World-Class Athletes to Speak with Central Junior High Students

April 19, 2005

LAWRENCE, Kan. – 2004 Olympian Charlie Gruber, and Olympic hopefuls Leonard Scott and Nichole Denby at 10:50 a.m. on Thursday, April 21, will speak to hundreds of students at Central Junior High School as part of USA Track & Field’s new “Be A Champion” program. The athletes will address healthy lifestyles, keeping active, and living with integrity. They will answer questions from the students and lead them in reciting the “Be A Champion,” pledge.

“We are excited to partner with USA Track & Field’s `Be A Champion’ program,” said Kansas Relays Meet Director Tim Weaver. “Our event has a tremendous impact on the community each spring, and this school program is a great opportunity to provide a memorable interaction between successful people and local youth. Charlie, Nicole and Leonard are great models of good choices and dedication. We are lucky to have them with us for the event.”

A major initiative by USA Track & Field and the American College of Sports Medicine, “Be A Champion,” facilitates direct interaction between Olympic medallists and middle-school aged children around the country, in order to positively impact their lifestyles and decision-making.

A 2002 graduate of the University of Kansas, where he was a two-time Big 12 Conference Outdoor 1,500m champion as a Jayhawk, Charlie Gruber continues to live in Lawrence. He’ll return to his home track looking for another win at the Kansas Relays after edging out U.S. prep record holder Alan Webb in a hard-fought invitational mile battle in 2003. With his runner-up finish at last summer’s Olympic Trials, Gruber joined an exclusive club of Kansas Olympic distance runners that includes all-time greats Jim Ryun, Billy Mills, Wes Santee and Glenn Cunningham.

A standout sprinter while at the University of Tennessee, Leonard Scott returned to track in 2004 after an attempt at a pro football career. Scott joined the HSI group, and under the tutelage of coach John Smith, he posted a new personal best in the 100 meters of 10.01 seconds, and placed eighth in that event at the Olympic Trials. Scott ended the 2004 campaign ranked #9 in the world by Track & Field News, and is considered to be a talented, young athlete to watch in the future.

The 2004 NCAA 100m hurdles champion while at the University of Texas, Nichole Denby is a four-time All-American and is the school record holder in the 60m hurdles. The Moreno Valley, Calif., native, Denby began the 2005 outdoor season with a victory in the 100m hurdles at the Texas Relays.

The “Be A Champion,” school visit is being held as part the 2005 Kansas Relays GOLD ZONE, which will be held Saturday, April 23 at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.