The members of the Killeen-based Central Texas Cruisers compete against each other during various UIL meets in the school year. This week they get a chance to represent the area against the nation’s best when the the track and field portion of the AAU Junior Olympic Games begin.
“We have kids from each elementary, middle and high school out here,” Cruisers coach Billy Spiller said. “It gives them time to get together, learn about each other and go beyond the school fight songs and things of that nature. It’s teamwork in its truest form.”
The track and field events will begin Monday at Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Va. The event is a showcase for athletes from elementary school to high school age.
This summer, the team practiced four afternoons per week at the Ellison High School track.
“I’m always excited for these kids,” Spiller said. “They came out here in this heat and produced.”
The kids qualified for the Junior Olympics by competing at the Region 19 Meet at Rutledge Stadium in Converse. The Cruisers are coached by volunteers and compete in a region that stretches from Waco to the Rio Grande Valley.
Karisma Rogers was one of the team’s top competitors after qualifying for nationals in the 100- and 200-meter dashes along with the 400 relay.
Deaubry Hood goes for both individual and team medals in the 100 dash along with the 400 and 1,600 relays.
Jordan Davis will compete in the 100 and 200 dashes along with the 400 relay, as will Kevaughn Rogers.
King White seeks the crown in the 100 dash, long jump and 400 relay.
Kyshaun Otis will be on the track and in the field competing in the long jump and 400 and 1,600 relays.
Chyna Otis qualified for nationals in both the shot put and discus, as did Bobby Smith.
Brian Hood Jr. will run in the 100 and 200 dashes and D’Myun Jackson-Lee will be a part of both the 400 and 1,600 relay teams.
Devan Groves will jump in the 100 and 200 hurdles while Kyjuan Otis-Turbo will compete in the javelin and shot put.
McFerrin McDonald will throw both the shot put and javelin while Zy’Aire King runs in both the 400 and 1,600 relays.
Both Trejon and Breezion Spiller qualified for nationals in both the long and high jumps.
Ariel Walton (100 dash), Evelyn Lorenzo (800 dash), Tajanaye Spiller (javelin), Devonte Cochran (long jump) and Jordan Pope (long jump) will also participate in the AAU Junior Nationals individual events. Vizshae Spiller, Madison Bell, Brianna Tucker and Jaliz Simmons will be a part of the 400 relay team.
The Cruisers brought home 11 medals during the 2014 Junior Olympics.