A two-time Olympic qualifier is among those bringing a new inaugural track-and-field competition to Topeka

13 News at Six
Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 6:15 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Washburn University’s new indoor facility is ready to welcome young track and field athletes.

Visit Topeka announced the annual Topeka Super Indoor Invitational on Tuesday is backed by two track and field world leaders - Kenneth Ferguson and two-time Olympic qualifier Cliff Wiley.

“The more youth events and youth programs we can create the better for us,” Sean Dixon, President of Visit Topeka said. “It’s great for recruitment for not only those youth to come here to go to school but for families to consider moving to Topeka and make this a better place to live and work and play, so it all plays into the economic development picture for us.”

Washburn University will host the event in its year-old indoor facility.

“The ability to train and to compete really makes a difference, and when you have a facility like this that is world-class in every respect, then you get an opportunity to come here and run a bank track that is scientifically developed to run optimal times that makes a big difference,” Cliff Wiley explained.

Wiley is a graduate of the University of Kansas, where he also attended law school. He qualified for the Olympics in 1980, won 13 All American honors, and earned an NCAA indoor title.

“Then in 84, I trained in California and got injured less than six weeks before the trials,” Wiley continued. “In the United States, you have to be both talented, hard-working, but you also have to be lucky I’ve been around for a long time and I just ran luck.”

Wiley is continuing his dream offering youth athletes a chance to compete indoors and earn scholarships.

“There gonna be a number of college coaches here who are going to be scouting for the best talent to give scholarships to, and you can’t run great times unless you are on a great track and this is a great track,” Wiley said. “What is hurt is the development of our kids when they’re competing for scholarships against kids all over the country. I look for this meet to redevelop 300 kids that’s if there’s gonna be 10 inches of snow on the ground.”

Plus, welcoming athletes, and their families, helps Visit Topeka overcome a ‘hurdle’ in its calendar.

“Putting these events in February, getting started early just moved up the time frame for our tourism season and the impact we have. What is honestly a slower time for us for tourism so that impact will really be felt is was really important for us,” Dixon said.

Wiley says the Topeka invitational meet will feature two meets of seven to 14-year-olds, and high schoolers.

The meet is set for February 19th, of next year.

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