Track athletes take a run at qualifying for this year’s Junior Olympics competitionPublished 12:02am Sunday, June 24, 2012
NATCHEZ — Athletes of all ages from all over the southeast made their way to Natchez High School Saturday to run, jump and throw their way to the Junior Olympics.
Natchez hosted a qualifying event for the Junior Olympics at which approximately 15 athletes from Natchez took their first steps toward becoming one of the next great track and field stars.
“This allows them to get a sense of what track is all about,” Natchez High School track coach Larry Wesley said.
One of Natchez’s top performers Saturday was upcoming freshman Ramonte Jackson. Jackson finished second in the long jump Saturday and plans to participate in the triple jump today.
Jackson is no stranger to Junior Olympic qualifying, and he used his experience to help some of the Natchez runners who were running in the event for the first time.
“You have to know there is going to be some competition, and you better be ready,” Jackson said.
Jackson’s father, Eddie Ray Jackson, had the responsibility of preparing the Natchez athletes for this weekend’s qualifying. Eddie Ray said at the end of Day 1, he felt pretty good about the local athletes’ performances.
“So far so good,” he said. “We have kids that ran the first day out here, and they really have been competing.”
Eddie Ray said the Natchez athletes worked hard to prepare for the event, and he has a positive outlook for their performances today.
“I think for some of the kids it’s their first meet ever,” he said. “We’ve worked for a few weeks, and I think overall we’ve worked hard and have some good athletes down here.”
Natchez High School senior track star Amos James said he had a pretty good performance in the 4×100 relay to start his day but hit a speed bump during the 400 hurdles.
James fell going over the next-to-last hurdle during his final event of the day, but he said he expects to be ready to run again today.
“I’m fine,” he said. “I have a slight ankle twist. I feel I ran alright, but I could have run better.”
James’ relay team finished in third place, and he said he is looking forward to running again today.
“I want to come back and improve on what I did today,” he said.
James said he was proud of the way all the Natchez athletes represented the city.
“We had some people that competed in the hurdles, and they all did wonderful,” he said. “Everybody did good.”
James said it was a great experience participating in one of the biggest events in which he has run.
Eddie Ray said bringing such a big event to Natchez was big for the local track community. Eddie Ray coaches the members of the Raising an Alliance of Discerning Leaders track club, which includes athletes from Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Wilkinson, Lawrence and Pike Counties as well as Concordia Parish.
Day 2 of the competition will be at the Natchez High School track at Tom F. Williams Memorial Stadium today.