Ten-year old Quanisha Bailey leads a pack of runners during a heat of the 200-meter dash as part of the 2013 Hershey Track and Field Event on Tuesday at Planters Park. Top performers from Tuesday will have the opportunity to advance to a national competition in Hershey, Pa.
Ten-year old Quanisha Bailey leads a pack of runners during a heat of the 200-meter dash as part of the 2013 Hershey Track and Field Event on Tuesday at Planters Park. Top performers from Tuesday will have the opportunity to advance to a national competition in Hershey, Pa.

Running for Hershey

Published 10:31pm Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A group of Suffolk youngsters has a chance to go to Hershey, Pa., following the 2013 Hershey Track and Field Event at Planters Park on Tuesday.

Suffolk Parks and Recreation hosted the 2013 Hershey Track and Field Event at Planters Park on Tuesday.

Roberto Ramos of Suffolk Parks and Recreation helped organize the event, which gave boys and girls, ages 9-14, the opportunity to demonstrate their athleticism via running, jumping and throwing competitions.

“We cut it down from a four-hour (event) down to two hours, and we had kids coming in constantly with parents,” Ramos said. “The numbers look like it was pretty good for the amount of time that we had. We had about 28 kids, and I know last year it was about 18-20, so the numbers were up this year.”

One incentive kids had to participate is the opportunity to compete on a larger stage later on. The winners and second-place participants from Tuesday’s meet qualify for a regional event to be held in Portsmouth. There, Suffolk’s youth will go up against kids from throughout the Hampton Roads area. Top participants in that event can move on to the state level in Charlottesville.

The last step of the journey for the top young athletes in the state will be in Hershey, Pa., where the North American Final Track Meet will take place.

Loretta Cromwell, who had three of her children participating on Tuesday, said the meet was beneficial to her kids.

“The reason why I believe it’s good is because that gives them something to do and gives them hope instead of worrying about other things like getting into mischief, something to keep them looking forward to something,” she said.

Tania Anderson, 11, had a clear goal on Tuesday that she shared after she was done competing.

“I was looking forward to, pretty much, winning, and getting a step closer to Hershey,” she said.

Anderson posted the top 200-meter time among participating boys and girls of any age — 34.98 seconds. She said that the long jump was her favorite event, which she also won among girls ages 11-12 with a distance of 5’2”.

Her father, Doug Anderson, liked the principles that Tania and the other kids could take away from the event.

“It’s teaching them to stick to something and finish things, of course, because it’s a race, and you start and finish,” he said.

The kids were not the only ones having fun at the meet as the parents also enjoyed watching them.

“It just makes me a proud momma,” Cromwell said. “That’s all I am, a proud momma, because it makes me open up. After all we’ve been through, to see my kids do this, it makes me feel good. I used to do that when I was a little girl. I used to run track.”

Doug Anderson enjoyed “just watching the excitement on their faces, watching them try to win. Of course, it’s always nice to see them win. Really just sticking with something is what gets me more excited about the kids, to see them channeling their energy toward something positive and beneficial, because with track and field (ability), especially, you can do most sports.”

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