Track and field stars worth wait
Originally posted at www.knoxnews.com on Friday, July 27, 2007Written by: Mike Blackerby
The AAU Junior Olympics track and field competition doesn't begin until Monday at Tom Black Track at the University of Tennessee, but it may very well prove worth the way.
In addition to a star-studded local cast that is expected to be on hand in the field of 8,600 competitors, some out-of-town athletes bring impressive credentials to the six-day event.
Maurice Mitchell, a 17-year-old sprinter from Kansas City, recently reased the Missouri high school standards in both the 100 and 200 meters.
Mitchell, a rising senior, shattered the 100 record in a sizzling time of 10.42 seconds to better the state mark that stood for 26 years.
The Raytown South High School standout also recorded a 20.96 to break the state record in the 200.
Omar Craddock, a 16-year-old from Killeen, Texas, recently posted the second-best mark in the world in his age group in the triple jump. Craddock uncorked his jump for 29 feet, 9 inches at the Great Southwest Track and Field Class in New Mexico in June.
Early Start: Talk about precocious.
The Monticello (Ill.) Dance and Gym Club, which has 38 athletes entered in the Trampoline and Tumbling competition, has a pair of 3-year-old performers in Sofie Harvey and Delaney Felter.
Harvey already is a girzzled two-year veteran, according to coach Vicki Forn.
Both of them can do somersaults, straddle rolls and cartwheels, said Forn who has coached the team for 12 years.
Three is the youngest (age) where we will take them. Both are very athletic, strong and ornery - in a good way, Forn chuckled.
By the way, Harvery is the youngest by about six months.
Jumping For Joy: Winston Lake Jazzy Jumpers coach Andrea Yancey said her jump rope team has benefited both physically and mentally from their dedication to the sport.
In the area were in - east Winston-Salem (N.C.) - we have some of the less fortunate, high-risk kids, said Yancey, who started the jump rope team four years ago.
A lot of them aren't involved in any other thing. I see a big difference in a lot of them as far as determination and work ethic. They're also motivated.
Yancey, who is the youth program coordinator at the Winston Lake YMCA, has 11 athletes entered in the jump rope: Deja Dobson, Ashley Crawford, Marcia Fair, Mercedez Holiday, Cayla Mahome, Rayona Johnson, Brelynn Wray, Breyinn Loftin, Tony Muhammad, Mauriel King and Erica Fields.
Muhammad, the only boy on teh team, recently won the gold medal in the freestyle event at regionals.
Opening the Floodgates: Susan Ford, the director of events services for the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corp, said her people are well prepared for the crush or registrants participating in track and field who will pour into the Jacob Building at Chilhowee PArk.
We're ready for it and not apprehensive at all, said Ford, who basically serves as the event site manager.
We're well prepared nad we've got some very able volunteers - which we couldn't do without.
Ford said KTSC has about 10 staff memebrs (including interns) and about 100 volunteers on hand for the registration process.
There are stations for check-in, ticket purchases, merchandise, and vendors - among others.
Ford said it took some logistical gymnastics to turn the Jacob Building into the AAU Junior Olympics registration headquarters.
We drew out the layout for this building in pencil back in October. When we finally saw it all come together, it was sort of like delivering a baby you had carried for nine months, laughed Ford.