Young athletes test skills

Winners earn spots at Junior Olympic national competition.
Sunday, July 1, 2007 | 12:42 a.m. CDT; updated 5:46 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008
Nykiah Pittman, 3, tries the tennis challenge during skill tests Saturday at Hickman High School.

Young athletes gathered Saturday at Hickman High School in hopes of qualifying for a trip to the U.S. Olympic Training Center in August.

In this year’s regional finals of the Junior Olympic Skills Competition, nearly 25 athletes, ages 8 through 13, tested their abilities in basketball, soccer, tennis and track and field. The winners from each age group, gender, and sport from this weekend’s competition will be ranked with other central region results. The top three finishers in each category will join athletes from the east and west regions for an all-expense paid trip to the national competition in Colorado Springs, Colo.


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Event organizer Camren Cross said the program stresses fitness and awareness.

“First of all, we want the kids to stay fit,” Cross said. “But, it’s also exposure tied into that. When the kids come here to test for one sport, say basketball for many of them, they are also exposed to other sports that they might not otherwise see. It gives the kids a variety of options.”

The energetic youngsters were tested in organized drills, receiving points according to the success rate of the test.

For basketball, the athletes made as many baskets from designated “hot spots” in 45 seconds. Soccer tested their abilities in dribbling, shooting, and scoring, and in tennis they served and hit the ball as many times as they could in 30 seconds. They completed a high jump and ran the 50-meter dash for the track and field tests.

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