Battling through heat and high altitude at the Region 13 USA Track and Field Junior Olympic championship in Bend, Ore. July 7 and 8, five Running Unlimited Fitness individuals and one relay team qualified for the national meet.
Christina Wicker, who won two events, John Rodeheffer, Kaitlyn Chelberg, Michael Fisken, Jonalynn Horn and the first-place youth girls (13/14) relay team of Mallorie Mitchem, Carolyn Wicker, Laura Rodeheffer and Chelberg earned a trip to Baltimore for the Junior Olympics finals July 23 to 29.
The top five in each event at the regional qualified for the national championships.
In the relay win, Mitchem (2:38.9), Chelberg (3:05.9), Carolyn Wicker (2:53.4) and Laura Rodeheffer (2:43.7) combined to clock a 11:22.38.
Christina Wicker (young women, 17/18) captured the 2,000 steeplechase (7:53.65), even though she fell going over a barrier on the last lap because of a loose shoelace, and the 3,000 (11:15).
In the intermediate division (15/16), Horn and John Rodeheffer each earned a second in the 3,000 and a fifth in the 1,500 to qualify in two events.
Horn ran the 3,000 in 12:00 and the 1,500 in 5:27. This effort earned her RUFIT Athlete of the Meet honors. Coach Catie Rodeheffer said "dedication and consistency" led to Horn's success.
John Rodeheffer clocked 9:47 in the 3,000 and 4:32.38 in the 1,500. The two berths raise his national qualifications for USATF events to eight in track and cross country over the past few years.
Chelberg placed second in the 200 hurdles (31.46) and 16th in the long jump (3.8 meters).
Fisken (midget boys, 11/12) received a national berth by finishing second in the discus (24.19m); he also was ninth in the shot put (7.08m) and 11th in the turbo javelin (22.3m).
Coach Rodeheffer said Fisken "did an amazing job and worked hard in practice to achieve this."
In other results, Laura Rodeheffer was sixth in the 3,000 (11:53), Mitchem eighth in the 800 (2:40.9), Miguel Guzman 10th in the youth boys 800 (2:25.7) and Catherine Wicker 11th in the bantam girls (9/10) 1,500 (6:52.25).
Coach Rodeheffer said, "The heat (90s) was a factor for all our athletes, particularly our distance kids. Plus the altitude was about 3,700 feet, which even our 800 runners could feel."
The national meet is not the end of the season for RUFIT. It will continue to compete in track meets through August and then start up the cross country season.
Coach Rodeheffer said new athletes are welcome at any time and can contact her at 279-2196 or visit the club website, www.rufit.ws, for more information.Contact Whidbey News Times Sports editor Jim Waller at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5060.