Tomorrow’s local track and field stars are lighting up the track today.
Baldwin County Recreation Department track coach Barry Havior and his Jets trained hard this season, and that hard work coupled with the young runners’ skills produced a lot of hardware for the competitors.
Havior bestowed a big honor on this year’s crop of elementary and middle school talent saying, “This is one of the best track teams I’ve ever coached. The reason I say that is we’ve been to maybe eight meets and just dominated. The kids are so in-tune with what’s going on.”
Recreation league track may not have the popularity that team sports like baseball, softball, or basketball have across the state, but numbers are definitely not a problem in Baldwin County. The Jets’ participation numbers often dwarf that of their competition, which speaks volumes to the number and level of young athletes there are in the local community. “Coach Barry” as the kids call him says that many have bright futures ahead of them as long as they stick with the program.
“These kids here — and I’m not talking about just one, I’m talking about maybe 15 or 20 — if they excel in this track thing, keep their grades up, and stick with it, a lot of these kids will be like some of my former students that are on college scholarship now,” he said.
The Baldwin County Jets don’t have to wait for that success because they’ve already experienced plenty of it at both the district and state levels as well as at other big meets. Many Jets advanced to compete at state in May, and eight girls can now call themselves state champions thanks to their performances. Leading the way in the 13-14 age group was 13-year-old Krishiya Veal, who was crowned state champion in the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Veal earned another title as a member of Baldwin County’s 4x400 relay team as she was joined by Josefa Tchamma, Jasmine Williams and Danka Biyogmam. Williams also earned herself an individual state championship by winning the one-mile race.
Like Veal in the 13-14 division, 8-year-old Tya Seals had a very strong showing in the 7-8 age group. She placed first in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes at state and went on to help the 4x100 relay team to a state title as well. Seals was joined by Yana Bhalodwala, Kaylee Blount and Zion Clark in taking the top podium spot in the short relay.
As a team, the Jets excelled at this season’s North Georgia Youth Track League championship that was held over the course of three events. Havior expects the team to excel again next year since most of the kids won’t yet have to move up in age group. That, coupled with great parent support, has Havior really looking forward to the future.
“Having this kind of support and team makes me want to come back for another year,” he said. “Three years ago I was very discouraged with the support from parents, so I was ready to throw in the towel. But with these kids here I'm more than glad to roll out the red carpet to get these kids to come back for next year.”