Carmen Alder on the podium after winning the 3,000-meter run in her age group.

The Sandhills Sweet 16 brought track and field athletes from the two premier track clubs in the area to compete in the 2018 USATF Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships.

The meet was held from July 23 to July 29 at North Carolina A&T University’s Irwin Belk Track in Greensboro. The elite event draws athletes from all across the nation, competing for national and All-America titles.

Competitors that finished in the top eight in their respective events earned All-America honors.

Our local top 16 who qualified for this prestigious meet included members of the Franklin Elite and Sandhills Track clubs.

Carmen Alder, Vanessa Alder, Molly Kuzma, Lily Alder, Lauren Wimberly, Brooklyn Doorey, Adrian Archer, Michael Alder and Zack Gilbertson represented Franklin Elite, while Annika Stark, Veronique Woodson, Destiny Gayton, Timbre Kelly, Taya McKeithan and Jadarien Parker represented Sandhills.

During the regular season, these athletes competed for local public and private schools, including West Pine and Southern Middle schools, The O’Neal School, Hoke, Union Pines and Pinecrest high schools.

The highlight of the meet was Carmen Alder, who became national champion in the 3,000-meter run, winning the 15 to 16 age group with a time of 10:06.93.

Also competing in the 3,000-meter run, Doorey finished 12th in the 17 to 18 age group with a time of 11:54, Kuzma placed seventh in the 15 to 16 age group with a time of 10:45.08 and Vanessa Alder placed ninth in the 13 to 14 age group with a time of 10:40.08.

And finally, in the 11 to 12 age group, Lily Alder and Wimberly finished 18th and 34th, with times of 11:36.26 and 11:50.70, respectively.

In the girls’ 1,500-meter run, Carmen Alder finished fifth in the 15 to 16 age group, with a time of 4:45.24. Vanessa Alder finished eighth in the 13 to 14 age group with a time of 4:49.72, and Lily Alder finished 31st in the 11 to 12 old age group with a time of 5:24.32.

For the boys in the 1,500-meter run, Michael Alder finished 35th in the 7 to 8 age group with a time of 5:58, and Archer took fourth in the 13 to 14 age group with a time of 4:19.96.

In the 13 to 14 age group in the boys’ 3,000-meter run, Gilbertson and Archer finished third and ninth, respectively, with times of 9:27.83 and 9:32.85.

In the field events, the girls’ high jump featured Gayton placing 12th in the 17 to 18 age group with a jump of 5-foot-3, while Kelly jumped 4 feet, 7 inches in the 15 to 16 age group.

Stark claimed a fifth-place finish in the penthalon, added a 15th finish in the heptathlon, and placed 16th in the 11 to 12 age group long jump competition, jumping 14-11.2.

Woodson finished 37th in the 17 to 18 age group of the triple jump with a jump of 36-1, and in the 17 to 18 age group of the javelin toss, McKeithan placed 29th, with a throw of 91-.1

These performances tell the story of hard work, dedication and are a testimony of the talent base of track and field athletes in the Sandhills.

The Sandhills are on track!

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