BY COREY CUSICK THE TIMES-GEORGIAN
Larry Turner's squad cleared the state hurdle this past weekend and is now barreling full-steam ahead toward nationals.
In order to get there, the Carrollton Summer Track head coach and his athletes will have to register top-five finishes at the 2018 USATF Region 4 Junior Olympic Championships at Barron Stadium in Rome on July 5-8 to secure their spots on the national stage.
The Carrollton Parks and Recreation Department's track and field standouts had to overcome the best of the best from the state of Georgia at last weekend's association meet held on the Carrollton City Schools campus, as well as some tough conditions from Mother Nature.
Whether it was extreme heat or the daily thunderstorm, the competitors and coaches simply dealt with it and moved forward.
"The weather was up and down, but we were able to make the adjustment. The workers that we had and also the kids, they made the big adjustment to it," Turner said. "That was the good thing about it. Nobody started complaining. We just let the weather tell us what to do."
Starting the season with 92 athletes and having 84 on hand for the association meet, Carrollton pushed 49 through to the regional, which has Turner excited about potentially getting another big number on to nationals.
"It's a little bit better than half that qualified. We were looking to get all 84 of them qualified, but it was tough competition. We were running against the best kids in the state of Georgia," Turner said. "I was really proud of our effort. Going into the regional, I really think we've got a good chance. All we've got to do is put forth the effort and keep working hard."
Georgia, Florida and North Carolina will be represented at the region meet, and fortunately for Carrollton it's being held in Rome this year, allowing the team to travel back and forth each day rather than having to get hotel rooms for the week.
The USATF National Junior Olympic Championships will be held at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, North Carolina, on July 23-29 and Turner is confident there will be plenty of Black and Gold making chase for All-American status to cap off the summer season.
"The kids are already talking about getting there and they also want to be an All-American. We always have a chance," Turner said. "We've got to keep that focus and put forth that effort."