Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Titans send 19 to track Junior Olympics

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The Germantown-based Montgomery County Titans Track Club will send 19 athletes to the AAU Junior Olympics at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, July 30-Aug. 4.

The event differs from the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics, held this week in Walnut, Calif., in that it is not strictly for track and field but will provide a true Olympic atmosphere, featuring the best in all 23 sports the AAU offers.

The Titans earned their spots at the national tournament by performing well at AAU-sanctioned Junior Olympic qualifiers throughout the summer season. There are six age groups, for both boys and girls, to compete in — young, intermediate, youth, midget, bantam and sub-bantam. The Junior Olympics will feature about 50 of the nation’s top athletes in each event and each age group.

‘‘Qualifying for AAU Junior Olympics is a major accomplishment,” Titans coach Dave Knight said. ‘‘This is the cream of the crop, the top athletes in the United States. It’s a big deal.”

Knight and wife Alexia started the Titans three years ago and have sent athletes to the prestigious event each year. And their young charges have done well on the big stage — Titans have finished in the top eight of their events in each of the last three years.

Last year, Olivia Ekpone, who qualified for four events in the youth girls category (ages 13-14), broke the 100-meter dash record, becoming the fastest girl in history in her age division.

‘‘Everyone wants to win everything,” Knight said. ‘‘But to be at that level ... we just want to get there and perform. I think all these athletes can do real well.”