BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Going to the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Track and Field Junior Olympics is common for kids on the Florida East Coast Supersonics Track and Field Club.
This year is no exception as the team has a total of 35 kids ages six through 18 heading to this year’s event in Houston, Texas from July 30 to Aug. 4
“This is the most kids that we have ever had qualify in our programs history. Despite having a lot of newcomers we still have a good number of kids that have medaled in previous years,” said Wonzel Morris, program director.
Changes this year
The Supersonics is a 501c3 non-profit program comprised of kids from cities such as Daytona, Ormond, Holly Hill and New Smyrna Beach.
The club was previously the Daytona Beach Supersonics, which has existed since 1998.
This year the city of Daytona Beach didn’t sponsor the program because of budget issues but others stepped in to keep it going.
“With them dropping it and Fred Morrell being a city employee, he couldn’t run the team. I basically just stepped in for him. It wasn’t as challenging as a changeover for us because the most of the parents have been with the program. With the economy and budget cuts we tried to prepare for it. We just tried to survive without the face of our program who was Fred. The program was too big and popular to let fall,” Morris explained.
The Supersonics have been backed mainly by one donor who wished not to be identified.
The program has had a history of success winning numerous medals including many gold medals over the years. The program has won several gold medals in recent years as well. The group also won a total of 39 (14 gold, 16 silver, nine bronze) medals at the state meet this year.
“Our kids come back each year and many have grown up in the program. Despite having a lot of turnover we mainly just reloaded each year. We have a lot of talent in Daytona as well, which has helped us be successful,” commented Morrell.
Morris added, “I would say that our volunteer coaches have really helped our success along with the dedication and sacrifice of our kids.”
The Supersonics headed to Nationals are headlined by high school track and football stars such as Seabreeze’s Charles Nelson, 17 (long jump); Spruce Creek’s Xavier Atkins, 16 (100 and 200m dashes) and New Smyrna’s James Clark, 17 (4x100m relay).
On the boys side, some medal contenders include Kamron Lee, 12 (high jump, long jump); Deeshari Keith, 11 (long jump); DeMarcus Hampton, 13 (high jump, 100, 200); Brian Jenkins, Jr, 12 (400, 800) and Trayvon Killins, 11 (4x400m).
Some girl participants expected to compete for medals include Sanaii Gaines, 5 (4×100); Josie Gray, 15 (3,000); Alyssa Baylif, 15 (3,000, 5,000); Keniyah Smith, 11 (high jump); and Jasmyn Dorsey, 10 (100, 200, long jump).
Keeping the youngster focused at the big race may be difficult.
Morris commented, “Sanaii Gaines is the youngest we have ever had qualify for Nationals. The new kids may be intimidated by the crowd of 40,000, but I think the earlier the better because by the time they get in high school you will have experience at a high level rather than going out there fresh.”