The Cleveland Express AAU track team recently saw success at the regional competition and must now prepare for the Junior Olympics.
“We had 13 kids at the regions and just about all of them qualified for the nationals in something,” Coach Larry Cotton declared.
The Express had a total of 11 qualify for the AAU Junior Olympic Games at Drake Unversity, from July 25 to Aug. 2.
Cheyenne Ayers qualified in the 3000-meter racewalk, while Kayla Osborne qualified for both the 1500-meter and 3000-meter run.
Both Taylor Willhort and Tiana Martin qualified in the long jump, with Martin also qualifying in the 200-meter dash.
Seth Cannon did well in the jumping events, and is eligible for the high jump and the long jump at the national event.
Brayden Pennell qualified in the 1500-meter run and the long jump, while Charles Smith qualified in the triple jump and 400-meter hurdles.
Kieran Hall made the cut in the 800-meter and 1500-meter runs.
Both Taylor Ayers and Ta’Zahn Hansard qualified for a total of four events, which are the 80-meter hurdles, long jump, high jump and the pentathlon.
While Coach Cotton is unsure of how many will actually be able to make the trip to Iowa, he is hoping to send a few.
“I think maybe two or three will actually go up to nationals. Ideally I would like for all of them to go because it’s an opportunity that only certain people get,” Cotton stated.
Currently in his 21st year of coaching the Express, Cotton couldn’t be more proud of their performance.
“I’m very proud of them. I’ve had the Cleveland Express for 21 of the 22 years that I’ve been in Bradley County. There has never been a year where I have not had at least one or two kids go to the nationals,” Cotton proclaimed. “I’m real proud of that. It’s kind of like a tradition for me. I couldn’t do it without the hard work put in by the kids and their parents. This helps the kids get scholarships and it helps their parents not have to pay as much money when they send them to school.”