Her experiment in track results in team medal

Tori Elliott's eventful summer ended with a medalist finish at a prestigious national track and field event.

Her successful run was possible, in part, because of a bake sale.

The Cox Mill junior held a bake sale in which the $850 she raised was about half of what was needed for her recent trip to the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics in San Francisco.

The icing on the cake was that Elliott's 400-meter relay team in the Intermediate age division grabbed fifth place. This was the first year the two-time high school state qualifier competed for the Charlotte Flights summer track and field program.

The trip to California was a full-circle experience for Elliott, who was born in San Mateo, about 15 miles southeast of San Francisco. Her family moved away when she was 8 months old. They landed in Concord five years ago, before her sixth-grade year at Harris Road Middle.

Track and field was a sport she was "experimenting" with when she first tried it in seventh grade. That first season competing in the 100-meter dash and the long jump was uneventful, but she says she finished third in the conference in the long jump as an eighth-grader.

As a Northwest Cabarrus freshman, Elliott tried indoor track and field, and she credits her experience with her vast improvement during the spring outdoor season. At the North Piedmont 3A Conference meet, she finished first in the 200 meters, second in the 100 meters and fourth in the long jump.

At the regional meet, she qualified for the state meet in both the 100- and 200- meters. Only afterward did she appreciate her 11th-place finish in the state in the 200 meters.

"I was very pleased with how well I finished," said Elliott. "I didn't understand how important it was to be a freshman. Mostly everyone were juniors and seniors."

With overcrowding at Northwest, Elliott says she was thrilled to be redistricted to new Cox Mill at the start of the last school year. Just as she had at Northwest and Harris Road, she played volleyball at Cox Mill, where she made the varsity team as a sophomore.

Without an established track and field program, Cox Mill did not have the luxury of an indoor team in its first year. Instead, Elliott and two other girls worked out with their former teammates at Northwest Cabarrus.

At the South Piedmont 3A outdoor meet, she finished second in the 100 meters as well as on her relay teams in the 400 and 800 meters. At the regional meet, Elliott finished third in the 100 meters, an event won by Jay M. Robinson's Erin Tucker, who went on to win a state championship in the 100-meter hurdles.

After the season, Elliott's and Tucker's fathers met at the banquet for the Harris Road Middle track and field team, on which their sons are teammates.

Tre' Elliot was curious about why Erin Tucker was so successful.

"I asked him 'what's the secret sauce?'" he said.

The answer: The Charlotte Flights.

So that's how Tori Elliott was on her way to competing for the renowned summer track and field program. While Elliott's greatest improvement this summer came in the long jump, in which she added nearly two feet to her distance, her 400-meter relay team had the most success.

"She has the body and the ability to be a great track and field athlete," said Charlotte Flights coach Anthony James. "I think she's still just a baby in the sport."