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RIEZ brings the heat
Youth track and field program keeps athletes busy all summer

RIEZ 3rd Annual Family Fun and Fitness Track and Field Meet
Saturday, 9 a.m.
Statesboro High School

Entry Fee: $10
Spectator Admission: $3
Registration Deadline: Friday
    *Proceeds benefit trip to Junior Olympics qualifier in Orlando, Fla.

    Even as the scorching Statesboro summer sets in, there are still plenty of local athletes burning up the track.
    For the last seven years, Running In the Extreme Zone track and field has offered great offseason training and competition for athletes. With competitors as young as six and running all the way up to 18, the program is well suited for seasoned veterans as well as those just starting to get into track and field.
    As dedicated as young athletes must be to endure the elements at this time of year, the coaches of RIEZ are just as motivated.
    RIEZ operates as a nonprofit organization and all coaches — who also coach at schools around the area during the spring — are volunteers that take no pay for their efforts.
    “This is all for the kids”, volunteer and fundraiser John Dowling said. “The first time I saw a practice here, I was just amazed by how much all of the coaches care and the time that they’re willing to commit.
    “This is such a great program. Not only does it help athletes who want to improve and maybe work toward a scholarship someday, but it just promotes an active and healthy lifestyle that will help these kids down the road.”
    Healthy living and possible future benefits are nice, but the 40 athletes that compete for RIEZ are serious about their events when competitions roll around. The program has been to the Junior Olympics in all but one season of its history and is gearing up for another run this summer.
    Four RIEZ athletes have already qualified for the Junior Olympics as Keiyonna Gusby (decathlon, high jump, long jump), Anthony (long jump), and Koby Roberts and Kaycey Daynon (3,000 meters) all turned in stellar performances at a meet on Saturday in Atlanta.
    In order to raise money for a trip to the Junior Olympic qualifier in Orlando next month – and also to Detroit for the finals in August – RIEZ is hosting a “Family Fun and Fitness” meet that will be open to public spectators and competitors this Saturday at Statesboro High School.
    Field events are slated to begin at 9 a.m. with track events getting underway around 10:30. Event organizers have taken painstaking steps to make sure that anyone can participate while also offering a challenge.
    “We’ve broken everything into 11 age groups, starting with toddlers and working up in two-year increments,” Dowling said. “The key is for everyone to be able to have a good time, whether they just want to come cheer people on or whether they want to get out there and compete themselves.”
    Non-RIEZ members can enter to participate in the meet for $10 while spectators can watch the event for $3.
    “We want to have a lot of fun, but the main point is to help out with our trip to Orlando,” Dowling said. “We’d love for a bunch of people to come out and share the day with us and any donations to our program are, of course, greatly appreciated. Our goal is to help these kids grow as athletes and as people. I think that events like this are a great way to do that.”
    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.