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Lazered in on the Junior Olympics

Andrew Giermak

NEWPORT NEWS – Last weekend at Todd Stadium, the Lazers Track Club, made up of track and field athletes of all ages from Suffolk and the rest Hampton Roads, finished third out of more than 30 teams at the Atlantic Coast Championships, a regional AAU meet.

Beginning July 28 at Norfolk State University, the Lazers will have over 30 athletes in the 2006 AAU Junior Olympic Games.

So even though the ACC is a major meet, and even though the Lazers were two-time defending champions of the event, the team is looking ahead and working hard toward July 28-Aug. 5.

But before going into the results and medalists from last weekend’s meet, how about an introduction into what AAU track is all about?

&uot;We’re not just elite athletes,&uot; said Leslie Young, Lazers’ head coach, &uot;but it is serious.

&uot;The emphasis is on being very serious, we have a lot of fun, but it’s not just a place to come and drop off your kids.&uot;

K. J. Davis, 8, from Suffolk, has been on the team for two years.

Davis runs the 800 and 1500 meters and competes in the long jump.

He, like most of the Lazers, had an exhausting multi-event weekend at the ACC.

&uot;I wanted to join the team because I liked to run, and because every sport involves running and I just want to be better at everything,&uot; said Davis, who also plays football and basketball.

Kara Lyles, 10, and Christopher Lyles, Jr., 8, both from Suffolk, started last season with the Lazers.

Kara became interested in the sport after watching the ’04 Olympics on TV.

She does the 400, 4×100 relay and long jump and Chris runs the 400 and 1500.

For Chris, it was his first meet running the 1500, and he placed third.

Instead of dreading the long race, Chris liked the new event because, &uot;I have more time to catch up.&uot;

Kara is a Junior Olympics qualifier and has the goal, &uot;to be a professional track and field athlete.&uot; At the ACC, Kara pilled up the medals, finishing second in the 400, first as part of the Lazers’ 4×100 relay team (with Cameron Wilson, Khaila Prather and Gabrielle Snipes) and third in the long jump.

Just off the track from a 1-2 finish in their heat of the 200, Tyese Pressley, 9, and Kenneth Giles, 10, both said they are looking forward to the Junior Olympics.

Giles is already a returning veteran in the 100, 200 and 400 at the Junior Olympics; for Pressley, this will be his first year there.

Pressley also competes in the 100 and the long jump.

&uot;I like winning medals and that is why I wanted to run track,&uot; said Pressley who still wasn’t happy with his fifth-place overall finish in the 200, saying, &uot;I still have to keep on working on my form.&uot;

&uot;I like to compete with the other guys and at the end of the race I congratulate them,&uot; said Giles.

&uot;Sportsmanship, win or lose,&uot; continued Giles.

The best part of being on a track team, according to Khaila Prather, 10, is what makes track into a true team sport.

&uot;The best part is cheering for your teammates.

We help each other figure things out and we get better everyday,&uot; said Prather.

&uot;You can see the progress all the time,&uot; said Young, &uot;weekly they have PRs (personal records) in their events.&uot;

Setting new personal records, regardless of which place she ends up in, is what Nicole Augins, 13, said is one of the best parts of the sport.

A meet like the ACC pays off the most, &uot;when I finish and know I did well,&uot; said Augins.

Individual progress in track and field is easy to see and the definite results, said Young, makes it easy for youngsters to stay motivated.

&uot;If you’re a backup on a football team, you can get better, but the guy ahead of you might get better too; but in track, everyone gets to run in the meets and everyone can see the progress they’re making.&uot;

Young is the head track coach at Virginia State University and his assistants with the Lazers are experienced high or middle school coaches.

The Lazers have been practicing since mid-April.

Meets are scheduled about every other week and practices are held evenings at either Nansemond River or Chesapeake’s Joliff Middle School.

Atlantic Coast Championships

Lazers Track Club – top individual finishers

Bantam Girls

100m – Gabrielle Snipes – 1st place (14.35)

400m – Kara Lyles – 2nd place (1:10)

400m – Khaila Prather – 3rd place (1:13)

Long jump – Cameron Wilson – 1st place (13′ 1/4&uot;)

Long jump – Lyles – 3rd place (12′ 9&uot;)

Youth Girls

800m – Nicole Augins – 2nd place (2:37)

1500m – Augins – 1st place (5:32)

Shot put – Ericka Johnson – 2nd place (26′ 2&uot;)

Intermediate Girls

800m – Lateea Henry – 3rd place (2:43)

1500m – Henry – 1st place (5:39)

High jump – Deshawna Briggs – 1st place (5′ 6&uot;)

Young Women

400m – Bianca Wilkerson – 2nd place (1:01)

400m hurdles – Elaine Rhodes – 1st place (1:05)

High jump – Ashley Gatlin – 1st place (5′ 6&uot;)

Open Women

Long jump – Aishah Mujahid – 2nd place (17′ 1/2&uot;)

Triple jump – Mujahid – 1st place (37′ 2 1/2&uot;)

Sub-bantam Boys

100m – Shaun Faulk – 1st place (15.25)

100m – Joshua Stills – 2nd place (15.33)

200m – Faulk – 1st place (31.7)

200m – Stills – 2nd place (31.9)

1500m – Christopher Lyles – 3rd place (7:25)

Long jump – Faulk – 1st place (11′ 8&uot;)

Bantam Boys

200m – Quincy Watts – 2nd place (30.00)

400m – Watts – 2nd place (1:10)

400m – Kenneth Giles – 3rd place (1:15)

800m – Daniel Wise -1st place (2:46)

1500m – Wise – 2nd place (5:26)

Midget Boys

1500m – Patrick Genecore – 3rd place (6:36)

Shot put – Deatrich Wise – 2nd place (33′ 10&uot;)

Discus – Wise – 1st place (96′ 6&uot;)

Discus – Desmond Stills – 3rd place (69′ 4 1/2&uot;)

Long jump – Kenneth Wilder – 3rd place (15′ 1 1/2&uot;)

Youth Boys

Shot put – Willie Long – 1st place (45′ 1&uot;)

Discus – Long – 1st place (110′ 7&uot;)

Intermediate Boys

High jump – Tony Brown – 1st place (6′ 2&uot;)

Long jump – Ricky Blake – 3rd place (18′ 4&uot;)

Triple jump – Blake – 3rd place (39′ 8&uot;)

Young Men

800m – Demarian Ellis – 2nd place (4:29)

800m – Bernard Martin – 3rd place (4:34)

3000m – Devin Brummell – 1st place (9:55)

High jump – Kyle Thompson – 2nd place (6′ 0&uot;)

Long jump – Walter Lundy – 2nd place (21′ 1 1/2&uot;)

Open Men

100m – Trayman Hill – 2nd place (10.97)

100m – Troy Wilkerson – 3rd place (11.09)

200m – Wilkerson – 1st place (21.67)

200m – Brandon Tynes – 3rd place (21.7)

800m – Marcus Raynor – 1st place (2:20)

800m – William Cain – 3rd place (2:37)

1500m – Cain – 1st place (5:33)