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Local runners prepare for AAU Junior Olympics in track and field

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Soon after Talaya Lewis learned how to walk, she discovered something even better: running.

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Twelve-year-old Talaya Lewis (right) runs with 13-year-old Cordaijah McBride at Butler High School. Lewis will compete in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dash at the Junior Olympics.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Twelve-year-old Talaya Lewis (right) runs with 13-year-old Cordaijah McBride at Butler High School. Lewis will compete in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dash at the Junior Olympics.

Lewis, now 12 years old, hasn’t really stopped running for too long since. She’s just one member of the Augusta Flyers Track Club to quality for the AAU Junior Olympic Games for track and field at Eastern Michigan University from July 27-Aug. 3 in Ypsilanti, Mich. Lewis will compete in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter dash.

“She was always running,” Lewis’ mother, Shatonya Abrams, said. “It started when she was little. She ran through the house. She wouldn’t walk; she would run.”

Abrams is often there at events, watching her daughter, wanting to record the action. But she realized she needed someone else to do it for her. Her nerves made it difficult to stay steady.

But Lewis, whose national qualifier time of 26.04 seconds in the 200-meter dash is third in the nation for recorded results for her age group, will be joined by more than a few Augusta Flyers members.

There’s 9-year-old Langston McCovery, who runs the 100-meter dash. And there’s Natosha Jordan, a 15-year-old high jump and 100-meter hurdles qualifier.

Another Flyer, 15-year-old Justin Green, is strong in the 400-meter dash and javelin areas.

“I started when I was about 12. The reason I started was, everybody at school kept saying I was fast. I wasn’t sure,” Green said. “I went out and tried it, and didn’t do well. But then I picked up AAU. In eighth grade, I picked up progress.”

Club coach Charles Thompson said the athletes benefit from competing by not only getting outside away from television and video games, but from the camaraderie and the chance to travel.

Besides that, Thompson can also look further into the future.

“There’s real good value – it keeps them busy,” Thompson said. “And it’s an easier way to get a scholarship to college, if they can get the grades.”

Along with Thompson, another coach, Alex Gibson, likes seeing the day-to-day growth each child can make.

“For me, it’s about seeing them improve, when you see that smile on their face.”


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