Five Star continues tradition
Published 9:16 pm Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Justin Byron’s Five Star Track and Field Club has earned a reputation at the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic Games — it produces girls’ 4×400-meter relay winners at the 17- to 18-year-old level.
The club upheld that reputation this year at Norfolk State University, recovering from a rare second-place finish in the preliminaries of the event to win Aug. 8 with a time of 3:44.01.
“This is the fourth time that Five Star has won the 4×400 at AAU Junior Olympics, and it is the fourth time we’ve run it, too,” said Byron, who is also the girls’ coach at Nansemond River High School. “Out of the four years that we’ve won, this was the slowest time that we’ve ran, however this was one of the most gutsy teams we’ve had.”
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Recent Nansemond River High School graduate Candice James ran the first leg for Five Star, and she had to go against Lady Warriors rising junior Syaira Richardson, who was running the first leg for Virginia Elite Track and Field Club.
According to AAU rules, a relay team can include athletes from bordering states, so two members of the Five Star relay team came from James Hubert Blake High School in Silver Spring, Md. — Sarah Moore and Martha Sam.
Moore and Sam ran the second and third legs, respectively, but were up against fierce competition.
“Virginia Elite led the race for three legs,” Byron said.
It was up to Nansemond River rising senior Brandeé Johnson to take the lead for her team, and she made it happen.
“Although they didn’t break the record or run a super-fast time, they definitely kept the tradition going,” Byron said.
Five Star holds the AAU Junior Olympic record in the event. It was set in 2011 by a team including Nansemond River alum Sha’Keela Saunders, Tabb High School alum Kiara Porter, Rashaun Combs of Bethel High School, and Erin Edmond of Riverbend High School in Fredericksburg.
Other Suffolk track and field standouts at the 2015 AAU Junior Olympic Games were Jazmine Tilmon and Christopher Blount.
Tilmon, competing in the girls’ 14-year-olds division, followed her win in the 200-meter hurdles with a third-place finish in the long jump on Aug. 5, covering 17 feet, 10.75 inches.
Blount, competing in the boys’ 12-year-olds division, followed up his own early successes in the Junior Olympics with two top-six finishes Aug. 8. He placed third in the 200-meter dash with a time of 24.29 seconds and sixth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.53 seconds.