On Your Mark….
Local Youth Track Athletes Compete for National Title
Take one look at 11-year-old Prentice Sanders and you can see there is something special about him. Maybe it’s the infectious smile, polite demeanor, or his confident swagger. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s the fact that he is one of the fastest sprinters in the country for his age.
Prentice is a member of the Prosper North Texas Jackrabbits Track Club. The North Texas Jackrabbits is a track club, open to all North Texas young athletes ages 7-18 years, and is operated by Omar & Sheila Stoutmire, both of whom have had successful careers in athletics. The team is TAAF & USATF affiliated in Region 7, the largest and most competitive of Texas.
Omar is an 11-year NFL veteran safety, drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1997. He also played with the New York Giants, New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins. Sheila was part of two CIF and State championship track teams while attending Long Beach Poly High School in California which earned her a full track scholarship to Louisiana State University. While at LSU, Sheila was a five-time All-American track athlete and won four team National Championships. Both coaches sprint for the club and Omar is USATF Certified 1 and 2, Sheila is USATF Certified 1.
According to the North Texas Jackrabbit Club website, one of the main objectives is for their student athletes to maintain a solid GPA in the classroom. The club stresses the importance of balancing school work with extracurricular activities. The club acknowledges Jackrabbit scholars every season with a Jackrabbit medallion as well as other awards for those who maintain straight A’s during the school year. The coaches instill the importance of good study skills, and achievement in school to be a successful student athlete.
“In order to be successful in the sport, athletes must also be successful in the classroom,” they said.
Prentice, who has been running competitively for three years, begins training with the North Texas Jackrabbits for summer track in February.
“I train four days a week for a couple hours each day,” said Prentice. “We work on our core, abs, and stamina as well as training on the track.”
Prentice and a number of the Jackrabbits qualified for the AAU Junior Olympic Games which were held July 29 through August 5 in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
At the Games, Prentice competed in the individual 200-meter sprint as well as the 4×100 and 4×400 relays.
“The 4×400 is probably my favorite race because I am faster at it and the competition is really intense,” said Prentice.
During the preliminary race of the 4×400, Prentice, along with teammates Ross Texada, Charis Jackson, and Damarion McPherson, ran a personal record time of 3:59, despite Damarion losing a shoe and running the entire third leg with one shoe.
“Prentice stepped on my foot during the handoff and I knew I just had to keep running,” said Damarion.
The team easily qualified for finals but was quick to say they still hoped to shave a little off that time.
The 11 and 12-year-old relay team medaled All-American in both the 4×100 (51.21) and 4×400 (3:58.20) relay, placing fourth and third, respectively. Prentice advanced to the semi-finals for the 200m, where he is ranked 21st in the nation after a time of 25.13.
The Jackrabbits club has helped a number of young athletes make it to the collegiate level and Prentice says he has his eyes on that list.
“I want to focus on both my education and my athletics, so I would love to go to a school where I could be successful in both,” said Prentice.
Past Jackrabbits who have continued athletics at the next level:
Cole Stallcup – Stephen F Austin (200, 400)
JP Coward – Oklahoma Baptist University (100, 200, and football)
AJ Brown – Tulsa University (200, 400)
Bianca Brazil – Oklahoma University (100, 100m hurdles)
Riley Schweitz – Troy University (heptathlon)
Kris Armstrong – Sterling College (hurdles)
Cody Cunningham – Baylor University (100, 200, 400)
Jaevin Reed – Texas A&M University (200, 400)
If you would like information on the North Texas Jackrabbits Track Club, please visit www.ntxjackrabbits.com.