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Rockets fire off to nationals
Southeast Elite Rockets coaches Willy Ray Daniels, Raphael August, Edward Russell, Andre Spence, Anthony Holsendolph Sr., and the 2008 Rocket Track Team. - photo by Photo provided / Coastal Courier
The Southeast Elite Rocket Track Team recently competed at districts and region where the squad qualified for the 2008 AAU National Junior Olympics being held July 23-Aug. 2 at the campus of Eastern Michigan University in Detroit.
The Amateur Athletic Union is one of the largest, non-profit, volunteer sports organizations in the United States. A multi-sport organization, the AAU promotes and develops amateur sports and physical fitness programs.
"This is the ultimate for AAU athletes," Cenita Chapman, Rockets spokesperson and mother of runner Qunitunya Chapman, said. "To make it to nationals and compete against approximately 13,000 other athletes is like competing against teams from every state. It's an amazing and exciting thing for the kids."
The Rockets were formed from a track team that was a part of Fort Stewart. When Fort Stewart switched to a recreational format a few years ago, the athletes banded together and formed the Rockets. The team has gone to nationals three years in a row and medaled each time.
"We brought home nine medals last year," Chapman said. "We are looking to bring home more medals this year. Overall I think everyone will do very well. We have more kids and more talent this year."
Chapman said the competition is getting better each year, but it is also getting easier to recruit and maintain talent because they are becoming known throughout the competitive meets.
"Our kids leave a big impact," Chapman said. "One of the other track teams once told us you guys are a small bunch, but you all are a powerful bunch. And now people know us and recognize our team at meets and it makes it easier to keep adding talented individuals to our squad. We have athletes from Baxley, Savannah, Hinesville and the surrounding areas now."
As talented as the Rockets are, the tough part of a meet is getting there and back.
"We are soliciting funds," Chapman said. "It will cost us around $15,000 to transport by coach, house and feed these athletes."
Chapman said the group is getting support from churches and businesses, but said if anyone was able to help support the group at nationals it would be appreciated.
For more information on the Rockets or to donate, call president Tasha Bell at 876-5685 or Cenita Chapman at 369-4634.

Region results for national qualifiers:
Leilynn Arrington, third place in the 100-meter dash.
Soloman Ball, second in the shot put, ninth in the javelin throw.
Malachi Bell, fourth in the 3000-meter run.
Courtney Bennett, first in the discus, first in the javelin throw and first in the shot put. (Champion in all three categories)
Jovan Bennett, third in the discus, fifth in the javelin throw and fifth in the shot put.
Aaron Bennett, fourth in the discus, second in the javelin throw and fourth in the shot put.
Trier Bennett, second in the discus and third in the shot put.
Alicia Champion, fifth in the 400-meter run and first in the 3000-meter race walk.
Qunitunya Chapman, fourth in the 200-meter dash, second in the 400-meter dash, third in the 800-meter dash and fourth in the long jump.
Asyria Daniels, first in the long jump, second in the shot put and third in the pentathlon.
Quianika Hatchell, fourth in the 3000-meter run.
Kwajelin Holsendolph, fourth in the 400-meter dash and fourth in the high jump.
Anthony Holsendolph Jr., third in the long jump and second in the high jump.
Larry Henry second in the high jump.
Marsalis Jackson, third in the 400-meter dash, second in the long jump, second in the high jump and sixth in the 200-meter dash.
Montre Johnson, second in the 100-meter dash.
Asia Rankin, fourth in the long jump.
Shaquille Russell, first in the discus and fifth in the shot put.
Tajanique Ware, fifth in the shot put.
Dennis Williams, seventh in the 200-meter dash, fourth in the 400-meter dash and third in the long jump.

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