AVON PARK - Champions Elite, a track and field club located in Avon Park, had 12 athletes qualify for the 2013 Junior Olympic games after excelling in the National qualifier in Jacksonville in June.
"I'm really proud of these young athletes," said Champions Elite President Reginald Knighten. "They did really well in the biggest and most pressure-packed track event they have participated in this year."
Two first-year runners set the pace for Champions Elite as Chandler Gowan and Savannah Oldfield qualified in both the 3,000 and 1,500-meter runs.
Gowan finished second in the 3,000 meter for 13 years old with a time of 11:31.23 and third in the 1,500 meter with a time of 5:13.96.
Oldfield finished first in the 3,000 meter run for 13 years old with a time of 13:44.45 and made the cut with a fifth place finish in the 1,500 with a time of 6:00.44.
Jabari Knighten, who competed in the Junior Olympics last year in Houston, Texas qualified in three events this year. Knighten has dominated throughout the season and showed no signs of slowing down as he set two personal-best times at the National Qualifier and placed first in the 400, 800, and 1,500-meter runs.
Knighten has a solid opportunity to break Junior Olympic records in the 800 and 1,500 meters in the 11 year old group.
Zoe Wortinger, in her first year, qualified with a first-place finish and a personal-best time of 6:09.78 in the 1,500 meter. She also qualified in the 800 meter with a time of 3:02.89 which was good for third.
Imani Tate also qualified in two events with a second in the shot put with a throw of 28 feet 4 inches and fourth in the discus with a toss of throw of 79 feet 4 inches.
Isabel Todd qualified as she won her age group in the 80 meter hurdles with a time of 20.65.
Dylan Davis qualified for his second consecutive Junior Olympics by finishing third in both the 800 and 1,500 meter runs with times of 2:33.78 and 5:28.63 respectively. He also qualified in the 400 meters with a fourth-place finish in 1:06.67.
Johneisha Rowe joined the group of qualifying in multiple events as she launched her way into third place in the 100 and 200 hurdles. She had a personal-best time of 33.80 in the 200 and 20.36 in the 100.
Andre Wilson, in his third year of track and field, qualified by silvering in two events. He ran a personal best in both the 800 and 1,500 meters with times of 2:41.94 and 5:32.37.
"Andre (Wilson) had a breakout season this year," said Knighten. "He came into the season motivated and focused and it has showed greatly."
Dah'Quan Braswell also qualified in two events. He placed second in the discus with a toss of 79 feet 8 inches and fifth in the shot put with heave of 28 feet 2 inches.
Warren Buckner and Jalen Knighten rounded out those that qualified for the Junior Olympics at this time.
Buckner was disqualified in the 400, but rebounded with a third in the 800 with a time of 2:08.99.
Knighten also qualified in the 800 with a personal-best time of 2:41.52.
"We had 12 of 17 athletes qualify for the Junior Olympics at Jacksonville," said Knighten. "We are excited to be sending 12 athletes at this time in our first year of existence.
The Junior Olympics are being held in Detroit, Mich., July 29 through August 3.
To help with the expenses of going to Detroit, Champions Elite will be holding several "hat drop" fundraisers at some of the local businesses in both Avon Park and Sebring.
Champions Elite will also accepting donations and sponsorships from any persons or businesses who would like to assist these young athletes in their journey to compete on the largest stage.
"These athletes have worked hard and earned the opportunity to represent our community against the best athletes around the county," Knighten said.
To assist with helping these athletes and families head to the Junior Olympics, please contact Kristi Olsen at 385-1022, Chet Brojek at firstname.lastname@example.org or Reggie Knighten at email@example.com or call 678-878-1073.
For more information on the Junior Olympics or Champions Elite, visit www.champions-elite.com.