The start of the first race of the 2018 GAXC: Photo by Cheryl Treworgy.
GAXC, HBCU Challenge are just around the corner
We’re just over a week out from the 2019 Great American Cross Country Festival and Cedric Walker HBCU Challenge. The first starting gun will go off at 8:00 am on Saturday, October 5 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. For the 4th year, the GAXC Festival will serve as the NXN Southeast Pre-Regional Meet. Read on to see what we’re looking forward to:
Check out who’s coming to GAXC!
The return of a California powerhouse, the GAXC/WakeMed debut of the nation’s best distance runner and the title defense of a 2-time champion are some of the top storylines that emerge from the 2,800+ entries to date. Great Oak HS, which first came to GAXC from Temecula, CA in 2011, will bring its outstanding harriers here once again – with both boys (3rd) and girls (8th) squads ranked in the current national top 10.
And, with #2-ranked Loudoun Valley HS, VA coming back to GAXC, a rematch of the top two boys’ teams from last fall’s NXN Nationals is at hand for the Nike Boys Race of Champions. The Vikings are not only 2-time defending champs here, but also at NXN Southeast and NXN Nationals – and Great Oak was right behind in 2nd last December.
Meanwhile, North Rockland HS from NY and 2-time NXN champ Katelyn Tuohy will run WakeMed for the first time (photo at left by John Nepolitan/Runnerspace.com). Will the meet (16:40) and course (16:33) records go down? On the oval, Tuohy has already won several NSAF titles, but this will be her debut in our premiere harrier event.
HBCU Challenge celebrates Year #10
The Cedric Walker HBCU Challenge is thrilled to celebrate its 10th year and looking forward to again hosting the nation's best Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Teams can register for the event HERE (registration for entire Great American XC Festival). The starting gun for the men’s 8-kilometer race will go off at 8:45am, while the women’s 5-kilometer challenge will follow at 9:50am. The Challenge was inaugurated to take place concurrently with the GAXC in 2009 and with one year (2015) being lost to severe storms, this year will mark the 10th running.
The men of Morehouse College and the women of North Carolina A&T State University each won their respective first team titles in the Challenge. The Maroon Tiger men did so by defeating the 4-time champions from NCAT, while the Aggie women triumphed in the absence of the 4-time champions from Hampton U. Individually, the men will have a new champion this year for the first time since 2016 as 3-time winner Trey Simons of Morehouse has graduated. For the women, however, NCAT’s 2018 champ G’Jasmyne Butler was a junior and is expected to try and defend her crown as a senior.
The 2018 HBCU Challenge champions: The North Carolina A&T State women and Morehouse College men. Photos by Cheryl Treworgy.
Project Javelin Gold: 2 newcomers join 6 returnees
Six All-American throwers and two exciting newcomers are leading Project Javelin Gold into the 2019-20 campaign – its 8th since the NSAF and founding coach Jeff Gorski started the program in 2011. This past season’s national leader, Sam Hankins, leads a group of seniors that also includes 2018 NBNO runner-up Zech Blake and 2019 4th-place finisher Joe Nizich. The girls’ returning trio, all juniors, includes All-Americans Katelyn Fairchild (2nd NBNO) and Alianna Eucker (5th) and USATF U20 3rd-place finisher Sydney Juszczyk.
Joining the Project for this season are Pennsylvania juniors Collin Burkhart (Nazareth HS) and Taylor Ciccolini (Mifflin Co. HS). Meanwhile, our NBNO champions who made such great progress over the past three years – Pan American U-20 silver medalist Skylar Ciccolini and 222-footer Ty Hampton – are moving on to the collegiate ranks.
The Project, under the leadership of 2-time Olympian head coach Tom Pukstys and Olympic Trials finalists coaches Barry Krammes and Kim Hamilton, opened the season in August at our joint clinic with Sanford Sports Science Institute in Sioux Falls. The next clinic is scheduled for Birmingham, AL from Nov. 14-17, 2019!
Read more about Project Javelin Gold and check out each athlete’s profile HERE! And visit our Project Javelin Gold home page and register for the next clinic! Again, it’s November 14-17!
Project Triple Jump: Big infusion of new talent
Project Triple Jump welcomed seven new, talented athletes to its ranks last month during their joint clinic with Sanford Sports Science Institute in Sioux Falls: One senior, five juniors and a sophomore. Jayla Brown and Kendall Jordan were the top two sophomore girls in the nation last spring, while on the boys side, Floyd Whitaker and Johnny Brackins ranked #1-2 among 10th-graders. The other junior, Jade McDonald, was a 40-footer in ’18 and jumped nearly 20 feet in the LJ in ’19.
The new roster also includes senior Christian Lewis, the nation’s #2 boys’ long jumper, and Cameran Gist – the top freshman girls’ TJ’er for ’18. The returnee is no less than New York state champ Jadan Hanson, a 50-6 jumper and NBNI All-American (3rd).
In its 8th year, the Project is led by Bahamian national coach Peter Pratt, Project Coordinator Macka Jones and also has the bounty of coaching and inspiration from 1996 Olympic Gold Medalist Kenny Harrison. The next clinic is planned for the Atlanta, GA area Nov. 14-17 and we are finalizing clinic details and registration. So first, read more about Project Triple Jump and check out each athlete’s profile HERE!
Then visit our Project Triple Jump home page and check back soon for Atlanta clinic details. And don’t forget, we’ll be headed back to Havana, Cuba for our January, 2020 clinic!
Cedric Walker Development Grant
We are still accepting applications for the Fall 2019 Cedric Walker Development Grants! We expect to award 12 to 18 grants with an average amount of $700. The funds may be used for any reasonable purpose pertaining to the recipient’s track and field program. As an additional dimension to the program, each recipient must also participate in a volunteer service program in their community.
Applications will be accepted through Sept. 30, so apply now!