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Searcy strikes gold

Hagerstown boy wins national title in high jump

August 25, 2010|By ANDREW MASON
  • James Searcy, 9, of Hagerstown, shows off the collection of track and field medals he won this summer, including his gold from the AAU Junior Olympic Games in Norfolk, Va., earlier this month.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

"I want to be in the Olympics," James Searcy said.

It's hard to blame him for dreaming big.

After all, Searcy, of Hagerstown, is only 9 years old.

And, after all, he did win a national title at the AAU Junior Olympic Games in Norfolk, Va., earlier this month.

Searcy, a fourth-grader at Maugansville Elementary School, won the high jump with a leap of 4 feet, 2 inches, competing in the Boys Sub-Bantam (born in 2001) division.

Chase Smith, of Sevierville, Tenn., placed second in the field of 16 athletes with a jump of 4 feet. The national record for their age division is 4 feet, 5 1/2 inches, set in 1999.

Searcy, who is 4 feet, 6 inches tall, won the competition on his fifth and final jump.

"It was just so awesome," he said.

It was the perfect ending to his first season of track and field, during which he went undefeated in the high jump.

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Surprisingly, Searcy joined the local Mountain Express Track Club this year to be a runner -- not a jumper. He was the boys third-grade champion last fall at the 28th annual Washington County Public Schools Elementary Cross Country Run.

"He has always loved running," said his mother, Theresa Searcy. "He just loves to get out there and be active.

"He just went out there one practice and said, 'I want to try this.' And he liked it," she said of the high jump. "He's a goalie in soccer so he's used to jumping around."

In his first high jump competition, Searcy won the district title in Thurmont, Md. Then he won the regional title at the Mountain Express' home track facility at South Hagerstown High School in late June to qualify for nationals.

He also ran at nationals, turning in season-best times for 100 meters (15.23 seconds) and 200 meters (31.53).

But he made his mark in the high jump, becoming the first national champion in the Mountain Express' 12-year history.

"This is really good for our program," said Mountain Express leader Jan Price. "And he hasn't even scratched his potential yet."

Perhaps the Olympics aren't a far-fetched dream.

"One never knows," Price said. "You always start somewhere."

Mountain Express also had another athlete achieve All-American status in Norfolk, as Ebony Earl, 11, of Hagerstown, placed eighth out of 30 competitors in the pentathlon in the Girls Sub-Midget division.

The pentathlon consisted of the 800-meter run, 80-meter hurdles, high jump, long jump and shot put.

Earl's best event was the long jump, as she topped all the pentathletes in her division with a leap of 14 feet, 7 inches.

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