Forty Years of Simplot Games

For Immediate Release

Date February 1, 2018

Contact: Katie Damron (208) 220-5307



Forty Years of Simplot Games

Looking at the past, present and future of the Games

Forty years ago, Simplot Games began as an indoor track and field meet hosting athletes from Idaho and neighboring states. Thanks to the J.R. Simplot Company, tireless Simplot Games staff and volunteers, and dedicated sponsors and community members, Simplot Games will host its 40th track and field event with enthusiastic athletes from across the country and around the world.

The road to the 40th anniversary of Simplot Games is paved with a rich history of passion for community and athletics. Through the decades, the event has developed a legacy that will undoubtedly carry it far into the future.

In 1979, student athletes came to Pocatello to participate in the inaugural Simplot Games. The first meet attracted 600 athletes from just six western states, a humble beginning compared to the meet’s size today. Within the first few years, a national record was set by a Lisa Bernhagen, a high jumper from Hailey, Idaho—a record that still stands today.

John “Jack” Richard Simplot, founder of the J.R. Simplot Company, had a unique involvement in Simplot Games in its early years. He enjoyed attending the ceremonies and final events, as well as meeting the high school participants and hearing their stories. The culture of hard work and commitment of the track and field world resonated with Simplot,  who had started his own company as a teenager.

The mid-1990s brought about an exciting addition to Simplot Games. In 1995, Olympians Florence Griffith Joyner and Al Joyner attended the Games as special guests. The presence of Olympians brought more national attention to the meet, and created a new wave of excitement.

Since then more than a dozen different Olympians have attended Simplot Games. In recent years, some Olympians have had a perennial presence at the Games, including Dick Fosbury, Andre Phillips, Willie Banks and Stacy Dragila. Hosting Olympians makes Simplot Games a more enriching experience for young athletes finding their footing in the world of track and field. Olympians in attendance meet and mingle with participants and the public, offering advice and sharing stories.

In addition to U.S. and Canadian athletes, Simplot Games welcomed a team from Mexico in 2014. Just one year later, a team from Australia made the overseas trip from Melbourne to Pocatello to compete in the Games. As a result of a higher volume of athletes coming from all over the world, Simplot Games has become an even more competitive meet, earning it the title of the nation’s premier high school indoor track and field event.

“Simplot Games has become an institution in Pocatello and the national high school track and field world,” said Lisa Woodland, Simplot Games Executive Director. “We look forward to growing the meet even more and getting the community more involved.”

In its 40th year, Simplot Games reflects on its history and the strides it has made to create a rewarding experience for competitors and volunteers. And though 40 years is an impressive milestone, the Games looks forward to the next 40 years.

More than 2,100 athletes will come from across the U.S., Canada and Australia to participate in the 40th annual Simplot Games. Simplot Games remains the nation’s premier high school indoor track and field event. Sponsored by the J.R. Simplot Company since 1979, the Simplot Games are held at Idaho State University’s Holt Arena in Pocatello, Idaho.

For more information on Simplot Games, please visit our website at You may also contact Lisa Woodland at (208) 235-5604 or Simplot Games Media Team at


Simplot Games

The Nation’s Premiere High School Track & Field Event

Pocatello, Idaho

(208) 235-5604

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