B'ville girl places fifth in national competition

Rachael Miller, 13, of Baldwinsville placed in the standing long jump (SLJ) event at the 33rd Hershey's Track & Field Games North American Final on Aug. 7 in Hershey, Penn.

Sponsored by the Hershey Company, this program features more than 500 of the best young track and field athletes in North America, ages 9 to 14.

Prior to Aug. 7, Miller won three events in the (13- to 14-year-old girl division) district meet at Jamesville-DeWitt with a 2:41.9 time in the 800m, a 30.02 time in the 200m and 8'6" distance in the SLJ; two events in the 13- to 14-year-old girl division state meet at Herkimer with a 2:37 time in the 800m and 7'9.5" distance in the SLJ; and came in third in the 200m with a 30.09 time.

Miller's SLJ distance of 7'9.5" at the New York State West meet gave her the No. 2 qualifying spot in Region 7, which includes New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., Quebec and Nunavut.

After winning the national championship for the 11- to 12-year-old girls' division in 2009, Miller prepared for the challenge of competing in a higher division among 13- to 14-year-olds. She trained four times a week, which included distance running, sprints, weight training and jumping.

At the Milton Hershey High School complex Aug. 7, Miller remained calm and focused, as it was her third consecutive year in the competition. Her first jump (7'6") positioned her into the top seven out of 14. After her second jump (7'10"), the jumpers were realigned for the final flight according to their current distance, placing Miller at number five. On her final jump, she got a little further (7'10.75"), putting her in fifth place overall and just 1.5" out of receiving the bronze medal.

Despite placing fifth, Miller was the highest 13-year-old place finisher. She is pleased to have met her goal of placing in the top five and looks forward to her possible return for her fourth and final trip to the national meet for another shot at a national championship.

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