ALBANY, Ga. -- Three young local skaters performed well recently against the country's best competition. In fact, one of them was crowned national champion.
Tanner Watts, 10, Jayden Watts, 8, and William Morales, 14, team members of Albany-based GT Speed, recently competed in Fort Wayne, Ind., at the national indoor inline speed skating championships, according to Jason Watts, co-owner of Stardust Skate Center in Albany.
Morales captured second place overall in the freshman boys division by outracing 26 others in his class at various stages of the competition.
"There were three separate races: short, medium and long," Watts said. "Wil took first in the short race and second in the medium and long races. It was really close."
Watts said that during awards ceremonies for each category, the top three winners stood on three-tiered medal stands similar to those at the Olympics.
Tanner Watts, son of Jason and his Stardust co-owner/wife Cheryl Watts, took sixth place overall in the juvenile boys division.
Jayden Watts, Tanner Watts' younger sister, competed in the primary girls division and placed third overall.
Jayden also earned a share of a national championship when she finished first place in the primary 2 mixed competition, where girls and boys skate in relay. Because there was no appropriate partner within the team, Jayden raced with Dawson Cleland, a member of an Atlanta team, Watts said.
Also attending the seven-day national competition were GT Speed team members Brendan Farr, 14, and Olivia Farr, 9. The event was hosted by USA Roller Sports.
GT Speed is sponsored by Stardust Skate Center and coached by Jason and Cheryl Watts and Bubba Fells.
According to Watts, serious skaters practice all year long to prepare for the national competition. In order to qualify, teams and team members must belong to the USARS organization and be one of the top four competitors in the Southern Region championship.
The Southern Region comprises skate teams in Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama.