Out of the 22 kids who competed in Knoxville, 13 qualified for the AAU Junior Olympic Games, which will be held on the Eastern Michigan University campus in Ypsilanti.
The Cleveland Express Track Club, which has been around for the past 20 years, consists of children from the ages 6 to 18 from the Bradley County and surrounding areas.
“I have had them from Chattanooga, McMinn County, Rhea County, over the years they have come from all over. It’s been a pretty big and good program for me,” Cleveland Express coach Larry Cotton said.
In the group of 13 who qualified, 11 of the kids are from the Cleveland and Bradley County area.
Jarrius Rogers, the 6-year-old son of assistant coach Jeremy Rogers, qualified in the 1,500-meter race. According to coach Cotton, Jarrius missed qualifying in the 800 meters by just one spot.
Three 11-year-olds from the Cleveland Express qualified for the Nationals.
Seth Cannon qualified in the 800-meter race, as well as the high jump and long jump.
Both Taylor Ayers and Ta’Zhan Hansard qualified for the high jump and pentathlon.
Thirteen-year-old Cheyenne Ayers will be competing at the National level in shot put and the 3,000-meter racewalk, while Trevor Croft, also 13 years old, qualified in the high jump.
Kiana Queener will be representing the Cleveland Express in the 3,000-meter run.
Blaine Boley, 14, qualified for the pentathlon and 14-year-old Cynara White qualified for the shot put, discus, and high jump.
In the 15-16 division, Ezrick Whaley qualified for nationals in the 2,000-meter steeplechase.
Justin Ward will be competing in the shot put and discus in the 17-18 division.
The two members of the Cleveland Express who will be going to Ypsilanti are a brother and sister duo from Tyner High School.
Fourteen-year-old Charles Smith, a rising freshmen at Tyner, qualified for five different events. He will be competing in the 400-meter dash, 200-meter hurdles, the high jump, triple jump, and pentathlon.
Vivian Smith will be competing in the 15-16 division in four different events — the 100-meter dash, 100-meter hurdles, high jump and heptathlon.
The AAU Junior Olympic Games will begin on July 27 and run through Aug. 3.
“They come from all 50 states and usually two or three foreign countries. The AAU National is bigger than the United States Olympic festival,” Cotton stated.