Reaching for the stars and stripes

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 4, 2000

At the age of eight, Janice Davis marveled at the &uot;bigger kids getting off the bus with all of the stars and stripes on their warm-up suits with USA&160;written on it.&uot;

At the time, Davis, now 15, was competing in the long jump at the Junior Olympic Track Meet in Gainesville, Fla.

&uot;They were high-stepping royally, and I decided right then that one day I was going to be wearing the stars and stripes with USA written on my warm-ups,&uot; Davis said.

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That day comes in two weeks as Davis was selected to compete for a USA&160;Junior National Team that will face Canada in a track competition in Montreal July 18-19.

Davis, the daughter of Dr. Benny Wright and Janice Davis, earned the right to compete with the Junior Olympic team after placing second in the 400-meters at the National Junior Championships in Denton, Texas, last month in the young women division.

The 5-foot-5 Davis ran a time of 54.44 to finish second to Angela Parker of California after finishing second in her qualifying heat.

She also competed in the 100-meters and 200-meters.

&uot;The 100 was right after the 400, and I was out of gas,&uot; Davis said. &uot;The 400 is so grueling. I still ran a 11.92, but finished 12th. I qualified in the 200, but the finals were right before the 400, so I was focusing on the 400. I’m not even sure where I finished.&uot;

But Davis was sure of herself in the 400.

&uot;I was just in my own zone,&uot; she said. &uot;I&160;was concentrating on what I had to do.&uot;

Davis was going up against females from the age of 14 to 19.

&uot;I&160;beat some college women, which made me feel real good.&uot;

Davis said she would have been disappointed if she would not have made the junior olympic team, but had only one goal.

&uot;I just wanted to run my personal best times and do the best I could, and I did that,&uot; she said. &uot;I wasn’t going in with my hopes too high, but I was looking forward to making the team.&uot;

Actually, Davis is happy just to concentrate on one event.

&uot;I&160;learned when you are in a prestigious race, you don’t need to qualify in three events,&uot; she said.

And Davis was told that in a USA Track and Field Junior Women’s&160;Elite Developmental Camp held last week in Denton.

&uot;They told me to find out what I want to do and what I am best in, and just stay with that,&uot; she said. &uot;I&160;chose to be a quarter-miler.&uot;

Not that she’s given up on the 100 or 200-dash.

&uot;I’ll still run that for the school or team if we need points,&uot; she said.

Davis, who stopped long jumping last year because of the wear on her ankles and knees, won the 100-meter, 200-meter and 400-meter events in the state finals this year.

Davis said the week-long camp helped her mentally.

&uot;They told me to try different things, except on the day I race,&uot; she said. &uot;They said not to worry about who I am running against or their times, because that takes away your energy. The main thing is to relax and concentrate.&uot;

Davis said nutritionists also gave valuable information, such as drink plenty of fluids and watch what you eat in preparing for a race.&uot;

Davis plans on being more prepared for Montreal.

&uot;I really think I can run a 53 (seconds),&uot; she said. &uot;I’m going to attack the first 200, which I didn’t do in Denton.&uot;

The record in the 400-meters for young women is 51.45 by Erica Harbor of Gig Harbor, Wash.

Davis said she is looking forward to arriving in Montreal.

&uot;It’s going to be a different experience,&uot; Davis said. &uot;This is the first time I’ll be going out of the country and running in such a prestigious event. I’m very excited. I feel like I’m on the road to the Olympics.&uot;