With 40 of their track athletes qualifying for the 2019 AAU Junior Olympics, the Tennessee based Rutherford County Track Club has plenty to celebrate about. Learn how this talented team began, their plans for the season and how they placed in the recent AAU Junior Olympics.
Champion Teamwear: How does it feel to have 40 of your athletes qualify for the AAU Junior Olympics?
Coach Dele Ekadi: It is a great feeling to have so many athletes qualify for the AAU Junior Olympics. The goal each season we relay to the athletes is that every week is to do be better than the previous week. This accomplishment is the result of the athletes trusting the process of their coaches and having the ability to execute the plan.
CT: Is this the largest group to qualify since the creation of RCTC? If not, how many qualified?
DE: No, the most we’ve had was 59 in 2014
CT: How does your team feel about qualifying?
DE: We are very excited for each athlete that qualified, parents and coaches are also very [excited]. Again, it takes a lot of work and dedication to get to this point
CT: How did the team manage to expand from 15 athletes to nearly 100?
DE: We started by handing out flyers at the middle school and high school meets. Each year we would notice more and more athletes. The turnaround was 2014 when we had our 1st National Champion in the boys 10-year 400m dash. The parents realized that our team prepared every athlete no matter their age for success. After that year we’ve been strictly word of mouth and also the success that our athletes exhibit each year at their individual schools.
CT: How do you change up your practices to keep your team motivated?
DE: Each Coach gets to know each of their kids and what drives them. They then work with that in mind. Designing workouts that push the athletes and make it fun at the same time.
CT: What are the qualities you think a team should have to be successful?
DE: The first and most important thing is to have dedicated coaches, we are all volunteers so the passion must be there, also dedicated parents, the success of a team could not be done without dedicated parents. Good parents can make or break a season due to their attitudes or expectations. As long as you have dedicated coaches that show up for the kids and the appreciation of parents for working with their kids and building a close-knit team, you will have kids that are motivated to complete workouts and put forth the effort at track meets.
CT: What advice would you give teams just starting out?
DE: Having dedicated coaches and leave the ego at home. Treat everyone with respect, listen to the parents. All issues that you are aware of or a problem with coaches or athletes the situation should be addressed immediately. Have a goal and make sure your coaches are on the same goal. Also, have offseason meetings to review the previous season and then have another meeting prior to the season and discuss the upcoming season.
CT: What are your team’s goals for the upcoming year?
DE: Continue to provide a great product to our athletes and parents, build on where we left off and to make every athlete comfortable.
Congratulations again to the Rutherford County Track Club for qualifying to compete in the 2019 AAU Junior Olympics! Here’s how the athletes placed during the competition.
Day 1 Recap Monday July 29th
3000m – Hunter Broughton, 11:28.14, 31st
Hurdle races – Mario Paul, 54.72, 14th and Mikah Charley, 1:07.85, 39th.
800m – Kyle Witherspoon, 2:12.36, 28th PR
200m – Kiersten Flowers, 31.05, 65th, Malachi Gordon 28.17, 81st, and Mason Bryant 27.68, 34th.
Long jump – Aaron Green, 19-3.75, 17th and Mikah Charley 17-2.75, 30th
Discus – Jasmyn Bernard, 41-1, 37th
Day 2 recap Tuesday July 30th
Turbo javelin – Cason Agnew, 61-8.5, 61st
Discus – Sania McGhee, 74-5.5, 10th
Long jump – Bella Thompson, 13-1, 67th PR
1500m – Brook Reives, 5:10.47, 18th PR
100m – Malachi Gordon ,13.93, 82nd, Mason Byrant, 13.67, 75th and Aaron Green, 12.32, 69th
400m – Mason Bryant, 1:00.44, 40th PR
Day 3 Recap Wednesday July 31st
Shot put – Amaya Barnes, 25-05.25, 67th PR, Sania McGhee, 28-5, 25th, Kyleigh Turks, 22-7, 65th, and Cason Agnew, 24-3.75, 60th
Triple jump – Mikah Charley 37-025, 19th PR
100m Hurdles – Aaron Green, 15.43, 34th PR and
800m Hurdles – Briana Apenteng, 2:52.88, 74th
Day 4 Recap Thursday Aug 1st
1500m – Brian Apenteng, 5:46.55, 47th
Turbo javelin – Robert Franklin III, 62-07, 25th PR
Long jump – Roland McGhee Jr., 21-2.75, 15th
Discus – Cason Agnew, 61-04, 41th
4×400 relay – Justin Jefcoat, Aaron Green, Kaden Prachack, and Kyle Witherspoon, 3:54.36, 27th PR
Day 5 Recap Friday Aug 2nd
Long jump – Steven Sherman, 2019 AAU ALL-AMERICAN long jump 15-8.75, 6th , Amira Maynard, 12-03, 33rd PR
Discus – Zoe Patton, 81-02, 62nd , Amaya Barnes, 55-01, 55th
Javelin – Sophia Patton, 73-03, 41st PR
400m – Kyle Witherspoon, 55.13, 46th and Justin Jefcoat, 57.10, 71st PR.
Day 6 Recap Saturday Aug 3rd
Discus – Elijah Reams, 1st time at Junior Olympic games and he’s ALL-AMERICAN in the discus with a throw of 81-08, 6th PR, it’s over 20 feet more than his previous best.