The Southeast Striders Track and Field Club of Covington will send three of its 10 athletes to the Jr. Olympic Nationals in Houston, Texas beginning July 21 through July 27.
After qualifying for nationals at the USA Track and Field (USATF) Jr. Olympic Regionals in Rockhill, South Carolina, competing against teams from Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, the following athletes will head to nationals:
Benjamin Kennedy (18, son of BJ Kennedy) third place in the javelin throw.
Younger Burton (10) fourth place in the shot put.
Demarshae Travis (13) fifth place in the long jump.
Head coach BJ Kennedy said that his team did well in the competition. Of the three who qualified for nationals Kennedy said, “They did their best to get where they need to be. They did good.”
This is Benjamin Kennedy’s last year competing in the junior olympics. Benjamin Kennedy is attending Troy University on a scholarship after graduating high school at the age of 17. Benjamin Kennedy who also qualified to compete in the triple jump and the long jump, sustained a foot injury preventing him from competing at regionals.
“He qualified for the long jump and the triple jump. He had a foot injury and he couldn’t get it well, so he couldn’t jump,” BJ Kennedy said. “He threw just enough to get to third place out of seven guys in the javelin.”
When asked how if Benjamin Kennedy was disappointed in not being able to compete, BJ Kennedy said, “Yeah, he was. The last time he was a national in all three was 2011. I was a little disappointed also, but we’re making it. He made it in [javelin], so we’ll see how he does against the other USATF state/regional qualifiers.”
Benjamin Kennedy also serves as a coach on the staff with Angelynn Kennedy, Erica Pace and Akila Murray. Benjamin has helped coach Travis en route to his trip to nationals this year.
“He’s still a kid, but he’s good at what he does,” BJ Kennedy said of his son coaching.
Travis is new to track and field, but BJ Kennedy thinks he has a bright future.
“This is his first year and he really did a good job. He has a long way to go, but he did a good job. He tried in the 100-meter. He did a good job, but he didn’t qualify for nationals,” BJ Kennedy said. “He qualified from state to [go to regionals] in the 100-meter and the long jump. He just made it in the long jump against some good jumpers.”
Burton isn’t new to track and field, but she’s coming off a long hiatus from competing with the Striders.
“She was with me when she was five and ran, but she stopped for some years,” BJ Kennedy said. “She came back at nine going on 10. She’s been improving every time she throws. She’s been really good. She threw her best throw. She really did really well.”
According to BJ Kennedy, both Burton and Travis can do great things if they stick with the sport.
“These two young athletes, I’m looking forward to them contributing and move up in track and field for the next couple years,” BJ Kennedy said. “If they stay they’re going to be really good.”