The dream of most young track athletes is to compete on the national stage. That goal holds true for the 115 members of the Lauderhill Cheetahs Track & Field Program, which recently competed at the 12th Annual Miramar Optimist Track Club Invitational meet at the Ansin Sports Complex in Miramar.
The meet attracted 30 South Florida teams and 1,680 competitors ranging in age from 5 to 18. A series of 14 track events and four field events were broken down into seven different age categories. The objective is to hit the qualifying standard in order to earn entry to a national competition that takes place this summer.
The Cheetahs are anticipating a road trip to the United States Track & Field Hershey Youth Outdoor Championships at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL from June 30 to July 5. All the athletes start out with the opportunity to qualify at any of the ten track and field meets during the season. With five track and field meets remaining, the Cheetahs already have a group of athletes who have earned entry to the big meet.
The Boys A and B teams both qualified in the 4x100 relay. Representing the A team were Cedrick Wyche, Javaris Robinson, Marvin Nixon and Jayden James, while the B squad consisted of Andre Barrington, Tyler Coney, Donte Randolph, and R'Tayvious Cruz. Also qualifying were members of the 7 and 8 girls 4x100 relay team of Queshanta Folks, Riniya Jean Baptiste, Kamiya Cason and Nikiriya Mickiness.
The relays continued with the 11 and 12 girls 4x100 team qualifying in a time of 54.03 led by Aaliyah Butler, Yasmin Sears, Paige PierreLouis and Destinee Burks.
Butler received first place in the 200 meters (25.92) and the 400 meters (58.71) in the girl's 11 and 12 age category. Other standout performances were Semaj Robinson's second place finish in the 5 and 6 boys long jump and Riniya Jean Baptiste taking gold in the 7 and 8 girls long jump.
Plantation High School track coach Darryl Wright has been coaching the Cheetahs for the past two years and has a simple agenda planned for the participants.
"This program has been running strong for 16 years and our job is to get the kids motivated to come out here and have fun," Wright said. "We want to be peaking towards the end of the season where we will look to have a strong showing at the national meet… I love the sport and love working with the kids."
Butler is an 11-year-old who attends Tamarac Elementary School and has been a member of the Cheetahs for two years. Besides running track she enjoys competing in gymnastics.
"I've gotten to know the people here and I've made a lot of friends which is important," Butler said. "My favorite is the 200 meter race because I like the longer distance, while still sprinting. My dream is the Junior Olympics, but I'll need to train more to become a champion."