[CHARLESTON] -- Two of Charleston County’s own youth have been selected to represent South Carolina at the North American Final track and field competition. This is the final competition in a series of events in the Hershey’s Track and Field Games.
Mariah McCanick will represent the state in the 11-12 girls’ standing long jump, and Diamond Coulter will compete in the 13-14 girls’ standing long jump in the North American Finals. McCanick and Coulter are two of five South Carolina youth who will represent the state in the national competition in Hershey, PA Aug. 5 - 8.
McCanick was selected from the state level competition when she jumped 7 feet, 8.5 inches. Coulter’s distance in the standing long jump event was 8 ft. 1 inch.
This year was the first year that 12-year-old McCanick, a student last year in Minnie Hughes Elementary School, had participated in Hershey’s Track and Field Games. “I feel amazed because I never thought I would get this far!” said McCanick, who will be starting out as a student at Baptist Hill this year. She says she is very excited to travel to Pennsylvania for the national-level game, and has been training since the state-level competition. “I’m amazed but scared at the same time.”
In the Hershey’s Track and Field Games, athletes 9-14 years old first participate in their local events. The top two qualifiers in each event from the local competition advance to their district finals. The top two qualifiers from the district finals then compete in their state competition.
The times and distances of first place winners at the state finals are then compared to the times and distances of other winners in their region. The Southeast region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
The Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission has been involved with the Hershey’s Track and Field Games since 1988.
The goal of the Hershey’s Track and Field Games is “to promote youth physical fitness and provide fun learning experiences,” and to “help kids discover their potential, make new friends, and gain newfound self confidence.” The program works to encourage physical fitness in children through running, jumping and throwing. As the largest youth sports program of its kind in the United States and Canada, the Hershey’s Track & Field Games was created as a community event in 1975 in Charleston, WV. Over the years, it has continued to expand throughout the nation and now includes meets in each of 50 states, The District of Columbia, as well as 10 provinces and three territories of Canada. Over 400,000 youth participate in the program annually.