FORT JACKSON, SC -- Two Fort Jackson youth athletes will compete Saturday at a statewide track meet in Charleston for the opportunity to participate in the Hershey's Track and Field Games in Hershey, Pa. in August.

The athletes, Christopher Logsdon, 13, and Baylee Dunnick, 13, are members of the Child, Youth and School Services track team, which is open to children 9-14 years old.

This year, the team consists of 16 athletes, said Kenneth Covington, the volunteer coach. To qualify for the state meet, athletes had to compete in local and district meets earlier in the season. Covington said the bar will be even higher in Charleston.

"In order to qualify for Hershey's, you have to finish in the top two at the beginning of the meet." "It's a big event. The kids love it because they get to see other kids from other places compete against them."

Covington emphasized that even though he is proud to have two of his team members qualify for the state meet, the values he wants to teach the children on his team transcend winning and losing.

"I always teach them - and it's always the same in any sport - that not only do you have to commit to do something, but you have to see it through," he said. "You have to have discipline, regardless if it's school or (sports). You have to stay focused. You have to give it 100 percent, whatever you're doing."

Christy Townsend, Christopher's mother, said she encourages her son to be involved in sports. Besides running track, Christopher also plays basketball, baseball and soccer.

"It's a good way to get kids involved in the community," she said. "He's met so many kids now at other schools. He's going to a different middle school next year, and he's met some kids from there."

At the Charleston meet, Christopher will compete in the 800-meter and 1-mile races and in the softball throw. It will be his second competition at the state level, but this year, he said he has a special incentive to perform well.

"My grandparents are coming down from Indiana," he said. "I'm hoping to do good for them."

Baylee, who will compete in the 1-mile race, said she hopes to improve on last year's meet, where she placed third.

"This year I'm hoping to get my time down and make it to second or first place," she said.

Covington said he is most looking forward to his athletes having a good time at the event.

"My expectation doesn't matter," he said. "I just want them to experience it and say, 'I had fun and enjoyed it.'"

Page last updated Thu June 3rd, 2010 at 08:59