Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
One of the newest sports groups in Tracy can count its first year as a success.
Fun-Damentals Youth Sports founder K.T. Ransom said the best indicator is the number of young athletes in his group who qualified for the AAU Junior Olympic Games.
Of the 165 boys and girls ages 5 to 14 divided among three teams in the Fun-Damentals track and field league, 20 have qualified for the AAU Junior Olympics national championships, which will be held Saturday through Friday in Houston, Texas.
Ransom said that before he started thinking about Junior Olympics, the community showed a strong interest in the new track and field program.
“Our goal for the first year was maybe 100 kids. A modest goal, but kids kept coming,” said Ransom, whose coaching experience includes youth basketball and high school football and track and field at Kimball High.
Fun-Damentals had its first meet in February. In all, the three teams - Tracy Hornets, Mountain House Broncos and Tracy Roadrunners - competed in five local meets at West and Tracy high schools.
“There was a need,” Ransom said. “There are a couple clubs here, but everything was so far, you have a lot of travel. Having local meets is very convenient for a lot of parents.”
For postseason competition - including the AAU Region 22 qualifier meet at Oakdale High School, June 15 to 18 - the teams were combined to create 5 North.
The top six in each track event and top five in each field event at the Oakdale meet qualified to compete next week in Texas. The 5 North team had 20 athletes qualify for the national meet, but most cannot go because of other commitments or financial constraints.
Those who will go to Texas, five in all, will compete on the national level for the first time.
“I feel nervous, but I think I’m going to do good and improve my times,” said Sophia Mcintyre, who will compete in the 10-year-old girls 400-meter run.
Pushing her to get her best time yet in the 400 will be her twin sister, Scarlette, who will also compete in the 200-meter dash.
Scarlette said she and Sophia help each other do their best at every practice and meet.
“I catch a lot of mistakes that my sister does and she catches a lot of mistakes that I do in track,” Scarlette said.
Andrew Simmons, who will compete in the 11-year-old boys 400-meter dash, said that he looks forward to a new level of competition and new people to race.
“My expectations are to get some medals and to beat my times,” he said.
Alison Haynes, Andrew’s mother, said she looks forward to seeing her son, who started running competitively in March, compete at a national event.
“He gained so much confidence, building new relationships, and he’s made so many friends,” she said. “I just let Andrew know that he can do all things through Christ, and nothing’s too hard for him, to have that confidence to know when he goes out there, it doesn’t matter who’s behind him. It just matters what’s in front of him, and that just inspires him to run faster.”
Also going to Texas are Nicole Garin, competing in the 9-year-old girls 800 and 1,500, and Obi Ogbodo, competing in the 10-year-old boys 100 and 400.
The team’s other qualifiers include Amaya Pickford, who won both of her events at Oakdale, the 8-and-under girls 200 and 400, plus Cemaiya Bailey, Christian Cannon and Mya Everett, all in the 8U girls; Kamayah Boxdell, 10-year-old girls; Mya Vasquez, 13-year-old girls; Johanna Hernandez and Vanessa Perez, 14-year-old girls; and Kalaya Collins, 15-16 girls. Also qualifying were Nehamiah Lloyd, 8 and under boys; Lareul Cliatt, 9-year-old boys; Isaiah Pratt, 10-year-old boys; Jvuaghn Nibbs and Khalil Walls, 11-year-old boys; and Andrew Malogan, 12-year-old boys.
Small team makes big impression
The Mountain House-based D1 Athletics Academy may be small in numbers, but the young athletes made a big impression at their regional Junior Olympics meets.
Coach and team founder Demitris Starks started in 2014 with just four athletes. This year, he coached 14 kids, and 11 of them qualified in 35 events for the AAU Junior Olympics national meet in Houston, Texas, next week. The team won’t make the trip to Texas, but D1 Athletics had enough top athletes from regional completion this year to qualify six athletes in 12 events for the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics this week at Sacramento State University.
“That’s all just a testament to the kids,” Starks said. “They put the work in, they come out and practice. I’m just there to guide them.”
The team’s standouts include Cameron Williams of Tracy, who competes in the 9-10 boys division. He was the regional champion in the triathlon - which includes the 400-meter run, the shot put and the high jump - at the USATF Pacific Association Region 16 meet, June 24 to 26 at Sacramento State. Cameron won the 400 at that meet, too, with a time of 1:02.25.
Also winning a gold medal at that meet was Jamison Starks, Demitris Starks’ son, who won the 9-10 boys long jump with a mark of 4.29 meters. Teammate Jordan Williams won gold in the 8-and-under boys shot put (7.12 meters).
Jamison said he wanted to get involved in track and field as a way to get in shape for the football season with the Tracy Rampage.
“I can jump higher than I thought and I can run faster than I thought,” he said, adding that the other kids who tried to beat him motivated him even more. “Maybe sometimes I’m a little bit faster, but I’m very competitive and I don’t really like losing.”
Other team members competing in Sacramento this week include Jeremy Haynes Jr. of Tracy, Gabriel Williams of Tracy and Carter Jackson of Sacramento , all in the 9-10 boys division. In addition to individual events they are members, along with Jamison Starks, of the boys 4x400 relay team.
Jeremy said he joined the D1 team because it would make him a better athlete.
“People would say they were faster than me and they were going to beat me, and they did, and I wanted to get faster,” he said.
In AAU competition June 15 to 18, D1 Athletics brought home a collection of medals from the Region 22 National Qualifier at Oakdale High School. Jamison won the 10-year-old boys high jump (4 feet) and long jump (12-3½), Cameron won the 10-year-old boys 800-meter run (2:32.42), Gabriel won the 10-year-old boys javelin throw (70-2) and Jordan won the 8U boys shot put (20-11) and javelin (51-10). Kahlina Hisa-Pryor won the 11-year-old girls shot put (16-8½), and Kaiya Pena was the winner of the 12-year-old girls 1,500-meter run (5:41.10).
Kahlina, who plays other sports including football and baseball, said she got involved because she wanted to try something new.
“I do a lot of sports and one of the sports that I hadn’t done is track, so I decided I should try it.”
Coach Starks, a former football player at San Jose State, said he started the program to help his own kids, including Jenna, 7, and Jae Christina, 4, and saw the benefits a track and field team could have for the whole community.
“This stuff is all tough. A lot of these kids would rather be doing something different, but once you get out there, you have to take it upon yourself to want to get better,” he said. “All of them have aspirations to do better in sports and in school, and all of those character traits that you learn doing track and field, you can apply those in school and at home.”
Thrower reaches far in JO competition
Evalina Espinoza keeps building momentum on her way to the AAU Junior Olympics in Texas next week.
The incoming Tracy High junior has qualified for the national competition twice before in throwing events, but this will be the first time she makes the trip to test her abilities against other young throwers from around the U.S.
“It feels so amazing trying my best every day and working hard,” she said. “I expect to see a lot of different talent. Hopefully I can take in some advice from all of the coaches.”
She is traveling with her youth track and field team, the Stockton-based Phenom Elite, which made a strong showing at the AAU Region 22 National Qualifier in Oakdale, June 15 to 28, and the AAU West Coast National Track and Field Championships in Reno, June 30 to July 3.
Espinoza qualified in Oakdale with a second-place finish in the 15-16 girls discus (89 feet, 10 inches) and third place in both the shot put (28-½) and the javelin (58-0).
“I know I can do better, and that’s what I’ve been working toward since Oakdale,” she said.
She improved on all three marks in Reno, where she was second in the discus (108-7), third in the shot put (28-7) and sixth in the javelin (64-8).
Her three brothers, also Phenom Elite athletes, qualified to compete in Texas by making the top eight in their events in Reno, but they will not go as they are preparing for football season.
Mateo Espinoza won the 11-year-old boys long jump (14 feet, 4 inches) in Reno. He finished third in the 100 (13.57) and fourth in the 200 (28.21). In the 13-year-old boys competition, Justin Espinoza was second in the shot put (22-5¾) and third in both the 400 (1:02.06) and the long jump (14-1). Jake Espinoza was fourth in the 15-16 boys shot put (28-5), sixth in the triple jump (28-9) and seventh in the 400 (1:05.90).
USA Track and Field Pacific Association Region 16 meet
June 24 to 26, Sacramento State University
Top five advance to national meet
Shot put - 1, Jordan Williams, D1 Athletics, 7.12 m.
Javelin throw - 5, Jordan Williams, D1 Athletics, 16.16 m.
400 - 1, Cameron Williams, D1 Athletics, 1:02.25.
800 - 2, Cameron Williams, D1 Athletics, 2:27.24.
4x400 relay - 2, D1 Athletics, 4:40.23.
High jump - 2, Jamison Starks, D1 Athletics, 1.25 m.
Long jump - 1, Jamison Starks, D1 Athletics, 4.29 m
Shot put - 3, Gabriel Williams, D1 Athletics, 6.80 m. 4, Carter Jackson, D1 Athletics, 6.70 m.
Javelin throw - 3, Gabriel Williams, D1 Athletics, 24.30 m.
Triathlon - 1, Cameron Williams, D1 Athletics, 628.00. 2, Carter Jackson, D1 Athletics, 491.00.
Triathlon shot put - 1, Carter Jackson, D1 Athletics, 6.15 m. 5, Cameron Williams, D1 Athletics, 4.70 m.
Triathlon high jump - 1, Cameron Williams, D1 Athletics, 1.22 m. 4, Carter Jackson, D1 Athletics, 0.97 m.
Triathlon 400 - 1, Cameron Williams, D1 Athletics, 1:05.18. 2, Carter Jackson, D1 Athletics, 1:08.73.
400 - 1, Darian Umana, Jr. Mustangs, 1:02.34.
200 - 5, Angelyca Chapman, Jr. Mustangs, 26.22
400 - 1, Angelyca Chapman, Jr. Mustangs, 59.03.
800 - 5, Angelyca Chapman, Jr. Mustangs, 2:22.34.
2016 AAU Region 22 National Qualifier
June 15 to 18, Oakdale High School
Top six track, top five field qualify for national championships
200 - 1, Amaya Pickford, 5 North, 32.44.
400 - 1, Amaya Pickford, 5 North, 1:15.93. 3, Mya Everett, 5 North, 1:24.72. 4, Christian Cannon, 5 North, 1:28.95. 6, Kyliegh Chapman, Jr. Mustangs, 1:34.20.
Long jump - 5, Kyliegh Chapman, Jr. Mustangs, 8-5.
400 - Nehamiah Lloyd, 5 North, 1:37.30.
Shot put - 1, Jordan Williams, D1 Athletics, 20-11.
Javelin throw - 1, Jordan Williams, D1 Athletics, 51-10.
800 - 4, Nicole Garin, 5 North, 3:07.37.
1,500 - 4, Nicole Garin, 5 North, 6:27.70.
100 - 4, Lareul Cliatt, 5 North, 15.58.
200 - 3, Lareul Cliatt, 5 North, 33.58.
400 - 4, Lareul Cliatt, 5 North, 1:22.76.
100 - 3, Trisha Asuncion, Jr. Mustangs, 15.01.
200 - 2, Trisha Asuncion, Jr. Mustangs, 32.16. 4, Scarlette Mcintyre, 5 North, 32.47.
400 - 4, Trisha Asuncion, Jr. Mustangs, 1:11.84. 5, Scarlette Mcintyre, 5 North, 1:14.93. Sophia Mcintyre, 5 North, 1:16.79.
100 - 4, Obi Ogbodo, 5 North, 14.95.
200 - 3, Cameron Williams, D1 Athletics, 28.31. 5, Jeremy Haynes Jr., D1 Athletics, 31.34.
400 - 2, Obi Ogbodo, 5 North, 1:14.95. 4, Fernando Marenco Jr., D1 Athletics, 1:21.63. 5, Isaiah Pratt, 5 North, 1:27.80.
800 - 1, Cameron Williams, D1 Athletics, 2:32.42. 3, Jeremy Haynes Jr., D1 Athletics, 2:45.22. 4, Tai Pena, D1 Athletics, 2:45.90.
1500 - 3, Tai Pena, D1 Athletics, 5:32.70.
High jump - 1, Jamison Starks, D1 Athletics, 4-0.
Long jump - 1, Jamison Starks, D1 Athletics, 12-3½.
Shot put - 2, Gabriel Williams, D1 Athletics, 23-0.
Javelin throw - 1, Gabriel Williams, D1 Athletics, 70-2.
Triathlon - 2, Cameron Williams, D1 Athletics, 524. 3, Jamison Starks, D1 Athletics, 496.
Triathlon 400 - 1, Cameron Williams, D1 Athletics, 1:05.40. 3, Jamison Starks, D1 Athletics, 1:09.60.
Triathlon high jump - 1, Jamison Starks, D1 Athletics, 1.21 m. 2, Cameron Williams, D1 Athletics, 1.11 m.
Triathlon shot put - 3, Jamison Starks, D1 Athletics, 4.39 m. 4, Cameron Williams, D1 Athletics, 4.08 m.
1500 - 4, Taylah Chapman, Jr. Mustangs, 6:40.16.
Shot put - 1, Kahlina Hisa-Pryor, D1 Athletics, 16-8½.
Javelin throw - 3, Kahlina Hisa-Pryor, D1 Athletics, 35-10.
200 - 2, Khalil Walls, 5 North, 29.11. 6, Jvuaghn Nibbs, 5 North, 31.75.
400 - 2, Khalil Walls, 5 North, 1:11.45. 3, Andrew Simmons, 5 North, 1:12.65. 4, Jvuaghn Nibbs, 5 North, 1:13.5.
800 - 2, Kaiya Pena, D1 Athletics, 2:49.99.
1,500 - 1, Kaiya Pena, D1 Athletics, 5:41.10.
3,000 - 2, Kaiya Pena, D1 Athletics, 13:05.97.
200 - 3, Darian Umana, Jr. Mustangs, 28.21. Andrew Malogan, 5 North, 36.30
400 - 3, Darian Umana, Jr. Mustangs, 1:04.31.
800 - 4, Darian Umana, Jr. Mustangs, 2:38.56. 5, Noa Kahoonei, Jr. Mustangs, 2:39.19.
1,500 - 3, Noa Kahoonei, Jr. Mustangs, 5:40.11.
800 - 3, Mya Vasquez, 5 North, 2:39.23.
1500 - 3, Mya Vasquez, 5 North, 6:15.19.
400 - 4, Ethan Daos, Jr. Mustangs, 1:01.59.
800 - 2, Ethan Daos, Jr. Mustangs, 2:25.80. 3, Nickaio Ochoa, Jr. Mustangs, 2:29.02.
1,500 - 3, Nickaio Ochoa, Jr. Mustangs, 5:07.82.
200 - 1, Angelyca Chapman, Jr. Mustangs, 26.57.
400 - 1, Angelyca Chapman, Jr. Mustangs, 1:01.18. 5, Vanessa Perez, 5 North, 1:14.94. Johanna Hernandez, 5 North, 1:21.16.
800 - 2, Angelyca Chapman, Jr. Mustangs, 2:33.22. 3, Vanessa Perez, 5 North, 3:05.23. 4, Johanna Hernandez, 5 North, 3:27.63.
1,500 - 2, Angelyca Chapman, Jr. Mustangs, 5:43.39. 3, Vanessa Perez, 5 North, 6:36.11.
400 - 5, Kalaya Collins, 5 North, 1:27.32.
Shot put - 3, Evalina Espinoza, Phenom Elite, 28-½.
Discus throw - 2, Evalina Espinoza, Phenom Elite, 89-10.
Javelin throw - 3, Evalina Espinoza, Phenom Elite, 58-0.
Contact Sports Editor Bob Brownne at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 209-830-4227.