Obviously a National Championship includes power population states such as California, Texas, Florida, Illinois, and so forth. From what I’ve observed, Olympic athletes are many of the standouts who also competed at the Junior Olympic level. So when we report that Cameron Downey of Track MN Elite got second place in the discus, and fifth place in the shot put, we are really talking about truly stunning feats. Add to that the consistently stunning national performances by sprinter Elise Anderson of Track MN Elite – this year placing sixth in the 100m and fourth in the 200m – with a breakout sixth place finish in the high jump by Taylor Anderson, and you have the seeds of a track juggernaut that all the populous states are forced to recognize.
It would be different if there were only those three highlights for the overall performance by Track MN, but they accomplished much more. The level of AAU All-American means that a competitor placed in the top eight within a given event. All-American Honorable Mentions were given out to Track MN youth for placing in the top 20 nationally --remember we’re talking about thousands of competitors. Along with the three All-Americans, Track MN honored eight other athletes for All-American Honorable Mention (names listed at the end of this article).
The high variation of events in which Track MN athletes achieved top 20 placement within, tells a track enthusiast that the team has National Championship potential. Many track programs don’t have diversity in specialization to offer thorough success in field events, sprinting events, and distance events, and prefer to concentrate their specialization on one of those three areas. Track MN takes a strong broad approach, and this approach lends itself to national championship level track teams.
And though the team has a strong contingent of professional, affectionate, and stern coaches, it is easy to see that it is the holistic system that they apply, that raises the performance of all the children under their watch. At their recent 10-year anniversary banquet, the image that dominated was that of the bright, healthy, engaged, and intelligent smiles that the diverse group of youth possesses. As you get older one of the most comforting and hopeful things you can see is a group of kids on the right track (pun mildly intended). The holistic approach of Track MN not only teaches technical mastery of events, but also passionately maintains concern for the child’s overall health and educational success. The young athlete’s network of caring parents, provides an abundance of hard, but rewarding work, in order to bring the whole picture of success together. The results are undeniable, and where the team travels, they are known.
Track MN carried a team of 65 youth this year, and judging by the strength and breadth of the coaches, the team can and will handle further growth in the near future; that is to say, they have plenty of room for additional children that the readers may know. The opportunities to travel, the focus on health and education, and the influence of a large group of kids “on the right track”, are game changers for any child’s outlook, and future success in life.
As for the outlook on Track MN Elite as a whole: the vision of a team from Minnesota trumping all the teams from warm weather climates and populous regions, is the type of thought that stirs the American celebration of the underdog coming out on top. Though when you see the strength of this group of children, you know that you are not looking at underdogs, but elite, youthful, conquerors. Congratulations is due to the institution of Track MN for 10 years of consistently providing an opportunity that is welcoming to all youth, and determined to provide the foundations of successful youth development through simply showing kids big and small how to properly run through life.
Track MN All-American Honorable Mentions Awarded to: Bridget Amoako, Mitchell Dickerson, Hunter Downey, Jeremy Duruji, Sidreshia Floyd, Shaheed Hickman, Niara Hill and Shane Ringkob.