BEND, Ore. — The Olympic Peninsula Track Club’s Riley Pyeatt and Baileee Larson led a strong showing at the USA Track and Field’s regional meet this weekend, qualifying for the USATF Junior Olympic National Championships in Greensboro, N.C.
Pyeatt, competing in the 14-15 age group, capped a phenomenal weekend by qualifying in the 400 meters, placing second with a new personal record of 59.67 seconds and third in the 800 meters with a time of 2:25.47. She also placed seventh in the long jump with a leap of 15 feet, 5 inches.
Larson, competing in the 12-13 age group, smashed her previous best in the 200 hurdles with a time of 30.82 seconds, placing fifth. She was seeded into a slower heat which she won in dominating fashion and then had to wait and see how her time stacked up against the other heats. Her time was about a second and a half faster than her previous best run two weeks ago.
Jayde Gedelman from the OPTC narrowly missed qualifying for nationals in the javelin by placing sixth with a mark of 82 feet, 6 inches.
“On the way down to Bend, Bailee and Jayde stopped by former Crescent coach Darryl Yount who is now coaching at Warm Springs High School [in north-central Oregon] and tuned up some hurdle and javelin technique which really helped them both,” said OPTC coach Greg Halberg.
Eve Burke was within a whisker of qualifying in her two events, placing sixth in the long jump with a leap of 15-10½, only 5 centimeters (two inches) out of fifth. She placed 10th in the high jump at 4-7. The next height would have qualified for nationals.
Birdie Pyeatt, competing in the 10-11 age group, placed 10th in the 400 meters with a new personal record of 1:18.64.
Competing unattached, Port Angeles High School graduate Gracie Long won the 1,500 meters with a time of 5:01.30, the 3,000 meters in 11:25.41 and the 2,000 steeplechase in 7:36.19 to qualify for nationals. She placed eighth in the high jump at 4-11. Long will be competing next fall at Corban College in Salem, Ore.
Pyeatt and Larson together scored 24 team points, which is as good as any other team in the region in that age group. The regional meet included athletes from Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Idaho, with the top five places in each event qualifying for the National Championships held this year at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, N.C. July 23-29.
“The club had an outstanding season all around. Many of their marks as eighth graders would be competitive at the state 2A high school meet so I’m excited to see how they progress in the years to come,” Halberg said.
“To have several local athletes put up marks that are national caliber is incredibly impressive particularly given that we have been unable to fully use the track facilities. The athletes have been so eager to learn and work hard. They are competitive and really developed a love for track and field,” he said.