Young athletes test mettle for medals

May 01, 2010|By DAN DEARTH
  • Maugansville Elementary School fifth-grader Jonathan Higgins competes in the baseball throw Saturday during the 36th annual Washington County Junior Olympics at Boonsboro High School.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

BOONSBORO -- Hundreds of little legs scurried down the track at Boonsboro High School on Saturday for a chance to be named the fastest kid in Washington County.

Richard Secrest, an organizer of the 36th annual Washington County Junior Olympics, said the event is held on the first Saturday in May to give fourth- and fifth-graders a chance to compete against other children from across the county.

"There are at least 400 to 500 kids here today," Secrest said. "No one is cut. They just show up and compete. It gives them a chance to get out and participate."

Secrest said the first- through seventh-place finishers in the running events and the first- through fifth-place finishers in the field events were given awards. The first three finishers in each category received medals.

All of the children who competed Saturday received a certificate of participation, Secrest said. They also got a T-shirt and a free sandwich and drink.


Secrest said the Junior Olympics is sponsored by the Sons of the American Legion, who use the event to instill the importance of physical fitness.

Charles F. "Skip" Kauffman Jr., Boonsboro mayor and a member of the Sons of the American Legion, said he has helped organize the event for the past 25 years.

"It's a great thing for the fourth- and fifth-graders of Washington County Public Schools," he said. "It's all compliments of the Sons of the American Legion."

Howard Long, treasurer of Sons of the American Legion, said the organization spends about $4,000 each year to sponsor the event. The money is collected from fundraisers throughout the year. He said the Sons of the American Legion also raises money for children who can't afford to go on school field trips.

"It helps the kids in the county," he said. "It helps the community."

Jane Sagoe, a fifth-grader at Old Forge Elementary School, and Brooke Singleton, a fifth-grader at Greenbrier Elementary School, said they signed up at their respective schools to participate in the Junior Olympics.

Brooke said she loves sports and plays softball in the PenMar Youth League.

"(The Junior Olympics) helps out with my strength," she said.

Jane said she signed up to compete in the discus, shot put, relay race, and 100- and 200-meter dashes.

"It's fun," she said. "It's my first time and I'm doing pretty well."

Hagerstown resident Daphney Smith was among the hundreds of parents who were cheering on their children.

Smith said her son, Dominique Smith-Blackmond, had a sleepover Friday night with his friends. She said all they talked about was competing in the Olympics the next day.

"I think they should do this more often," she said. "I think it's a shame they don't have stuff like this in middle school."

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