LakeShore Jets have big day at AAU district track meet
By Josh Lichtenfeld Post-Tribune correspondent June 17, 2012 6:28PM
Khalil Muhammad of Gary competes in the high jump Sunday, June 17, 2012 at the Amateur Athletic Union's district qualifier meet at Wheeler High School. | Michael Gard~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 17, 2012 6:32PM
VALPARAISO — Performances like the one at Sunday’s AAU District Track and Field Qualifier Meet at Wheeler High School continue to build up Carlton Simms’ new-found passion for the 400 meter dash.
This marks the first season that the incoming West Side sophomore has extended beyond his typical sprinting events. Simms admits that originally he wasn‘t looking forward to the transition.
“At first, I didn’t like the 400,” he said. “At first, I was more like a real sprinter and fell into the 400.”
But success has helped smooth things over. Case in point, in Simms’ heat of the boys’ intermediate 15-16 year-old race in which he quickly established a lead before soaring into a large sized distance from field. Off of his 50.95 time to win his age group race, he’ll be one of the many advancing onto the Area 14 National Qualifier Championship Meet at Illinois State University starting on June 28.
“It was like ... I’ve just got to go out there, race my own race, keep comfortable and race my own race,” said the athlete who also will be advancing in the 100 dash after recording a time of 11.34.
Simms helped spur a big outing for his Gary-based team the LakeShore Jets. Both the boys and girls side of program excelled against 13-18 year-olds from the region and around the state. An example of the boys’ day was their dominance in the 100 meter dash. Barrie Wesby (youth age 14 division), Simms and Jaques Hall (youth 17-18 years old) all won the event.
Hall, who recently graduated after making it to the IHSAA state meet preliminaries with East Chicago, is trying stay active as he’s in talks with colleges.
“(AAU) actually makes you stronger, a lot stronger,” said Hall, who posted a time of 10.80 to win the dash and also won the 200 with a time of 22.35 seconds and contributed to the Jets victory in the 400 relay to send him to his first AAU national meet.
However, as the defending national champion in 800 run, Hall’s teammate Daronte Buggs was focused on maintaining his game. The West Side sophomore will have another bid after winning in 2:07.98 in the intermediate 15-16-year-old event.
“(There’s) no pressure,” Buggs said. “I just do it.”
Former Hammond resident and the high school state runner-up in the 100 hurdles in Wisconsin, Danielle Riggins, also carried her prep success into the AAU front. Riggins won the 100 (12.44), 200 (25.23) and 400 (58.86) dashes and the 100 hurdles (15.06) in the intermediate 15-16 girls division.
“I see new people,” said the two-year member of the Jets. “It kind of pushes me, because I’ve never seen them run before.”