BROOKLET – 18 boys teams and 16 girls teams from 19 schools will gather at Southeast Bulloch High School today at 10 a.m. to participate in the seventh annual Plankenhorn Invitational.
The event – which is one of the biggest track and field events in the area – has grown steadily since its inception and will mark the largest field of participants ever to compete this season.
Sadly, the namesake of the event comes from the tragic death of a former SEB student. On February 19, 2003, Derrick Plankenhorn passed away while participating in track practice. Now, the annual event serves to honor the memory of Derrick.
“We’re thrilled that this event has become so big,” said SEB coach Jolie Britt. “It’s a great way to remember Derrick, and it’s great that the size and awareness of the event keeps growing.”
The Yellow Jackets will look to impress as they are able to showcase their talent – which has gotten off to a great start – in front of the large field of opponents and the hometown fans.
The SEB girls have been especially notable, racking up first place finishes at a furious pace.
“Our girls have been doing fantastic,” said Britt. “We had a third place finish out of 18 teams at the Statesboro Invitational and have finished in first place in almost every other meet that we’ve competed in. I’m very excited for our girls to get out there and keep it going.”
Even with the success, the Lady Jackets are a young squad that still might have their best performances ahead of them.
“Almost the entire team is ninth and tenth graders,” said Britt. “I’m looking forward to see how all of them do. We’ve had a lot of standouts already this year, and I think that we’ll be very competitive.”
Key to the growth and success of the Plankenhorn Invitational has been the financial support from both individuals and local businesses that allow SEB to put on such a show.
Contributions from 11 area businesses – as well as from many individuals – show that the memory of Plankenhorn is still alive and well in the hearts of the SEB track and field community.
“We really couldn’t do it without all of this support,” said Britt. “We have medals and trophies for the top finishers in all of the events. The donations from all of our sponsors make it all possible and have made the event so popular. Tomorrow, we should have some great weather. Derrick’s parents will be there, and I hope that we have a great event that we can put on for them.”