Local sports culture mirrors its larger national counterpart.
Celebration of football, basketball, baseball and hockey are the norm while track and field fights for public attention and support.
Yet, in track and field, some of the most amazing unheralded accomplishments are taking place right under our noses in the Delta.
“The Delta Track Club had five athletes to qualify for the nationals and only three of the five are able to go because of the cost,” said coach Monica Turner. “The USTA (United States Track Association) Junior Olympics will take place next week in Sacramento, California.”
According to coach Kenneth Cable, the average cost of sending an athlete to the national competition is between two and three thousand dollars.
The Greenville Track Club combines students from schools all around the Delta to prepare them beyond their regular school involvement towards higher levels of competition.
Greenville-Weston junior, Myisha Turner and T L Weston eighth grader Courtney Adams will both compete in the 1500- and 800-meters events.
“My fastest time in the 1500 is 5:55 and 2:38 in the 800,” Adams said. “I’ve been training for the nationals by running everyday and watching what I eat. My diet has more fruits and vegetables.”
Already a state champion in the discus and ranked third in the shotput, St. Joe ninth grader Rory McLoen, looks to take his skills up against the best in the nation.
“I’ve been trying to get my body prepared by working out and lifting weights,” McLoen said. “I know that the competition will continue to get better and better.”
Turner said that the Greenville Track Club sends athletes to national competitions every year, but this year is unique because they’ve never had this many to qualify. Getting to national competition is no small feat.
Athletes begin in their respective age groups at the state level and then move on to Region 6 competitions which includes the states of Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana and Alabama. Regional winners qualify for national competition. Chances are favorable that these young athletes will return from Cali with the tile “national champion.”
“This is something that is a real positive for our area,” Kable said. “The kids really represent us well and this is a program that relies on the community to help fund and support it.”
“There needs to be more financial support for track and field in athletic budgets,” Turner added. “The athletes are doing well in competition and bringing positive attention to the area.”