By David Johnson

The Ruggiers’ budget, both in time and money, is being stretched thin these days. And it has nothing to do with the economy.

Rather, it’s their son Joseph who is putting the strain on the family’s schedule with his pursuit of Olympic glory. Not that anybody’s complaining.

“It’s what you do as a parent,” said Suzanne Ruggiers, Joseph’s Mom. “You put in the time for your kid to be successful and we’re glad to do it.”

So far, the investment is paying off. Joseph, a rising ninth- grader from Gratis who attends Athens Christian School, has developed into one of the top javelin throwers in the nation. Following up his eighth-place finish at the Junior Olympics last summer in North Carolina, Ruggiers finished sixth at the Elite USA National meet in Illinois last month.

He’ll be attending the AAU Junior Olympics in Norfolk, Va. early next month. He’s also qualified for the USA Junior Olympics in Sacramento, Calif. a meet the Ruggiers won’t be attending.

“We just don’t have the time or money to do both right now,” Suzanne said.

Clearly, something on the schedule had to go. In addition to his track exploits, Joseph plays football and wrestles, all while maintaining a 3.5 grade point average. He’ll begin practicing for his first high school football season on August 2.

But his main focus is preparing for the Junior Olympics, which he qualified for by placing among the top five in the state and top three in the region. At the state meet, he placed first in the javelin and second in the discus. At region, he was third and second, respectively.

While he will compete in both events in Virginia, he expects to do best in the javelin.

“I’m still in a transition period with the discus, but I’m further along with the javelin and I’ve had some good practices lately.

Moving from middle school to high school, Joseph has had to adjust to a heavier discus and javelin.

“I’ll really be mad at myself if I don’t do well.” said Joseph, who is hoping for a top five finish. “But no matter what, it’ll be a good experience and could help me spread my name around the nation with college coaches.”