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|Local youth shine on national track stage|
The Peak Performance Track & Field Club of Monroe had 12 local athletes qualify for the USATF National Championship meet with great performances at the Region 6 Championship in Murfreesboro, Tenn. this past weekend.
The regional meet encompassed the top athletes from Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama. The top three athletes in each event will go to the National Championships in Greensboro, N.C. from July 30-Aug. 2.
"We were real proud of our team," head coach Dennis Groll said. "When people see Peak Performance they know we are coming to take care of business. The competition was good up there. It was tougher than in years past."
Jennifer Goss, 18, of Sterlington, qualified in three events after a first-place finish in the hammer throw, a third-place in the javelin and third-place in the discus.
Goss, a ULM signee, threw the javelin 16 feet, 11 inches. She followed that with a throw of 108 feet and 10 inches in the discus.
West Monroe senior Demetri Hampton qualified for the national championships with a third place finish in the 400-meter dash. Hampton ran a blistering 48.73 seconds.
"He ran really well for us," Groll said. "He was part of three different guys who qualified in back-to-back races and really fired up our team members."
West Ouachita junior runner Jacob Heckford qualified in the 200-meter dash with a time of 1:57 and a third-place finish.
"His training regiment was fantastic," Groll said. "He had ran 1:59 before but this was his best time ever. It was just picture perfect."
Hakeem Henderson, 14, of Monroe, placed third in the 200-meter dash with a run of 23.34 seconds.
"It was a great run for a kid that age," Groll said. "He did such a good job. We are looking forward to seeing what he will do in North Carolina."
River Oaks freshman Ethan Gremillion placed first in the javelin during throws in the 13-14 year old division. Gremillion had a top throw of 107 feet and was one of two gold medal finishes for the local track club.
Chris Evans, one of the area's top young track stars, finished third in the high jump after clearing the bar at five feet, four inches on Saturday.
"He will be working real hard the next few weeks," Groll said. "The competition gets tougher as we go on and the opening jump at nationals will likely be about six feet."
Ouachita High School sophomore Xavier Davis took home second-place in the high jump after a leap of five feet and six inches.
Alexis Guice was the last qualifier for the team in Tennessee. Guice, a St. Fred student, was second in the hammer throw and third place in the shot put. She will throw in both events at the national championship meet.
Ashley Aldredge was at an international meet in Italy as part of the U.S. National team and automatically qualified for the Peak Performance club for the national meet.