ROLESVILLE – Rolesville's track and field club team, the Rolesville Lightning, will send 17 athletes to the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics after posting great performances at the regional meet July 6-9 at N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro.
The top performance of the weekend was Brandon Leacock, who broke the national record for the 400-meter run with a time of 58.31 seconds in the 9-10 boys age group. The previous record was 1:03.30, which was set in 2015.
"I was surprised I ran that fast this time," Brandon said. "I felt good about my performance."
Brandon also finished first in the 800-meter run with a personal record of 2:20.03. The 10-year-old set the record in 2015 with a time of 2:29.59.
In other events, Brandon also set a personal record in the high jump with a measurement of 4-feet-5.15-inches that won him first place at regionals.
Brandon said the secret to his success is doing push-ups every day.
"I've been doing push-ups to strengthen my arms and legs," Brandon said. "I can do 60 at one time. Every day, I do sets of 25 push-ups until I get to 100."
Brandon will head into nationals as one of the top athletes in the country for his age group.
"I'm excited competing at nationals, because I have the fastest time in the nation," Brandon said. "I think I'm going to win, even though there's a lot of competition."
Brandon's two older brothers also had a good showing at regionals. Dillon, 14, won first place in the 800-meter run for the 13-14 age group with a personal record time of 2:01.32. He also placed third in the 400-meter run with a time of 52.39 seconds.
"The coaches have been helping us run with endurance," Dillon said. "They're helping us run long distances without getting tired. They train us hard."
Dillon also competed in the 200-meter hurdles for the first time. At regionals, he finished fifth with a time of 26.55 seconds, which is enough to land him a spot at nationals.
"It's my first year doing the hurdles, so I'm really proud I finished fifth at regionals," Dillon said. "I beat people that have been running hurdles for four years. Coach Terry Reese has helped me practice for the hurdles."
Dillon's younger brother, Nathan, finished fourth in the 400-meter with a time of 52.43 seconds. The 13-year-old will run that event at nationals.
"I was actually pretty happy with my result in the 400-meter," Nathan said. "That was my personal best of the season. Two weeks ago at the state championship, I wasn't running correctly because I was sick a week before. I noticed what I was doing wrong, so I changed it for regionals."
Both Dillon and Nathan ran for Rolesville's 4x400-meter relay team along with Colin Johnson and Samuel Henderson. The boys finished third with a time of 3:41.24 at regionals.
"I just have to get my mind right for nationals," Nathan said. "Right now, I'm at the bottom of my age group. So I have to work on my mind and not overthink it."
Johnson, 14, finished fourth in the long jump with a personal record of 17-feet-11.35-inches.
"I just make sure I get a good takeoff for the long jump," Johnson said. "When I run up to the board, I make sure I get a good liftoff."
Stephen Elliott won first place in two events for the Rolesville Lightning. The 16-year-old set a personal record of 4,818 points in the decathlon and won the pole vault after clearing a measurement of 7-feet-6.5-inches.
"I was pretty far ahead the whole time in the decathlon," Elliott said. "I knew I was going to win before the race was over."
Elliott said the competition will be tougher at the nationals, but he has plenty of coaches to help him prepare for the big event.
"I like to set personal goals while I compete," Elliott said. "I set times and distances. I have 15 people who I call coach. I have a lot of people helping me out."
For other events, Alexander Chapman, 10, finished third in the triathlon with a personal record score of 634 points. Luis Rivera II, 15, finished second behind Elliott in the decathlon with a personal record of 3,170 points.
Rolesville's 4x100-meter relay in the 8 and under age group finished second with a time of 1:01.26. The team consisted of Brian Leacock, Stefen Tabon, Camren McDonald and Jarden Miller. They will all compete at nationals.
Overall, Rolesville's boys team finished first in the 15-16 age group and third in the 9-10 age group.
For the girls team, Taylor McLeod finished second in the long jump and third in the 100-meter for the 8 and under age group. The 8-year-old landed a distance of 10-feet in the long jump and set a personal record of 15.18 seconds in the 100-meter dash.
"I think I did good at regionals," McLeod said. "I did enough to make it to nationals. At practice, I've been working on my stamina."
This is McLeod's first year competing for a track and field club team. She will participate in two events at nationals for the Rolesville lightning.
"I wanted to join this team, because I like running and I'm very energetic," McLeod said. "I thought this would be a good activity to do this summer."
Jordan Henderson finished second in the high jump with a personal record of 3-feet-10-inches for the 9-10 age group. The 10-year-old will compete in that event at the national level.
"I think I did good, because I set a personal record," Henderson said. "I was satisfied. I'm working on raising my knees and that I don't drag my feet."
The Rolesville Lightning are led by head coach Fiaunna Shivers. The National Junior Olympics will be at Lawrence, Kan. from July 24-30.