TORONTO — The start of the North American Indigenous Games’ track and field competition began with an impressive flash of speed from Team Florida’s Julius Aquino, who provided a glimpse of his talent on the track before abruptly being felled by injury.
Running against older kids in a division above his own age group, Julius, 14, blazed his way to the fastest time in a heat for the 100-meter dash in the boys U16 division in York Lions Stadium on the campus of York University in Toronto. Julius’s time of 11.69 seconds was better than the other 18 competitors from Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia and other provinces and states in the heat as the Fort Gibson (Okla.) High School freshman comfortably punched his ticket to the finals later that evening.
After he watched his uncle Sammy Micco Sanchez receive a gold medal during the wrestling awards ceremony, Julius shifted his focus to seeking gold himself in the 100 final. With a strong start, Julius appeared to be on his way to earning a medal and perhaps gold as he battled for the top spot against seven other runners. But with about 20 meters to go, Julius, who was in good shape in first or second place, suffered a devastating injury. Despite being in tremendous pain from an apparent Achilles’ injury, Julius bravely finished the race, crossing the line in fourth place in 12.21 before going to the ground. After a few minutes, Julius was helped up by Seminole Recreation coaches and placed in a
wheelchair. The unfortunate mishap ended Julius’s first NAIG in his first event. He was scheduled to run other events, but the injury prevented him from competing.
Julius was one of four track and field athletes for Team Florida, which was coached by Darren McPherson and Green Cummings. Silas Madrigal, 16, finished fifth in a field of 14 in the U19 800. He missed qualifying for the 400 final by one spot, finishing He also competed in long jump, where he finished 16th out of 28 with his top jump of 4.94 meters out of three attempts.
Silas plays baseball and basketball at Okeechobee High School and would like to add track to his agenda.
“I want to keep doing track,” he said.
Kaleb Thomas opted for longer distances. He ran the U16 2000 meter (8th) and the following day returned for the 800 (9th). Kaleb said after the 800 that he knew right away the 2000 had taken a lot out of him.
Niko Doctor ran the U14 80 meter (20th), 150 meter (21st) and long jump (23rd).