Mitchell finds perfect way to host track meet, honor school's former coaches

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From his first days as track and field coach at Mitchell, Josh Browning wondered why his school, unlike the other three in District 11, did not host a meet.

In a little over a month, that day will finally be here, more than two years in the making.

"I wanted to host our own meet, most importantly to offer the same opportunity for our students at Mitchell to be involved in the track and field community like the other schools in the district," said Josh Browning, who took over the program prior to the 2014-15 school year. "The biggest thing was finding the right date. We wanted to find the right weekend for us to have a competitive meet."

And instead of simply naming the meet after the school or the mascot, Browning urged his administration to instead honor a pair of former Mitchell coaches - Susan Petrelli and Ivory Joe Hunt - who put the program on the map.

So, on the afternoon of April 14, Garry Berry Stadium will play host to the inaugural Petrelli and Hunt Invitational.

"Susan and Ivory Joe were co-coaches of the program from the early 1990s until quite recently," Mitchell athletic director Brett Williams said. "Josh wanted to honor the past, the history and tradition of the program. I appreciate Josh's enthusiasm and energy, and I'm excited that we're going to do this. I've been here 12 years, and we've never hosted a meet."

Petrelli and Hunt both were track All-Americans at Adams State, where Browning started his undergraduate studies and ran for the Grizzlies.

While serving as an assistant coach at Eastern New Mexico University, Browning attended a track coaching clinic in Denver in which Petrelli was one of the speakers and was impressed with not only her knowledge, but her enthusiasm and passion for track and field.

A few years later, Browning was hired at Mitchell and had no idea that Petrelli also was on the staff as a health teacher as he wandered the halls and saw a bevy of track posters in one particular classroom, hers.

"If there was anything to sell me on coming here, it was having her in the building," Browning said. "She's a true inspiration to me as a coach and teacher. She and Ivory Joe are legendary coaches because of what they've accomplished, and I felt it was right to put their name on this meet to show our appreciation."

As Browning gained knowledge of the Pikes Peak region track and field climate during his first two seasons and slowly planned when to schedule Mitchell's meet, he wanted to also recognize his school's military heritage, namely the annual JROTC ball at the school.

He avoided scheduling meets on that Saturday in April to sidestep conflicts.

Not this year.

"I wanted our students to be involved and still be able to attend the ball," Browning said. "That's a big deal. So we're going to host a track meet on the Friday before the ball. It worked out perfectly."