Junior Olympics gave local track stars a national stage

Jasmine Todd wanted to add one more big win to her track & field accomplishments before looking ahead to her junior year at Chandler High School.

The USATF Junior Olympic National Championships in Sacramento provided the stage.  But the state title holder in the triple jump and long jump came up a little short, settling for a fifth place in the triple jump and finishing eighth in the long jump.

Todd isn’t used to being that far back in the field.

As a sophomore last season, she won state titles in both the long jump and triple jump, as well as a couple of additional championships in the 100 meter and as a member of the 4×100 relay team.  That earned her the East Valley Tribune female Track Athlete of the Year honor.

But she seemed to run out of gas after a long summer of competing, as the marks she made at the Junior Olympic Championships in both the long jump and triple jump were well shy of those she’s posted in the past.

Her mark of 37’7.25″ in the Young Women’s triple jump was well off her personal-best of 40’01”, which is the third-longest in state history.  In the long jump, her leap of 18’2.25″ at the Junior Olympics is more than a foot shy of her 5A-I state record of 19’11”.

Todd won the long jump at both the Nike Nationals (18’9″) and USATF region championships (18’8.75″), and the triple jump at the region meet (38’1.75″).  But she couldn’t get there again in Sacramento.

However, just getting to the national championships is an accomplishment in itself.

Track & field athletes, from ages 8-18 compete throughout the summer to be able to qualify for the Junior Olympic National Championships, advancing through a series of progressional events to advance to the national meet.  Over 6,000 athletes qualify each year.

Among those thousands were a handful of other local high school athletes who, like Todd, were competing either as part of a USATF club, or participating unattached.  Todd competes for the Cheetahs club.

Ky Westbrook is also part of the Chandler High School girls track team that won the 5A-I state title and then went on to win the national championship in the inaugural Nike Track Nationals.

Westbrook placed in multiple events, including a second-place finish in the Youth Girls 100 meters (12.30) and a third in the shot put (46’7.25″).  She also had a fifth place in the 200m (25.16) and anchored the 4×100 relay team that took third place.

Will Taylor from Westwood High School ran a 13.98 in the Young Men’s 110-meter high hurdles, good enough for second place.   Ashlee Moore from Hamilton HS picked up a fourth place in the Intermediate Girls high jump (5’3″),  Zach Peschke from Gilbert HS took fourth in the Intermediate Boys triple jump (43’10.5″), and Nathan Reich from Basha HS finished the Intermediate Boys 1,500m in 4:10.23 for eighth place.