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YOUTH TRACK: Four TCHS athletes qualify for national meet

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By Josh Claywell

 

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Four Taylor County High School track athletes have qualified for the AAU Junior Olympic Games later this month.

Emma Maynard, Ryan Maynard, Dalton Nunn and Natalie Reynolds all earned at least one top-six finishing spot during last weekend’s AAU Region 6 meet at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

The quartet competes for the Hardin County-based Kentucky Elite, a summer track & field team formed by TCHS coach Chris Jelks. The Region 6 meet is comprised of teams from Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee.

Ryan Maynard qualified in two individual events, winning the boys’ 15-16 steeplechase and placing second in the 3,000-meter run. Emma Maynard took third in the girls’ 15-16-year-old 3,000 run, while Nunn was fifth in the boys’ 15-16-year-old 800.

Ryan Maynard and Nunn also helped the Elite win the boys’ 15-16-year-old 4x800 relay, while Reynolds was on the winning girls’ 17-18-year-old 4x800.

“All of them, except for Natalie, have been (on this team) before,” Jelks said of his Taylor County athletes. “Dalton and Ryan, especially, we’ve talked about it all year – even during the high school season. They knew it was getting close to that time. It basically went almost the way I thought it would. All-in-all, I’m proud of these kids. There are no weak links.”

The top six finishers in each event move on to the AAU Junior Olympic Games, which run July 28-Aug. 4 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

In all, the Elite is sending 13 athletes to nationals.

“I’ve gotta say this is probably, talent-wise, the best team I’ve ever had,” Jelks said. “Everybody has a chance to come home from Drake top eight in something. We’ve surrounded ourselves with some of the best athletes in the state of Kentucky.”