After one of Korie Frausto's throws in the shot put on Tuesday at the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics, he walked to the athletes' tent and sat in the shade on a set of bleachers next to Jordan Birch. The two chatted as they watched the other competitors in the youth boys division of the pentathlon.
They've been friends since elementary school, have played football and basketball together. While they are competing against each other at Cessna Stadium — Frausto finished third in the pentathlon, edging Birch for the first time in the event — that hasn't affected their friendship.
"You still try to win, but, you know," said Frausto, 13, who competes for the Wichita Roadrunners. "We try to make each other better, push each other."
Frausto and Birch are two of the elite athletes from the Wichita area competing in the six-day meet, which began on Tuesday. Seven thousand athletes entered the meet.
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Elite athletes are those likely to medal or win, and since this is such a huge event with so many high-caliber athletes from across the country, there will be top-flight athletes who won't win.
One of the best in the nation to watch is Oliver Bradwell, a Wichitan who ran at Barton Community College. He has the top-seeded time in the 200 meters (20.97 seconds), and the second-best time in the 100 (10.29).
Another to watch for is Amari Lipscomb, 11 and in the midget girls division, who won the 400 meters at the AAU nationals in Detroit three years ago.
For the two years following, though, she battled injuries caused by multiple growth spurts that hindered her speed. And while she isn't where she'd like to be right now (her 400 seed time is 1:03.37 and ranked 21st), she has a chance to medal in the 400 and the 200 races.
"There's this thing that people say that they were born to run," said her dad and coach, Marvin Dwayne Lipscomb. "Certain people have that gift, and she does have some of it."
To deal with her growth spurts, Lipscomb backed off his daughter's training until the pain abated this year.
"She's lost foot speed, turnover," he said. "Even though she's been winning all year, the time that she would think she would be putting out... is not where it needs to be."
At the qualifying meet in Lawrence, Amari Lipscomb finished first in the 400 and 200, second in the 100.
She'll showcase a different set of skills tonight during the opening ceremony — when she sings the National Anthem.
Other area athletes to watch for include:
* Northwest's Deron Thompson has the 13th-best time in the intermediate boys' 100 meters (11.12).
* Birch, coached by his father, Roy, has won the pentathlon twice in the Junior Olympics and once in AAU. He is especially strong in the long jump (seeded 13th) and the 100 and 200 hurdles (seeded ninth in both).
* Frausto, who had personal bests in the shot put and the high jump during the pentathlon, is seeded sixth in the 100 hurdles and seventh in the 200 hurdles.
* Rylea Birch is seeded fifth in the bantam girls shot put and 17th in the high jump and long jump.
"With the triathlon, she may be in the top five there and she has a legitimate chance to medal in three events," Roy Birch said.
* Alyssa Frausto's best event is the midget 1500 meters.
* Brent Weinlood has a shot in the youth 100, 200 and long jump.
"He's very talented," Team 365 coach John Wright said.
* Cole and Ransom Gardiner, twins, finished sixth and eighth in the young men 2000 steeplechase and will have chances to medal in other events, including the 1500, in which both are seeded in the top 30.