Originally created 07/24/99

Heat complaints puzzle runner



WAYNESBORO, Ga. -- Lajuana Lovett can't figure out what all the fuss is about.

While everyone else complained about the sweltering temperatures at the Georgia Games track-and-field competition at Burke County High School on Friday, Lajuana said it could always be worse.

Before moving to Augusta last year and running track at Butler High School, Lajuana ran track for three years in Killeen, Texas, a small town south of Houston. She said temperatures there easily top the 100-degree mark each day during the summer.

"It's not hot here at all," Lajuana said Friday before taking part in the preliminaries of the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and the triple jump. "If they (track-and-field participants in the Games) went there, they wouldn't complain at all."

This past season, Lajuana quickly established herself as one of the top female track-and-field athletes in the Augusta area, qualifying for the state track meet, where she placed third in the triple jump. She is looking for even more success her senior season.

Lajuana was just one of 700-plus participants, ranging from ages 8 to 18, participating in the Georgia Games track-and-field competition Friday. The Georgia Games' largest participatory sport got off to a fast start. And the crowd turnout wasn't bad either, as spectators brought their umbrellas and fans to cheer on their favorite athletes.

Most of Friday's action was qualifying events, with competition continuing today and Sunday. The starting time both days will be 8 a.m.

Even though the track-and-field competition was the largest draw in this year's Georgia Games, Lajuana said Georgia has a long way to go to rival Texas in track competition.

"This is all right," Lajuana said. "Track and field is not really too big around here like it is in Texas. The state records don't even compare with state track records in Texas."

Tim Morse can be reached at (706) 823-3216.