With the meet namesake in the stands, Saturday's second annual Tyson Gay Invitational track and field meet practically turned into a love fest.
The timing couldn't have been better for the former Lafayette High School standout, who a day earlier accepted a one-year suspension from the sport after testing positive for a banned substance last year.
A steady stream of athletes approached Gay for autographs and pictures, which he accommodated with a smile.
Lafayette Coach Jon Lawson presented Gay with a trophy bearing the inscription "thanks for the memories."
"I'm thankful for Lafayette still supporting me and continuing to have this meet," said Gay, the American record-holder in the 100-meter dash. "It's good to come here and see the support I'm getting. I've had several kids come up to say they still support me and want a picture with me, things like that."
Lawson said there was never any thought of disassociating the meet from Gay's name because of the suspension.
"We support him 100 percent," Lawson said. "He came from this school, he's an alumni of this school regardless of what may have potentially happened out there within the last couple of years. He did set state records here and he was a positive presence in this school, and we will always honor him that way."
Gay says he hopes to be able to talk in detail about his suspension soon, perhaps in the next week. He's also looking forward to the end of his ban on June 23.
"There's a lot for me to tell, my side, and I would like to apologize to the city for not being able to speak earlier about the situation," he said. "But under the rules of USADA (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency), they didn't want me to speak on the case. But they definitely understand what happened, and USADA understands that it was a mistake. That's why they're allowing me to run this year.
"I'm just glad to be back, and I want everybody in Lexington to know I love them and I appreciate the support. And I'll continue to run to my best ability and represent Kentucky proud."
Gay got a special treat as his daughter Trinity, a seventh-grader competing for Scott County, won the 100-meter dash and helped the Cardinals to victories in the 4-by-100 and 4-by-200 relays.
"It feels great," Trinity said of taking first place in a meet named after her father. "Because I can actually go after what he was doing, and doing really good."
Lexington Catholic took the girls' team championship with 133½ points. Paul Laurence Dunbar edged Scott County for second place, 114-111½ .
"We've been working all season and they keep 'PR-ing'," said Michael Vanek, the Catholic coach. "We're working on peaking for regions next week and then the state (meet) two weeks after that. So just a lot of good things coming together.
"The girls, they're really dedicated. They're focused this year. They set their goals and they really work hard to achieve them."
The Lady Knights' Bridgette Mangold won the 300-meter hurdles and pole vault. Emma Vogelsang won the 800 meters and ran on the winning 4-by-800 relay.
Other double-winners on the girls' side included Maddox Patterson of Sayre in the 1,600 and 3,200, and Halee Hudson of Scott County in the shot put and discus.
Meet host Lafayette took the boys' team title with 184½ points to Scott County's 124½ . Catholic placed third with 114.
"A lot of our kids showed up and really competed today," Lawson said. "In every event we placed one or two people, and that really added to the totals."
The Generals' Landon Young dominated the shot put and discus. Javonte Butler swept the 100 and 200.
Butler also helped Lafayette to first place in the 4-by-100 relay, and Caleb Joy prevailed in the 1,600-meter run.
Catholic's Andrew Stuber captured the 110-meter high hurdles and the triple jump.
Scott County scored wins in three relays — the 4-by-200, 4-by-400 and 4-by-800.
Quality mark of the day went to Male junior Jonah Quire, who cleared 16-6 in the pole vault despite a strong wind.
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL.Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.