It was a David-conquers-Goliath moment.
Four boys from a Tri-City track and field club, competing against teams much larger in number than their own, found the right gear to win their age group at a regional championship last weekend in San Jose.
Though they participated in fewer than half of the events because of their lack of numbers, the boys from Audience of One scored the most points in the 13-14 age division at the Pacific Association Youth Championships.
It was a conquering feeling for the team of Dante Lucas, Matthew Runels, Maurice Washington and Payton Young -- and their coach, Jerry Craft. The boys competed in a division that included 28 teams from throughout the region.
"It blows my mind," Craft said. "To do this with four boys, it's a testament to their hard work, their dedication, their trust in me."
Craft spent so much time at the awards area, meet director Joanne Slaton-Camargo said she told him, "Don't you get tired of coming up here?"
"They did just awesome for a little, small group," she said.
How did they do it?
The boys credit Craft, who Washington says transformed them into stars.
"I'm not bragging, but our coach seems to know what he's doing," said Washington, 12, who competes in the sprints and long jump. Competition rules allow 12-year-olds to compete in the 13-14 age division if they turn 13 before the end of the season.
Craft, a coach at Newark Memorial High School,
He puts his athletes, who practice mostly at Newark Memorial, through demanding workouts but teaches them what his website calls "life skills and character development."
"These kids absolutely love track, but they learn that from their coach," said Payton Young's mother, Robin. "He doesn't just teach track and field. He teaches life lessons, values -- school and family come first. The kids are seeing so much success through those values."
But even with the coach's life lessons, the boys weren't sure about their chances last weekend.
"I certainly believed we had potential to do this, but I didn't know," 12-year-old Payton said.
The unknown started to become reality as the results came in.
Runels, 13, finished first and Young second in the triple jump.
Washington took second place and Young sixth in the long jump.
Runels placed first and Washington eighth in the 100-meter dash.
Lucas, 14, ran third in the 400 and sixth in the 800.
The boys also won their age group in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays, finishing ahead of two high school-age teams in the 4x400, which was a mixed-division race.
"Our relay was awesome," Craft said.
Now the team aims to compete in the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics that begin next month in Houston. But in addition to working toward advancing past the West Coast AAU Junior Olympics in Reno in two weeks, the team is trying to raise money through community support to get to Texas.
"It'd be a good experience," Runels said.
For more information on Audience of One track and field club, visit www.a1trackclub.com.