Aug 17, 2009 Erin Smith Uncategorized
Rachael Miller is a natural jumper.
Even as a little girl, the seventh-grade Ray Middle School student (as of this fall) practiced her talent daily.
“She would wake up in her crib, pull herself up, hold onto the sides and jump with both feet for about 30 minutes every day. Luckily she never jumped right out of it,” said Steve Miller, Rachael’s father. While she has always been a fan of all sports, her passion for track events such as running and jumping intensified as she got older. In fourth and fifth grade, Rachael took first place in Baldwinsville’s elementary district cross-country meet, which includes all of Baldwinsville’s elementary schools.
“Rachael really loves everything about competition: seeing how fast she can go, trying to be the best at something and the excitement,” her father added.
At the young age of 12, her practice and dedication have already begun to pay off. Rachael recently secured her title as the National Standing Long Jump champion of 2009 at the Hershey’s Track & Field Games North American Final. Sponsored by The Hershey Company, this event features more than 500 of the best young track and field athletes in North America (ages 9 to 14) and is held in Hershey, Penn.
Prior to entering Hershey’s Track & Field Games, Rachael won three events in a district meet and two events in a state meet, which included the standing long jump (SLJ). Her SLJ score (7′ 5.75″) in the state meet missed the New York State West record by just a half-inch. It did, however, give her the number one qualifying spot in Region 7, which includes New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington DC, Quebec and Nunavut, the seventh best jump in the country.
“Rachael trained really hard coming into the national meet,” Steve said. “She knew she would have to jump farther than she ever had to have a shot at winning the championship adding the day of the event.” He added that since it was her second year in a row participating in the Hershey National meet, Rachael remained calm and focused.
Each of the 18 participants in the girls SLJ was given three jumps. Rachael scored a personal best of 7′ 7″ on her first attempt, then shattered it with her second attempt with a score of 7′ 8.25.” This put her in first place and gave her the position of last jumper on her last attempt.
“Nerves clearly played a role in some of the other higher qualifiers as they just couldn’t seem to equal their previous marks,” Steve said. “As Rachael approached her last jump, all of the other jumpers gathered to see what she would get, knowing she already had the furthest jump of the day.”
Rachael jumped the same distance as her second jump (7′ 8.25″) and won her title.
“When I won, it made me feel like I was on the top of the world,” Rachael said adding she plans to participate in the Hershey event as long as she is eligible, which gives her two more years. She also plans to join the modified cross-country and track programs at Baldwinsville, since this is the first year she is eligible.
While at the Hershey event, Rachael had the opportunity to meet Olympians Carl Lewis and Rafer Johnson, take her picture with them and get their autographs. She was really impressed with Lewis because of his long jump Olympic record, and couldn’t wait to meet him.
“It was pretty neat,” she said. “It’s something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
As far as future goals, Rachael said, “I would like to break the NYS West record of 8′ 1″ and then the national record of 9′ 3.25.” I would also like to possibly make it to the Olympics for the heptathlon because it involves running, jumping and throwing.”
“We are both very proud of her accomplishments,” Steve said. “We are happy to see her success in track has made her a more outgoing person with a stronger self-esteem. We look forward to see how much Rachael will excel as she gets older.”
Rachael Miller, a Ray Middle School student entering the seventh grade this fall, is pictured during the Hershey’s Track & Field Games during her long jump attempt, which she scored a 7′ 8 1/4″ jump, landing her first place and title of National Standing Long Jump champion of 2009.