Eight local athletes qualify for national Jr. Olympic meet

By JIM WALLER Whidbey News Times Sports editor

Eight local athletes qualified for the national Junior Olympic track finals by placing in the top three at the regional meet at the West Seattle Athletics Complex last weekend.

Oak Harbor's Adrianna Royal, who runs for the Federal Way Track Club, and seven members of the Whidbey Island Running Club earned trips to the national competition in Sacramento July 27 through Aug. 1 by their efforts in the regional meet which featured participants from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Hawaii and Alaska.

The USA Track Federation sponsored Junior Olympics is the country's largest youth track series.

Royal qualified in three events, highlighted by her record-setting win in the 2,000 young women's steeplechase. Her time of 7:38 broke the regional mark by nine seconds. It was her fourth gold medal in the steeplechase this summer.

Royal was seeded fifth in the 1,500 but finished second in a personal best of 4:56; she also placed second in the 800 (2:21).

The WIRC was led by the midget girls 4x800 relay team of Carolynn Wicker, Kaitlyn Chelberg, Carly Crowther and Laura Rodeheffer who won in 12:17.01.

Rodeheffer also grabbed second in the 3,000 (11:26) in a battle between four girls in the lead group.

Wicker and Chelberg went 4-5 in the 800 (2:43.61, 2:47.07), and Crowther was 13th in the turbo javelin (11.36m).

Christina Wicker was second in the 1,500 (5:04.96) and eighth in the 800 (2:31.81). WIRC coach Catie Rodeheffer said the 1,500 was intense and Wicker broke from a pack of five to nab second.

John Rodeheffer finished third in the youth boys 3,000 (9:52.98).

Olivia Meyer was third in the intermediate girls 3,000 (12:23.47) despite not feeling well according to coach Rodeheffer. She was sixth in the 1,500 (5:31).

Other local competitors who competed at the regional meet included Catherine Wicker (sub-bantam girls 1,500, fifth, 7:12.89; long jump, sixth, 1.82m) and Miguel Guzman (shot put, 13th, 6.35m).

Dakota and Caley Powers and Michael Fisken also qualified for regional but didn't compete because of family vacation plans.

Seven qualifiers for national is the best effort for the two-year-old WIRC program, according to coach Rodeheffer. She said the biggest concern for the local athletes will be the heat, which was a factor in last year's meet in North Carolina.

She said, Most teams have a semblance of warm temperatures during the summer which prepares them for the hot spots that seem to get picked as sites for nationals.

The temperatures for Sacramento have been in the mid to high 90's.

She added that the WIRC will be attempting acclimatization methods over the next 2.5 weeks to prepare.