New Abilene track team sending athletes to Junior Olympics


ABILENE, Texas - A brand new youth track team from Abilene hasn't much time gaining speed at the back of the pack. Instead they've been running laps around the competition.

The West Texas Express, which was founded in May, had 13 young athletes qualify for the AAU Junior Olympics and another 20 to the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation state track meet.

"Every single one of us is good in a specific race," said 11-year-old Jalyn Childers, who qualified for state in the 200 and 400 meter races.

"When we started practicing at the end of March, we didn't really think it was going to be this many kids, this much involvement," said team co-founder Jessica Molina.

Molina's husband, Greg Yendell, ran track in college and spent time with Team USA. as a triple jumper. Now he helps coach the team.

"When we go to the first meet, he said, it'll be worth it to you," said Molina. "And it was because you get all the little kids and they have their ribbons and they're excited."

During a team picture session before Tuesday's practice, almost all of the 33 total kids had a medal or two dangling from their neck.

Perhaps the most decorated team member is Braydon Henry, who won the 100 meter dash at Junior Olympics in 2016.

This is Henry's third straight appearance at Junior Olympics, which will be held in Michigan this year. Molina says because of the distance and cost, only six of the 13 qualifiers are planning to make the trip, but they'd love to see Henry's wealth of success spread throughout the team.

"The expectations? Well, I hope we all win," said Molina with a laugh.

The West Texas Express will be holding fundraisers to help offset the cost for families. To help the team, click here to visit their Facebook page.

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