MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Nearly 850 athletes from across Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Tennessee competed in the USATF Region 6 Jr. Olympics Track and Field Championships July 11th through the 14th at Ray Stadium. The Meridian Public School District had six of their student-athletes qualify by finishing fifth or better in their events for the National Championships in Sacramento.
Meridian senior, Zachary Carter, qualified for the meet by finishing third in the 1500 meter – something he did not anticipate.
“I was completely surprised about this and like I never thought I would like live up to seeing this so that’s a good thing I’m happy about,” Carter said.
Fellow senior Tatiyana Jennings qualified in the 400 meter hurdles and the high jump by placing second in both events. Juniors Sa’Nya McPhail and Princess Grant finished fourth in the 800 meter and second in the 1500 meter, respectively. Sophomore Gabby Houston, who will not be making the trip to Sacramento, qualified in the long jump and Northwest Middle School eighth grader, Daniel Hill, qualified by placing first in the long jump, 100 meter hurdles and 200 meter hurdles.
“It says good things about us,” Carter said. “It’s just saying that we come out here, work hard and try our best and from this point I see it like, if you come out here, put in your work, and you want to get better at something, just do it.”
The USATF Hershey National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships allow youth athletes not only to compete against the best competition in the country, but provide exposure for those seeking college scholarships.
“This is an opportunity for them to improve as they approach – going into their next academic year and that helps them especially like our seniors get recruited and it also provides them a larger stage for them to get more exposure on a national level,” Meridian track and field Coach, Regonal Walker, said.
The meet runs July 22nd through the 28th and although those traveling say they want to compete at a high level, Jennings also notes it’s important to serve as ambassadors from home
“I think it’s a good opportunity for all the, all the ones that have qualified to represent Meridian, Mississippi and the high school,” she said.
Anyone wishing to support the Meridian athletes can visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/meridian-youth-pursuing-gold-in-Sacramento.