The biggest indoor track and field meet for middle school and high school students begins running, jumping and leaping tomorrow (Friday) and continues through Sunday at the New Balance Track and Field Center.

Over 6,000 youthful participants from virtually every state in the union will be on hand to compete in the 26th season of the meet. Schools throughout the metropolitan area, including teams from Nassau and Suffolk counties, will participate in the three-day meet at the Armory under the direction of Derrick Adkins, the director of the Armory, a beacon in the Upper West Side community of Manhattan.

Youngsters participating in their first-ever meet at the Armory will be introduced to a facility that was once a training center for the National Guard. The building was shuttered by the city and became an eyesore in the community. That is, until Dr. Norbert Sander, a former student athlete at Fordham University and track star who once held the National AAU 3,000-meter record, sprung into action.

With assistance from the city under the administration of former Mayor David Dinkins, a massive building project and renovation program was born. Opening again in 1993, the Armory has become the nation’s premier indoor track facility. It’s quite a sight to see the thousands of youngsters sitting around the track with their books wide open, studying while waiting for their event.

But that’s just the track stuff. Under the leadership of Dr. Sander, the facility houses a community educational center, health educations programs and scores of other community programs, such as the Charles Rangel Learning Center. C. Virginia Fields, the former Manhattan borough president, and Councilman Robert Jackson continue to be active partners at the Armory.