HAGERSTOWN — Ten-year-olds Jalyx Hunt and James Searcy seem to be inseparable.
“We’re like twins,” Hunt said. “We do everything together.”
The two best friends live only a few houses apart and are classmates in the fifth grade at Paramount Elementary School in Hagerstown.
When asked Tuesday what they’re favorite sport is, Jalyx and James each had the same answer — football.
“That’s because that’s what they’re playing right now,” said Theresa Searcy, James’ mother.
A month ago, the answer probably would have been track and field — the sport in which both boys are national champions.
Jalyx and James, who are both members of the local Mountain Express youth track and field club, won their titles at the AAU Junior Olympic Games, which were held July 29 through Aug. 6 in New Orleans. They competed in the Bantam (born in 2001) boys division.
James won his second straight title in the high jump with a leap of 4 feet, 8 inches, topping a field of 48 competitors. Last year, he jumped 4 feet, 2 inches to win the Sub-Bantam crown at nationals, which were held in Norfolk, Va.
Which was more memorable?
“This year,” James said, “because we got to ride in an airplane.”
James also earned a medal and All-American status this summer in the triathlon, placing seventh out of 45 in the multi-event, which consisted of the shot put, high jump and 400-meter dash.
“It’s good for Jalyx to have someone like James around,” said James Hunt, Jalyx’s father. “They motivate each other.”
Jalyx, who didn’t win any titles last year, now has as many as his best friend after winning a pair in New Orleans. He was the champion in the triathlon, and he placed first out of 95 in the long jump with a leap of 15 feet, 3 1/4 inches. Jalyx also picked up a third medal with his seventh-place finish in the high jump.
“I found out last year that I had to work harder,” Jalyx said. “I could go to a meet in Hagerstown and win events, but I just couldn’t go to a national meet and expect to do the same.”
His father said, “Here, they’re big fish in a small pond. But there, it’s sharks eating sharks. ... To get to that level of competition and win, you’ve shown yourself to be a pretty good athlete.”
In a few months, basketball likely will be their favorite sport, then perhaps it will be soccer in the spring.
But summer vacation is all about track and field and national championships.
“Houston next year, baby,” James said.