Northeast Florida Sports Jacksonville

Bob Hayes Track Invitational… An Experience Unlike Any Other

Jacksonville Florida- 

It’s that time of the year again where the Country’s finest athletes converge on Jacksonville’s Northside to compete in the annual Bob Hayes Invitational Track Meet. These participants are the best of the best that track and field has to offer, so competing in this meet is a right of passage of sorts for athletes intent on proving they are the best in their field.

The meet is named after “Bullet” Bob Hayes, Olympian, NFL Hall of Famer, and Jacksonville native. Hayes was once widely known as the ” World’s Fastest Man”. His world wide fame and experiences abroad brought new meaning to track & field in the Jacksonville area.image

These experiences would translate into an event that would create new experiences for many future track & field athletes everywhere. In recent years, athletes have come to know this event as one of the most anticipated track meets of the year. For Monique Ellis, a former track athlete from Ed White High School (1996-2000), she describes it as an eye opening event.

” It can be a very intimidating challenge running as a freshman in high school because your being introduced to athletes that present a new level of competition. But as with any High School experience, the more you train , and the more dedicated you are, it becomes more of an anticipated challenge the ladder years of high school”.

Monique attributes  track as one of the experiences that guided her into Health & Wellness. She currently works as the Program Coordinator for the Florida Health Department.

For Jessica Warner of West Nassau High School Bob Hayes was “that moment you know you were meant to run track but no one gives you the time of day”.  Warner earned West Nassau’s Sprinter of the Year award each year in high school, but she knew competing in the Bob Hayes Invitational was an honor all in itself. “I ran in the 100 meter dash and also the 200 meter dash my senior year, I was truly honored”. Warner is now a member of the University of Central Florida’s Rugby team.

Jessica Warner

Another athlete that went on to play a different sport after High School is Utah University’s Wide Receiver Kenric Young Jr. He can no doubt attribute some of his confidence on the collegiate level to his successful moments in high school.   ” My most memorable moments there (Bob Hayes) was winning the 4x100m relay with my team in 2013 and in 2014 winning the 200m dash”. Out of Gainesville High, Young is credited for running one of the fastest 200m times in the country 20.81. “It was great running against  best of the best”.

 Being measured against the best is sometimes the goal for many athletes.



Winter Park’s Bryan Slay remembers his Bob Hayes experience quite well. He recalls,  “Bob Hayes was always that meet where you were going to see national leading times there. I ran against Arman Hall my junior year there and ran a 47.7 to his 46 low (laughter). It’s a meet where you can be US top 10 fastest and still lose.I loved that meet because it was  most competitive meet there was other than my region and state meet”.Brylan Slay

Slay now runs collegiality at the University of Pittsburgh where he ran a lifetime best 200M (22.40) at the PSU National Invite. Slay has since bested this time reportedly running a 21.9. At Bob Hayes sometimes being pushed by the best can bring out the best in college, but sometimes as a freshman in high school.

Kia English competed at Bob Hayes from 1998 to 2002 with Sandalwood High School. Her experience is one all young track & field athletes should note. In 1998 English ran the 100m and qualified in the preliminaries with a 12.1, she came in second in her heat though.

” I was so nervous and had a late start out the blocks I remember…(laughter) my starts was always off but my finish was always strong.”

That experience in the preliminaries however, would prepare her for the final. She would go on to run a personal best of 11.9 and win the finals. “I was the first freshman to win Bob Hays… It was so cold that day but I was so hype”.  Kia now lives in Philadelphia Pennsylvania and is a certified home health aide.

Regardless of your experience, regardless of your experiences, the Bob Hayes Invitational can become an opportunity to forge a lasting memory. Today many young athletes will attempt to forge their own memories. Joining countless others as they compete on Jacksonville’s biggest track & field stage.

Don’t forget to keep up to date with all the Track & Field Events from the 2015 Bob Hayes Invitational Here…. 2015 Bob Hayes Track Blog


For information regarding the Bob Hayes Invitational Click the Link: Bob Hayes Invitational .



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