MERRILLVILLE | Though the Merrillville Track Club is a little more than a decade old, it has already produced more Olympic medals than many developed countries.
"But it's going to be tough this time around," said David Neville Jr. of his son, David Neville III, who is trying to follow up his performance from the 2008 Olympic Games, where he won a gold medal with the United States 1,600-meter relay team and a bronze medal in the 400 dash.
"He's been dealing with injuries. Hopefully, he can stay healthy enough while he's down there."
The elder Neville was referring the U.S. Track and Field Championships, that began this past weekend and will continue Thursday through Sunday at the University of Oregon.
"He needs to place in the top three in the 400 to qualify (for the 2012 London Games)," Neville said, "and naturally, those three will be placed in the pool for the relay."
The elder Neville founded the club in 2001. His son and his daughter, Rebecca, who excels in the heptathlon for the University of Kansas, were among the original members.
Two years ago, Darrell Reed took over as the club's head coach.
"We have 42 athletes and about 25 of them compete at meets," Reed said. "Those who do compete have been doing real well for us."
At the USATF State Championships held June 16-17 in Fort Wayne, the Merrillville Track Club qualified 24 athletes by way of their top eight finishes to the USATF Region 7 Championships, July 5-8 at Franklin College.
Those who claimed state championships for the club include Kristen LaCosse in the Youth Girls (age 13-14) 100 hurdles, Kennedy Robinson in the Midget Boys (11-12) long jump, Christopher Reed (the coach's son) in the Youth Boys triple jump, and Christopher's sister, Camille Reed, in the Youth Girls triple jump.
The club also has a stellar Youth Girls 400 relay team in Reed, LaCosse, Grace Bollinger and Jenna Jungels - LaCosse and Jungels also compete in the pentathlon.
Other standout members include Nigel Taylor, who is an indoor national champion in the Midget Boys long jump, Austin Jamerson in the Young Men (17-18) decathlon, A'Leah Scott in the Intermediate Girls (15-16) high jump, Crown Point's three-time IHSAA state qualifier Bailey Beckham in the Young Women 400 dash, DJ Taylor in the Young Men 200 and 400 dashes, and Joshua Haynes in the Young Men discus and shot put.
"He's going to be one to watch," Reed said of Haynes, who won both of his events at the state championships.
The top five individual and relays from the Region 7 Championships advance to the USATF National Championships, July 25-31 in Baltimore.
"We've moved to USATF from AAU a couple of years ago," Reed said. "It's a little harder to qualify from the state level because AAU takes the top 16 while USATF takes eight.
"But we decided to go with USATF because we wanted to expose our athletes to the governing body of track and field in this country."