Springdale sprinter qualifies for Junior Olympic meet
By Paul Kogut
VALLEY NEWS DISPATCH
Sunday, July 13, 2008

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Springdale's Alexa Sarsfield, who captured the state Class AA title in the 400-meter dash at the end of May, isn't used to losing a foot race.

But, in this case, Sarsfield will settle for third.

Sarsfield earned a trip to USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships by placing third in the Intermediate Girls 400 last weekend at the Region 2 championships.

The Junior Olympic championships, which are unrelated to the Pennsylvania high school finals, will be July 22-27 at Burke High School in Omaha, Neb.

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I'm excited I'll get to run against kids from every state, Sarsfield said. It will be a great experience to do that.

Sarsfield likes the challenge of facing some of the top young sprinters in the nation. Her third-place finish in Region 2 is a strong indication of just how competitive the Junior Olympic circuit can be.

Sarsfield took third in 58.09 seconds, behind Yamira Bell (57.43) and Michelle Davis (57.82), who are from the Philadelphia area. Sarsfield won the PIAA title in 57.48.

The Intermediate Division is for athletes who were born in 1992 or '93. There are 15 regions, and Region 2 covers Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Western New York.

Sarsfield, who will be a junior in the fall, believes participating in the national championships can only help garner college interest.

Coaches are more interested to coming to that, Sarsfield said. They know there are kids from all around, not one single place.

Sarsfield, who recently was named Valley News Dispatch Girls Athlete of the Year for her success in track and soccer, is staying busy this summer. Last week, she attended an Olympic Development Program soccer camp in Rhode Island.

Several other local athletes qualified for the Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships but declined to make the trip to Nebraska.

Knoch's Junior Olympiclene Kunkel and Shannon Evanchec finished first and second in the Intermediate Girls 3,000-meter run at the Region 2 finals. They will be sophomores in the fall.

Also, Knoch's Brian Tackett, who will be a senior, took second in the Young Men 1,500-meter run. The Young Men Division is for athletes who were born in 1990 or '91.

It's a little too far to go, Tackett said about traveling to Nebraska. It's getting close to cross country season. I don't want to spend to much time with summer track.

Paul Kogut can be reached at pkogut@tribweb.com or 724-226-4689.