FORT MILL -- Fort Mill was well represented last week at the 2008 USATF Region III Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships. The four-day event was held at South Pointe High School in Rock Hill. The Region Championships included athletes from Florida to Maryland.
Quanika Blackmon and Drew Marshall qualified for the USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships in Omaha, Neb., July 22-27. To advance, the athletes needed to post a time among the top three in their event.
Blackmon finished third in the young women's 1,500-meter run Sunday morning. Her time of 4:57.21 was better than the 5:00 goal she had set for herself. She will be a senior at Fort Mill High School this fall.
Marshall, a rising ninth-grader at Fort Mill High, won the youth boys 3,000-meter Saturday afternoon. He outpaced Shane Spencer to run a 10:08.72 to win by three seconds.
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Blackmon was running with Chester High's Micah Wess-inger for most of the race in a duel for third place. But with about 250 meters left, she picked up the pace. She quickly put 10 meters between herself and Wessinger on her way to a third-place finish.
"I try to do that in every race. I want to find a spot where I can take off and be able to maintain the pace," Blackmon said. "All my coaches have taught me that, my dad, and coach (Steve) Mullinax. They say if I wait until the 200-meter mark it will be too late."
Blackmon isn't sure if she will attend the nationals. She is signed up for a running camp at North Carolina State University that same week. Her family has already paid for the camp.
"I'm sure it would be a great experience to go to the nationals. But I am excited about going to camp, too," Blackmon said.
Blackmon has two sisters at N.C. State. Angelina will be a fifth-year senior this fall. She red-shirted her freshman year after an outstanding prep career at Northwestern. Tiayonna graduated in June from Fort Mill High. She committed to N.C. State in April to run track and cross country.
Marshall used the same strategy as Blackmon to win the 3,000-meter. He was in a tight race with Chase Shermer of North Wake, but with about 250 meters left, Marshall took off.
"It was me a Chase up front most of the race. With two laps to go, we picked up the pace," Marshall said.
Marshall's family was active at the track as volunteers. His father, Craig, was at the finish line keeping count of laps completed. He rang a bell in each race to notify runners they were starting their final lap. Younger brother Jackson, 11, was busy keeping up with cups of water for each runner as they finished a race.
Marshall said his mother Terri started doing road races and got the family into it. Craig and Jackson run, too. His sister Kelsey, 17, stays busy with dancing and acting.
When asked if he can beat his mother in a road race he said with a big smile, "Yeah, I can."
Marshall started running in fifth grade and said he got serious about it over the past two years. He ran on Fort Mill High's varsity cross country team as a seventh- and eighth-grader.