Robbie Grace, Sydney Jackson, T’Nia Riley and Shaliciah Jones recently represented the state of Minnesota at the AAU Junior Olympic Nationals last weekend, held at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.
All four student-athletes – who have definitely made their mark in Minnesota – put the national scene on notice that though our fair state has recently become a hotbed when it comes to basketball, track and field is not far behind.
“You often hear about Minnesota basketball on the national scene, said new Cretin Derham Hall Girls’ Basketball Coach Crystal Flint. “However, Minnesota track and field is also on the map nationally.”
Based on recent accomplishments, that could be seen as an understatement.
Grace, a rising junior at The Blake School, placed seventh in the 400-meter run, third in the long jump, and teamed with Riley, Faith Robinson and Taynian Walgrave to lead the 4×100 relay team to a third-place finish.
Jones, a recent graduate who starred at North St. Paul, placed seventh in the 100 meters while Jackson, a rising junior at Cretin Derham Hall, did likewise in the 800 meters.
In addition to her contribution to the 4×100 relay team, Riley, who recently concluded a decorated track and field career at Minneapolis North, finished first in the 200 and third in the 100.
As stated before, Grace, Jackson, Riley and Jones have more than made their mark in this state. At the state track meet, held at Hamline University two months ago, Grace took second- and third-place honors in the 200 and 100 respectively in Class A competition.
Jones was the top winner in the 100 and runner-up in the 200 while also helping Brianna Bixby, Jebeh Cook and J’ianna Cager lead North St. Paul’s 4×100 relay team to a first-place finish in Class AA.
Riley represented Minneapolis North as the Class A state champion in the 100 and 200.
In addition to her track success, Jackson is a valued member of the Cretin Derham Hall girls’ basketball team; she helped them make it to the Class 4A state tournament. She accomplished the same feat as an eighth-grader playing for St. Paul Como Park in Class 3A.
Flint made it clear that these young ladies, among others, deserve the recognition their counterparts in basketball and football receive. “Please shine some light on the positive,” she said in a Facebook message to the media. “These girls are from Minnesota.”
It seems as if these scholar-athletes are the ones who have shined some positive light. They definitely represented and will continue to do s
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.