.”
He credits that to the people who organized it both behind the scenes and on the front lines.
“What also made it special were the workers,” said Hood. “It seemed like everyone then who was a part of it was so knowledgeable and they were so involved with what they were doing. They knew every kid from every school it seemed. I remember being amazed that after the first year I came back, workers the following year knew my name and I wasn’t from here. I went to school at Abilene High, so that’s the only time they saw me. They were always friendly and always so thankful. It was just so special to be a part of something like that.”
Now the tables have turned and roles are reversed. The student has become the teacher and it’s a role that he loves to take on.
“To be able to carry that tradition on is very important to me,” said Hood. “I love it when the kids realize they’re taking part in something special. The Relays are very special to us all, so getting to help kids like this is always fun to do.”
“The kids get to experience what a big time meet truly feels like,” he added. “To me that makes it worth doing. That type of stuff is what makes it really fun to do.”
Of course he has a better appreciation of those who work the race now than he did when he ran.
“The Relays are kind of like a duck. Things look real calm on the surface, but underwater it’s hectic because we are paddling like crazy. A lot goes into doing something like this. We need help from the athletic director, the superintendent, the administration and many volunteers. They all come here and help and work hard. When people from the top down are working that hard, you can tell. That’s why I think it runs as well as it does is because of the people involved.”
The result is seeing the number of participants grow. When Hood took over there were 650 kids at the most who competed. Last year they went over a thousand.
“We’ve grown by nearly 400 participants since I started,” said Hood. “That means we’re doing something right because the event is growing. It’s a great event that takes place at a great facility. I’m so glad to be a part of it.”
The Bluebonnet Relays begin at noon Friday with the Division I and II girls 3,200 meters, boys field events and girls running preliminaries. Following the elementary races at 3:30 p.m., the girls field events and boys running prelims begin at 4:30 p.m.
Running finals will be held at noon Saturday.
Bluebonnet Relays Schedule
Friday, March 3 – Saturday, March 4 at Gordon Wood Stadium
I — Class 5A and 6A varsity
II — Class 4A and 3A varsity
III — Class 2A and 1A varsity, all JVs
• 3200 meters (Division II, I Girls)
• Boys Field Events: Discus (Ring 1 Division II, I; Ring 2 Division III); Shot Put (Ring I Division III; Ring 2 Division I, II); Triple Jump (Pit 1 Division I, II; Pit 2 Division III); Long Jump (Pit 1 Division I; Pit 2 Division II, Pit 3 Division III); Triple Jump (Pit 1 Division I; Pit 2 Division II, Pit 3 Division III); Pole Vault (Infield Division II, I; Pit 2 Division III)
• Girls Running Prelims (Division III, II, I order of running): 4x100 relay, 800 meters, 100-meter hurdles, 100-meter dash, 4x200 relay, 400 meters, 300-meter hurdles; 200 meters; 1,600 meters (finals for Division III)
• Elementary Races: First and Second Grade 400 meters; Third and Fourth Grade 800 meters; Fifth and Sixth Grade 1,200 meters
• Girls Field Events: Discus (Ring 1 Division I, II; Ring 2 Division III); Shot Put (Ring I Division III; Ring 2 Division II, I); Triple Jump (Pit 1 Division I, II; Pit 2 Division III); Long Jump (Pit 1 Division I; Pit 2 Division II, Pit 3 Division III); Triple Jump (Pit 1 Division I; Pit 2 Division II, Pit 3 Division III); Pole Vault (Infield Division I, II; Pit 2 Division III)
• Boys Running Prelims (Division III, II, I order of running): 4x100 relay, 800 meters, 100-meter hurdles, 100-meter dash, 4x200 relay, 400 meters, 300-meter hurdles; 200 meters; 1,600 meters (finals for Division III); 3,200 meters (finals Division I, II)
• 3,200 meters Division III Girls Final; Division III Boys Final
• Running Finals (Girls Division III, II, I; Boys Division III, II, I; order of running): 4x100 relay; 800 meters; 100-meter hurdles; 110-meter hurdles; 100 meters; 4x200 relay; 400 meters; 300-meter hurdles; 200 meters; 1,600 meters; 4x400 relay