Pioneers win two medals at AAU National Junior Olympics

Tue, 08/07/2007 - 2:00pm
By: The Citizen

The SouthSide Pioneers competed in what has gone down in history as the largest youth track and field meet in the history of track and field. The setting was the 2007 AAU National Junior Olympics at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn. The Pioneers competed in 16 events in six days, battled temperatures over 90 degrees and came away with two medals.

“Those were two tough medals to get,” said Coach Danielle Mathis.

Brandon Collins, a rising freshman at Whitewater High School, took the silver medal in the Youth Boys 100M, shaving two-tenths of a second off his semi-final time.

“I worked with him all week from Monday to Friday. After his semi-final heat, we went back to the track at the end of that day and concentrated on his start. At that point he was starting to become discouraged because he went from a 11.21 in the qualifying heats to an 11.25 in the semifinals. I knew we had to work more on his block start and I taught him how to drive through that first 40 meters a little differently than he was used to,” said Mathis, who also studied Collins’ starts on tape replays and counted his steps.

“I told him how many steps he was taking to get to the finish and vowed to help him cut out two of those steps to get to an 11 flat. He cut out about one and a half steps by Saturday! We’re working on that other half-step.”

Collins’ time of 11.05 was right behind his gold medalist friend, Jordan Vaughn, who had just come from the USATF Junior Olympics in California as the Youth Boys 100M gold medalist. “Although Brandon was seeded fifth going into the finals, I knew once we worked on his start, he was going to be on Vaughn’s heels,” Mathis said. Collins is only in his first season as a summer track athlete and has competed in nothing but national championships where in his first meet ever, he set a national record in the Youth Boys 100M in Orlando at the 2007 AAU National Club Championships and beat Vaughn earlier this summer.

Michael DeHaven took a surprising eighth place in the Young Men’s 200M with a 21.89. DeHaven, who ran a 21.49 personal best in the semi-final, said “I overthought that race.” Yet, he ran a personal best split time (46.985) on the anchor leg of the Young Men’s 4x400M relay semifinal the day before where he was joined by Chris Pigue, a Clayton State University freshman, who also ran a personal best split time of 48 flat. DeHaven and Pigue teammed up with Vince Brown (rising junior at McIntosh) and Brendan Fludd (Morehouse College freshman). DeHaven also anchored the Young Men’s 4x100M Relay with Hughston Taylor, a rising senior at McIntosh, on the second leg and was also teammed up with Pigue and Fludd in the semifinal round.

Joy Ferrell, a freshman at the University of Arizona, competed in the Young Women’s Javelin Throw to take 12th place with a 99’ 07”, while her brother, Josh Ferrell, a rising freshman at Our Lady of Mercy, had a personal best in the Youth Boys’ Triple Jump competition with a 39’- 03”.

Ferrell also took 20th in the Youth Boys Pole Vault (7’ 6”) and 20th in the Youth Boys Javelin Throw with a 100’ 11” while Kayla Smith, a student at Fayette Intermediate, took 30th out of over 50 contenders in the Bantam Girls 800M with a 2:54.03.

In other SouthSide action, Johnathan Ross competed at the 2007 State Games of America at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he took third in the 100M and 200 M, fifth in his first-javelin throw competition and seventh in the 400M.

Ross is a rising junior at Sandy Creek High School where he will return in an effort to help the team repeat its track and field state championship next spring.

The SouthSide Pioneers will host its team banquet on Saturday, Aug. 25th and begin its first indoor track season this year. For more information on how you can join the team, please visit the team website at

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