Aniyah Kitt may only be thirteen years old, but she’s already proving that there’s no age limit on a need for speed.
Kitt, a track athlete with Enterprise High School’s Varsity Track team and the Pure Elite Track and Field Program, recently qualified for the Junior Olympics due to her performance at the AAU Regional Qualifier in Knoxville, Tennessee. Though sidelined by an injury, Kitt’s race times in the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash, and 4x1 relay kept her at the top of the pack and earned her a qualifying score.
“I was pushing myself, and I was surprised that I went as far as I did,” Kitt said. “It was a new level of competition, some of the fastest I’ve raced. Each track meet I go to, I continuously progress with my times, because as I go on, I get more competition and it makes me push harder. I want to get better and stronger as an athlete.”
Kitt is a rising 8th grader at Dauphin Junior High School and has been running in some form or fashion for most of her life. She said she got her start in track during elementary school with the encouragement of a teacher.
“Every day for gym and P.E. we would go outside and do a little exercise. We would run a couple laps on the track at Rucker Boulevard Elementary, and Coach Bolton told me, ‘Aniyah, you’re fast, you should do track -- you can do something with that,’” Kitt said. “So I started running. It was something that I loved to do, so I just decided to go farther with it.”
According to Kitt’s parents, Thomas and Andrea Arias, Kitt has definitely “gone farther” with her track talents. Though only a 7th grader at the time, Kitt ran with Enterprise High School track team members and more than held her own in competition.
“They went to state last year with the high school, and she’s technically the 10th fastest girl in the state as a 7th grader,” said Andrea. “With her injury we’re going to have to take it a moment at a time, but as of right now, as it stood with her particular age group, her coach verified that she’s the 5th fastest girl in the nation for her age group before she went into Regionals. She ‘PRed,’ which means she made her personal best for her 200 (meter run) while she was there, so there’s a possibility that she’s either the 5th or 4th fastest right now. We’ll have to see how things progress with this injury, but I don’t think she’ll ever stop running.”
“That’s what makes what she’s doing so much more unique,” Tomas added. “She’s literally a junior high athlete running with high-school-aged people and she’s doing so well.”
Kitt won’t be attending the Junior Olympics this year due to a tendon injury near her hamstring, said Tomas; however, once she recovers, Kitt plans to get right back on the track.
“She injured the tendon that connects to your butt bone from your hamstring; it’s either torn completely off or slightly torn -- we don’t know yet,” Tomas said. “But she might have literally run her booty off, and when I said ‘Run your booty off,’ I told her I didn’t mean literally.”
Despite her injury, Kitt’s spirits are high and her attitude is positive. She thanked everyone who has supported her in her track aspirations and continues to support her in every race she runs.
“Everyone has been supportive of me with running track,” Kitt said. “Before this I took karate, and Renshi (Lennis) Darby told me to pursue track because I could go places. He supports me, my mom and dad support me, my sisters, my aunts and uncles -- they all support me everywhere.”
Track is a family affair for Kitt too as many women in her family have participated in track, including her younger sister, Layla.
“I always push her since I’m in track too,” said Layla.
Kitt said she plans to “never stop running” and will continue with track through college.
“I think running is what’s going to get me somewhere,” Kitt said. “I love what I do, and I like running a lot, and everyone is really supportive, so I believe I can go places and get a degree and a scholarship and explore different places through this. I love it.”
Kitt encouraged others to chase after their dreams the same way she’s chasing after her own.
“I just want to inspire people to do different things and have goals, set goals for life and sports and everything else,” Kitt said. “Don’t let other people stop you from doing what you love and what you know you can do.
“Do what you love. Do what you think is best for you. Even if you get hurt, continue doing what you love, and you might go places. The rest will fall into place.”