Track generic

Tribe Elite Athletics had 10 Elmore County athletes recently qualified for the USA Track and Field Junior Olympic National Championships across 16 individual and relay events. Over the past two months, these athletes accomplished this by competing through a circuit of qualifying track meets in Alabama and Mississippi during June and July. 

In late July, some of the National Championship qualifiers traveled to compete in Sacramento, California elevating themselves amongst the nation’s top youth track and field athletes. Those who recently traveled across the country for this competition include Elmore County sophomore Reece Baker, Wetumpka freshmen Gavan Baxley and Logan Weighall and Wetumpka seventh-grader Grant Weighall. 

“Each of these athletes have extraordinary potential, in fact all those affiliated with our club do,” Tribe Elite coach Rob Weighall said. “This stems primarily from the above average commitment and discipline these athletes have developed within themselves. Identifying like-minded athletes ready to achieve beyond average is our goal, and opening pathways for them to find new and excited environments to compete in. 

“And we’ll see that grow in the coming years and those who chose to compete in this year’s National Championship this year gained immeasurable experiences. The perspective they gained experiencing the athletic caliber required to compete on a national stage brings a new mental toughness to their local training knowing their future competition is out there, somewhere else in the country, working just as hard.”

Baker defended his exceptional national ranking in two events, the 400 and 400 hurdles. Baker ended his season as the 13th fastest 400 hurdler in the country for 15-16-year-olds.

Gavan Baxley tested his will against the country’s best 13-14-year-old endurance runners in the 3,000, finishing as a national top-30 freshman two-milers. Logan Weighall took a deep-south challenge to an amazing group of West-Coast Half-Milers in the 800, also finishing as a national top-30 freshman half-miler. Grant Weighall exemplified his unique 11-12-year-old arm strength finishing as the 19th best junior-high javelin thrower in the U.S.

“We recognize and appreciate those in our local communities who coached these athletes throughout the year in their school environment to enabling these youth to extend their season and be in a position to reach for higher goals,” coach Weighall said. “In fact, most of those in our club this summer had no idea a national-level stage was accessible to these athletes. So, kudos to the parents and local high school coaches for trusting the process and helping to create an environment for these young adults to achieve more.”

Representing the 2019 Tribe Elite Athletics Club National Championship Team was Baker, Baxley, Haley Bethea, Colby Golson, Taylor Gunn, Jalen Johnson, Rhett Pinkston, Amelia Nettles, Grant Weighall and Logan Weighall. Honorable mention should also be given to Elmore County’s Zephaniah Edwards, 18, and Wetumpka’s Harley Birthday, 13, and Chasity Elliott, 15, who achieved Southeast Region top-performance finishes.

“At the beginning of July, we had 13 athletes compete in the USA Track and Field Region 6 Championships that pitted athletes from Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama each other,” coach Weighall said. “Not surprisingly, we were very pleased that each of our athletes placed as Top-10 Region Finalists. And of course, it was ultra-exciting to watch as 10 members of our club earned top-five finishes — and making them eligible to compete in the National Championships.”

Tribe Elite Athletics was launched in June 2019, only two months ago with 18 athletes taking a chance and exploring their track and field abilities beyond the local level. The club was originated actually out of a USATF requirement for relay teams to compete in that circuit. And the additional athlete interest evolved from word-of-mouth by those looking to compete individual events on the national-level circuit sponsored by USA Track and Field.

Caleb Turrentine is a sports writer for Tallapoosa Publishers Inc.