LAYTON — At a time when most kids are in bed, a group of young athletes were warming up for the local Hershey's Track and Field meet recently in Layton.

The first runner out was 12-year-old Avery Calton, the only 1600-meter runner. She finished the mile with a new personal record, 5:52:41.

The annual Hershey's Track and Field has three age divisions: 9-10, 11-12, 13-14. They can compete in three events if they wish, but only two running events.

Local winners move on to district and then to state. From there, the top competitors in the region are selected for the North American Final in Hershey, Penn. It encourages youths, ages 9-14, to stay active while having fun. Events include fthe mile, 50-meter dash, standing long jump and the softball throw (similar to shot put).

"It's much better than them playing Game Cube all day," Louis Krutsch said.

Krutsch's daughter, Phoebe, attended state in 2006. This year, the 9-year-old had better times than the winner of the next division up and had the longest jump of the meet for girls. She finished first in the 200 meters, 400 meters and long jump at the local Layton meet and the state qualifier in Tremonton.

Layton routinely fills 19-20 slots in the state competition each year. Three students from Layton finished first in all three of their events at the state qualifier: Phoebe Krutsch, Marcus Kemp and Dante Joseph.

In addition, Brent Wortman finished second in his three events and will also be competing at state. Other state qualifiers from Layton are Sean Germany, 50 meters, Jordon Ross, 200 and 400, Brian Allen, long jump, and Eliza Katoa, 200 and 400.

Dante Joseph will be making his second state appearance. Last year he finished fourth and is ready to try again. This time he's going in as district champion of the 100, 200 and softball throw.

"He's so athletic. He wants to try everything," said Dante's mother, Sharlette. "He likes it all and he pushes himself. We're proud of him."

Dante's father felt the same way.

"He's always been competitive," Robert Joseph said. "He's always done well."

Most of the Hershey's Track and Field meet participants were members of the Layton Track Club. With their bright-yellow shirts, team members could be easily spotted. The team's training is geared toward the Hershey meet.

"I've always had a personal love for track and field," said Ron Stallworth, who has been the head coach of the program for 11 years.

"I've always enjoyed working with young kids," Stallworth said. "It's very fulfilling and rewarding."

Although children younger than 9 aren't allowed in the Hershey competition, children as young as 6 can be on the Layton team.

"We groom them for the meet," Stallworth said.

Team members learn the basics of the events, proper form and focus. Three members of the Layton Track Club have gone to the national competition in Hershey. One, LaVon Jackson, attended twice to compete in the standing long jump. Jackson is now a running back for Layton High.

The meet, which is open to all children in the area, became a double meet with Clearfield because the original Clearfield meet was rained out. Calton was on the Clearfield team.

Children from as far as Ogden attended but were scored separately for qualifying. Louis Krutsch said he was really impressed with the attitude of the kids who participate on all levels. He said his daughter enjoys the Hershey competitions because she has the chance to meet new people.

"She makes friends with everyone," Krutsch said.

The same goes for most of the Layton track team.

"Everyone wants to win," Krutsch said, "but they're all friends and they're all supportive."

Layton local first-place finishers:

Girls 9-10

50 meters: Abigail Young, 9.02; 100 meters: Abigail Young, 17.31; 200 meters: Phoebe Krutsch, 31.59; 400 meters: Phoebe Krutsch, 1.17.19; long jump: Phoebe Krutsch 6-0; softball throw: Libberty Joseph 50-3.

Girls 11-12

100 meters: Kimiko Vann, 15.56; 200 meters: Eliza Katoa, 32.06; 400 meters: Eliza Katoa, 1.18.78; long jump: Kimiko Vann, 5-10; softball throw: Eliza Katoa, 87-11.

Boys 9-10

50 meters: Sean Germany, 8.31; 100 meters: Dante Joseph, 15.02; 200 meters: Dante Joseph, 30.05; 400 meters: Jordan Ross, 1.19.75; long jump: Sean Germany, 5-10; softball throw: Dante Joseph, 115.

Boys 11-12

100 meters: Marcus Kemp, 15.56; 200 meters: Marcus Kemp, 31.40; 400 meters: Jacob Pitkin, 1.18.12; 800 meters: Parker Hall, 2.49.75; long jump: Marcus Kemp, 7-3; softball throw: Michael Hanson, 95.

Boys 13-14

100 meters: Jordan Price, 14.93; 200 meters: Brent Wortman, 30.09; 800 meters: Brent Wortman, 2.38.62; softball throw: Brent Wortman, 154-8.


E-mail: hlebaron@desnews.com