Eight-year-old Anna Jacobs of Prairie City launched her long jump career to a big stage, competing at the July 23-29 National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Jacobs, who will be a third-grader at Prairie City School this fall, qualified for the national event after a third-place finish at the regionals in Bend where she had a mark of 9-4.5.
Her mother Jenny Jacobs, whom she also calls coach, said Anna has improved her jump by nearly a foot and a half since last year, and in practice has jumped up to 11 feet.
Anna arrived at nationals the day before the event — traveling all day — with her father, Justin. Her mom stayed home with Anna’s 4-month-old sister.
With not much time to practice, Anna faced hot and humid conditions with 57 other kids competing in the 8 and under event.
“Anna had a great time experiencing a big meet,” Jenny said, adding Anna had been jumping well in practice, but didn’t place as well as she wanted.
“I told her, ‘I’m really proud of you for trying your best,’” Jenny said.
She said they’ve been learning as they go, and next time they plan to arrive at the competition earlier.
Anna said her favorite thing about competing is the fun she has meeting new people.
Her mom said it held true at nationals.
“That has been a common denominator. Everyone has been really nice, and we’ve met some great people,” she said. “It was fun for her, and we’re excited for next year. It was well worth going.”
Anna plans to continue competing in Track Town and USA track and field meets next year, and hopes to practice with other young local athletes.
Jenny is starting an Eastern Oregon track and field club next spring for Prairie City and John Day youths, ages 8-18, with volunteers helping coach various events.
If there is enough interest, she would schedule four or five competitions at Track Town youth league meets and USATF meets to help expose kids to track and field.
For more information, contact Jacobs at firstname.lastname@example.org.