The XCEL Athletics Track and Field Club has had plenty of success this year on the AAU circuit. And head coach Myreon Sartin is hoping for some more next week when seven of his athletes will compete nationally in Sacramento, California at the Junior Olympics.
It is a process that has taken months and even longer for some of the kids in the in the group who are 11 years of age and older.
“Most of those (older kids), they run track with their schools and they start around February or March,” Sartin said. “For them to run some of their faster times now and to be injury-free, and still be fresh minded mentally and physically, it tells a lot about how they take care of their bodies. It is a long season and this is a testament to how much these kids can endure.”
In all, Sartin has seven qualifiers and a total of 15 entries. The qualifiers were determined based on their finishes in last week’s regional tournament in Meridian.
Evelle Dillon, who competes in the 13-14 year-old division qualified for the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and the high jump. She is one of two athletes who will compete in both running and jumping events.
“With her, if she gets out of her own way, she will be a National Olympic All-American,” Sartin said. “Sometimes her mind is set on who is the competition instead of I am my own competition. On video, I saw that she got off last on the blocks and she ran everybody down at the race. And you can’t do that on this level, this elite level of competition because once they are gone, they are gone.”
In the 15-16 year olds, Jeremiah Dillon had a strong showing at regionals with second-place finishes in both the 100m and 200m races.
“He was a 100m 3A Mississippi champion this year,” Sartin said. “He is only in the ninth grade. He is a real project. He went to national’s last year and this year he is a whole second faster. He is putting in a lot of work and he is primed to run a good time when we get to California.”
The youngest of the qualifiers is D’Mya Greenfield who finished fourth at regionals in the 11-12 year-old 80m hurdles race. Sartin said that despite her age, she is a veteran when it comes to summer track and this due to time spent with a particular family member.
“Her grandmother, Ms. Sandra Sanders is our Team President. She has been involved in summer track for almost 10 years,” he said. “She’s grown up around summer track and she knows the ins and outs of it. She actually just started doing the hurdles probably about three weeks ago. We tried her one day and she did good and we told her that you are going to make it to nationals and she has only trained for it for only a month. She is very, very athletic.”
Greenfield is also the lone qualifier who will competing in only one event.
Montague Lenoir, like Jeremiah Dillon is another young man who will be looking to make a name for himself nationally in sprinting events. Lenoir will compete in the 13-14 year-old 400m and 200m races and he should have plenty of confidence entering competition next week after 1st and 2nd place finishes in the respective races.
“He’s a real workhorse,” Sartin said of Lenoir. “But you have to be to run the 400 at this level and at the elite level you have to have some fight in you because that is one of the hardest races in track.”
The oldest qualifier of the group is Jarule Melvin is competing in the 17-18 year-old 100m and 200m events.
“He looks like an action figure out of the box. This kids is one of the fastest kids as far as his age group and all around high school athletes. He is one of the fastest in the nation. Two years ago, at the Junior Olympics in Kansas, he ran the third fastest time in the nation in the 200m as a 16-year-old.”
Rounding out the qualifiers for XCEL is a pair of competitors in the 15-16 year-old division.
One is Kendrell Robinson, who like Evelle Dillon, will compete in dashes and jumping events. Robinson will run the 110m and 400m hurdles races and compete in the high jump.
“He is Mr. Versatile,” Sartin said of Robinson. “He can literally run open races, he can do hurdles, he can high jump, he can long jump. He finished second in the nation as an eighth grader in the 300m hurdles. He is all about fun, he is always laughing and he will light up a room. He is a good kid with good character and a hard worker.”
The final 15-16 year-old competitor is Kennedi Sanders. Like D’Mya Greenfield, Sanders grew up around summer track.
“She is a household name on the summer circuit,” Sartin said. “She ran in the Great Indoor Southwest Track and Field Classic in February where she got second place in the 60m dash and second place in the 200m dash. Both of those performances moved her to Top 4 all-time on that list, a prestigious list. Everybody on that list, that is Top 10, seven of the 10 have been to the Olympics, and she cracked the Top 4. This is definitely not her first rodeo.”
Overall Sartin is proud of the his kids making it to the national stage. “I’m just really excited for the kids and I’m very confident," he said. "If there are two words to describe me it is ‘excited’ and ‘confident’.