Karrington Stewart, 10, who is going into fifth grade, runs during a SPAR track practice at Lee Hedges Stadium in Shreveport on Thursday. / Val Horvath Davidson/The Times
Starting when she was in kindergarten, Karrington Stewart would ask anyone on the playground at her elementary school to race her.
And as she got older, she started racing more and more – the more she raced the more she won. Now the 10-year-old Shreveport girl is practicing to gain a national title for the 100 meter-dash during the 2013 USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships.
Stewart, a fifth-grader at Summerfield Elementary School, set the record for the 100-meter dash, for girls ages 9-10, during the regional track meet in Mississippi where she also placed first in the 200- meter dash, according to statistics.
She gained her third gold medal at regionals when she anchored the 4x100 relay that outpaced their competitors.
“I’m nervous, but I keep telling myself that I have to finish hard,” Stewart said. “Every time I run I try to set a new record.”
Competing in outdoor track for the Shreveport track and field club, she prepares extensively and works hard. She practices at least three times a week with her team, then some on her own.
When asked about her key to running fast, Stewart said, “You have to keep your form and you can’t move side to side. You have to stay in your lane.”
Stewart is among 34 athletes on the SPAR Track and Field Team headed to North Carolina July 27-28 for the Junior Olympics. This is her first year running track and she’s already grabbed five gold medals and one silver and has set three records.
USATF officials contacted Stewart’s coach last week to inform him that overall, she ranks first in the 100- meter dash and second in the 200 meter. She has a time of 13.35 in the 100-meter dash and runs 200 meters in 27.35, seconds, according to her coach.
“She’s talented and she does what she has to do to be the best,” track coach Lamark Carter said. “Since her first day with us, she comes out here and she works.
“Her ability has taken over and she works hard to succeed.”
Paula Walls first realized her daughter’s talent during a school field day. Stewart, who also is a straight-A student, led her class to victory after a fellow classmate dropped a baton in the relay. The class went from last place to first when it was Stewart’s turn to run.
The physical education coach told Walls her child needed to be on a track team.
“I always knew she had a lot of energy and played a lot, but I did not know she was this fast,” Walls said. “I’m just so proud of her. I’m so proud.”