Hallsville’s Collin Pierson competes during the USATF Region 12 Junior Olympics Championships, held July 3-6 in Humble.
HALLSVILLE - Collin Pierson just got his driver’s license on Wednesday, but instead of driving around East Texas with his air-conditioning on high enjoying another hot Texas day, he was busy at the track.
Pierson and Matt Godwin will compete in the 2013 USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships from July 22-28 on the campus of North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, N.C.
The pair of Hallsville athletes is small in number when it compares to the 11 who competed in 2012, but their coach Dean McDaniel has taken a much smaller role and said quality is better than quantity.
“We have a really small team this year due to parents having to travel with their kids since my wife and I decided to spend some more time with our 1- and 2-year-olds,” McDaniel said. “We had a few who still wanted to compete and were fortunate enough to have two of them advance to the national level.”
Godwin and Pierson will be representing the “For His Glory” team, a group which has sent several athletes to the Junior Olympics in the past, with names such as Landon Lacy competing four times along with Cody Blankenship and Jake Greer taking part in two straight national events the last two years.
McDaniel, who has a loose, yet significant role in running the team, continues to ensure the team stays on the right path when it comes to going up against top-notch competition from across the country.
The team has been to Baltimore twice as well as Sacramento, Calif., Wichita, Kan. and Omaha, Neb.
“What I like to emphasize to these kids is how there’s a fine line between the physical and the spiritual part of what they’re trying to accomplish when it comes to living a life of faith and building character,” McDaniel said. “I told them up front I created this track team for a reason and want them to go to nationals with goals but having the right perspective and realizing there’s more to life than medals.”
Joel Holmes competed at four regional events (400 & 800 meters, pole vault and decathlon) and finished sixth in the decathlon before knocking himself out of vault competition due to shattering his pole. Godwin has been throwing two to three times per week and running four to six miles a day to prepare.
“Matt has dipped into both worlds and is a distance runner who wants to be a successful in throwing the javelin,” McDaniel said. “Cross country starts next month, so he’s dealing with a pretty big plate now.”
Godwin was the feel-good story of 2012 after throwing more than 140 feet in the javelin with less than a month of training. He bettered the mark considerably with a throw of 159 feet, one inch during regional action at Humble’s Turner Stadium to capture the 17-18 year-old boys’ age division and trip to nationals.
He’ll compete on July 27 and has a goal of throwing in the mid 160s and at least finish in the Top 20.
“Matt seems to be a natural with the javelin after having competed for only a calendar year,” said McDaniel about the rising senior. “He snuck into nationals last year, fell in love with it and has worked hard to get stronger with his upper body. It’s nice, because he’s now talking about throwing in college.”
Pierson, a rising junior, combines with Greer during the regular season for quite a formidable 1-2 punch in the 800 meters and ran 2:03:32 in regional action to finish as the final qualifier in the 15-16 boys class.
Greer is Pierson’s training partner during the spring season and is focusing on cross country preparation.
The personal goal for Pierson, who competes on July 24, is to break the two-minute barrier, and he’s been traveling to Dallas at least twice a week to work on his all-around training with four-time Big 12 champion, nine-time All-American and 2004 United States 800-meter Olympian Jonathan Johnson.
McDaniel said there are other people who deserve credit since his decision not to accompany the team.
“I give a lot of thanks to Matt and Collin’s parents for taking the time and effort to get them to these meets in Springtown (association meet), Humble and now North Carolina,” McDaniel said. “They showed the same type of dedication to get them there the kids did in preparing themselves. It was a pretty big overall commitment, since most teenagers would rather be relaxing, but these two know how in order to be an elite athlete, they have to find a way to balance their training and personal lives.”
(Follow Tyler Clifton on twitter: @tcliftonsports)