Demetrius Bennett, USA Track and Field Niagara Association Youth chairman, is one excited coach these days.
Bennett, also an assistant coach at Greece Olympia, was in Jacksonville, Fla. during the National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships, where seven athletes with either the Flower City Track, Penfield Athletic and Rochester Running Rebels clubs earned top-eight finishes.
That means All-America status, something that can boost confidence, not to mention seedings at future meets for the sprinters, vaulters, race walkers and distance runners.
Out front of course, was Rush-Henrietta rising junior Sammy Watson, World Youth champion in the girls 800-meter dash. Watson won the Junior Olympic girls 15-16 400 in 53.55 seconds and 800 (2:08.73). Watson owns the Section V records in the 400, 800 and 1,500.
University of Arkansas-recruit Ceara Watson, Sammy Watson’s role model at Rush-Henrietta and older sister, placed fourth in the girls 17-18 800 (2:15.07) and finished 10th in the 400 (55.94). Arkansas finished fourth at the 2015 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships, and was ranked No.2 in the nation at one point during the spring.
Penfield graduate Melissa Tylock was fourth in the girls 17-18 3,000 race walk (16:59.65). McKenzie Angus, Tylock’s Penfield Athletic Club teammate, was seventh in the 17-18 2,000 steeplechase (7:54.35).
Gates Chili rising freshman Erica Ellis vaulted to a second-place finish among the 13-14 girls when she cleared 10 feet-8 inches.
Two names that may show up in the future are Warsaw resident Matthew Auble and Rhoan Kaulder II, of Rochester.
Auble finished the meet as an All-American among the 9-10 boys in the javelin and shot put. He finished fifth in both events. Kaulder, who attends No. 53 School in the Rochester School District, was seventh in the 8-under 100 dash.
Bennett is one of dozens of individuals in and around Rochester who vowed not to prevent a sag of area high school track and field after the death of Cedric Walker during March 2013.
Walker was one of the founders of the successful Flower City Track Club in Rochester and used his ample connections in track and field to help athletes in the Rochester City Athletic Conference and Monroe County leagues enroll and compete at the different collegiate levels.
Bennett coaches athletes with the Rochester Running Rebels, but also smiled at the results for the Penfield Athletic and Flower City Track clubs.