STURGIS — The 34th annual Jeff Smit Memorial track meet ran flawlessly, with 1,020 athletes competing on Saturday at Woodle Field, in Sturgis.  

This annual event that occurs on the first Saturday of May every year, and this year was run under a 75 degree cloud fill sky.  

This year a total of 21 teams participated, with 2,069 entries in field and running events.

The track meet was organized and sponsored this year by the Smit family, the Sturgis Optimists, Sturgis Crossfit, Flex Fitness and Tom’s Tees.

Shawn Mechling, the meet coordinator talked about why she helps with what is likely one of the largest middle school meets in Western South Dakota.  

“I do it for the Smits’. I took over their portion of the meet about nine years ago.  This year we had over 1,000 athletes participating today and that is great,” Mechling said.  

The event took nearly 85 workers from the community and Smit family to keep the event running smooth and so coaches could coach and not run events like other track meets.

The meet was started due to the untimely death of Jeff Smit, who was killed in a jeep accident in the summer of 1982, following his eighth-grade year at Sturgis Williams Middle School.  

There are two races that have special meaning for the family, the 400 meter invitational and the 4x100-meter relay.  

This year the Sturgis teams won three of the four special relays, with the seventh grade girls, the eighth grade boys, and the eight grade girls from Stagebarn winning the 4x100 relays.

Keith Smit, Jeff’s father, started this track meet with his wife Ruth.  

Keith was the original starter of the meet and continue for 25 years, then the starters pistol was shot by Mike Strain, a co-worker.

There wasa moment of silence observed in honor of a Keith Smit, who did so much for the Sturgis community, and those that loved this track meet.

The funds raised at the meet are used to purchase something needed at the track and youth programs in the Sturgis area.

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