SACRAMENTO – The USA Track and Field Hershey National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships featured youth from all over the country at Sacramento State University recently.

 And a local youth track club, Sacramento Speed Factory, was right in the mix of things.  Of 109 athletes on its roster, Sacramento Speed Factor sent 32 tracksters to the championships. Twelve walked away as All Americans.

John Knowles, who coaches Speed Factory along with other experienced track and field athletes, was pleased with the results at his alma mater Sac State. He said Sac State boasts a “premier track here in the United States.”

“If I take the coach hat off I would say I thought the meet itself was ran well. There were some hiccups here and there. But overall they did an excellent job,” Speed Factory founder Knowles said. “It’s great seeing what Sac State used to look like compared to when I was an athlete there, to what it looks like now. They did some great things to upgrade the facilities. It’s totally different.”

Speed Factory’s 4×100 meter relay team, in the girl’s 9- and 10-year-old division, placed fifth overall with a time of 50.90 seconds. Reagan Miller, Eryn Howard, Saniyah Hopkins, and Leah Miller were medalists for the youth track club.

Competing in a big event with scores of college recruiters in attendance worked perfectly for Speed Factory. The club didn’t have to do much for accommodation and sent all its qualifiers to the championships.

The Sacramento Speed Factory is a community based track and field program for the benefit of school aged youth in the greater Sacramento area.  The program was initially established due to the lack of sporting options offered to elementary through junior high school aged students, but now accepts youths in grades first through 12th grades. 

Speed Factory started with four young athletes when it started in 2011. Now the local track and field club has more than 105 athletes who compete in almost 10 track meets each season. They also train and practice three days a week at their own pace. 

Speed Factory is based out of North Natomas and Elk Grove. 

Another training site was created for Folsom to reach out to youth in that area. About 700 youth have participated in Speed Factory activities.

Speed Factory’s program provides a positive and productive activity that combats juvenile delinquency and community deterioration by offering an activity designed to build character and self-confidence through success in the sport of Track and Field. Speed Factory’s program offers an experienced coaching staff of former Division I NCAA Track and Field athletes and Semi-Pro football players. Knowles was a track and field athlete at Sacramento State as was Terrance Early in the late 1990s, and Thompkins (Saniyah’s mom). 

Speed Factory’s coaches are serious about the sport and the youth the train. The coaches attend coaching seminars, clinics, USATF certifications, and they do their best to set the youth up for competitions that will put them in front of college recruiter’s eyes for track and field scholarships.

“We enjoy being in the community and we enjoy track and field. So it was a natural thing. This gave us an opportunity to coach and still help kids.”

Sacramento Speed Factory is a non-profit for public benefit charitable organization and is state recognized under section 501 (c) (3) and every donation to the track club is tax deductible. 

The youth club takes generated funds to support the program by way of travel expenses, practice equipment, usage of practices facilities, rental and other financial needs. Donations to the coaching staff or any related questions can be directed to

 Coach Knowles can also be reached at (916) 949-5706.

Speed Factory Junior Olympics Championships qualifiers (* Denotes All Americans, ** denotes double All American performers):

Alyssa Bishop, * Leah Miller (4×100 meter relay), *Saniyah Hopkins (4×100 meter relay), *Eryn Howard (4×100 meter relay), *Regan Miller (4×100 meter relay), *Citialli Campos (1,500 meter run, ** Allen Bishop (Triathlon, 200-meter dash), Riley Ratcliff, Andre Knowles, Shaun Hopkins, Mateo Campos, **Ja’Niya Haley (Pentathlon, high jump), Londynn Miller, *Mason Beloney (200-meter dash), Daniel Stanton Jr., and Jayson Williams.

Rounding out the Speed Factory’s participation in the Junior Olympics Championships were Jaden Corry, *Bryce Mack (1,500 run), Aniaya Bishop, Lauren Steuben, Tori Williams, Arianne McCullough, Jaliyah Davis, Andrew Bishop, Myles Martinez, Elise Lowe, Brianna Willis, Nieko McCauley, and Marcus Carroll.

By Antonio R. Harvey | OBSERVER Staff Writer

Photos by Antonio R. Harvey & Video by Russell Stiger, Jr.