Bantam high-jumper Kaulin Smith, Franklin Elementary, has qualified for the national Junior Olympics after finishing second in the high jump at the Southeast regional.
A new youth track team has found early success as one of its members has advanced to the national Junior Olympics.
Team Elite, based in Mount Airy, formed this spring with 14 members ranging from elementary school to high school.
Kaulin Smith, Franklin Elementary, has qualified for the national Junior Olympic Outdoor Track and Field Championship later this month in Baltimore, Md.
Competing in the Bantam Boys age group (9-10 years of age), Smith took second place in high jump in the Southeast Region 3 track meet July 5-8 in Newport News, Va. The 10-year-old had a personal best of 3 feet, 10 inches, 2 inches better than his previous high.
Also in the regional was teammate Eli Combs, 13, of Meadowview Middle. Combs also qualified for high jump and reached 4-11. That was second of all North Carolina competitors and 10th of the 19 boys in the Youth (13-14) age group.
In order to reach the regional, the two had to qualify at the state Track and Field Championship in Durham June 25.
Ten members of Team Elite squad went down to compete with more than 3,000 boys and girls ages 6-18, noted Coach Anthony Smith, Kaulin’s dad.
“These fine young athletes performed well, considering the exhaustive heat and this being their first year of Junior Olympic competitions,” he said.
Kaulin Smith took part in the javelin, long jump and high jump.
Nick Conzone performed in javelin, discus and shot put for the Midget (11-12) group.
Sister Christina Conzone and Brooklyn Woodbury did 100 meters, 100 meter hurdles, shot put and discus for the Youth (13-14) girls.
In the Youth boys category, Combs, Dylan Easter and John Smith competed in 100 meter, 200 meter, 800 meter, 1500 meter, high jump, shot put and discus.
Jeremiah Griffin, Isaiah Griffin and LaShaud Moore competed in 100 meter, 200 meter, 400 meter and the long jump in the Intermediate (15-16) group.
Team Elite came together as Anthony Smith looked for a way to bring together kids from all over the county to learn about and compete in track and field events.
Smith took part in six different events in his own high school career at North Surry. This past year, he was the track coach for Meadowview Middle School, and several of his original team members came from there.
However, he hopes to create an umbrella under which kids from any area school can come together.
With help from a friend, Smith created LEAYO Inc., Local Elite Athletic Youth Organization.
“This is a completely non-profit organization involved in Junior Olympic competitive athletic training and events,” said Smith. “The only fees charged are for uniforms, USA Junior Olympic memberships and competition fees.”
He said the board members, volunteers and coaches are dedicated to helping local youth reach their individual growth and potential through sports.
Asked how he’d like to see LEAYO and Team Elite grow, Smith said, “I’d love to have 200 kids.”
When he went to Durham, Smith said he saw basically an entire elementary school show up for another team, Carolina Elite.
Activity buses were pulling up, and about 220 kids came pouring out, he recalled.
Many local girls play on Junior Olympic volleyball teams, but the Junior Olympics include many more sports than volleyball and track.
Smith, who operates Peaceful Dragon Dojang, said LEAYO is developing Junior Olympic teams for martial arts, wrestling and cross country.
Anthony and Kaulin Smith will be headed to Baltimore for the national Junior Olympic meet lasting July 21-29. They hope to pick up some sponsors to help with the travel expenses.
Those seeking more information on Team Elite and LEAYO can stop by the Peaceful Dragon Dojang in the Roses shopping center, call Anthony Smith at 719-2787 or visit the website at www.leayo.org.