More than 35 local athletes will hit the track this week in Texas
More than 40 youth athletes from the Louisville area are spending this week near Houston, Texas, competing at the 2016 AAU Junior Olympic Games.
Track and field athletes between the ages of 8 and 18 make up the biggest portion of the Louisville contingent, with no fewer than 35 runners from two big Louisville track clubs representing their teams and regions on the national stage. Kentucky Elite Track Club is also sending a select number of athletes, including Chimond Vaughn from Male’s state title-winning girls track and field team, as is Louisville Track and Field Club.
Kentucky Fillies, coached by Tamika Townsend, qualified eight athletes for the Junior Olympic meet at Humble High School in Humble, Texas, while William “Chico” Underwood’s Westside Track Club qualified 27 athletes.
One of the athletes to watch for the Fillies is Kaleb McDonald, who will run in the 200- and 400-meter dashes. McDonald is a rising sophomore at Jeffersontown High School, and in last spring’s state track meet, McDonald finished in third place in the 100, sixth place in the 200, and fifth place in the 400.
“Competing at this level every summer has helped her experience every year,” Townsend said. “When you compete all summer with girls that are more competitive than the local girls it helps you succeed in state (tournaments).”
Aside from coming to the Junior Olympic games to win, the week of events is a big showcase for the high school-age athletes who get to compete in front of college coaches in attendance.
“I’m just excited for getting them out of the stage and helping them get looks for college coaches in the future,” Townsend said. “This is my excitement and for all the hard work put in and of them reaping the benefits of going to nationals.”
For Underwood, a hall of fame track coach in the state of Kentucky, watching his athletes compete for the last 34 years of Westside Track Club’s existence in AAU National events is his reward for developing his athletes from a young age into seasoned competitors.
“We don’t have a lot of superstars, but (some of) our kids have never done anything (in track) before,” Underwood said. “We take our kids from Point A to Point Z, in one season in most cases, and they perform a lot better than some of the other kids who have been around for a while.”
Here’s a look at some of the local athletes representing their clubs and the region at the AAU Junior Olympics this week:
TRACK AND FIELD
Iaunia Pointer- 100, 200, 400 meter dash
Kaleb McDonald- 200, 400 meter dash
Lauren Buchanan- 100, 200, 400 meter dash
Jada Harper- 400 meter dash
Jaci Johnson- 800 meter dash
Naveah Johnson- 200 meter dash
Savannah Wilson- 800 meter dash
JaMya Murray- Shot put
Westside Track Club
Da’Lani Brown- shotput, turbo javelin
Zion Green- 800M, and 1500M
Cameron Fugate- 800M
Ethan Gaither- 100M, 400M
Nikyla Green- shotput, turbo javelin
Chance Dillingham- 200M, 400M, long jump
Brandon Richardson- 100M, 200M
Anthony Barbee- long jump
D’Anico Trowell- 800M, 1500M
Kendall Duncan- Pentathlon, high jump
Sidney Green- 1500 Racewalk, shotput, disc
Kamaya Johnson- 100M, 200M 400M
Monet Richie- turbo Javelin
Alexandria Woods- 400M, 800M, 80M hurdles
Dreeanna Wade- 800M
Deonte Green 4X400 relay
Cameron Moss- 4X400 relay
Nicholas Pearson- 200 hurdles
Jamarion Smith- long jump, 4×400 relay
Anthony Woods- 4X400 relay
India Brown- 400M
Delores Stevenson- shotput
Darian Clyburn- long jump, 110 hurdles, 400 hurdles
Alexia Boyd- 4X100 relay, 400 hurdles
Tamia Smith- 4X100 relay
Hadiya Williams- 4X100 relay, 400 hurdles, 100 hurdles
Aaziyah Woods- triple jump, 4X100 relay, long jump
Kentucky Elite Track Club
Champion Trampoline and Tumbling
Daniel Karell is a high school sports reporter and web producer for The Courier-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @DanKarellPreps.