A number of local track and field athletes warmed up at the University of Michigan on Thursday morning. They ran around the track that helped produced All-Americans and walked across the football field of one of the most storied programs at the college level.
They needed all the inspiration they could get.
They were preparing for the USA Youth Outdoor Championships, which was being held at nearby Eastern Michigan University, about seven miles away. And a lot of them were able to perform well.
The championship — which features athletes from second grade to high school — has been taking place all week and continues today. Pitman High coach Thad Moren is in charge of this bunch, as Pitman’s Nick Jackson, Caitlin O’Connell, Devyn Prather, Kyndel Fletcher, Aman Hundal, Vickie Rouse and Dillon Tennison and Turlock Junior High’s Kelsee Derr and Logan Wolfley are enjoying their time competing with athletes from across the country. Walnut Elementary’s Cerah Moren (fourth grader) and Jarod Moren (kindergarten) also joined in on the fun.
After Thursday, Wolfley provided one of the trip’s highlights. The seventh grader finished third in the pentathlon of the seventh-and-eighth grade level, in addition to capturing sixth place in the long jump. In his latter event, he finished with a leap of 16 feet, 11 1/2 inches — not to mention that all his jumps exceeded 16 feet.
“He did a great job in the long jump,” Moren said.
Other highlights include Jackson taking seventh in the triple and fifth in the high jump, while Hundal finished the 800 meters in 2 minutes, 35 seconds — the second fastest time in Pitman High history — for 14th place. Tennison (steeplechase) and Cerah Moren (javelin) placed third in their respective events, as Jarod Moren came in eighth in the triathlon and seventh in the javelin. Cerah Moren also placed fifth in the triathlon.
The local athletes are competing with hundreds of other athletes in the country. For example, there were nearly 40 heats of the 800-meter run. But that didn’t stop Thad Moren from noticing a few competitors from California, including one from Riverbank. He added that this is one of the rare opportunities his athletes can get during their young careers.
“The atmosphere is incredible,” Moren said. “We’re around people that are fired up about track and field. The kids get to experience meeting people all around the country, people they would never meet from Florida, Nebraska and Texas and places like that.”
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