For the second year in a row, Saudia James-Heard, a fourth-grader from Park Lodge Elementary School, competed in the Amateur Athletic Union’s (AAU) National Junior Olympics. Out of more than 7,000 athletes, James-Heard placed 10th in the nation in the long jump, 12th in the nation in the 400 meter and 29th in the nation in the 200 meter. James-Heard is also ranked first in the state in the long jump and the 400 meter.
James-Heard, also known as “Track Sugar” for being so sweet on the track, competed in regional meets in Arizona and Los Angeles to qualify for the AAU National Junior Olympics. When asked what she likes most about running, she quickly and confidently replied, “Crossing the finish line first!”.
James-Heard’s competitive love of running developed on a small basis—racing family members at a birthday party—and quickly grew once she realized she had a natural gift.
It’s the off-season for James-Heard, who stays in shape by playing recreational soccer. Come January she will begin her training with her coach/father, Michael Heard.
James-Heard’s running successes have earned her quite a local following including several generous sponsors who help with race participant fees, travel costs and the purchasing of various uniforms. These include North Coast Electric, Cannon Construction, Mike Dyer, Regency Cleaners and ESP, Inc.
The AAU National Junior Olympics were held at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa July 27 through Aug. 8.