Monday, July 29, 2013
By Chris Sokoloski
Six young Georgetown County athletes will be competing against kids from around the country next month at the Hershey’s Track and Field North American Final.
The county kids – Christopher Bryant, William Daniels, John Fraiser III, Melissa Jefferson, Toronto King and DaShawn Priest – spent months training and competing in local meets before striking gold at the state meet in Charleston last month.
Jefferson, 12, won the state long jump title with a leap of 7 feet, 2 inches.
This the second year of Hershey’s competition for the Carvers Bay Middle School student, but her first competing in the long jump.
“I kind of liked it so I stayed,” she said. “Then I got better at it.”
She’s thrilled to have an opportunity to compete at the national meet.
“It’s going to be a lot tougher than at state and at local, but I’m going to practice hard and try my best,” she said. “If I don’t get first or second or third … I’ll still be happy because I made it to Hershey.”
Daniels, 13, won the 800-meters at the state meet, posting a time of 2:24.58.
This is the third year of Hershey’s competition for the Waccamaw Middle student. He follows in the footsteps of his dad, Franklin, who competed in the Hershey’s national meet more than 30 years ago.
Daniels has been working a lot on his endurance and the mental side of competition.
“You have to mentally know that you can do it and when to push yourself and when to slow down and who to stick with,” he said.
Bryant, King, Fraiser and Priest won the 4x100 relay at the state meet.
The boys train three nights a week, working on sprints, long distances and handoffs, and increase endurance by running up and down bleacher steps.
King, 13, won the Hershey’s state title in long jump last year, when he was the only Georgetown County athlete to compete at the national meet.
The Carvers Bay Middle student said he knows the competition will be “hard,” but he’s also looking forward to having some fun.
Priest, 13, is trained by his mother, Darlene, a long-time track coach. His older brother is also a runner.
The Georgetown Middle School student liked running from the beginning.
“It’s something that I know I’ll always be able to do and I just enjoy doing it,” he said.
Bryant, 13, said running is fun.
The Carvers Bay Middle competes to help himself get better in sports like football and basketball.”
He expects the competition at the national meet to be “real hard.”
Fraiser, 14, likes to compete. It’s his second year in the Hershey program, but first going to the national meet.
“Last year we could have placed but it was already too late,” he said. “This year we placed and I’m ready to go and compete. I know we’re going to take home the gold.”
The Carvers Bay High School student said the relay team is better during competitions.
“We push ourselves a little bit harder.”
Darlene Priest is traveling to Pennsylvania to help coach the team, as is Desmond Phillips from the county’s Parks and Recreation Department, who oversees the Hershey’s program for the Eastern District of South Carolina.
More than 400,000 athletes from across the country and Canada compete in local Hershey’s Track and Field programs.
Only 480 qualify for the North American Final.