Three middle school athletes determined to fare well in their final meets of the summer for the Athletics East program were able to end on a high note in their respective events earlier this July.
Emily Johnson, of The Dalles, accomplished great times and personal records during her running campaign, and she did well enough to earn a berth into the USATF Regional meet in Seattle.
Elli Rising, of Goldendale, and Hood River’s Chloe Bullock also capped their solid summer at the Tracktown Youth League finals on Saturday, July 9, at Historic Hayward Field, with Rising nearly winning two events and Bullock picking a victory in her lone run at 400-meters.
Earlier this season, Johnson set a three-second personal record in the 800-meters with a time of two minutes and 36 seconds, and was just a few ticks off of her personal record in the 1,500, where she posted an impressive 5:24 to move into the regional rounds.
In Seattle, against a tough field of 14U runners, Johnson carved out a final mark of 2:40 in the 800 for 17th place and then she added a 5:27 in the 1,500 to capture 13th place.
Heading into Eugene, Rising had been hitting her stride, as she placed fifth in the 800 with a time of 2:28, and had a third-place output in the 1,500, stopping the watch at 5:10, so the goal was to shave down even more time.
This time around, at the 14U classification, Rising nearly had two wins under her belt, but settled in nicely for a pair of second-place outputs in the 400 and 1,500.
Rising set a personal record of 4:59.66 in the 1,500 and was nipped at the finish line by Eugene’s Moya Moses, who had a mark of 4:59.01.
In her try at the 400-meters, Rising matched her teammate Bullock stride-for-stride, but Bullock was able to earn a season-best time of 1:04.76 for first place to edge her out by half a second (1:05.29).
Bullock chalked up fifth-place honors in her last race on June 25-26 at Jesuit High School, reeling off a 1:04.86 in the 400 and she added a 2:32 in her try at 800-meters.
These races wrapped up the track season for all of the girls, a season that starts in early March and ends in the middle of July.
After a few weeks off to take a rest period, Johnson, Rising and Bullock prepare themselves for cross country for their respective school programs.
When that season wraps up in the last week of October, the Athletics East team forms again and continues competing in the Junior Olympics.
Athletics East is comprised of kids in the smaller rural areas of eastern Oregon and Washington.
With a good crop of runners, there had been issues in the past trying find a team to run with, so by combining all of the kids from the Greater Columbia River Gorge, they have a team to be on to compete with top athletes and programs from across the Pacific Northwest.
“Our goal is to get a bunch of kids from these little towns in Oregon and get a name for Athletics East back,” said coach Heather Fitz-Gustafson.
To learn more about the program or to join, email the coach at heather@ loansinthegorge.com.