Competitive indoor track becomes a reality in Humboldt

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Lily Groat of Humboldt competes in the shuttle hurdle relay during the inaugural Nielsen Family indoor track meet on Tuesday evening in Humboldt. For more photos, please visit

HUMBOLDT — Around an inch of rain outside didn’t hinder the start of Humboldt’s track season on Tuesday.

The Humboldt Recreation Center was a perfect place to bypass the weather in what is believed to be the state’s first ever indoor track meet at a non-collegiate facility.

The Nielsen Family indoor track meet kicked off the year with the faciliy’s main donor, Ken Nielsen, starting the 3,000-meter run.

Ken and his wife, Marilyn, donated the 71,000-square foot facility to the city, and Ken — along with his son, Tony, and grandson, former Iowa Hawkeye football player Tyler — were in attendance. Marilyn was unable to make it, as she has been dealing with a bout of the flu.

In the first-ever meet that included the new FAT timing system in Humboldt, athletics and activities cirector Greg Thomas was pleased with how the event progressed.

“I think everything went really smoothly,” Thomas said. “We had a few misfires, but we were very happy with the way things went overall.

“Kenny, his son, Tony, and grandson, Tyler, were there. We had a quick dedication and named the meet after the Nielsen family.”

Thomas indicated more squads may be able to participate in the future. Humboldt, Webster City, Pocahontas Area and Gilbert were in action on Tuesday.

“We were done running the meet at about 7:20 p.m. (the meet started at 4:30),” Thomas said. “We expanded the entries up to seven per event. I think we could easily add two more teams.”

Thomas will get a chance to test the theory more later this week, with a six-team boys meet on Friday. A four-team co-ed event is scheduled for next Thursday.

With rough conditions outside, running indoors was the perfect opportunity for the schools to get the 2019 season under way.

“I thought it went really well,” said Humboldt girls coach Dean Clasen. “The biggest thing was jut getting the opportunity to run and compete. We got that accomplished. Our girls did a good job for the first time out.

“It’s just fun to see the kids participate in this, and now, we can do a lot more and they’ll understand what we’re talking about. This gives us a starting point. It was a fun night, and we are really excited about the opportunity.”

Over 240 fans attended the event.

“I thought the fans were very excited,” Clasen said. “I talked to Kenny a little bit after the meet, and he had a big smile on his face. He was excited that people enjoyed the facility.

“It was gratifying for him to see the family’s vision become a reality.”