More than 800 NCAA track and field athletes vying for national title in Myrtle Beach

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The Grand Strand’s strong sports tourism season is continuing this weekend, coming off the breakout success of the Myrtle Beach Classic.

Over the next several days, 850 athletes from 200 Division III NCAA schools are competing for a track and field national championship at Doug Shaw Memorial Stadium — the first time Myrtle Beach has ever hosted such an event.

Qualifying began March 6 and continued through last Friday. The championship dates back to 1974 for men and 1982 for women.

“The athletes qualify individually but then of course can score team points, and there’s a team champion,” Jeff Jacobs, the city’s track and field program coordinator, said. “Just like the (basketball) Final Four, top four teams on each side get the podium and a big award.”

Jacobs said the event is expected to generate $2.5 million worth of economic impact, and organizers didn’t know until last week who would be competing in the championships.

“Just last week was final qualifying meets so they didn’t know the final list until last Friday. Now if you were ranked at the top. You probably knew that you had a good idea that you were going to make it, but they were fighting for those spots all the way up until last week,” he said.

While the athletes competing have spent a lot of time preparing, it hasn’t come at the cost of staying on top of their academics, Jacobs said.

“These are some of the best athletes in NCAA Division III, traditionally some of the top academic institutions, for instance like MIT. So a combination of really high level academics and athletes. Ultimate student athletes I think at this level, it’s pretty cool,” he said.

More than 90 certified officials are overseeing the event and most will be flying in from out of town.

Jacobs says the athletes’ reactions have been great so far.

“Every reaction so far has been ‘wow this looks great, everything is beautiful’ of course we’ve got beautiful Myrtle Beach weather and sunny skies, so we hope that holds up the rest of the week,” he said. “But the weather, the location, being close to the beach, it’s really a great location obviously to travel to, but so far so good, everybody has been really happy with the set up.”

The championships run Thursday through Saturday.

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Hannah Huffstickler is a multimedia journalist at News13. She joined the News13 team in January 2024 after graduating from Coastal Carolina University in December of 2023. Keep up with Hannah on Facebook and Instagram. You can also read more of her work here.

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