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E-1 Race Walkers Achieve Recent Regional, National Honors

At the December 2013 USA Track and Field Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, IN, it was announced that Kelvin “K.J.” Jackson of Douglasville has been named to USATF’s National Youth Race Walk Honor Roll.

Mark, Set, Go!!!! “Take a step…Heel first…Drop the hip…Toe…Drop the hip…Take a step. Is one foot on the ground at all times? Is my leg straight throughout my stride?” These are thoughts that E-1’s Trey Jordan, Sabria, Kelvin, Nathaniel, Kennedy, Joshua, Samantha, Shelcy, Mikayla, Jeniya and most race walkers around the world have before and throughout the race, especially knowing that judges watch them the entire race to make sure they don’t bend their front leg or lose contact with the ground. After all, three fouls (one from three different judges) and they are disqualified, even if they are in the last 50m of the race. With great concentration and focus, great technique, skillful precision, speed and endurance these unsung and uncelebrated athletes achieve athletic and competitive success.

At the December 2013 USA Track and Field Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, IN, it was announced that Kelvin “K.J.” Jackson of Douglasville has been named to USATF’s National Youth Race Walk Honor Roll. This is his second consecutive year receiving this honor. Currently, he is the only Georgia Race Walker to be honored with this distinction. Kelvin’s first track and field experience began in 2012. In addition to his state, region, and district honors, he placed first at the 2013 AAU Club Nationals in Orlando. In 2012 he placed first at the USATF Junior Olympics and in 2013, he placed third; both achievements earned him the Honor Roll distinction, as well as the “USATF All-American” title. He not only is successful in the race walk, but also with the 800m, 1500m, Triathlon, high jump, and cross country. He completed his 2012 season by coming in 7th at the AAU Cross Country Championship).

Additionally, several of E-1 Track Club’s race walkers and some of the parents participated in a combined Georgia – Southeast Region Race Walk Championship hosted by USA Track and Field and the Walking Club of Georgia. The Championship was held at Campbell Middle School in Smyrna Georgia. Athletes, from ages 8 to 70, from Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina came to compete.  6 E-1 athletes and three E-1 parents competed.

Thirteen year-old, Jordan Crawford placed first in the 5000m (a little over 3.1 miles) race walk competition.  Jordan is E-1’s second most decorated race walkers. His passion in the event is second to none.   In addition to his many state, regional and district race walking achievements, Jordan is a two time AAU National J.O. Champion in the race walk, winning the events in 2010 and 2011. In 2013, he placed first in the 3000m Race Walk at AAU Club Nationals, 2nd at the AAU Junior Olympic Games, and fifth at the USATF Junior Olympics. In 2012 he placed second in the race walk at the Junior Olympic Championships.    Jordan’s love of the event drives his success. Prior to 2013, his Junior Olympic event was the 1500m race walk, but upon turning 13, he moved up to the 3000m distance. It is also important to note that Jordan is also a National medalist in the 1500m, coming in 3rd in 2012, as well as a two-time National medalist in the 800m (5th in 2011 and in 2012). Jordan also contests the high jump and long jump and has been successful in the 400m, and even the 60m dashes.  In addition to Jordan’s track and field and race walking accomplishments, he is an accomplished cross country and road race runner, as well as an accomplished basketball player.

In the USATF/Walking Club of Georgia Championship, the 1500m (0.93 miles) race walkers from E-1 were 8-year old Joshua Sleight, 10 year-old Cannon Hicks, 11 year-old Kennedy Crawford, 11 year-old Nathaniel Grimes, and 12 year-old Samantha LiPuma. In the 11-12 year-old girls race, Kennedy placed first and Samantha LiPuma was second. In the 8 and under boys’ race, Joshua Sleight finished first. Cannon Hicks finished first in the 9-10 boys age group. In the 11-12 year old boys’ race, Nathaniel Grimes finished first.

In Cannon Hicks’ first year as a race walker, he came in second at the AAU National Qualifier and managed to place first, earning him an All-American title at the AAU Club Nationals in Orlando. He also achieved a 4th place medal in the 1500m race. He also medaled at the  2012 and 2013 AAU National Cross Country Championships.

Kennedy Crawford, sister of All-American Jordan Crawford, debuted this year as a race walker. The 11 year old athlete placed 2nd at the both the AAU Club National Championship and the AAU Junior Olympic Games.

Samantha LiPuma. A newcomer to track in field in 2013 achieved an 8th place medal in the 3000m run at Club Nationals. Although she finished in top 8 in the Race Walk event, she unfortunately was disqualified.

Joshua Sleight was bitten by the track and field bug in spring of 2013; however he did not begin race walking until the Georgia Games. At that time it was easy to see that he too has the skills to pursue the sport further. At the 2013 Club Nationals he earned an 8th place medal in the 1500m race. He also medaled at the 2013 AAU National Cross Country Championship.

Eleven year old, Nathaniel Grimes is a 2012 AAU National J.O. Race Walk Champion and All American.  He had not participated in track and field until 2012, but was familiar with the sport because of his sister’s successful high school and club career as a thrower. At the 2013 Club Nationals, Nathaniel finished second in the race walk. In 2012, while watching the athletes at an Indoor Meet in Gainesville, he came to us and said he wanted to be a part of our club. During the spring, summer, and fall seasons, Nathaniel not only walked but also ran the 400m, 800m, as well as cross country, in addition to throwing the shot put.

Several E-1 parents earned medals for their participation in the 800m (1/2 mile or 2 times around the track) Mach 2 Race Walk event. Among these participants were Kellie Crawford, Lisa Lyons, and LaSharon Johnson. Although she did not participate in the USATF Regional Championship, it is important to note that Sabria Wooten placed second in the 3000m Race Walk at the AAU Junior Olympics Game in Ypsilanti, MI.

Although the race walk has been an Olympic Sport since its first appearance in 1904; it is not as well known or understood. It is a precision long distance athletic event that differentiates from running in that one foot must appear to be in contact with the ground at all times. The progression of steps involved in race walking is one where there is a moment when the heal of the front foot and the toe of the rear foot appear to be in contact with the ground at the same time, meaning that before the race walker takes the rear foot off the ground, their front heel must make contact with the ground.  To complicate matter, the advancing leg must be straightened, not bent at the knee, from the moment of first contact until it is in the vertical position. In order to achieve competitive speeds, athletes must also attain cadence rates comparable to those of 400 meter runners. A spectator once noted that the race walk is Michael Jackson’s moonwalk in reverse, revved up and put into turbo speed.  Since most have seen, and some even experienced, the moonwalk, imagine how it looks.

E-1 Track Club is very diverse in its events and one of the events it cultivates is race walking. Its athletes currently contest every event except the hammer, the weight throw, and the pole vault. It is a club for most athletes and is not afraid to train athletes in all events at all levels—from developmental to elite. Coach Vaughn, Head Coach, states, “I like the challenge of molding athletes and having athletes not only recognize their potential, but also realize their potential, regardless of the event.” When asked if this applies to race walking, he notes, “We have some walkers who are developmental, some who are competitive and some who are either elite or rising elite; regardless, most are very good.” He goes on to note, “We take them where they are and provide them with skills and opportunities. I believe that hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard. Our athletes work hard, no matter the event.” Many of E-1’s Race Walkers have innate ability, technical skill, and dedicated training.

Thanks to teams like South Texas Walking Club and Georgia’s Savannah Chatham Cheetahs and Douglasville’s own E-1 Track Club, the number of youth Race Walkers continues to expand. There was once a time that spectators would only see a few race walkers in meets; however, this past year at one meet in Georgia, over one hundred race walkers came out. Granted, mainly to gain points, but the fact still resides that they came out and gave the event a try. At the AAU District 8 National Qualifier, 60 athletes contested the race walks. E-1 started off three years ago with four race walking medals, including one National Champion, Jordan Crawford. The Club now claims among its 60 national medals, 25 national race walking medals, including five All Americans who among them have achieved six individual race walking National Championships. South Texas even has implemented a race walking curriculum in its elementary physical education program. Georgia will soon be joining the rank with over fifty schools already signed up to be a part of this initiative, thanks to Jim Norvill, National Race Walk Coach and Official, who chairs the USATf Georgia Race Walk Committee and who organizes the race walkers of the Walking Club of Georgia and when asked, has served as a consulting coach for E-1.

Although the goal of this tribute is to recognize the sport of race walking and E-1’s recent race walk achievements. It is important to note that these are only a few of E-1’s National race walk medalists. It is essential to document that unlike some teams which only concentrate on training race walkers; E-1 is a club of athletes who have been successful in all events, including the multi-events, sprints, hurdles, mid-distance, distance, throws, jumps, walks, and the steeplechase. Currently, the only events not a part of their program are the hammer and the pole vault. E-1 Race walkers have made substantial contributions to this underdog of track and field events. Three years ago when the Club began, race walking was relatively new to our area of Georgia. Coach Vaughn, E-1’s Head Coach had been successful with race walkers when he coached another team and decided to use it as a training tool as well as a competitive event. Because of his courage, many of our athletes (and some of their parents and relatives) have excelled and hence this article saluting E-1’s Race Walkers.

Some race walkers choose the event because they feel they have to if they want to compete; while others are curious and want to learn the technique or to get better all around.  It is also true that some select the sport as therapy following an injury. Some of the more novice or developmental athletes become involve as a way to get conditioned and to develop strength and or endurance; some use the technique for a great aerobic workout; and still yet some use it as a way to stay fit, especially since race walking burns more calories per mile than fitness walking or running.  Regardless of the reason, many of the race walkers on the E-1 Track Club race walk not because they have to, but because they respect the sport and the training and technique associated with it, as well as the potential opportunities.

It is important to note that not only have E-1 athletes and parents joined the race walk bandwagon; three of our parents are now USATF Association Race Walking Officials and one of the Officials serves as secretary as USATF-Georgia secretary and to the USATF-Georgia’s race walking committee. She was also honored in March 2011 as Race Walk Women of the Month and subsequently honored as Race Walk Woman of the Year. Coach Vaughn, our Head Coach, has been recognized for his race walkers’ successes and for his ability to lead a Club that is successfully diversed. E-1 begins 2014 by Walking Around, Keeping One Foot on the Ground and Keeping it Official! Mark…Set…Go! Take a step…Heel first…Drop the hip…Toe…Drop the hip…Take a step…

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