Treyshun Green was anxious when he got to the starting line Saturday afternoon for the final race of the Fastest Kids in Chicago competition at Gately Park Indoor Track and Field.
Green said he worried about tripping in front of the crowd of several hundred, which included Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and six-time Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
But all the nerves vanished as soon as he heard the crack of the starting pistol.
Green, 15, made it look easy: He didn’t even break a sweat as he clocked the fastest 60-meter dash of the meet, finishing in a time of 7.84 seconds.
“It feels good,” Green said of being crowned the fastest kid in Chicago at the track meet. “I kind of want to race more people also to see if I’m faster than other people.”
Meanwhile, Symone Frison, 15, was the fastest girl of the day. She won her heat with a time of 8.02 seconds, the third fastest time of the day.
“I was a little nervous, but I just knew if I ran my best that I could do it,” Frison said.
Isaiah Shannon won the eighth grade boys division finishing in a time of 7.99 seconds for the second quickest dash of the day.
About 265 children and teenagers, ranging from incoming fifth graders to high school seniors, were invited to participate in Saturday’s Fastest Kids competition. They came from a pool of more than 3,000 participants who registered to take part in the summer track-and-field program offered by the Chicago Park District in partnership with the mayor, Chicago Public Schools and Operation Rainbow Push.
Jackson came up with the idea of the event to keep children engaged and preoccupied during the notoriously violent summer months.
“Fastest runner, not the fastest gunner,” Jackson chanted before the races began.
Lightfoot said the organizers plan to make it an annual event.
“When we love and support our young people, they thrive,” she said.
That’s welcoming news for Green’s mother, LaToya Pitner, who thinks more summer programming will help keep children out of trouble.
“Kids love to be in competitive sports, so as long as they’re doing something to keep their mind off of dangerous things, this is where I want my kid to be,” Pitner said.
Pitner proudly cheered on her boy from the stands and shared the moment he won on Facebook Live with her friends and family.
“Fastest kid in Chicago, that’s my baby!” she exclaimed as her son got his medal.
After the race, Pitner gave him a high-five, and said: “I knew you were goin’ to win.”
It was a special moment for Green, an incoming sophomore at Phillips High School. He said he runs for his mother since she had to give up her track and field dreams in high school because her family couldn’t afford it.
“When I was his age, I ran track with the park district and I always [won] gold, I never really lost,” Pitner said. “And with me, not having no money as a high schooler, I had to work so I couldn’t get on the track team.
“So I just knew one of my kids is going to get my skills and it’s him... He’s fulfilling my dream, and I’m happy.”
Frison also celebrated her win with family, including her mother, grandmother, aunt and two little cousins, who cheered for her from the bleachers. She planned to get a bacon burger and chocolate cake shake at Portillo’s with them after the meet.
An incoming sophomore at Lindblom High School in West Englewood, Frison hopes to earn a scholarship to run in college.
“It makes me happy that I had the opportunity to show my skill, and just be here today,” she said. “But there’s always going to be someone that I have to run against and someone that I have to beat and overcome. But I’m just glad I got the day to just show out a little bit.”