A total of four local youth track and field athletes have qualified for the AAU Junior Olympics to be held in North Carolina this July.
It is a unique situation for the local runners, as it features two pairs of sisters looking to continue to make strides towards the top of the sport.
Sisters Ericka and Lindsey Leblanc have qualified for nationals in six different events.
Sisters Diyana and Larissa Hackley have both qualified for the AAU Junior Olympics together in five different events.
The top six finishers in each individual running or field event were permitted to advance at the AAU Regional Qualifier Region 22 in Oakdale on June 16.
Diyana, 14, did so by finishing in the top six in three different races while running for Oakland Pal track and field.
Diyana (13.10) settled for second place in the 100 meter dash behind Ciella Seals (13.00) of 5 North track and field club. Mikiyla Royal (13.12) took third place, while Samiyah Brooks (13.25) of Full Stride Track Club, Inc., Dallas Davis (13.53) of Hilltop Speed and Taleeah Hoggatt (13.57) of Fresno Flyers Track Club rounded out the top six finishers.
Diyana (26.10) fared better in the 200 meter race, taking first place. Yvette Harris (26.53) of God Speed, Seals (27.29) of 5 North, Audrey Gordon (27.69) of Revolution Express Track Club, Brooks (27.74) and Kimora McDonald (27.86) of Full Stride Track Club, Inc. finished behind Diyana.
Diyana qualified for a third category in the 400 meter race, outpacing the rest of the field for first place (1:01.15). McDonald (1:02.13) of Full Stride, Vivica Barcelos (1:02.54) unaffiliated, Gordon (1:06.57) of Revolution Express , Alison Byrd (1:11.10) of 5 North and Siu Raura (1:13.35) Big Valley Track Club represented the top six in the event.
Ericka, 12, ran with no club affiliation, and finished with a pair of first-place finishes along with a second-place finish overall, while competing in the 12-year-old age group.
She took second (58.69) in the 12-year-old 400 meter race behind Ruby Ford (58.23) of Solano Elite Track Club. Jaclyn Chukwuma (1:01.75) of 5 North, Adeline Rangel (1:03.92) of Athletes in Motion 365 and Baylee Melgoza (1:05.92) finished third through fourth place, while Larissa Hackley squeezed in a sixth-place finish (1:06.73) in the 12-year-old 400 meter race.
Ericka’s success continued when she took first place (13.44) in the 80 meter hurdle event, ahead of Ja’niya Hayley (13.58), Isabella Bianchini (14.26) and Ashelynne Demontigny (15.95) of 5 North. Ellie McCuskey-Hay (18.13) of Marin Waves Track and Field Club and Addison Turner (18.17) of 5 North finished behind Ericka.
Ericka’s last medal finish was in the pentathlon event. Her mark of 2902 was enough for first, ahead of Ja’niya Haley (mark 2533), Bianchini (mark 1795) of 5 North and McCuskey-Hay (mark 1140) of Marin Waves Track and Field Club.
After qualifying for the 400 meter race in sixth place alongside Ericka Leblanc, Larissa had a better go in the long jump event, finishing in fourth place (12-10.00). Madyson Hoffman (14-06.50), Promise Rodriguez (14-06.00) of Minds in Motion, Melgoza (14-00.50) were the top three finishers. Peyton McQueen (12-06.50) and McCuskey-Hay (12-03.50) of Marin Waves Track and Field Club finished in fifth and sixth place respectively.
Lindsey had an outstanding outing, competing in the 10-year-old age group. Like Ericka, no club affiliation was listed.
She garnered a first- place finish in the 800 meter race (2:38.50) ahead of Ariana Rangel (2:53.70) of Athletes in Motion 365, Karen Okoronkwo (2:58.28) of Jaguar Speed and Miley On 93:31.53) of Fresno Flyers Track Club.
Lindsey doubled up with a first-place time (5:38.46) in the 1500 meter race, beating out On (6:46.76) of Fresno Flyers Track Club.
Lindsey also took bronze (1:11.67) in the 400 meter dash. Skye Lawrence (1:07.49) of Fresno Flyers Track Club posted the top time, while Rangel (1:11.30) of Athletes in Motion 365 took second. Brooklyn Tuttle (1:15.91) of Full Stride Track Club, Inc., Ny’emah Jefferson (1:16.27) of Weston Ranch Jr. Cougars, and Okoronokwo (1:21.45) of Jaguar Speed finished out the top six finishers.
The AAU Junior Olympics are scheduled to take place from July 26 through Aug. 3 at AT&T Aggie Stadium in Greensboro, North Carolina. AAU Junior Olympics scheduling will be finalized by July 21. More information can be found at aaujuniorgames.com