Local athletes begin quest for gold medals at AAU Junior Olympics
By DOUG GORMAN
Not all track and field athletes are going for Olympic gold this summer in London.
Medals are also at stake in Humble, Texas when the AAU Junior Olympic Track and Field meet gets underway today.
The event will run for the next week and feature athletes as young as eight and as old as 18 competing in several different track and field events and age divisions.
For the three members of the Quinn family, it will be a busy week. Samuel Quinn is expected begin his quest for a medal when the triathlon begins this morning at 8 a.m. in one of the first events of the week-long schedule. He will also compete later this week in the 800- and 1,500-meter runs.
Josiah Quinn, 9, will take to the track in the 1,500-meter race walk and the triathlon later today. Older brother Ryan Quinn will compete in the 3,000-meter race walk Sunday at noon and the javelin later this week.
Both Josiah and Ryan have excelled in the race walking since taking it up last year, and they head to Texas after setting national marks during AAU Junior Olympic qualifiers.
Scott Quinn, their father and coach, a Naval Academy graduate, knows his family has a bright future in track and field.
“It might just pay their way to college some day,” he said.
Heritage School's Chase Parker gets her quest for gold started this morning when she competes in the heptathlon.
Held over two days, the heptathlon combines the 100-meter hurdles, the 200-meter run, the long jump, javelin and the 800-meters.
Parker overcame a knee injury this spring to help her high school track and field team make it to the GISA state meet, and is excited about competing in the multi-sport event at the AAU Junior Olympics. The rising senior at Heritage School also made the trek to the Junior Olympics last year even though she only trained for the heptathlon for a few weeks.
“I really didn’t know what I was doing,” she said. “I really didn’t have too much time to train, so I went out there and just did my best.”
Northgate juniors Hailey Gollnick and Kemoy Anderson will also be in Texas this week.
Anderson will run in the 100-meter dash Monday afternoon and the 200-meter dash on Tuesday. The Lady Viking sprinter who hopes to be a doctor someday, is making her fourth trip to the AAU Junior Olympics as a member of the Quad City Striders Track Team out of Fayetteville.
“I just like improving and getting better each year,” she said.
Anderson is expected to compete in Friday’s 400 relay after finishing third among a Quad City Strider foursome last year.
Gollnick, a standout cross country runner and two-time Coweta County Championships winner heads to Texas with hopes bringing home the gold medal in 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs. It is her first trip to the AAU Junior Olympics.
Gollnick, who also runs cross country in the fall, as been competing at some level of track for five years and is excited about this opportunity.
“I compete a lot harder now than when I did back then,” she said.
Rising East Coweta freshman Courtlen Burke is heading to the Junior Olympics to compete in 400- and 800-meter runs. Burke’s 800-meter race is set for Wednesday afternoon, while the 400-meter race will be held on Friday.
Burke set several Coweta County records as a member of Lee Middle School’s track and field program the past two years. The future East Coweta Indian hopes his training schedule turns into gold.
“I jump ropes and ride a stationary bike,” he said. “I have tried to get my workouts in early because I don’t know how hot it is going to be when I get out there.”