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Larry Clark Invitational in Bainbridge kicks off high school track & field season

High school track & field season officially begins today with the first big meet of the year in Bainbridge, where 17 schools from Georgia and Florida will compete in the Larry Clark Invitational.

High school track & field season officially begins today with the first big meet of the year in Bainbridge, where 17 schools from Georgia and Florida will compete in the Larry Clark Invitational.

BAINBRIDGE — Seventeen schools and 34 track & field teams will converge on Bainbridge High School today for the first big track & field meet of the season in the third annual Larry Clark Invitational.

Monroe’s girls, who will be trying to win their fourth consecutive Class AAA state title, will take the first steps toward that goal today as Mimieux Land and Company compete against a long list of bigger schools, including Tallahassee Lincoln, Marrianna, and Madison County from Florida.

“Monroe is the cream of the crop in the girls meet,’’ said Clark, a legendary track & field coach who coached for more than 30 years at Bainbridge. “But we’ve got a lot of good teams. Carrollton is coming down for this meet, and Valdosta, Lowndes and Tifton all have good girls teams, and our girls team at Bainbridge is going to be real good this year.’’

Clark’s Bearcats won the boys title last year, but two-time defending Class AAA state champion Carrollton will be the favorite to win the boys meet today.

Carrollton’s boys won the 2010 state title and Monroe finished second, and then last year Carrollton won the state title, edging Westover, which finished second.

“Carrollton will be the favorite in the boys meet,’’ Clark said. “But Westover is bringing a real good team to the meet. Westover is so strong with their distance runners returning, and they bring back those two in the discus. Carrollton and Westover both have a lot back.’’

Clark also pointed to Valdosta, Lowndes and Tifton — all Class AAAAA programs — and expects those teams to be competitive in the boys meet as well as Bainbridge. Lee County will compete in both meets.

“It’s going to be interesting to see who will win the meet,’’ Clark said. “I think it’s going to be a great meet. Our goal was to bring in quality teams, and we’ve done that.’’

The field events begin at 9:30 a.m., and running finals are scheduled to start at 1 p.m.