Bridge City track star to compete in Junior Olympics
At 14 years old, it’s hard to imagine that a girl could already be an
amazing athlete. For Alexus Henry, however, this expectation has already
been met as she is one of the top track stars in her school, and more
impressively, headed to compete in the Junior Olympics.
Alexus Henry, a soon to be freshman at Bridge City High school, is already at the top of the sports world at Bridge City. Since the seventh grade, Alexus has been high jumping for Bridge City and has made remarkable progress, considering she has only been competing in the sport a few years.
Alexus realized her potential in the seventh grade when she scored first place in district in the triple jump, long jump, and high jump. Then in eighth grade, she scored first place again in the long jump and high jump.
Because of her dedication, Alexus has scored a spot to compete in the USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships this week at Wichita State University in Kansas. At Regional level for the Junior Olympics, where she competed with about eight other girls, Alexus scored second place in high jump with a jump of 5’3”.
The competition for the USATF Championship takes place in six two-year age divisions, with athletes generally falling between the ages of eight and 18.
In Alexus’ division, she will be competing with about 20 other girls from areas around the nation. The main competition she faces is two girls that have their highest jump at 5’7” and 5’5”. Alexus’ highest jump is 5’4”, so her chances of winning a medal are very high.
If Alexus performs well in the Junior Olympics and is in the top three, she has the chance to go to the Olympics. Although girls at Alexus’ level will not be competing against the athletes in the Olympics, it is a great opportunity for children her age.
Her mother feels that if she keeps up her hard work and dedication, Alexus may one day have the chance to compete in the Olympics.
“I’m quite confident that she will make the top three because, right now, there are only two that can out jump her from the results I’ve been tracking,” Smart said. “We’re going to get in as much jumping as we can and when we check in on Wednesday I’m going to find her a place to work out at.”
In order to reach these high goals, Alexus has had to give up the idea of an average teenage girl’s life and focus most of her time on prepping for sports.
On average, Alexus spends 15 to 20 hours a week practicing for track. Because it is the summer, many schools do not leave their high jump open for use, so Alexus and her mother travel to Westbrook in Beaumont about three days a week.
“There are days when she wakes up and gets to the gym at nine, works out, and doesn’t get home till eight at night,” Shelly Smart, Alexis’ mother, said.
Not only is Alexus involved in track, but she is also a basketball and volleyball player, and an honor roll student. Most of her weekday hours are spent practicing for the multiple sports she plays. About three days a week Alexus runs with the Orange track club, then spends another four hours once a week at volleyball practice. She is expected to have a spot on the Varsity basketball team and volleyball team for Bridge City her freshman year.
This year, Alexus received her first bit of formal training from Ashley Johnson, a senior in high school who has competed at the state level.
Before Ashley, Alexus had several coaches at different levels, such as Crystal Jones and Nancy Wood, show her a little bit of technique, but her mother Shelly Smart has been her main coach and guidance.
“I’d have to say that I’m a lot harder on her because I know what to expect out of her and know her abilities, and sometimes it’s a complicated mix of feelings,” Smart said.
Smart wasn’t originally going to be Alexus’ track coach, but in the middle of the season the coach the organization had selected quit, and so Smart stepped in to help out.
“She is really a naturally talented athlete, but she is also a very coachable kid, so she retains coaching really well,” Smart said. “That’s how she has become such a great athlete, even though she has had very minimal training.”
Although Alexus has to given up a lot to become a successful athlete, (hanging out with friends, etc.) she considers every bit of hard work worth it.
For a while she still plans on focusing on sports, and has her eyes set on being a part of LSU’s track team. After college, Alexus wants to stay within the sports world by doing sports modeling, and perhaps after that, becoming a coach.