B'ville youth jumps to top

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.

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