Area track and field athletes will travel to North Carolina for the AAU Junior Olympics.
Members of the LL Elite track and field team will head to Greensboro, North Carolina, July 26 to Aug. 1 as the top youth athletes from around the country compete in the next edition of the summer games.
This is the third year that the LL Elite team is heading to the Junior Olympics.
Head coach Johnny Barnett-Haines said he is excited to see how the team will go and perform.
“I’m very excited,” Barnett-Haines said. “We got some good athletes going and have a promising chance to make all-American at our third Junior Olympics. So we are very excited to go down there to see how they will do and perform.”
The team coached by Barnett-Haines and Amina Agboga will send athletes with previous experience and newcomers with the different events and age ranges.
Barnett-Haines said the biggest difference between club and high school track is how long meets last.
“Club is just a little bit rougher,” Barnett-Haines said. “Just because it lasts so long. We start at 7 a.m. and can last up to 5-7 p.m. So it’s just a longer day because you are running with younger and older kids. So it is a little bit challenging where to map it all out at the meet.
“It’s a little bit more difficult time-wise and everyone is a little bit more tired than they are in high school. And it is the summer so it is hotter.”
The coach said there are lot of new kids making the Junior Olympics in their first year.
He said there are also a few coming in with previous experience at the meet.
He said he thinks the team is excited.
“I think they’re very excited,” he said. “The times are fast and hard. But I think they’ve been performing very good with times we’ve seen. So I think they’re going to do good and surprise themselves up there.
Michael Harris, Jessie Wilson and Dhakiya Blake are all excited to travel with the team.
Blake said she is excited just to get out of Kansas and meet new people.
Wilson said they are excited to make it back for the third year in a row with the young athlete running in the 100, 200 and 400.
Michael Harris has traveled around the country already with this team but this will be his first trip to North Carolina.
The shot put and discus thrower is hoping to finish on the podium.
“(I’m) coming in ranked pretty high,” Harris said. “So I am hoping to finish on the podium.”
For the coach, he said he is looking forward to how the team can do nationally.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the throwers that have a chance to make the top eight,” Barnett-Haines said. “We have some girl sprinters that can make the top eight. We have a really good girls’ relay team ranked No. 15 in the nation. They can really make it. So I am just really looking to see what they can do against this type of competition. It’s national after doing really good at local and regional meets.”