Just blocks away from Sun Life stadium — underneath the glaring hot sun — motorist could see tents surrounding the Betty T. Ferguson facility as they drove past 199th street. It was the 2nd annual Miami Gardens Xpress Invitational track meet.
With over 1,200 young sprinters competing against each other Saturday morning, families witnessed their kids race against time for their respective clubs.
“ This was like a family event,” Miami Gardens Xpress Head Coach Darius, Coach “D” Lawshea wearing his blue hat said, “ It’s the biggest crowd ever on hand and most importantly the kids had a safe place to race.”
Miami Gardens Xpress, Ft. Lauderdale Track Club, South Dade Express, Airo Athletics, Runners Express, Olympia,Tacolcy, PPO Elite, Miami Coconut Grove, Lauderhill Cheetahs, Miami Scott Lake, Florida Elite, Miramar Optmist, Down South Speed Racers and first year track club Quick Reaction — to mention a few of the many clubs– geared up for the event.
In the boys’ Bantan 100-meters, it was the race that everyone came to see; Miami Gardens Vikings’ star running back, Brian Brewton took on Plantation Wildcats’ superstar, Jacari Ponder and Miami Gardens’ all-star, Brashard Smith. These top notch athletes lined it up for the Bantan Boys 100m showdown. Brain Brewton (South Dade Xpress) blasted out of the blocks coming in first place with a 13:09 time, second place went to Jacari Ponder (Ft.Lauderdale) 13:28 and in third place was Brashard Smith (South Dade) 13:42.
For the Youth girls’ 100-meters, Aisha Cobb (Olympia) took first prize, running a 12:75, Timetria Mitchell (Coconut Grove) 12:88 earned a second spot and coming in third place was Essence Cooper ( Tacolcy) clocking in at 12:92 .
Airo Athletics made their track debut, with one of their co-founders – former Miami Dolphins Pro Bowl defensive back Patrick Surtain and Dave Menard– on hand to see the action.
Surtain said, “Track is a huge thing in South Florida, and saw the opportunity of giving kids exposure outside of their community within the sport.” Surtain continued to preach the benefits of it.
“ Well you know down here [South Florida] when it comes to football, that’s all they talk about is speed, speed, speed, so by training these kids during the track season, it eventually helps them out during the season,” Surtain said.
One of the those kids taking advantage of the learning experience was 10-year-old Jacari Ponder (Ft. Lauerdale Track Club) who was the star tailback of the Plantation Wildcats in 2011, who finished second in the boys’ 100 meters – Bantan. The youngster wore his award around his neck, raised his finger up to the sky, with parents Jeremy Eaddy and Hope Boykins standing right besides him.
“ It feels good to win,” Ponder said, “ I raise my finger because it means “Put God first”, track has been helping me with my take-off speed and I am using it on the football field.”
For the boys’ Youth, 100-meters’ Shammond Williams (MGX) earned first place with a 11:65 time, Trayvon Mullen (Ft.Lauderdale) 11:84, and Nicholai Jaghai 12:00 (Airo) finished in third place.
“ It’s amazing when you see 4-to-5-year-olds’ running with perfect form. That says a lot about their coaches, volunteering, not getting paid and taking their time to teach them,” Surtainsaid. “ It’s for the greater good of the kids.”