Student athletes in Ashley County are going places, and they are going fast.
Last week athletes from Ashley County competed in the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics at the Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich.
Track coach Shameka Martin has traveled with her runners, Tiana Wilson, Dewayne Ashford, Jonetta Givens, Giselle Gonzalez and Anaya Jones all summer preparing them for the final meet of the summer, the Junior Olympics.
“The Junior Olympics isn’t something you can just sign up for,” Martin said.“They have to qualify by winning a district meet and then a regional meet.”
Wilson and Jones were unable to attend a regional meet to qualify, so they had to travel to Orlando and compete on a national level to qualify.
“Tiana actually placed in the top two out of 400 runners in Orlando, which is already a great accomplishment for her,” Martin said.
Martin said her athletes are dedicated to what they do. Not only do they work hard and practice hard, but in addition to training, they put in a lot of time
Although they are all student athletes at Crossett and Hamburg schools, they train and participate in meets on their own as members of the AAU.
Martin volunteers her time to train and travel with these athletes.
“I got involved in 2009 when my kids got recruited, and I later transitioned into coaching,” Martin said.
For all of the athletes except for Wilson, this was their first time qualifying for the Junior Olympics.
“I was nervous for my first time,” Givens said. “It’s more serious than regular school track.”