Preparing for liftoff |

Preparing for liftoff

Delaney Smith doesn’t mince words when you ask her why she likes to high jump so much.

“Because I’m good at it,” the 11-year-old leapster said just before heading to Omaha, Neb. to compete in this week’s Track & Field Junior Olympics meet.

According to the USATF Web site, Smith finished her first national meet in a five-way tie for 19th place among 33 competitors in the Midget Girls division. She cleared the bar set at 4 feet, 1 1⁄4 inches, before bowing out of what eventually ended up being a record-setting competition.

The winner, Stacey Destin, cleared a meet record 5-6 1⁄2 to shatter the old mark of 5 feet, 5 inches set in 1996 by Jacquelyn Johnson of Yuma, Ariz.

Smith qualified for the JO’s with a third-place finish in the high jump at a June 15 meet in Livermore. She also qualified in the 80-meter hurdles, but decided to focus on her favorite event this time around.

“I was excited, but also bummed out I didn’t get second place (in the high jump qualifier),” she said before jumping in Omaha.

Smith, who competed at Scotten School last spring, found she enjoyed the sport so much that it led her to join the Rocklin-based Sierra Foothill Track Club. There she began to blossom under the guidance of coach Jeff Gallero. He has coached many elite track athletes in the area over the years, including former Bear River High school standouts and current Sacramento State athletes Nicole Jackson and Rachel Welz.

In a recent meet, Gallero talked Smith into taking a shot at the heptathlon. In her first competition, she finished third in the hurdles, third in the high jump, second in the 800 meters, second in the long jump and fourth in the shot put.

She took third overall.

“It was OK,” she said, after compiling 1,750 points. “It was tough. The 800 was the worst. I’d never done it before.”

Heading into the Omaha meet, Smith was hoping for a spot on the podium. But that wasn’t the only thing she was looking forward to about the trip.

“I’m excited,” she said, “because I’ve never been on a plane before.”

In addition to track and field, Smith also enjoys running cross country, which she plans to do at Lyman Gilmore this fall, and playing the piano. She won her age group in this year’s Young Musicians’ Competition sponsored by Music in the Mountains.

To contact Sports Editor Brian Hamilton, e-mail or call 477-4240.

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