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Mississippi Heat sends five to Junior Olympics

As the summer heat became more intense, so did the amateur track club bearing the same name.

The Mississippi Heat will send Charve’ Gibson, Shaniyah Walker, Ramsey Fultz, De’Airrus Smith and Raven Thompson to the AAU Junior Olympics beginning Aug. 1 in Houston. Keiyana Gaskin, Taylor Gray, Shadia Cain, Tif’Kessica Wilson and Kristina Culbert also qualified but will not attend the meet in Texas.

Even though it’s performed well in AAU qualifying meets, the Heat participated in a number of USATF meets up through its Junior Olympic qualifying meet at Louisiana State University.

“De’Airrus won the 100 at that meet but was in the 13- 14-year-old age group. That was more difficult to run against older kids and he came in third at the 200,” Maxey said. “Raven got second in the high jump, Ramsey got second in the hurdles. Shaniyah Walker did well in the sprints.”

The five qualifiers heading to Houston also competed at LSU.

Maxey said most were finalists. Out of the nine that traveled to the two-day meet in Baton Rogue, six went to the finals.

Due to USATF’s games being held in Sacramento, Calif. the team has decided to with the AAU route and head to Houston.

“At the beginning of the year we set our sights on going to the closer (Junior Olympics) out of the (USATF and AAU)

The summer season for the Heat has treated the track club well, as it finished its 11th summer season as an organization.

“We had a real successful year. We had several kids to qualify and actually win their events in the qualifying meet,” Heat coach Clarence Maxey said. “We pretty much had our core group of sprinters back that were eligible to run this summer.”

The core group of sprinters Maxey refers to include Fultz, Gaskin, Gibson, Gray and Walker and Greg Lewis. Newcomer Smith splashed onto the scene taking gold in the 13-year-old boys 100- and 200-meter Junior Olympic qualifier in Covington, La.

“Right now De’Airrus is top 10 I think in the 100-meter dash. I think he’s top 12 in the 200. He actually has a chance to medal,” Maxey said. “As far as what he ran at the qualifying meet, he’s lowered that time but they use the time from the actual qualifying meet.”

In perspective, the times Smith has clocked since the qualifying meet in Covington – a personal best 11.73 seconds –projects him at sixth place, Maxey said.

Fultz medaled bronze in the 100 and 400 hurdles, and took home silver in the high jump. Maxey said Fultz is headed down a path similar to recent Vicksburg High graduate Leon Miles as a hurdler.

“He went 14.8 this summer and that was a major personal record because he was running like a 15.1, 15.2 during school track,” Maxey said of Fultz. “He actually lowered his time during the summer and that’s the whole benefit of running summer track. You get extra meets to lower your time and better yourself for the upcoming year.”

Maxey’s expecting at least one or two medals from Houston and hopefully set some personal records in the process.