Billy Spiller Sr. thought Amira Lambertis was the favorite. He couldn’t envision a scenario in which the 13-year old 800-meter sprinter didn’t earn gold at the Junior National AAU Championships held in Detroit.
And it was all going according to plan for Lambertis as she gained a quick lead in the race and held it until the last turn, where the unthinkable happened.
“She was going real good and was in the lead,” Spiller said. “She was just about to start her final kick when she and the girl in the next lane got their feet tangled and Amira tripped — she got up and finished the race like a true winner.”
She still finished the race in sixth place with a personal-best time of 2 minutes, 19.96 seconds, which would have won the District 8-5A track and field meet this past season.
She also finished sixth in the long jump for good measure.
Spiller traveled to Detroit with 33 members of his Central-Texas Cruisers sponsored by the Boys and Girls Club of Killeen while more than 20,000 others from all 50 states descended upon the Motor City.
Of the 33 area participants, 11 received a medal.
The 8-and-under 400-meter relay team of Kyshawn Otis, Deaubry Hood, Zyaire King and Kevaugn Rogers, with alternate D’Myun Lee, took fifth place with a personal record of 59.32 seconds — falling about two seconds short of first place.
“Those boys were jumping around like they took first because they didn’t care,” Spiller said. “They knew they got a medal and that was enough. They are champions in their own minds.”
Spiller’s 10-year-old son Trejon placed eighth in triathlon and high jump, respectively. While the younger Spiller had designs of getting a gold medal, he was more upset by the thought that he may have disappointed the senior Spiller.
“That boy knows how passionate I am about track so he basically grew the same passion,” he said. “When he lost, he was more disappointed that he may have let me down, but like I told him, as long as he did his best he can’t let me down.”
Trinity and Novotny Smith both competed and placed fourth in their respective events with 12-year-old Trinity in high jump and 10-year-old Novotny in shot put.
“Novotny was pretty nervous when she saw how stiff the competition was, but she settled down and did real well,” Spiller said. “We were all pretty surprised to see Trinity do that well being her first time competing at that level, but every time she saw another girl jump, she knew what she had to beat, and she did.”
The eldest member to earn a medal was perhaps the most surprising. Last August, Chyna Otis, 16, was sick and didn’t recover until May 2013. Still, she placed fourth place in the shot put.
“She was real sick and lost a lot of her strength and really couldn’t work out as hard as she normally would,” Spiller said. “She never complained — she just worked.”
Others from the area performing well were Jevon Wallace, who place third in the 14-and-under 400 dash with time of 50.92 seconds and won the boys 800 in 2:01.77, and Karena Glass, who was fourth in the 11-and-under girls 80-meter hurdles. Jannia Price place fifth in the 16-and-under javelin with a throw of 30.17 meters and she was sixth in the discus.