After qualifying with a Top 4 finish at the recent AAA Area 5 National Qualifier Meet at the University of Tennessee track in Knoxville, the Express group will head to Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans for the July 30 to Aug. 6 event.
Vivian Smith is returning to the nationals for a trio of events, after tying for first in the Youth high jump. She and Chattanooga’s Jamee Ward each cleared 4-feet, 6-inches.
She was also the runner-up in the Youth Outdoor Pentathlon, posting a 2,274 total after no worse than a third place finish in the five events. Smith won the 800m run (2:43.81), took second in the 100m hurdles (17.48) and long jump (14-05), plus finished third in the high jump (4-04) and shot put (24-09.75).
Smith also qualified for the national event with a third place in the Youth 200m dash. She improved her time of 27.07 in the preliminary race to 26.85 in the finals. She also bettered her 400m time from 1:03.33 in the prelims to 1:01.82 to qualify with a fourth place finish in the finals.
Bradley Central High School cross country standout Paul Patterson earned a shot at a pair of national titles with a runner-up and third place finish at the qualifying meet.
He took second in the 3,000m run (9:18.97) and third in the 1,500m (4:17.40). He also placed seventh in the 800m (2:08.83) in Knoxville.
Charles Smith is also making a return trip to the AAU nationals after finishing third in the Midget Outdoor Pentathlon (1,494) and fourth in both the 400m dash (1:05.53) and high jump (4-feet even).
In the pentathlon, he took second in the 80m hurdles (15.17), fourth in the 1,500m run (5:57.95), fifth in the long jump (13-03.25) and sixth in both the high jump (3-10) and shot put (18-05.75).
Taylor Ayers also earned a second place finish in the Sub-Bantam triathlon with a 235 total. He won the high jump (3-04) and finished third in the shot put (13-08.75) and 400m dash (1:35.01).
The third of three who are returning after participating in last summer’s nationals, Victoria Goodaker qualified in the Sub-Midget high jump with a leap of 3-feet, 8-inches for a fourth place finish. She just missed making the 800m run and long jump fields, finishing fifth with a time of 2:56.67 and a leap of 10-10.5.
Whitney McConnell is heading to the Sunshine State after a fourth place time of 11:41.59 in the Sub-Youth 3,000m run. She also claimed a sixth pace finish in the 1,500m (5:32.04).
Kendra Edwards finished fourth in the Primary shot put competition with a toss of 13-feet, 6.75 inches.
Colby Smith earned his spot in the nationals with a fourth place finish in the Sub-Youth High Jump (4-02).
Lane Delay won the 3,000m race walk in the Sub-Youth division with a time of 21:06.09. Cain Cross finish second in the same race in the Intermediate division with a time of 22:52.98.
The Cleveland Express also earned a dozen medals, including five gold, at the AAU Southeastern District Qualifier, also held recently at the UT track.
Vivian Smith won gold in the Youth 200-meter dash with a time of 27.29, plus finished first in the long jump with a leap of 14-feet, 9.5-inches.
Kendra Edwards also captured a pair of victories in the Primary competition, tossing a shot put 14-feet, 11.5-inches and making a winning long jump of 11-feet, 10-inches.
Ayers claimed the team’s other first place finish when he won the Sub-Bantam long jump with an 8-feet, 7-inch mark.
Patterson finished second in the Intermediate 3,000m run (9:15.77) and third in the 800m (2:08.17).
Goodaker was the runner-up in the Sub-Midget long jump with a leap of 10-feet, 10.75 inches.
Earning third place medals for the Express were Whitney McConnell (Sub-Youth, 3,000m, 11:44.20), Charles Smith (Midget, long jump, 12-03.50), Colby Smith (Sub-Youth, long jump, 13-04) and Delay (Sub-Youth, discus, 49-05).