Anderson heads to nationals

Published 9:49 am Friday, July 31, 2009

When Cassopolis native Paige Anderson crossed the finish line at the Hershey’s Track and Field State Finals July 10, she nabbed not only first place honors, but also a distance that earned her a spot at the North American competition, which will take place Saturday.

The first place finisher in the Girls 13-14 Standing Long Jump, Anderson, age 14, is one of eight youth in the nation to qualify for her event at the Hershey’s Track and Field North American Finals.

She had to wait until state competitions were completed in seven other midwestern states and Ontario before learning her distance of 8-feet-0.5 had earned a trip to the finals, held annually in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Top distances from state events in Region 1 (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Ontario, and Wisconsin) are compared to determine which athletes will represent the region at the state finals.

The Hershey’s Track and Field Michigan State Finals is hosted annually by the Michigan Recreation and Park Association. Athletes qualify for participation in the State Finals at local Hershey’s meets, held by municipal park and recreation departments throughout the state. Participation in the program is free.

Five other youth athletes will represent Michigan at the North American Finals:
• Nolan Fugate of Wayland, age 9, Boys 9-10 50-Meter Dash
• Robert Mitchel of Grand Blanc, age 9, Boys 9-10 100-Meter Dash
• Alex Spannstra of Brighton, age 9, Girls 9-10 200-Meter Dash
• Kelly West of Howell, age 9, Girls 9-10 Softball Throw
• Sergio Brown of Marshall, age 14, Boys 13-14 100-Meter Dash

In total, approximately 560 youth athletes will spend four action-packed days in Hershey visiting the sites, meeting peers and famous track and field athletes, then competing in the nationally recognized track event.

This is an all-expense paid trip for Paige and the other athletes.

Hershey’s Track & Field Program was created more than 30 years ago to promote youth physical fitness and provide fun learning experiences for children 9 to 14 years old. This popular event is held at the local level in May and June, with event champions advancing to the State Finals Meet in July. Individual champions in both running and field events aspire to advance to the national meet.