Worldwide Track Club performs well at nationals

Published 11:34 am Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Eight members of the Worldwide Track Club are back in Demopolis after spending most of last week in Humble, Texas, for the junior national championships.

Ny’Keria Grayer, Ashleigh Ivory, Yasmein Rainey, Shy’shawna Smith, Antonio Besteder, Anthony Jackson, Alexander Besteder and Joseph Merriweather competed in the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships last week.

Worldwide Track Club founder and coach Royce McKinney said he was proud of the effort by the team in a new and difficult environment.

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“We did pretty good for our first time at an event like that,” McKinney said. “The girls 4×100-meter relay ran their fastest time ever, and AJ Jackson set some personal bests in the 100 and 200 meter races. They all got better at the right time.”

McKinney said there was only one mistake during their time at the event.

“The boys 4×100 relay team dropped the baton and were disqualified, but that was really the only thing I was disappointed about,” he said. “The experience they gained and the fact that they all ran good times is good enough for me.”

In the boys 200-meter run, Jackson qualified for the semifinals with a time of 23.96 seconds in the preliminary heat, which was good for 24th overall. In the 100-meter dash, he ran a time of 11.58 seconds, which was good enough for 21st overall and a spot in the semifinals.

Jackson did not start in either of the semifinal races he qualified for. McKinney said he had run a new personal best in both races, and was also competing in the 4×100 relay, so they both felt Jackson had done all he could do.

For the girls, Smith ran in the 100-meter dash and finished with a time of 12.63 seconds in the prelims. Her time was the 24th best in the event, but she just missed qualifying for the semifinals.

The girls 4×100 relay team finished 17th overall out of 40 teams with a time of 50.37.

“The sky is the limit for these kids,” McKinney said. “If they continue to train and work hard, they’ll do great things. If they keep at it, hopefully they can sign scholarships to run in college.”

McKinney added that having all of the runners finish in the top 25 in the nation at this event helped the athletes gain exposure for themselves outside of Alabama, and he said it will also help when it comes to the Demopolis High School track season.

“All of these kids are in the 13-14 age group, and they’ll all be on the high school track team this year,” he said. “Now that they’ve been to an event like this, they know what it’s about and they know what they can expect. I look for them to do well this year.”

McKinney also wanted to thank everyone who donated to the team to help fund the trip to Texas, including Vowell’s, who was the biggest donor for the trip.

He said he hopes to do some indoor track activities in October to help expose the runners to different things in the sport.