Bold performances from local track clubs in Humble, Texas

Aug. 11, 2014 @ 06:30 PM

The marketplace has plenty of books on goal setting.

But there’s a kid in Durham who could write one more.

In July at the USA Track & Field Junior Olympics in Humble, Texas, near Houston, Carolina Elite Track & Field Club triathlete Vincent “V.J.” Anthony Jr. emerged as the national champion among 9- and 10-year-olds in his event, which entailed running 400-meters, high jumping and throwing the shot put.

“I just trusted my training,” V.J. said.

That's putting it mildly, because earlier this year was the first time that young man ever hurled one of those heavy, metal balls or jumped backward over a bar.

“It was more mental,” V.J. said.

More specifically, it was about belief, Carolina Elite assistant coach Reggie Love said.

“He set the goal of being a national champion,” Love said. “He had never high jumped. He learned how to high jump.

“He wanted to do it.”

That gets at what not a few track-and-field athletes did down in Texas, their hours and hours of sweating culminating in earning All-American status, the prize for top-eight national finishes at the Junior Olympics.

But even that — even winning — was taxing, Elite sprinter Brie Saunders said. Her 15-16 400-meter relay team came in fourth place (47.34).

“We were really striving for first place,” Saunders said. “It took a toll on me when we got fourth.

“We had a lot of setbacks hours before.”

Love said Saunders, Lauren White, Lydia Gamble and Taylor Scott as a relay team had to push through injuries and deal with dehydration.

Durham Striders hurdler Cha'Mia Rothwell brought home a national championship, clearing the 15-16 girls' 100 hurdles in 14:03.

“It was just time to leave it all out on the track,” Rothwell said.

Rothwell, who plays basketball for Durham Academy, stopped short of saying her golden performance at the Junior Olympics was the best race she ever ran, but “it was close to it. It wasn’t too far off my fastest time. It was a pretty good race.”

Striders hurdler Kayla Moore was in the 15-16 100 and finished seventh (14.80).

Lia Love finished fourth in the 11-12 girls' 100 (12.78) and sixth in the 200 (26.68). That finish in the 200 was personally remarkable considering that she entered the Junior Olympics ranked 26th.

Triangle Champions sprinter Alysia Johnson finished third in the 11-12 200 in 26.32. She was second in the 400 in 58.62.

Triangle Champions middle-distance runner Coleman Mitchell battled through an injury from a prior meet and almost won national championships in the 13-14 boys' 1500 and 3000 with second-place times of 4:18.70 and 3000 9:23.14, respectively. The first-place time in the 1500 was 4:12.86 and 9:15.97 in the 3000.

Mitchell's brother, Joshua, came in fifth in the 17-18 1500 in 4:04.42.

Carolina Elite runner Byrum Brown and Bull City Express runner Tristen Brown were neck and neck in the 9-10 boys' 1500. Byrum finished sixth in 5:09.83, and Tristen was right behind him in seventh place in 5:11.74.

Durham Striders hurdler Marcus Krah's sixth-place finish in the 17-18 boys' 110 hurdles (14.46), Triangle Champions jumper Makai Kincy's sixth-place finish in the 13-14 long jump (19-2 ½) and Carolina Elite sprinter Layla White's third-place finish in the 17-18 girls' 400 (55.07) also represent just some of the area's track-and-field athletes who became All-Americans at the Junior Olympics.

V.J. also was on the 1600 relay team that came in fifth place (4:29.30). His teammates were Jordan Reece, Luis Rivera and Maxwell Kiel.

Alani Rouse, Ashlan Bowdry, Jessica Wright and Jada Green were on the 13-14 girls' 1600 relay team that came in fourth place (4:03.64).

Triangle Champions sprinter Isaiah Southerland experienced growing pains at the Junior Olympics. Southerland, a rising sophomore at Jordan High School, was among the younger guys in his events at the Junior Olympics, so he wasn't his usually dominant self.

“This is a minor setback for a major comeback,” Southerland said.

Southerland played football at Jordan last season but is sitting out this year in order to focus on track.

V.J.'s not missing this football season. The 10-year-old triathlete is a defensive end for the Durham Eagles.