Camas track and field athletes reach Junior Olympic nationals

Wilson, Merritt and Sudbeck become All-Americans

Haleigh Sudbeck loves launching her favorite toy into space like a comet.

“Throwing the hammer is my favorite part,” said the 16-year-old from Camas. “You’re on the brink of being out of control. It just gets faster and faster. That’s what makes it so fun.”

Sudbeck was one of several track and field athletes from Camas who reached the USATF National Junior Olympic Championships, at Turner Stadium, in Humble, Tex.

Her flying object landed 112 feet, 5 inches away from the circle. Sudbeck was awarded with fourth place in the hammer and also became an All-American.

“It really was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said. “It’s cool meeting people who do the same thing you do, but in different states, weather conditions and by using different techniques.”

Evergreen Storm Track Club members Emily Wilson, Kaylee Merritt, Brooklyn Jackson and Presley Timmons earned All-American status in the 3,200-meter relay. They finished in third place in the 13- and 14-year-old division with a time of 10 minutes, 7.17 seconds.

“The only thought on my mind at the beginning was how amazing this is, and how I get to share this experience with a great group of girls,” Wilson said. “I just kept replaying the hand-offs, smooth strides and determination everyone had. I know that this will continue to stick with us for the rest of our lives.”

Wilson added a second All-American tile by placing sixth in the 3,000 (11:03.14).

“To be an All-American is a huge honor,” she said. “It means in the top of the nation, but the one thing I’ll remember is all the training and determination it took to get there.”

Madison Peffers snagged 12th place in the high jump. She cleared the bar set a 4-5, 4-7 and 4-9 before topping out at 4-11. Not bad for leaping in 96-degree heat.

“Just making it to that meet is a huge accomplishment, and having that opportunity to go up against girls who are super, super good,” Peffers said. “It was mind-blowing, overwhelming and nerve-wracking, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Merritt took 16th place in the 3,000. Wilson notched 17th place in the 1,500. Ryan Gunther advanced to the semifinal heat of the 400 hurdles. Gunther and Tamaki Murata also competed in the 110 and 100 hurdles, respectively.

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