GREENSBORO (AP) — Two middle school students will compete at N.C. A&T University this weekend for a chance to reach the USA Track & Field state championship.
Kaulin Smith, a 13-year-old from Meadowview Middle, and Jordan Westmoreland, a 12-year-old from Central Middle, will participate in the state qualifier that runs from today to Sunday.
Smith has one event on Friday and two on Saturday. Westmoreland has both of her events on Saturday.
This will be the fourth appearance at the qualifier for Kaulin, said dad Anthony Smith, coach of Team Elite, a Junior Olympic track and field club.
Last year, Team Elite had three athletes advance to the Southeast Regional level, then Smith advanced to the national level.
Myia West and Brooklyn Woodbury both qualified for the shot put, and Myia also qualified in discus, coach Smith said. West threw the shot 33-07 and Woodbury 32-02; West also reached 89-09 in the discus. The two girls finished fifth and sixth in the state last year for their age group.
Unfortunately, Myia has moved away and couldn’t take part in the team this year, said the coach, and Brooklyn is tied up this week with activities related to being part of North Surry’s basketball team.
When he was in the regional in Greensboro last year, Kaulin placed third in the 80m hurdles, seventh in high jump and 10th in long jump in the 11-12 age group, the coach said.
Then he went on to place 24 out of 120-some kids at the nationals in Houston, Texas.
This year, the 13-year-old will compete in three event: 100m hurdles, 200m hurdles and the long jump. While he has competed in the high jump in the past, Kaulin has stayed out of the event this year to work on increasing his vertical leap for next year, said his dad.
While Smith is an old veteran by now, last year was the first track season for Westmoreland, who played basketball and softball while at Copeland Elementary.
Jordan has competed in high jump and long jump this season, but will be concentrating on the 200m and 400m this weekend, said the coach. She has good speed, but doesn’t have that opening burst necessary for the 100m, he said.
Unfortunately for her, Jordan is competing against girls much older and more developed than she is, he explained. The JO rules put athletes in an age group depending on the year in which they turn a certain age. She is considered part of the 13-14 group even though she doesn’t turn 13 until the middle of November.
The coach said he and Kaulin will go to Greensboro today and stay overnight because they have to be up early Friday for the long jump. Then the qualifying heats for the two hurdle events don’t take place until Saturday.
Both the 200 and 400 have their heats on Saturday, so Jordan won’t have to be down as early as Kaulin, he said.
Coach Smith gave thanks to North Surry principal Neil Atkins for allowing Team Elite to work out at the high school track.
For those interested in learning more about the local JO track team, visit the Facebook page for Team Elite Track & Field Club or the page for Local Elite Athletic Youth Organization (LEAYO).