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Athletes of the Meet: Taylor and Yeshua earn AOM for 2024 VA Showcase

Updated: Feb 1

FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE MEET: Taylor Dent



Photo by: Elise Dent


In the meet

Taylor, a 9-year-old standout athlete, has embarked on her first-time running indoor track with remarkable success. Since venturing into track in April of 2023, Taylor has displayed unwavering dedication, laying the groundwork for a promising future in the sport. At the VA Showcase, Taylor's performance proved to be nothing short of spectacular as she earned three gold medals in her individual events and added a bronze medal to her accolades in the 4x200 relay. Notably, Taylor secured the meet record for the 9-10 year old category in the 60m, clocking an impressive 8.8 seconds. In addition to this feat, she achieved personal bests in the 200m, recording a time of 29.68, a 0.36-second improvement from her previous best. Furthermore, Taylor shaved off 0.1 seconds from her personal best in the 60m, showcasing her continuous drive for excellence. 


In practice

During practice, Taylor has consistently demonstrated leadership by taking on responsibilities such as leading stretches and providing encouragement to her fellow athletes. “Taylor is a natural leader, at just 9 years old she always steps up. She has great sportsmanship. You can always find her shaking the hand of her opponents after the race”. In particular, she goes above and beyond by voluntarily challenging herself during training sessions, actively participating in running repetitions alongside the 13-14-year-old girls. Taylor's commitment to perfecting her craft is evident in her resilience – pushing through fatigue, overcoming cramps, and focusing on controlling her breathing. Above all, Taylor maintains a joyful spirit, emphasizing the importance of having fun with her friends while pursuing excellence in her training.


Outside of practice

Taylor's mother proudly celebrates her daughter's achievements both in practice and during meets. "Antwan and I are incredibly proud of Taylor and her unwavering work ethic and dedication. She is a determined young lady who refuses to let any obstacle hinder her progress," beams Taylor's mother. Actively involved in Taylor's athletic journey, her parents provide robust support on and off the track. They assist her in balancing participation in two sports, maintaining excellent grades, managing rest and recovery, and ensuring her positive mindset for peak performance.


In addition to offering motivation and encouragement, Taylor's mother consistently reinforces the importance of perseverance, advising her to "keep up the good work" and emphasizing trust in her coaches and the overall process. Beyond the track, Taylor's training regimen is comprehensive, involving three days of track training, two days of futsal, and family workouts that encompass pushups, situps, squats, chin-ups, dips, treadmill runs, and outdoor hill sprints. This holistic approach reflects the collaborative effort of Taylor's family in nurturing her athletic prowess and overall well-being.



MALE ATHLETE OF THE MEET: Yeshua McKinley


Photo By: Laurent @kililouphotography

In the meet

Yeshua, affectionately known as Yesh among his coaches and teammates, stands as our male athlete of the meet. Consistently demonstrating excellence, Yesh has become a regular podium presence, securing gold and silver medals in his events and attaining multiple national rankings in the 60m, 200m, 400m, and 4x200m. A remarkable streak characterizes this season for Yesh, as he has achieved personal bests in every event at every meet, showcasing an impressive feat of continuous improvement.


Notably, at the VA Showcase, Yesh garnered four gold medals in the 60m, 200m, 400m, and the 4x200 relay. His exceptional performance included achieving personal bests in the 60m by 0.01 seconds, in the 200m by a substantial 0.41 seconds, and in the 400m by 0.05 seconds. Adding to his accolades, Yesh anchored the 4x200 relay, contributing to a new team record for Southern Sprinters with an impressive time of 1:38.10. Yesh's consistent drive for improvement and his achievements make him a standout athlete for Southern Sprinters, setting the bar high for the team's future endeavors.


In practice

As the longest-tenured runner on the team, Yesh consistently embodies the role of a mentor and serves as an exemplary figure for his fellow athletes. Coach Rohan speaks highly of Yesh, stating, “Yesh is one of the most humble athletes you will meet. Ever since he was little, I’ve never seen him in a bad mood, he has been a hard worker since he was 7 years old”. Yesh approaches every workout with dedication, completing each session without complaint. His commitment extends to running every repetition as if it were a competition, earning him the nickname of running like a gazelle – exhibiting speed, swiftness, and precision in every stride. 


Outside of practice

Yesh, engages in both football and basketball, with basketball being his primary hobby. “While he doesn't mind exercising on his own, he particularly enjoys the camaraderie of working out with friends and teammates”, according to his parents. Maintaining a discerning palate, Yesh is selective about his food choices, adhering to a healthy diet to support his athletic endeavors. With two older brothers, MiKail and Messiah, whom he looks up to, Yeshua seizes every opportunity to engage in friendly competition with them across various activities, which only improves his athleticism and competitiveness. His father, Coach Vondell, and his mother Mica keep Yesh grounded and able to compete at high levels.


By: Southern Sprinters blogger

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