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In describing what makes the Simplot Games so special, Rick Phillips mentioned that a kid from Jerome with cheap gym shoes can line up and compete against the best track and field athletes from around the country.

There’s literally no other event that pits small-town Idaho high school athletes against the cream of the crop in terms of competition from not just the U.S. but also countries as far away as Australia.

The 42nd annual Simplot Games kicked off at Idaho State University’s Holt Arena in Pocatello on Thursday and will continue through Saturday.

Admission to Holt to watch the games is free and we strongly encourage everyone to stop by and marvel at one of the top track and field events in the U.S.

Phillips, the public affairs manager for the games’ namesake, the J.R. Simplot Co., has been involved in the games for so long that he’s practically synonymous with the annual competition.

Even more so is Olympic gold medalist Dick Fosbury, who hosts the games’ trademark Friday morning breakfast every year.

This year, Fosbury tops a list of dignitaries that includes track and field legends Andre Phillips, Willie Banks and of course ISU’s own Stacy Dragila.

Also in attendance will be paralympians Tyson Gunter and John Register.

And there are always other track and field legends who pay surprise visits. Carl Lewis wowed the crowd when he attended the games in 2016.

The Simplot Games are an absolute boon to the Pocatello area’s economy, bringing in millions of dollars every year for local businesses, especially hotels and restaurants.

For anyone who thinks watching track and field lacks excitement, we challenge you to venture into Holt Arena during the next couple of days.

We guarantee that you’ll get caught up in the spirit of the games and become as big of a fan as the rest of us.

The passion for the games displayed by the athletes from places near and far is not just evident but contagious.

So put the Simplot Games on your calendar for not just today and tomorrow but for every year.

We promise you won’t be disappointed.