While the best of the big boys and girls were running and jumping across the state to reach the upcoming UIL state track and field championships, some of the Southeast Texas’s best young track athletes were on display Saturday morning at the Texas Stallions first ever AAU meet at Tomball Concordia Lutheran.
Nearly 15 of the youth track and field programs and about 400 athletes from across Southeast Texas were on hand for races and field events for ages five to young adult.
ut this meet was strictly a practice meet, more about athletes’ times, heights, and distances than actual heats and elimination rounds where an ultimate champion was crowned.
“This is a meet that is really about their development,” Texas Stallions’ president Lavoxkeia Carnes said. “We’re still pretty early in the season, so this meet is about trying to improve your mark from last year all leading up to the national qualifier. We’re trying to help them improve what they’ve already done and also get to those bigger meets later in the year like the Junior Olympics, which are in August in (Humble).”
The Stallions, which were formed in 2009, has had meets around the Spring-Klein area for a couple of years now, but had never gone as far north -- despite their northside presence -- as Tomball before. Carnes said it was time for that to change.
“We wanted to make the community aware of our program and we always want to get more kids involved,” she said. “So when we’re able to hold a meet like this, which is a pretty good sized meet, in a new community, we feel like it shows what we do and what we’re all about.
“I’ve been shocked in the time we’ve been out here at how many people don’t know there are youth clubs available out here for track. So hopefully we’re gaining that exposure and we’ll get some young athletes out here who want to be part of our program.”
The other two clubs from the northside who competed were the Sonics, which practice at Klein High School, and the Jets, who work out around the Spring area as well.
The Sonics have been around for two decades and going strong, according to head coach Kenneth Jackson.
“We do quite well,” Jackson said, adding the Sonics have 12 to 15 volunteer coaches who put in a lot of time with the young athletes. “We average anywhere from 85 to 100 kids every year and we usually average 16 or 17 medals coming out of nationals every year, so we’re very proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish and we feel like we’ve got a pretty good group.
“We focus more on developing the kid and not so much trying to win. We try to focus on the fundamentals of track. And we try to get them to enjoy the sport as well. We try to identify what our kids are better at doing whether it’s jumping, or sprints or short sprints or hurdles or whatever it is and then we try to focus in on getting them participating in that, because they’ve shown a skill there and have a chance to be successful.
“But we’ve just been very blessed to have a lot of kids that have developed into a pretty good track athlete that is capable of winning and we’re fortunate to have good coaches to work with them.”
He said the Sonics also hold a skill session early in the spring and summer season to look at the kids and then make suggestions on what direction the child should probably take to do well in track.
“Everybody comes in thinking they’re a sprinter,” Jackson said, smiling. “But sometimes that’s just not the case. So we’ll make suggestions to the parents and the kids on what we think would be best for the kid or kids and we go from there. But there’s a lot to look at like -- do they have speed? Can they go over the hurdles. Do they have endurance? Those are the kinds of things you need to see as a coach so you can make suggestions, so we feel like that skill session is a very important part of their development.”
To show just how the accent was really on pre-middle school athletes, they competed in five different divisions -- Primary, Midgets, Midgets-and-up, Sub-youth, and bantam -- with everyone in one race in their age group. The same format was also followed in the field events.