Covington 8-year-old takes AAU crown

COVINGTON - Covington's Jonathan Jenkins recently deflated the competition in the 8-under Amateur Athletic Union, winning the 2008 AAU Cross Country National Championships in Decatur, Ala.

Jenkins won the 2,000-meter race with a time of 7 minutes, 16.8 seconds.

The next closest runner was Jude Burst of New Orleans, who came in second with a time of 7:34.30.

"I just ran. I didn't know how fast I was running," Jenkins, 8, said. "I ran until I saw the finish line, then I cried. I wanted to be (under) 7 minutes."

Winning the 2K race does not come without dedication and a lot of practice.

"He runs about four miles a day," said Robert Jenkins, his father and NewRock Rockets track team coach.

The young runner's day normally starts about 6 a.m. with a trip to Johnson Park, where he swims and runs.

After his studies, the home-schooler repeats the procedure again in the afternoon.

"His older brothers lift weights in the afternoon, but he's too young, so he runs in the afternoon," his mother, Donna Jenkins, said.

This ritual of two-a-days is repeated two to three times a week.

The young Jenkins has been running for half of his life, since he was 4 years old.

He has been competing since he was 6 years old.

"(Jonathan) beat several 8-year-olds in his very first race," his father said.

In the AAU 2008 National Outdoor Track and Field Championships earlier in the year, Jenkins put his speed to good use in other events as well.

He took first place in the 800 and the 1,500 races. He also had a second place finish in the 400.

Although he can no longer compete in the 8-under division, Jenkins and his coach feel that he will still be able to finish on top at the next level as well.

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.