17 local athletes to compete at Junior Olympics

MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Next Level Elite Track Team in Manhattan is sending 17 Kansans to compete in the Junior Olympics July 29th.

The young athletes qualified for the 2018 AAU Track and Field National Championships at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.

Head Coach Jamelle Vornes is excited for them to have this experience at a big venue.

“Its big for them. I mean they get a chance to go compete at the largest stage at the end of the summer," Vornes said. "The top athletes in the country all go to Junior Olympics at the end of the summer. That’s a great place to go and compete and see where your at against the nation's best."

The athletes practice three days a week in the sweltering heat or rain—but that doesn’t stop them.

12-year-old Sienna Severson qualified for the 1500 and 3000m and believes she has what it takes to get a medal .

“I really like knowing that the hard work will pay off in the end," Severson said.

10-year-old Ja'marcus Vornes thrives on being the best when he competes.

“I’m expecting to break some records. In my 400 time we are going for a 58 and in my 800m we are going for a 260,” the younger Vornes said.

Coach said he’s happy the kids will get this experience.

“For all of them to get that experience and compete against that kind of competition, the pressure at junior Olympics is different. Its something you don’t necessarily feel doing like school sports because the competition is way tougher," Vornes explained.

Coach hopes to bring a few All-Americans back to the Little Apple. Of the 17 qualifiers, seven are participating in the national event for the first time, and altogether, qualified in 28 separate events.

The team is seeking financial support to assist with the trip. If you'd like to make a donation, go to their gofundme page at:
Next Level Elite Track Club Junior Olympics or email coachj.nletrack@gmail.com.

The team also has two fundraising events coming up in Manhattan: July 19th at the Qdoba on 320 N. 3rd St.; and a car wash on July 21 at the AutoZone on 615 Fort Riley Blvd.