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Smith and Benson Relays gear up for its 20th annual run

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- Area track and field teams tuned up for Saturday's 20th annual L.C. Smith and Winfred Benson Relays on Wednesday with a practice meet.

Seven schools ran through the majority of the events in preparation for the 21-team field Saturday at Hugh Mills Stadium, a major showcase of track and field talent from around the state.

"It's the first chance we'll actually get to run in front of the home crowd," Monroe coach Octavia Jones said of the weekend event. "The kids are excited about it because they know the competition is going to be the quality of a state meet."

The Smith and Benson Relays will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday. Local Southwest Georgia teams competing will be Albany, Monroe, Westover, Dougherty, Bainbridge, Cairo, Lee County, Mitchell County, Pelham, Thomas County Central and Colquitt County.

Schools traveling in for the meet include Carrollton, Carver-Columbus, Decatur, Jones County, Jonesboro, Lowndes, Southwest-Macon, Tift County, Valdosta and West Laurens.

Bainbridge's boys won the event in 2008, though last year's relays had to be cancelled due to rain. There is little chance for rain in the forecast for Saturday.

Jones, whose girls and boys teams are the GHSA Class AAA defending state champs, likes his squads' chances Saturday.

"I think we're poised right now to do well this weekend," he said.

The meet's namesakes -- L.C. Smith and Winfred Benson -- are two former Dougherty County track coaches. Smith, the father of Westover girls coach Lewis Smith, coached the boys at Monroe from 1954 to 1986, while Benson coached the girls at Monroe. The meet was founded by current Westover Principal William Chunn, who coached Monroe's girls from 1986 to 1992.