After a successful showing in regional competition at Cincinnati Winton Woods High School, the Mansfield Urban Youth Track and Field AAU squad will now send a dozen qualifiers to next weeks national competition.
Coach Bruce Woodson's bunch are preparing for the summers biggest competition in Des Moines, Iowa, by simply staying ready.
Woodson says the team is "not doing anything stressful or hard" in their final two practice sessions, but rather "just keeping them tuned".
Competition at the national level is "about three levels higher" than the team typically competes in, according to Woodson. That hasn't shaken the confidence of several team members however, who have high expectations for themselves on the national stage.
Fifteen- year-old Calvin Bethea believes he can bring home a medal in each event he qualified for in nationals, after placing in the competition a few times before in his seven years with the team. Bethea says younger brother Sam "comes to play" at competitions, and has confidence both will perform well at the national event.
Thirteen-year-old Sam says he is most confident in bringing home some hardware in the high jump, where he spent a good portion of Mondays practice session perfecting his technique. Teammate Cameron Stine, who will also compete in high jump as a thirteen- year-old at nationals, says placing in the top eight "would be really nice to finish in".
The AAU Junior Olympic Games run July 22 through August 2 at Drake University.
The Mansfield Urban Youth Track Team will compete beginning on July 28.