A program that sends one athlete to the Junior Olympics could be considered impressive. A program that sends 38 is exceptional. Two weeks ago, the East Palo Alto Greyhounds track program sent 38 athletes to New Orleans, LA to compete in the Junior Olympics.
Greyhounds’ athletes of all ages competed in New Orleans. They ranged from the 9-10 year old Bantams all the way up to the 17-18 year olds. During the Junior Olympics competition, black and green Greyhounds jerseys could be found in a variety of events as well, ranging from the open javelin to the decathlon competitions.
Wille Teo-Clifton led the way with a first place finish in the javelin for the youth boys (13-14) division.
Heading into the the competition, coach Eric Stuart had high hopes for his program, expecting big performances from all 38 athletes. Stuart pointed out 16 year old JD Elzie, 16 year old Micha Auzenne, and the entire midget boys (11-12) age group as exceptional competitors.
Elzie was ranked eighth in the nation for his age group in the 100 Meters heading into the competition, having posted a time of 10.70, according to
“JD Elzie is a beast,” Stuart said just before making the trip, “He is looking to have an excellent finish in the 100, 200, and long jump where he has been a top contender all season.”
Stuart also expected Auzenne to make a splash in a variety of events especially the septathlon.
“Micha is probably our most talented and versatile athlete,” Stuart said
The midget boys age group (11-12) has torn up local track meets all year. As a team they placed first in the Pacific Association Championships on June 12. The 4x100 team, comprised of Jordan Mims, Brandon Bains, Darien Elzie and Jovon Johnson was ranked 37th in the nation heading into the competition with a time of 52.25. Coach Stuart also described Nick Anderson Jr. as a “sleeper” in the 80 Meter hurdles.
Also in the midget age group, Terrance Murphy competed in the shotput, discus and javelin, Tyler Foster competed in the 100M, 200M and the long jump. Marcae Oliver competed in the 4x800 and the 1500, Jordan Bains competed in the 4x400, 4x800, and the open 800 and Kabir Arora competed in the high jump.
Thirteen year old Aishah Ahmad was a contender for the 200M crown. She was nationally ranked heading into the competition with a personal best of 25.93. In 2008 Ahmad won the 200M at the Hershey’s Track and Field Championships. According to Stuart, Ahmad also posted a 12.62 in the 100M. For comparison, the girls’ varsity 100M champ for the Peninsula Athletic League ran a 12.97.
Stuart’s son, Eric Stuart Jr. was a contender in the sub-bantam triathlon.
While its athletic achievements are outstanding, the Greyhounds organization is also focused on helping its athletes succeed beyond the track. Coach Stuart emphasizes dedication in the classroom as well as on the playing field. While Greyhounds athletes have the opportunity to compete at an extremely high level athletically, they are also pushed to be exemplary students.
Along with their development as student-athletes, Greyhounds athletes have developed a certain pride in representing their city and their organization.
“These kids have learned to love the team name that they wear across their jerseys,” Stuart said. “Last year at the Junior Olympics we were referred to as ‘the green team from Northern California..’ After we leave New Orleans, because of the training [we did] this summer, they will leave saying, “That's the East Palo Alto Greyhounds,’” Stuart said.
As a team, the Greyhounds have a new swagger and despite only one athlete earning a top eight finish, the youth track and field world should no longer have any trouble recognizing those Greyhounds Jerseys.
Updated Thursday, August 16, 2011
To contact the author of this article, Alistair Thompson, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.