For the fourth straight year, Wilmington resident Frankie Irizarry participated in the USA Track and Field New England Championships but for the first time, he managed to win a gold medal in the competition, which took place in late June.
Irizarry won the 80 Meter Hurdles, running a personal best of 15.81 seconds. This was one of the closest races of the day with Irizarry winning by .04 seconds. He finished second in the hurdles last season at the New England meet but was determined to win first place this year.
Irizarry followed up his gold medal performance in the hurdles by winning a bronze in the long jump. The long jump included 22 athletes from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. This is Irizarry’s first year competing in the long jump. The meet was held at Fitchburg State University.
In the race, Irizarry came out of the blocks strong and was in second place after the first hurdle. Over the course of the race, Irizarry and teammate Nathan Halberstadt distanced themselves from the field. Halberstadt held a slight lead after the last hurdle but Irizarry had a quicker sprint to the finish line, crossing the tape .04 seconds ahead of Halberstadt.
Irizarry’s previous best in the event was 17.2 seconds which he beat by almost a second and a half in this race. This is Irizarry’s first season competing with the Waltham Track Club, lead by long time Newton North track coach, Joe Tranchita.
In the long jump, a crowded field of 22 athletes hit the runway late in the afternoon under less than optimal weather conditions. Swirling winds and impending storm late in the day made for unpredictable jumping conditions. After taking a safe jump to get a mark, Irizarry soared 12’6” on his second jump to vault himself to third place in the competition.
This was almost a foot below Irizarry’s best jump on the season but it was good enough to keep him in medal contention. On his third jump, it appeared that Irizarry had the best jump of the competition soaring out well over 14 feet but the official ruled Irizarry fouled on the jump. Irizarry was content with a third place finish in his first major meet competing in the long jump.
Next up for Irizarry will be a trip to New York for the Region I qualifying meet to be held at the Mitchell Field Athletic Complex in Uniondale, Long Island on July 8. Region I consists of the above mentioned New England states plus Maine, Connecticut and New York State. It is one of 16 regions that divide up the USATF.
Dating back to the 1960's, the USATF Junior Olympic program has been the most visible youth athlete developmental program in the world. Nearly 70,000 youth athletes compete each year in the Junior Olympic Track & Field and Cross Country programs. Many of America's Olympic hopefuls competing for a spot on the London 2012 team began as youth athletes, including stars such as Jeremy Wariner, Allyson Felix, Bryan Clay, and Sanya Richards-Ross.
The 2012 USATF Junior Olympics will be held from July 26 through July 31 in Baltimore, Maryland on the campus of Morgan State University. This will be the second time that the Junior Olympics have been held in Charm City.
Irizarry has been competing in Track and Field for the past four seasons. After three seasons with the Amherst Track Club in Amherst, New Hampshire, Irizarry switched to youth track powerhouse, the Waltham Track Club. Irizarry looks forward to going to Wilmington Middle School next year and getting to compete for the Wilmington Middle School track and field team.