Suffolk youths capture medalsPublished 9:27pm Friday, August 23, 2013
Three 10- to 13-year-old Suffolk athletes from the Churchland Trailblazers Track and Field Club made the most of their opportunities at the recent Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic Games in Michigan, bringing home medals for winning or finishing in the top eight.
The group of medalists included Tre’Breh Scott-McKoy and JeVon Waller and was led by 10-year-old Ebony Griffith, who helped the 4×400-meter relay team at her age level become Junior Olympic champions. The team finished with a time of 4:21.99, over five seconds better than the runner-up.
Griffith might have seemed like the least likely choice to win a national event at the start of track season in March.
Trailblazers head coach Marco McKoy praised her Michigan performance, saying, “She ran her heart out, and it was just an amazing experience, especially her being a first- time runner.”
She began running in 2013, joining the Trailblazers shortly after track season had started. Griffith’s mother, Emily Tyson, was shocked at what followed — Ebony was earning medals in every event.
The Junior Olympics was a chance for Tyson to get a front row seat to see Ebony’s ability, and when the team won, Tyson said, “I cried. Coach Marco told me before we left Virginia, ‘Oh, when you see the kids running and you see her do this stuff that you’ve never seen her do before, you’re going to get emotional.’”
Ebony, who ran the third leg in the finals, traced her inspiration for getting into track back to a playground game. “Every time me and my friends play tag, I always want to be ‘it’, to chase after them,” she said.
She ran in the Junior Olympics as a member of the AAU Virginia Elite Team, a group recently formed to get the best local talent to take to Michigan. The 4×400 team had only limited practice, but expectations were high, based on how each girl ran individually during the season.
JeVon Waller, 13, has run track for two and a half years and enjoyed his first trip to the Junior Olympics. He was in the 4×100-meter relay for 14-year-olds, and his team finished in fourth place, with a time of 45.09 seconds. He also placed sixth in the 13-year-old division’s 100-meter dash, finishing in 11.89 seconds.
Coach McKoy expected a medal out of the 4×100 team, but he was surprised by how high JeVon finished in the 100 standings. He identified some reasons for JeVon’s success: “I believe it was his strength, but also his technique. He’s come a long way to improve his form and technique and by improving that form and technique, I believe that really put him over the hump.”
JeVon said his level of success came “because my dad helps me work hard every day to get where I get and perform well.”
His father, Jermaine Waller, a Trailblazers assistant coach, said, “As a coach, I tell him hard work pays off, and he did put in the hard work.”
Jermaine Waller said he was proud of JeVon as a coach, “and as a parent, it felt good to see my son accomplish his goal.”
Tre’Breh Scott-McKoy, 12, was competing in her fourth AAU Junior Olympics and added to her collection of medals by helping the 12-year-old division 4×800-meter relay team finish sixth, with a time of 10:53.85.
She did well, she said, “because I’ve got hard work and dedication. I wanted to win.”
Coach McKoy said his daughter has been running since she was six, and he has witnessed her growth in the sport.
“Her real strength is the way that she works in practice,” he said. “Her hard work, she puts a lot into it, which is something that I’m real proud of, because it wasn’t always that way. She’s learned that she has to practice hard to do well.”
Tre’Breh showed a willingness to compete outside her usual events toward the end of the season.
“It was because of that, I really think, she came away with the medal — because (the Virginia Elite coaches) saw what she could do in the 800, as well as the sprint,” coach McKoy said.
A Suffolk medalist not on the Trailblazers and not previously reported on was Skylar Parks, whose 29.38-second time placed sixth in the 13-year-old division’s 200-meter hurdles.