USATF Junior Championships conclude at West Harrison High School - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

USATF Junior Championships conclude at West Harrison High School

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Approximately 1,100 athletes from Mississippi and Louisiana made their way to West Harrison High School this weekend to participate in the USA Track & Field Junior Championships.

Hattiesburg Flyers coach Phillip Travis, who was in charge of organizing the event, says there could be even more people who show up to the planned event for next year.

"We're hoping to have 2,000 people," Travis said. "When [Tommie] Smith did his meet a couple years ago in New Orleans, it was like over 1,500 kids at that meet. We're hoping to top that next year."

Smith is a 1968 Olympic gold medal winner and made his way to the Mississippi gulf coast along with Diane Williams, who won a gold medal at the 1987 World Championships in Rome.

While all the kids want to win their races, that's not the thing of which Smith wants to place his focus. He plans on helping Travis expand the event in Gulfport and bring it back next year.

"It's not all about running fast," said Smith. "We're here for the repetition of excellence in whatever you do. Education is that excellence."

"I wanted to do something just to give back," Williams said." I've been here since Tuesday and I've been what you call a 'premier volunteer' but it's okay because I love track and field and seeing these beautiful young children running their hearts out.

The volunteers are noticed, too. Without the hundreds of willing help, the 2015 meet might have run into a lot more than just the finish line.

"We don't just want to compliment the officals and the volunteers, but all the parents and coaches that have their kids here for the last three days," USATF Southern Association President James Simmons said. "This has been a great event where the parents and spectators have been very cooperative."

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