Back to journey toward more track and field accolades, former Hope Ladycat trackster Ajah Criner has once again qualified to compete at the 2016 Junior Olympics scheduled August 1-6 in Houston, Texas.
This is the second consecutive summer Criner with her AAU Team Elite track and field teammates has qualified to compete on the national stage.
Criner qualified to compete at the Junior Olympics from competing at the district meet in Hot Springs June 11 and the regional meet June 23-26 in Lawrence, KS. At these meets, Criner competed and qualified in the 100 and 200 meter dashes, 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 meter relays, which will be the events she'll compete at the Junior Olympics in Houston, Texas at hosted at Humble High School.
This will be Criner's final meet competition before leaving to officially join the University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears track and field program after signing her National Letter of Intent to attend UCA back in the spring.
The 2016 Hope High School graduate had an impressive track and field career in the Hope athletic program. The hometown track and field star Criner completed a strong finish among 73 participants competing in the 2016 Arkansas Heptathlon in Cabot. This two day event was hosted at Cabot High School May 18-19. This marked the 19th year for the annual event, featuring seven total events consisting of the 100 m high hurdles, long jump, discus, 200 m dash, high jump, shot put and the 800 m run.
She's made history as the first track and field athlete to compete at the Heptathlon in over two decades. This was Criner's second consecutive time to compete at this event and made an impact to finish in the top 15 this year and top 25 in her debut in 2015 competing in the Heptathlon.
This past season she made her second appearance to compete at the 59th annual Meet of Champions event held at Russellville High School. She finished seventh in the 100 meter dash with a time of 12.57 and placed fourth in the 200 meter dash with a time of 25.80.
Last year at the Meet of Champs event, she competed in the same two running events and finished eighth in the 100 meter dash with a time of 12.7 and placed sixth in the 200 meter dash with a time of 25.75, marking her personal best time, which then was over achieved at the Heptathlon in 2015.
At the Class 5A state meet in Hot Springs, she competed in the same two events and finished second place in both the 100 and 200 meter dashes. Her finishing times were good enough qualify to compete at the Meet of Champions event for her junior and senior year as a Hope High School Ladycat trackster.
Over the summer last year, Criner earned her nationally ranking by competing in the Junior Olympics held at Norfolk State University, in August 2015 in Norfolk, VA. Criner shined with the top track and field athletes in the nation that competed. She finished 49th in the 100 meter dash, 39th in the 200 meter dash and her 4 x 100 meter relay team placed sixth.
Criner is still seeking for donations to compete at the 2016 Junior Olympic in Houston, Texas. If anyone interested to make a donation, an online page has been established for Criner at https://www.gofundme.com/2cazuac.
Criner will be leaving to attend UCA August 14 to begin her collegiate track and field career and further an education.