Natchez track ‘family’ gets ready for nationals

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 18, 2001

It’s hard to find team chemistry in individual sports. Not so with the Natchez USA Track Club.

The members proudly proclaim themselves as &uot;family,&uot; particularly the six tracksters heading to National Junior Olympics in Sacramento, Calif., July 24-29. Kendrick Gibbons, Tanieka Hill, Darrell Bassett, Lexi Washington, Darrius Edwards and Taji Dorsey finished in the top three spots at the regional meet on Sunday to advance to nationals.

&uot;One concern is all (of our) concerns,&uot; said club coach Henry &uot;Doc&uot; Woods. &uot;We do it as a group,&uot; adding that’s why the members are successful.

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Dorsey, who is running in the girls youth 100M dash, said, &uot;If you have bad days, they keep you straight. They’re always there for you no matter what.&uot;

Gibbons, who advanced to the nationals by winning the intermediate boys triple jump and long jumps titles, added, &uot;If I jump, they’ll be there to support me. When they run, Darrell and I are there supporting them.&uot;

Bassett, who made it as a triple jumper also, noted, &uot;They encourage you to work hard. They never let you get down.&uot;

The team members will need all the support they can get in two weeks. They will be competing against the best of the best. There were 24 regionals in the United States, with each regional sending the top three finalists in each event.

What’s best for the athletes is that USA Track and Field will rank each participant after the national event. For example, if someone finishes in 14th in the long jump, they’ll be listed as the fourteenth best long jumper in the country for his age group.

&uot;It gives you a chance to rank,&uot; said Woods. &uot;That will always be with you.&uot;

The athletes, though confident are a little nervous about the upcoming trip, but ready to strap on the running shoes.

&uot;I’m kind of nervous about it but I feel good I’ll do well next week.,&uot; said Edwards, who going to Sacramento as a 400M hurdler. &uot;It’s still hard to believe we’re really going.&uot;

&uot;I’ve never been to this level before,&uot; said Hill, who qualified for the intermediate girls 400M. &uot;I’ve never been out running with people from across the country. It’s kind of an honor.&uot;

Woods said this is one of the largest groups he’s taken to nationals, which the club has been attending since the early 1980s.

Woods and the team are confident, but as Washington, a triple jumper, said, &uot;It will take a team to win it.&uot;

The team will be at the Natchez Mall on Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. soliciting donations for the trip.