Jimmies preparing to host first Al Cassell meet since 2017
This year's Al Cassell event is estimated to be the 65th edition.
JAMESTOWN — For the first time since 2017, the University of Jamestown will be hosting the Al Cassell Classic.
When the Jimmies start up at 1 p.m. on Friday, April 28, it will be the first time that they have hosted any home meet since April 29, 2017, a stretch of 2,190 days. The only person that was there for the last Al Cassell event is Jimmies assistant coach Jim Clark.
“I went to 63 or 64 Al Cassell’s in a row counting high school and everything I went to,” Clark said. “So, it was just something you did every year. You hardly ever got snow, in my years, I don’t think there was more than maybe one year that got postponed or canceled I guess. There were years where we moved it a day or something like that, but we always went rain or shine.”
This will be the first-ever home meet for everybody else and that includes head coach Jarvis Jelen.
“It’s exciting for us to be able to have the first meet at the new facility,” Jelen said. “It was supposed to happen last year, got canceled, the primary thing for this year is just to finally christen the new facility. We’ll have a senior recognition at 2 p.m. to kick things off, to be able to have a home competition and to be able to have all the alums of the program that work here and live here in town out, taking part in our program on campus is exciting.”
Clark said the event hasn’t happened in seven years because of a mix between the COVID-19 pandemic, the track undergoing construction and the weather. The Jimmies were supposed to host the Al Cassell meet last year but due to snow, the event was canceled.
“The track just wasn’t in very good shape for a couple of those years there where it wasn’t really conducive to a good track meet,” Clark said. “The high school was in the same boat, they didn’t really have any meets a couple years there before we started the construction project.”
Due to an abundance of meets this weekend around the area, the Jimmies hosted meet is against only four other teams. The Jimmies are hosting Dickinson State University, the University of Mary, Concordia College (MN.) and Valley City State University.
“It’s been a challenging outdoor season in general, especially because coach Connor (Salisbury) and I, associate head coach, we both just came in I guess a month and a half ago or so, we just started,” Jelen said. “So, to be jumping in and figuring all the normal stuff out and also having to switch meets every week and constantly pivot in what our season looks like, not being able to plan ahead at all is definitely a challenge. But I think it can teach the athletes a lot of good blessings in resilience and adaptability, ability to handle adversity.”
Clark said one of the most important parts of the meet is that there are athletes that now get to have a home meet. One of the athletes that is getting to experience a home meet for the first time is sophomore Jennifer Tallackson.
“It means a lot to be able to run at the home track meet…home field advantage in any sport,” Tallackson said. “Hopefully all our classmates and other student-athletes come out and watch. It’s the one thing they can come and do instead of traveling so far.”
Tallackson is especially looking forward to the meet because she is not going to be running at the GPAC Conference Championships.
“I’m really excited,” Tallackson said. “I’m not running at conference so this is my last chance meet, my last chance meet of the year. I’m hoping for a big PR (personal record) and doing the best I can and being able to go out with my seniors, one last time before they leave.”
Jelen said hosting the event is a group endeavor as they learn how to put on a home meet for the first time in a while.
Jelen said the team will be planning on hosting the event regularly moving forward.
“This meet is what we’re trying to build to be,” Jelen said. “This’ll be the primary meet that we host each year, we do want to add a last chance meet as well. But what we’ve come to determine is that it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to host anything before the ned of April so we’re not gonna be able to have a lot of meets here because of the weather in Spring in North Dakota. We don’t want to have a situation where we keep having meets on the schedule and canceling them.”