By TJ Millman
As customers walked in and out of ACE Hardware in Milford this past Monday, they were greeted by two smiling faces and a dedicated mother. The two little faces belonged to Jada and Aiyanna Newsome, sisters at Benjamin Banneker Elementary, raising money for their trip to Michigan to compete in track and field at the AAU Junior Olympics.
Jada and Aiyanna first went to a district qualifier at Millersville University where the top 16 athletes advanced, and moved on to the regional qualifier at Richard Stockton College in New Jersey. At Regionals, only the top 6 for running events and top 5 for track events advance. Jada, 10 years old, qualified for the long jump and the 4×1 relay. Aiyanna, 8 years old, qualified for the 4×1 relay as well.
The girls started doing track a year ago after seeing a video of their mother, ’04 Milford grad Roteasha Newsome, running track when she was in high school.
“I showed them a film of me running track from when I was younger, and they said that they wanted to do it too. My dad found out about this team last year, and we decided to give it a try. The girls absolutely loved it, and I’m glad they do,” she said.
The two girls run for Delaware Elite Track Club, a team that meets across Delaware in Dover, Smyrna, and Newark. The team was the 2017 recipient of the USA Track and Field Mid-Atlantic Youth Club of the Year. Jada and Aiyanna run out of the Dover location under coaches Carol and Anwar Dyer.
Jada said she was as surprised as anyone by how quickly she took to track and field. “I started last year, and then
I got better this year. I did not know that I was going to make it this far, and I am very excited to go and get to do long jump. Long jump is my favorite event,” she said.
She also described her game day routine that she goes through before each event. “First, I stretch by myself. Then, my mom helps me to stretch my legs and I get ready with my coaches. My coaches help me work on my starts and my sprints, and then I am ready for my race,” Jada said.
The AAU Junior Olympics started in 1967 in Washington DC with 2 sports and 523 athletes. Today, it is host to over 20 sports and over 16,000 participants. Jada and Aiyanna will represent Milford and Delaware against all of the United States as well as US Territories.
Both girls were very excited, and it was clear that they are most excited just for the thrill of competition. They said that their favorite part of track and field is not the winning or recognition, it was simply getting to run. The track and field events will be held at Eastern Michigan University from July 29-August 5. Cheer on Jada and Aiyanna as they go for gold against the best in the country.
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