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CPTC celebrates summer of success

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By Robert Howey

A banner summer of track success was the focus at the annual Columbus Parker Track Club banquet at A.R. Rucker Middle School last week.The CPTC honored top athletes and coaches at the event.The track club recently returned from the AAU National Junior Olympics at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich.The club qualified 20 athletes to compete in the national meet.Two CPTC athletes qualified, including Ralph Staton who placed fifth in the 3,000-meter race walk along with Makalah Wallace, who was eighth in the 1,500-meter race walk.As for the season, the CPTC captured 246 ribbons, 136 medals and 22 gold medals.The CPTC, which began in 1985 in memory of its late coach Columbus Parker, competed in the 57-team field at the Region III meet in Fairburn, Ga., where the team placed in the top 10.The highlight of the region meet was the induction of CPTC coaches Arthur Benjamin and Dorothy Spratt-Ingram into the Track and Field Hall of Fame.Benjamin and Ingram were honored because they have been coaching longer than any other coaches. Benjamin, an assistant principal at Rucker Middle School, has been coaching for 38 years and Spratt-Ingram has 18 years of service.Parker’s children, son Chris and daughter Gina, along with their families honored the coaches for their work and dedication to the program.Guest speaker for the event was former CPTC athlete LaWanda Watts-Raysor, who was a standout in softball, basketball and volleyball at Lancaster High.During her CPTC career, Watts-Raysor was the first and youngest female member to travel to Hershey, Pa., to represent the team.Watts-Raysor offered some valuable words of wisdom to the young athletes during her remarks.“Aim high and with resolve never give up,” Watts-Raysor said. “Hold on tight to your ambitions and always stay ahead of the game.”She shared her motto in life.“Don’t stumble over obstacles in your path to success, just stack them up and climb to the top,” she said.