The Glenarden Track Club returned home from Humble, Texas with 60 medals won between July 21-27 at the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Championships.
The club sent 130 athletes, ranging from 8 to 18, to compete at Turner Stadium against a field of more than 9,000 of the nation's top track athletes.
Of the 60 medals, 28 were earned by first, second or third-place finishes; 32 bronze medals were also awarded to fourth, fifth and sixth-place finishers.
The performance by Glenarden has become somewhat of a summer tradition for what is now known as one of the nation's top track clubs, according to founder Lawrence Colbert Sr.
“I would say in the last 15, maybe almost 18 years, we have been so succesful,” said Colbert who also serves as one of its 31 coaches. “We've been one of the strongest clubs right now that is recognized in the United States. The Glenarden track team has gone all the way to the national championship with some of the strong clubs out of Texas like Track Houston, strong clubs out of California like the LA Jets. They're big clubs and we have been able to compete with those other clubs throughout the nation.”
Colbert said the club has been fortunate enough to have a booster club that helps fund trips all over the country.
He organized the club, originally known as the Dellwood Avenue Striders, in the summer of 1983 along with Lamont Seller, Ernest Kinard and Shannon Marshall. In 1987, it became the Glenarden Track Club. They started with six members in its first year and had more than 300 this year.
“What we do is prepare our athletes for the next level,” Colbert said. “And the next level is getting these kids into high school and track scholarships. Majority of these kids that run with us, they will receive a track scholarship when they get in.”
Kayla Collins, 10, was the club's lone individual champion last month. She won the 9-10 high jump national championship (4 feet, 9 inches). She also won silver in the triathlon.
Kaliyah Gorman, Valencia McDowell, All-Gazette first-team athlete Samantha Bowie and Vanessa Johnson won the other four gold medals in the 17-18 3,200-meter relay.
Each age group at Glenarden TC has a different set of coaches. Colbert said this helps the kids because they'll hear a different voice and have experiences with different types of coaches as they progress within the program.
Bowie recently left her previous track club to join Glenarden. Bethany White also switched clubs this year, in her last season of eligibility, to run for Glenarden and one of its coaches.
“Coach Joe Lee, he's a very active coach and he produces successful athletes,” said White, who is set to attend North Carolina Central University in the fall. “So, I honestly just wanted to go there because I wanted to drop my times and be part of a winning team. Everybody knows they won last year.”
Melvin Fields, another one of the coaches, said the team set a record with 104 medals won last year. While not as successful this time around, he said that 60 medals is still pretty good.
White won silver as part of the 17-18 400-relay team along with Shania Collins, Kyla Lewis and Zanae Freeland. Her experience following the win was a good one.
“We went through so much,” she said. “The fact that we came out second — I mean our coach was probably upset because he won so many times, but I was personally just glad of the fact that I'm finally an All-American and I had a chance to be apart of a phenomenal team.”
Before competing in the national championships, Glenarden's athletes had to qualify in the USATF Region 3 Championships in Durham, N.C.