High School Sports

Taco Bell meet on hold in 2010

The Taco Bell track and field meet, which in the past 18 years has grown into one of the nation's most popular prep events, will not be held in 2010 due to renovations at Spring Valley High's Harry Parone Stadium.

Spring Valley track coach John Jones, the meet's director, said Thursday his search for another location proved fruitless. So the meet, which included 2,400 athletes from nine states last April, will return in 2011.

"We wanted to do it right or not do it at all," Jones said. "There just wasn't another venue that fit everything we needed."

Harry Parone Stadium is undergoing a muti-phased facelift that began earlier this year and forced the S.C. High School League state track meets to move to Lower Richland High. The next phase of construction will replace the track, add a new scoreboard and new press box and improve the seating, restroom and concession areas.

That work is scheduled to be done in late summer 2010, a schedule that had the 2010 Taco Bell Meet in jeopardy for months.

Still, Jones said he looked all over the state and even in other states for an available facility capable of holding the event. This week, he said, he realized it wasn't possible.

"We've had schools from Pennsylvania, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Florida, all coming here for our little ol' meet," Jones said. "I just didn't want them to come that far and say 'This is it?' I just want to wow them."

This is the second time in the meet's history, which dates to 1991, that it has taken a hiatus due to construction. Harry Parone Stadium's track was replaced in 1999, causing the Taco Bell to take a year off.

Jones said he looks forward to April 8-9, 2011, when the meet will return in the upgraded Harry Parone Stadium.

"When all is said and done," Jones said, "we're going to have that wow factor."