McKinley Lewis (left), Joel Denley, Jaiden Denley, Robert Saunders, Rob Saunders have qualified for the AAU Nationals. Tammy McKinley/The Enterprise Photo: TAMMY MCKINLEY / BE
As husband and wife coaching duo Jeff and Patricia Hulon monitor their runners in the Beaumont-based track club, the B.T. Striders, they're constantly seeking out each competitor's strongest race.
For 12-year-old Jaiden Denley and 10-year-old McKinley Lewis, two runners who reached the AAU Junior Olympics last year in the 400-meter run, that has translated into running longer distances.
Denley and Lewis are two of six B.T. Striders runners who will run in this year's AAU nationals Aug. 1-6 in New Orleans. And this time, both Denley and Lewis will compete in the 800. Three of the other four runners, 17-year-old Allante Green, 13-year-old Robert Saunders and 10-year-old Rob Saunders, will compete in the 3,000-meter run while 10-year-old Joel Denley will run the 1,500.
"Everybody wants to run the 100, but not everybody has the leg-turnover speed for that," Patricia Hulon said. "Some people have the wind for distance and they do well, so your job as a coach is to find out what is what. Do they have the quickness as a sprinter or do they have the longevity? Some of these kids get in situations where, 'Wow, I think I like that race.' "