Runners representing Douglas County finished strong in the 2011 statewide track meet, breaking records and raising the bar for next year’s meet.
Runners for Douglas County Parks and Recreation and the E-1 Track Club competed against Cherokee, Cobb and Paulding counties May 6 and 7 during the Georgia Recreation and Park Association’s Hershey Track and Field Class “A” Meet. This year’s meet was held in Augusta.
E-1 is a Douglas County Track Team and is a private club separate from Douglas County Parks and Recreation. The club becomes a county-sponsored team when competing at the state level, said E-1 Track Club Head Coach Jean Williams.
Eight-year-old Nacari Williams of Douglasville was among the runners who took home first place in the 50-meter race and finished third in the 100-meter race, breaking county records for both. An unattached athlete, Williams ran with the Douglasville Parks and Recreation Team.
“It is fun, and I want to follow in the footsteps of my big sister,” said Williams, who attends , in referencing her sister Uyriah Lucas, who was the 2006 Amateur Athletic Union’s 400-meter national champion. “I liked the 50-meter. I get to the finish line faster.”
Placing third in the 100-meter dash and seventh in the long jump was E-1 Track Club member Tyler Simpson, 7, of Lithia Springs. As a first-year athlete, Simpson said she’ll continue to run this summer.
“I love it. I love running,” said Simpson, who attends Colonial Hills Christian Academy. “I want to make it to the Junior Olympics this year.”
This year was Douglas County’s third time participating as a county in the Georgia Recreation and Park Association. Before 2009 athletes had to qualify through a bordering county.
“My daughter and son, for example, have participated with Cobb since 2003,” she said. “Others have gone to Paulding, Fulton, Carroll, Carrollton, Marietta, Hiram, Atlanta and Smyrna.”
Any athlete is invited to participate in Douglas County and do not have to belong to a club.
“Athletes have to participate in the county where they live if the county/city has an agency participating in the GRPA championships,” Williams said.
Participating in the track club has changed the lives of several of its participants, including 13-year-old Andreyah Felder, said her father Andre. Andreyah, who lives in Douglasville, placed fifth in the shot put competition.
“She used to be a coach potato. She used to sit on the couch in front of the television with snacks and the laptop,” Felder said. “She is a very humble child and even with her hard work and her constantly improving marks, she is still surprised that she is winning medals and that she made it from county to district to state."
Andreyah, a student and E-1 Track Club member, is surprised with her own results.
“Not only am I more fit and more tone, I have lost weight,” she said. “Coach Vaughn always says, ‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard.’ I now understand what it means.”