Youth Sports

Future stars shine at Northwest Express Track and Field Classic

EASY WIN: Akayla Edwards of the Miami Gardens Express team wins her 200-meter heat in the 6-year-old and under division.
EASY WIN: Akayla Edwards of the Miami Gardens Express team wins her 200-meter heat in the 6-year-old and under division. For the Miami Herald

The little people stole the show Friday as the 40th Annual Northwest Express Track and Field Classic was off and running at the Ansin Sports Complex in Miramar.

The smallest and youngest of the 2,000-plus competitors did whatever they needed to do — run, throw, leap, jump, etc. — as they had their eyes and minds focused on walking away with one of those shiny medallions awarded at South Florida’s oldest, and possibly most important, track meet.

Prime example would be Akayla Edwards of the Miami Gardens Express team, who won her 200-meter heat in the 6-year-old and under division.

Akayla, with her braids flying in the wind, crossed the finish line in 38.04.

A pretty good effort that Akayla could savor – well, she would except that she was too busy savoring the snow cone that mom Shakeela Jones bought her as a reward for winning the race.

Akayla, who will be going into first grade next school year, conducted her first-ever interview and proved to be a young lady of few words – as most 6-year-olds are.

Why does she run track?

“Because I love running fast,” she logically responded.

Is running track difficult?

“No,” she said, “I practice. I practice a lot.”

Has she won any medals in her brief running career?

“I have a lot,” she said. “I keep them on my dresser at home.”

Will she win a medal in the Northwest meet?

“Yes I will,” she said firmly. “I can run fast.”

Does she ever run against boys?

“Yes, in practice,” she revealed, and then proudly added, “I can beat some of the boys.”

In addition to the 200, Akayla will also compete in the 100, 800 and long jump in the Northwest meet, with most of the finals set for Saturday and Sunday.

Akayla’s mom is happy to see her daughter competing in track and field and carrying on a family tradition.

“Athletics run in the family,” said Jones, 29. “All of us – my dad, sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews all competed.

“Now my daughter,” she added with a big smile.

In high school, Jones – who began running at age 5 – competed for Miami Central High and made it to the state meet, running on the state championship 4x800 relay team.

“Track and field and athletics teach good values,” she said. “Values that can last. I’m very proud of my daughter and what she is doing and who she is.”

Obviously, Akayla’s snow cone – blueberry, by the way – is well deserved.

▪ The Northwest Express meet continues Saturday with field event competition starting at 8 a.m. and track events beginning at 10 a.m. The meet concludes Sunday with events beginning at 10 a.m

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