Leader Blues

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

SPORTS>>Local girls reach nationals after strong showings at Joplin meet

By KELLY FENTON
Leader sports editor

Two Jacksonville-area athletes moved on to AAU Nationals after strong showings at the Region 8 track meet at Joplin, Mo., over the weekend.

Daijah Harris, 8, advanced to the national meet in Detroit later this month in both the 200 meter and long jump, while 18-year-old Kiara Vinson, a Jacksonville girl from North Little Rock High School, has advanced in the mile relay.

Khaila Jones, 13, briefly set a regional meetrecord in the long jump before her 15 foot, 10 ˝ inch leap was eclipsed later in the day. Jones finished second and advanced to Detroit.

The three girls are part of the NCA Elite Track Club, headed by coach Wilford Jones. The club turned in an outstanding performance by qualifying 22 of 54 harriers at the regional meet.

“We were shocked, to be honest,” said Jones, the father of University of Arkansas-bound Whitney Jones of Searcy. “Based on the times that were listed going into it, we only had a few in the top four. We really had to compete and a lot of these kids did personal bests.

“The kids really stepped up, especially in the relays, and gave it all they had.”