Wednesday, July 16, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Eight Bears qualify for nationwide track meets

Leader sports editor

Eight Sylvan Hills Middle School and High School athletes have qualified for Junior Olympic track meets in Iowa, Missouri and Texas this summer. Sylvan Hills girls’ track coach Grover Garrison took several athletes to the USATF Regional meet at Hendrix College that took place last Thursday through Saturday. Seven girls and one boy qualified for the AAU Junior Olympics in Des Moines, Iowa, and six girls qualified for the United States Amateur Track and Field Junior Olympics in Humble, Texas.

“It’s very exciting,” said Garrison. “Four going into high school and three in middle school qualified. It certainly looks like things are going in the right direction.”

Sprinter O’Shayla Muldrow, who is entering eighth grade, qualified for both national meets in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. She took second place in the 100m with a time of 13.56 and second in the 200 with a 27.42. She was also second in the 400m with a time of 1:03.31.

She can compete in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays in Iowa, and the 400-meter race in Texas. Her classmate Katelyn Burnett qualified for both events in the middle distance races, garnering a top-5 finish in the 800m and winning the 1,500-meter race with a time of 5:34.93.

Jordan Sanders, who is entering seventh grade at SHMS, will join Muldrow on 4x400 relay and could also run in the AAU 400-meter race.

At the high-school level, senior-to-be Justis Jakes qualified for both nationals in the 800-meter race. Junior Kristal McLennan qualified to throw discus at both national meets with a 74-feet, three-inch throw and fourth-place finish, and also qualified for the USATF in the shot put by finishing in fifth place.

The quarter-mile distance appears to be a real strength for Lady Bear runners, as a pair of ninth-graders qualified in the 400 as well.

Erykah Sanders will run in the AAU 400 and 4x400, while classmate Chanel Miller will also run in the AAU 4x400, and also qualified for the USATF nationals in the triple jump.

Freshman Malik Strong qualified for the AAU meet in Joplin, Mo., with a top-4 finish in the triple jump.

The meets run almost simultaneously, with the USATF meet running from July 21-27, and the AAU meet going from July 27 to Aug. 2. Garrison did not indicate which athletes will compete at which event.

Garrison is also starting a cross country program for Sylvan Hills athletics as well. The roster and schedules are not yet set, but the season begins on Sept. 4.

Jacksonville coach Hank Hawk and North Pulaski coach Todd Romaine are also starting cross country programs, giving the 5A-Central four teams with the addition of Beebe, who has a longstanding and competitive XC program, to the conference for the next two years.