Running on the track has become a way of life for Glen Cove’s Ashton Morales. Morales, 9, fell in love with track nearly two years ago when his father, Joseph, signed him up for the Explosion Track Club in Freeport. When Ashton failed to qualify for the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics last year, he and his dad put together a routine to improve Ashton’s runtime.
After spending months training throughout Glen Cove’s hilly neighborhoods and beaches, Ashton returned determined this season and earned high praises in the Long Island and regional USATF championships in early July. And it was after the regional championships that Ashton and his family learned that he had qualified for the USATF National Junior Olympics in Sacramento, CA.
“Dad, I did it,” Ashton told his father. “I made it.”
Although they were proud of their son, Joseph and his wife, Tiffany, began to scramble to find a way to get their son to California in time for the competition, which was less than two weeks away. With few options to pay for the trip, Tiffany and Joseph created a GoFundMe page to lessen the burden of their travel costs. But despite the short time frame, their neighbors in Glen Cove rallied behind the family and raised more than $2,500. The GoFundMe page was even promoted by Mayor Timothy Tenke, who congratulated Ashton for his accomplishments.
“It was great to see how the community was supporting Ashton and getting behind him,” Joseph said. “Our family had always talked about visiting California, and it couldn’t have been under better circumstances.”
Before the competition, the family had spent sometime sightseeing in San Francisco. Although it had been fairy cool in the city, Sacramento greeted the Morales family with temperatures of more than 100 degrees. Despite the sudden change in temperature, Ashton psyched himself up for the 200-meter dash run, and while he didn’t win any medals at the Junior Olympics, he and his family felt proud to have competed at the national level along side some of the fastest kids in the U.S.
With the summer track season over, Joseph said that Ashton would be shifting his focus on basketball and football, the two other sports Ashton excels at. Standing at 5 foot, two inches, Ashton’s height helps him standout in both sports and has even accidentally caused him to play with teenagers during scrimmages rather than with his fellow elementary school teammates.
As for Ashton, he’s excited to enter the fifth grade at Landing Elementary School and also plans for prep himself for indoor track come winter.