Teens head to Junior Olympics

Two island sophomores will compete in national Junior Olympic competitions later this month.

Katherine Andrus will compete in the triple jump at the USA Track and Field national championships in Houston, and Virginia Miller will compete in the javelin at the American Athletic Union national track and field games in Des Moines, Iowa. The events are similar, said Foss Miller, Virginia’s father, but governed by different organizations.

Andrus qualified to compete at the national event earlier this month at a regional competition in Spokane. There she earned second place with a triple jump of 36 feet, 1 and a half inches, her personal record for the year.

“It’s pretty exciting,” she said.

Andrus began working with a Tacoma-based track coach last year, after islander Todd Pearson, who was volunteering with the McMurray track team, noticed her jumping ability.

Pearson set the wheels in motion, and now Andrus is competing with the Flying AJs, a track and field team in Tacoma, 14 of whom qualified for the national event. Andrus said she began training for the triple jump last summer but competed in the event for the first time this spring as a member of the Vashon High School track team.

Though struggling with a toe injury, Andrus says she would like to end in the top eight, which is considered an All-American finish.

Miller, who was not available to comment, also came in second in her qualifying meet, which was last weekend in Orlando, according to her father. There she threw the javelin 106 feet and was in a field of 32 participants.

Foss Miller, a former high school and college javelin thrower himself, is coaching Virginia, who is known as a natural athlete among her family and friends. The two just started working on the sport, he said.

In the national event, there will be 52 javelin throwers, and he said he believes Virginia would be happy to rank in the top 10.

He is not sure how far she will want to pursue the sport, though.

“Next year it might be volleyball. I don’t know,” he said with a laugh.

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