Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer|
Peyton Harris of Hazlewood High practices shot put, which is one of the events she will be participating in during the USATF nationals in Walnut, Calif., next week.
Area track team readies for nationals
By Ashley Hargrove
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TOWN CREEK — Hitting the road every chance they get is something every 16-year-old wants to do after they get their driver license, but for R.A. Hubbard High's Catendria King, that's been a little different.
The rising junior got her license this summer but hasn't had much time to cruise the roads because of her obligation to the North Alabama Trackers, a summer track organization in Town Creek. Although King didn't have plans of working out this summer, she said thanks to her mom she reaping some benefits.
"At first, I didn't want to run this summer," King said. "I really wanted to get a job and just enjoy my summer like any other 16-year-old would, but my mom talked me into it and now I'm glad she did."
Monday, King and eight of her teammates will leave for Walnut, Calif., to participate in the USA Track Federation national junior competition. The Trackers are no strangers to the competition.
"I've been to nationals before so I've kind of set the bar high for myself," King said. "Ever since I made it that first year, I've wanted to keep going back ever year. My mom has been one of the biggest motivators and has really pushed me to do well."
Since the Trackers were formed 18 years ago, the team has had at least one member make it to the national competition every year. Trackers coach Gary Martin says a lot of the success comes from the youngsters seeing past teams succeed.
"These kids see the success that many of the former kids have had, and they want that same success," Martin said. "The main thing is the area we go to. When they see that, it makes them work hard. Being there makes them want to win."
Martin, who took the program over two years ago, said one of the main reasons he got involved was because of the youngsters.
“I started because I felt the need for the kids,” Martin said. “I wanted to not only help them stay involved with track during the offseason, but help keep them out of trouble at the same time.”
There have been several former Trackers to sign college scholarships during the past, including former Tennessee star Jason Allen.
Others have signed scholarships at Troy and Jacksonville State.
The long trip to the West Coast will seem even longer to some. Instead of flying, the Trackers are taking on the task of driving. King said she plans on making the best of it.
“I plan on eating and sleeping a lot,” King said.
“I like to read a lot as well so I’ll probably take a book or two to read and send lots of text messages.”
Eighth-grader Peyton Harris has the same idea in mind.
“I plan on mostly sleeping,” Harris said. “My mom got me hooked on Sudoku, so I’ll probably work on that and listen to my iPod.”
King added that although she’s not looking forward to the drive, she’s ready “to get there, compete and have fun.”
Martin said the team will have another fundraiser Saturday. He said the team will be renting vehicles to make the trip to California.
The North Alabama Trackers track team will be competing in the nationals in Walnut, Calif., next week. The team is leaving Monday by van.
Here is a list of track team members making the drive to California: Micah McCollough, Tevin Barnett, Jasmine Patton, Charity Watkins, Peyton Harris, Alex Gholston, Catendria King, Kyosha Yarborough, Stacia Watts
- Ashley Hargrove
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