The Leander Spartans brought home some hardware from the AAU Junior Olympics earlier this month.
The 4x400-meter relay team of Hali Murphy, Elizabeth Roca, Victory Ifah and Autumn Wilson won two a national title at the AAU Junior Olympics on Aug. 4 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa with a time of 3:44.69.
“It starts in October with running and weightlifting and all the different preparation they put in on the indoor track and transitioning to school track and summer track,” head coach Frank Wilson said. “it can make for a long season. They put in a lot of time in the weight room and a lot of weekends the other kids might be doing other things in an effort to win a national championship.”
The team was just 3.5 seconds off the national record.
The 2018 version of the Junior Olympics featured 10,040 athletes and 777 teams from 28 states plus Jamaica and St. Thomas. The 13 heats and 104 relay teams in the 15-16-year-old division of the 4x400-meter relay.
“For all these young ladies, it’s tremendous self-esteem building,” Wilson said. “They can do anything in life that they set out to achieve. When you can win a national championship among thousands of other athletes, it leaves you with a feeling of success about what you can accomplish.”
Roca, now a junior at Leander, has broken the Lions’ school record in the 400-meter dash five times in her high school career and advanced to the state meet for the first time last season, where she finished in sixth place.
All of them now train for the school season with goals of setting school records and getting better for the next summer season with the Leander Spartans.
“When you have an event like the Junior Olympics, it brings everybody together,” Wilson said. “They want to get better to the point where maybe a university wants to offer them a scholarship to come and do the same things.”