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The Columbus Parker Track Club has a tradition of youth track excellence dating back to its inception in 1985.
The 2011 season for the CPTC, a Lancaster area youth track club, followed in the same winning form.
The team, athletes and coaches celebrated a season of success at the club’s annual banquet Saturday night at A.R. Rucker Middle School.
The team, for the 2011 campaign which began in June, captured 308 awards, including 40 gold medals.
The Columbus Parker Track Club also qualified 23 athletes for the AAU Nationals at Tad Gromley Stadium in New Orleans, La.
The 23 athletes were part of a 35-member squad which participated in the national qualifying meet held at Lucy C. Laney Stadium in Augusta, Ga.
The CPTC athletes who qualified for the nationals ranged in age from 7 to 17.
The highlight of the team’s showing in New Orleans was the effort of William Russell Twitty Jr., who was the national runner-up in the javelin throw. Twitty is an eighth grader at South Middle School.
In addition to Twitty’s banner effort, Alexandria Williams was eighth in the 3,000-meter race walk at Gromley Stadium.
“We’re extremely proud of all our athletes who competed in the nationals and applaud the effort of Twitty and Williams,” CPTC coach Arthur Benjamin said. “Next season, the national meet is in Houston, Texas and we plan to be there.
“That’s our motto, like the Navy,” he said. “Join the Columbus Parker Track Club and see the world. Let the journey begin with you.”
Benjamin is assisted by administrator-coach, Dorothy Spratt-Ingram, and the CPTC assistants are Tyger Ingram and Eugene Wallace.
Spratt-Ingram presented a host of awards, including trophies and certificates, to deserving CPTC athletes.
Guest speaker Kevin Hood, who ran with the track program in his Lancaster youth, offered key words of wisdom.
“It takes hard work to be successful,” said Hood, the principal at Hunter Street Elementary School in York. “There are three keys to success – determination, preparation and passion.”
Hood encouraged the athletes to follow their dream, no matter what field they choose to pursue.
“Prepare for your future,” Hood said. “Determine what you want to be and work toward that goal.”
Parker’s children, Chris Parker and his sister, Gina Hammond, honored the CPTC coaching staff for their work with the team over the year.
The team is named in memory of the late Columbus “Big Daddy” Parker, the team’s former coach who also served as a Lancaster educator and high school athletic official.
Spratt-Ingram saluted the team’s sponsors, including the J. Marion Sims Foundation, the CPTC’s primary funding source.
“Thanks for keeping our kids running in the right direction,” she said.