RIDGELAND - Fifty area athletes representing the Peak Performance Track Club qualified to participate in the USA Region 6 Junior Olympics Track & Field Championships in Birmingham, Ala. this weekend.

All 50 will compete for a top-five finish in their events in hopes of qualifying for the National Junior Olympics Championships on July 21-27, 2014 in Houston, Texas.

To qualify for the Regional, the athletes had to finish in the top eight places at the Southern Association Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships on June 21 and 22 in McComb. The meet consisted of 43 teams and 1110 participants, representing teams from Mississippi and Louisiana. In all, the Peak Performance team qualified 50 athletes in 83 events.

The total number of medals won were the most ever won by the team with 20 Gold medals, 11 Silver medals, and 12 Bronze medals.

Ten athletes won gold medals. Leading the way was Columbus-native Kennedi Sanders, who placed first in three events in the 11-to-12-year-old age group. She won the 100, 200 and 400 Meter Dash and broke local Olympic gold medalist athlete Bianca Knight's 13-year-old Association Junior Olympic record in the 200 Meter Dash by running it in 26.05 seconds. Sanders's times in the 100 & 400 Meter Dash were 13.24 and 1:02.59, respectively. Winning two gold medals were Kimora Daniels (9-10 age group), Sarah Aldredge (13-14), Thaddeus Land (13-14), plus a trio of Madison Central students: Asia Poe (15-16), Erica Bynum (17-18), Justin Bynum (15-16). Michiah Keyton (9-10), Sloan Vinson (9-10) and Javion Lee (17-18) also won a gold medal.

"Each of these athletes have either won or finished in the top three in their events in the previous meets," Peak Performance Coach Dennis Groll said. "They have an excellent chance of qualifying for the National meet."

Groll started Peak Performance Track Club earlier this year after moving from Monroe, La. to Madison County. Although he had a lot of success in the Pelican State, he said his track program has grown by "leaps and bounds" since he moved to Mississippi.

"It's really taken off in a way I never would have anticipated," he said. "It's way bigger here than it ever was in Louisiana, and the athletes here have really embraced it."