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Several young C.O. track stars qualify for Jr. Olympic Nationals


Prineville native Tatum Holliday is set to compete at the USA Track & Field Junior Olympics National Championships at Sacramento State University in California later this month, one of several young Central Oregon athletes to make the national event.

On Sunday, Holliday competed in the 800-meter run and javelin throw at the USATF Junior Olympic Regional Competition in Seattle. She placed third in javelin, competing against 15 other athletes from across the northwest, throwing just over 42 feet to move on to nationals.

When asked why she likes to compete in Junior Olympics, Holliday said, “I have fun and I like meeting new friends.”

And as for her plans when competing in Sacramento, the young athlete added, “I will just do my best, never give up and have fun.”

Nearly 70,000 youth athletes compete each year in the Junior Olympic Track & Field and Cross Country programs. Many of America’s top Olympians began as youth athletes, including Bend resident Ashton Eaton, who is set to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro later this summer.

“She is very special and has worked so hard to get to this level,” said Holliday’s mother, Michelle. “I am so proud of all she has accomplished, and am excited for what her future holds, if she chooses to continue to compete at this level.”

Holliday, who turns 8 later this month — just before she heads to nationals — attends Crooked River Elementary School and will be entering the third grade this fall.

The Central Oregon Track Club based in Bend also has several qualifiers for the Junior Olympic nationals:

Raymond Blasquez won the boys 15-16 age group high jump with a leap of 1.85m (6’3/4″). Ray won the state Junior Olympics meet in a new personal record of 1.94m (6’3 3/4″). Ray will be entering his junior year at Bend High this fall.

James King, an incoming freshman at Mt. View HS, placed 3rd in the boys 15-16 high jump with his clearance of a new personal best 1.80m (5’10 3/4″). James will be entering Mt. View as a freshman this fall. He attended High Desert Middle School.

Taylor Petz placed 2nd and Elizabeth Verheyden placed 3rd and both qualified in the girls 13-14 age group in the pole vault with clearances of 2.80m (9’2 1/4″) and 2.65m (8’8 1/4″) respectively. Taylor will be an 8th grader at High Desert Middle School and Elizabeth will be entering Summit High School as a freshman this fall. Elizabeth attended Cascades Academy as an 8th grader.

Emily Showers placed 4th in the girls 17-18 age group pole vault with a clearance of 3.35m (10’11 3/4″). Emily was also the 2016 5A state champion for Bend High this spring and will be entering her senior year this fall.

Alicia Welker qualified for three events in the girls 11-12 age group! Alicia placed 4th in the girls 100M with a time of 13.75, she also placed 4th in the 80m hurdles with a time of 13.87 and 3rd in the long jump with a leap of 4.50m (14’9 1/4″). Alicia will be entering 7th grade at Pilot Butte Middle School this fall.

Merle Nye won the boys 17-18 age group 1500M with a time of 4:17.17 and placed 3rd in the 800M with a time of 1:59.86. Merle graduated from Bend High in June. Merle is a member of COTC but was entered him in the state meet as unattached.

Robert Gorman also qualified in the 100m hurdles ( 5th place 16.30) & 200m hurdles (5th place 29.24) . RJ attended Cascade Middle School and will be entering Summit this fall as a freshman. He runs for CORK (Central Oregon Running Klub).

For more information about the USATF Junior Olympic Track & Field and Cross Country programs visit

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