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First national competition for Whidbey Running Club
Four athletes from the Whidbey Island Running Club qualified for the National Junior Olympic meet held in Greensboro, N.C., the weekend of July 31 through Aug 2.
The Junior Olympic series, sponsored by USA Track and Field, boasts the largest number of participating athletes for any meet of its kind with over 17,000 athletes, ages 18 and younger, competing for a chance to go to Nationals.
Junior Olympic meets have many future Olympians come through the program and many return to sign autographs, start races and lead the Parade of Champions.
“For the high-powered meet that it was and the first time for all four at a national-level track meet, they did phenomenal,” coach Catie Rodeheffer said.
Dakota Powers, age 12, competed in the 11 and 12-year-old Midget boys Division in the high jump and the and 3,000 meter run.
The opening height in the high jump was just a few inches under his personal record and when an east-coast thundershower let loose delaying the event, he had a tough time getting ready to go again. He was unable to make the opening height of 4 feet, 1 inch. However, he demonstrated his focus and high fitness level that makes him a superb athlete in three sports, soccer, swimming and running, when it came time to race the 3,000. Powers exercised caution in the first of seven and one-half laps by staying at the back of the pack. He knew he wanted to be in third place at the finish and played out the next six laps to make that happen. Power’s time of 10:19.36 was a 24-second personal record good for a bronze-medal finish. Powers moves up to 11th in the National Elite Youth Ranking system which gives him an All-American ranking.
Caley Powers, age 13, competed in the Youth boys, ages 13 and 14, triple jump. A relative newcomer to the event, he was competing in only his fourth triple jump at a meet.
Jumping from the 31-foot board, just 11 inches less than his all-time best, he scratched on his first two attempts. For his third attempt, he switched to the 28-foot board, moved his mark back, and was able to get a legal jump on his final attempt. He finished with a distance of 29-2.25, good enough for 30th place, although not a personal best.
Twelve-year-old John Rodeheffer competed in the Youth boys, ages 13 and 14, 3,000 meters. In the race, Rodeheffer’s competition included Erik Garcia from California, who was going for a new national record, which he attained with a time of 9:08.13.
Rodeheffer let others take it out and settled into 12th place in a group with six other runners. Changing places often over the next six laps, he was in sixth place with one lap to go. Crossing the finish line, Rodeheffer’s time of 9:53.07 put him seventh-place overall. His previous time from Junior Olympic Regionals was 9:47.31 and that placed him 14th in the nation for his age division, and earned him All-American status.
Laura Rodeheffer, age 10, competed in the Bantam girls 1,500 meters.
The start of the race was crowded and two runners fell, which put Rodeheffer in the back of the pack at the beginning.
Unable to get to the front with national record holder Daesha Rogers setting a blistering pace finishing in a time of 4:50.97, Rodeheffer found the short three and three-quarter lap race just not long enough to move up many positions. She ran a time of 5:37.28 good enough for 16th overall, but off her personal record of 5:21.08. However, her personal best time put her in 15th place in the nation and grants her an All-American ranking.
After the meet, all the Whidbey Island runners, their parents and coaches vacationed at North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
“Finally the heat and humidity was good for something besides melting a distance runner and they all enjoyed the ocean,” Rodeheffer said.