AAU Jr. Olympics features Suffolk athletes

Published 9:52 pm Thursday, July 30, 2015

Nansemond River High School rising senior Brandeé Johnson will be one of at least five Lady Warriors competing in relays during the 2015 AAU Junior Olympic Games here in Hampton Roads. (VVGPhoto.com)

Nansemond River High School rising senior Brandeé Johnson will be one of at least five Lady Warriors competing in relays during the 2015 AAU Junior Olympic Games here in Hampton Roads. (VVGPhoto.com)

A wealth of Suffolk talent will be featured in this year’s Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic Games, which began on July 29 and run through Aug. 8 in Hampton Roads.

This summer is the fifth time the Hampton Roads Sports Commission has hosted the Games.

The AAU Junior Olympics, known as the largest national multi-sport event for youth in the United States, feature approximately 15,000 athletes from 7 to 17 years old, hailing from all 50 states, plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, competing in about 20 sporting events.

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Those events include baton twirling, bowling, cheerleading, field hockey, gymnastics, jump rope, karate, sport stacking, strength sports, swimming, Taekwondo, track and field/multi-events, trampoline and tumbling and wrestling.

Suffolk will have significant representation in track and field events, which will run Aug. 3-8 at Norfolk State University.

The Suffolk Stars Track Club has produced a record number of 32 athletes who will compete in the Games this year, to the delight of its head coach, Greg Rountree.

“It means a whole lot, especially to the city of Suffolk,” he said. “We have kids that’s zoned to go to all three of the schools — King’s Fork, Nansemond River and Lakeland (high schools). And anytime that you can get any number of people to qualify for the Junior Olympics, that makes you feel good that one, that your program is moving forward and two, that the city of Suffolk looks good when we go to show up for that event.”

Suffolk Stars athletes participating are as follows:

  • Ta’Lyah Cannon — turbo-javelin
  • De’Maya Artis — turbo-javelin
  • De’Ryah Artis — 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, 4×100-meter relay
  • Deja Ward — long jump, 4×100-meter relay
  • Jaiasia Lawrence — 100, turbo-javelin, 4×100
  • Janajah Artis — 4×100
  • Lauryn McGlone — turbo-javelin, shot put
  • Niyah Gaston — turbo-javelin, shot put
  • Kamryn Whitley — discus throw, turbo-javelin, shot put
  • Kayla Baker — long jump, 4×100
  • Kayla Morris — 100, long jump, 4×100
  • Kimari Rountree — 4×100
  • Sequoia Simmons — 4×100
  • Alexis Rountree — 200-meter hurdles, triple jump
  • Lesheeray Gaston — discus throw, javelin throw, shot put
  • Michela Brown — discus throw, javelin throw, shot put
  • Jacquazja Council — shot put
  • Josiah Johnson — 100, 200
  • Krisjon Clark — 100, 200
  • Alkendric Overton — 100, long jump, 4×100
  • Demarion Artis — turbo-javelin, 4×100
  • Jamal Van Irvin — 1,500-meter run, high jump
  • Trevon Cannon — long jump, turbo-javelin, 4×100
  • Tyler Simon — 4×100
  • Christopher Hines — 80-meter hurdles
  • Jahkeim Artis — discus throw, shot put
  • Malik Van Irvin — 3,000-meter run
  • Christopher Greene — discus throw, javelin throw, shot put
  • De’Ryan Artis — 100-meter hurdles, 200-meter hurdles
  • Brandon Eley — discus throw, javelin throw
  • Khalil Van Irvin — 1,500, 3,000, long jump, triple jump
  • Tory Myrick — 400-meter hurdles

The Tidewater Striders New Energy running club has an all-time high of 25 athletes participating.

“We’ve got almost all distance runners,” said Steve Sheppard, the club’s coach. “Most of our runners have qualified in the 800, 1,500 or 3,000 meters.”

Among those 25 athletes are several who train locally:

  • Betsy Pollard — 800-meter run, 1,500, 3,000, triple jump
  • Caitlynn Melanson — 2,000-meter steeplechase NM, 3,000
  • Cierra Sheppard — 2,000 steeplechase NM, 3,000
  • Jordan Linneman — turbo-javelin, shot put
  • Samantha Grant — 3,000
  • Cameron Gabe — 200, 400, 800, 4×800
  • Chase Osborne — 1,500, 3,000, 4×800
  • Evan Melanson — 3,000, 4×800
  • Glen Mitchell — 2,000 steeplechase NM, 3,000
  • Jack Vanstraten — 1,500, 3,000, 4×800
  • John Mitchell — 3,000, 4×800
  • Robert Wasinger — 2,000 steeplechase NM
  • Seth Sadler — 800, 1,500
  • Tyler Gray — 4×800

Some familiar faces from Nansemond River will be competing, as well as some new Lady Warriors:

  • Candice James — 100-meter dash
  • Asia Crocker — 200-meter dash, high jump
  • Kiara Price — heptathlon
  • Mackenzie Sheppard — javelin
  • Monae Bynum — long jump
  • Alyssa Anaya — 3,000-meter run
  • Amirah Jones — 400-meter dash, 800-meter run
  • Dajae’ Goulet — 400-meter dash
  • Kiara Howard, Brandeé Johnson, Anaya Monroe, Indya Gipson and Syaira Richardson will be competing in relays.

“We use the summer for continued development so you may notice that many of the athletes are in new events, or events that are not their strongest,” NR coach Justin Byron said. “The key to the summer is to work on things to prepare for next season. I look forward to seeing our Nansemond athletes team up with other great athletes across the state, as well as some talented incoming Warrior freshman, as they all compete against the nation’s best right here in our back yard.”

Tickets to events are available for purchase onsite at all competition venues. The price is $12 for a daily pass and $40 for a passport, which covers admission to all competition venues for the length of the AAU Junior Olympic Games.

To find the schedule of all events, visit www.AAUJrOGames.org and look under the “Event Info” tab.