Racing for the Junior Olympics

Bringing their colors of the Red, White, and Blue to the 2019 Junior Olympics, Francisco Ramirez and Aza Boykin ran for the win.  At Agricultural and Technology University in North Carolina, Boykin and Ramirez competed in various events at a district qualifier. They then competed at a regional qualifier to earn a spot at the Junior Olympics 

 Training day and night Boykin prepared for the upcoming races. “I practiced with my team doing different types of training like track workouts, core exercises and swimming,” Boykin said. Most people have the jitterbugs before an important event and Boykin had his own rituals to calm himself down. He listened to music to get his blood pumping and flowing. He also had pep talks with his teammates to keep the positive vibes racing. Once his time to shine arrived, he competed in the 800 meter and the 4×800 meter race. “When I ran the 800 meter my time was 2:08 minutes, which isn’t my best time. It was my first time racing at that high of competition, so I was nervous,” Boykin said. The whole team worked hard to reassure that everyone there deserved their spot. “I am thankful for my teammates, my coach, and my parents for helping me get this far in my athletic career,” Boykin said.  

Ramirez had his own ways of preparing for such a race. “I wasn’t really nervous because it was a whole new set of runners I had never raced against before,” Ramirez said. Although he was not nervous, he did have a good luck charm. His grandmother gave him a necklace with a hat charm on it. Before the race, he listened to music and talked with his teammates to help get his energy flowing. He ran the 1,500-meter and 3,000-meter race. “My time in the 1,500-meters was 4:15 and my time in the 3,000-meters was 9:18. I got ninth in the 1,500-meter and fourth in the 3,000-meter race,” Ramirez said. Ramirez remains grateful for the people in his life who helped him get where he is. “I would have to thank my cross-country coach, Coach Denny, and my Amateur Athletes Union Coach. Also, my family for supporting and my teammates for always being there for me and being such great friends!” Ramirez said. Although it was Boykin’s last year to compete, Ramirez still plans to continue strong. “I plan to compete next year as well. I will work train the same way and work even harder,” Ramirez said. 

Ramirez’s success also led to him being featured on Mile Split, and he was just named the Pensacola News Journal athlete of the week.