The Valdosta Daily Times
This past weekend the Hype Blazer Track Club competed in the AAU Region 9 Qualifier at Bishop Snyder High School, in Jacksonville Fla. Track and field performers who finish in the top eight in running events, and those who finish in the top five in field events advanced to the AAU Junior Olympics in Des Moines, Iowa, from July 26 – Aug. 2.
In continuing their outstanding performance from the District Qualifier in Tallahassee, Fla., two weeks ago, the Hype Blazer Track Club proved that “blazing around the track” is more than just a catch phrase; it’s all about the hype. Every member of the team who competed this past weekend qualified to move forward and match their skills against the best AAU track athletes around the nation.
“I cannot express enough how proud I am of our young men and women,” said coach Trudell Hiller, adding that “one month ago they all set their sights on Des Moines; they committed to our program, they worked hard, and then they went out and performed. I have always said that success is a by-product of hard work, and hard work is a by-product of commitment.”
Well the Hype Blazers proved Hiller’s philosophy to be true.
Leading the way for the Blazers this weekend was Gabrielle Thomas, a rising senior from Northampton, Mass., who chose to spend her summer honing her track skills here in Valdosta. Thomas will advance to the Junior Olympics in four events — women’s long jump and 200-meter dash (first place), women’s triple jump (second place) and women’s 100-meter dash (third place).
“Prior to this past weekend, I had no real idea of what Gabby could really do,” said Hiller. “While observing her work habits, and attention to detail during practice, I could see that she had some special skills.”
Another four-event performer who had an outstanding weekend was Jaylen Hiller, a two-event state champion athlete from Valdosta’s Highland Christian Academy. Hiller advances in the men’s long jump and 110-meter hurdles (third place), the 400-meter hurdles (fourth place), and the 400-meter run (eighth place).
“I am very proud of Jay, because he tried the 400-meter hurdles for the first time two weeks ago, at the district qualifier,” said coach Hiller, adding that Jay Hiller advancing to nationals in an event he’s only performed twice “is attributed to his heart, will, and determination, because Jay races in two of the most grueling races (400-meter hurdles and the 400-meter dash) in immediate succession, back-to-back.”
One two-event qualifier, Antwonisha Hill, of Cook High School, puts her skills to the test in national competition. Hill advances in the 400-meter hurdles (third place), and the 110-meter hurdles (fourth place).
“I am proud of Nisha, because she was able to overcome some physical ailments to advance in two difficult events,” said coach Hiller. “Her desires to compete and will to succeed were the driving forces behind her outstanding performances this weekend.”
Another qualifier, and star on the rise, is Wesley Robinson, who like Hiller, is a member of the outstanding Highland Christian Academy track team, and a two-event state champion. Robinson advances in the men’s 100-meter dash (seventh place).
I am excited about the future of Wesley,” said coach Hiller. “Every day I see him working harder and harder on the most delicate details of his events; those same details that could take him to the top.”
The only non-17 year old qualifier on the team who will advance to the Junior Olympics is Ezekiel Menefee. He will represent the Blazer Hype Track Club in the boy’s 14-year old high jump category. According to coach Hiller, Menefee is the ironman on the team.
“Although limited to four individual events, he wants to try them all,” Hiller said.
“Our athletes are very special on and off the track. They are all good kids that I enjoy working with, and who enjoy working with each other. The kind of camaraderie these kids have is something all coaches hope for their teams. I am fortunate because these kids get it right. They seem to have things figured out.”