Two young local athletes headed to track and field nationals

Published: Aug. 3, 2017 at 5:47 PM CDT
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DENISON, Texas (KXII) -- Two local athletes have made the cut to compete nationally this weekend in track in field.

We spoke to Kzaria Butler, one of the athletes, and her mom about why this is an achievement for them both.

Kzaria, 11, is going into the 6th grade at B McDaniel Middle School in Denison.

While some kids used the summer to kick back, she has been using her time on the track, practicing up to five times a week.

"It's a priority," said Kzaria. "It's my favorite thing to do."

But she admits, it's not always easy.

"You gotta like, eat healthy, you can't eat all the sweets that you want."

Come Saturday, Kzaria will be competing in the girls 100 meter dash, the 200 meter dash and shot put in Kentwood, Mich.

She beat hundreds of kids along the way and placed third in the 100 meter dash at state in McAllen last weekend to get to nationals.

"I mean, she had that strong will to go and that was something she wanted to do," said Jessica Butler, Kzaria's mom.

She said watching her daughter make it to nationals this year has been emotional for her, because last track season she was battling breast cancer and couldn't make it to practice or competitions.

"I wasn't able to be in the sun and it was hard on me," said Butler. "I couldn't give her the support she needs, but this year, I said I was going to be there every step of the way."

Now, five surgeries later and cancer free, she's able to keep that promise, and she'll be doing with Kzaria to Michigan.

"She's only 11 and she's made it this far. It's just amazing," said Butler.

Kzaria's coach, Jumar McNealy, said she is one of two kids from the Sherman Elite summer track program going, including 10-year-old Braden Ulmer of Howe who will be competing in shot put.

We're told they're the first two from the team to qualify for nationals at the amateur level in more than a decade.

"This is a huge deal, because not only did they make it to this level, they made it in an impressive fashion," said McNealy.

Kzaria said her goal is to make her mom proud.

"I'm going try to bring first or second," she said.

"Hopefully we'll be able to bring home some heavy metal around our neck," said McNealy.

The team leaves tomorrow.