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Siblings Headed to Nationals in Youth Track

LSA Cougars Nathan Merena, 6, and big sister, Jessica, 12, pose with their sixth-place medals earned at Youth National Trials. PHOTO CREDIT: Peter Merena
LSA Cougars Nathan Merena, 6, and big sister, Jessica, 12, pose with their sixth-place medals earned at Youth National Trials. PHOTO CREDIT: Peter Merena

This weekend, two local athletes wrap up their winter track and field season at the indoor nationals. From Friday through Sunday, youth athletes from across the country converge on Landover, Maryland, as Prince George's County Sports and Learning Complex hosts the 2014 USATF National Youth Indoor Track & Field Championships.

Nathan Merena, barely 7, a first-grader at Gayman Elementary School in Doylestown, will compete early Saturday morning in the Boys 8-and-Under 2 kg shot put. His recent best, achieved on January 25, is 3.10 meters. He is ranked 7th and qualified with a 2.96 meter put (9 feet 8 inches).

Two hours later, his sister Jessica, a sixth-Grader, will attempt to clear the high jump bar multiple times with hopes of a medal. She’s in the mix, ranked eighth. Opening height is 1.10 meters. Her personal best, achieved outdoors, is 1.20 meters. However, she only qualified at 1.05m, and she only cleared 1.0m (3 feet 3 inches) in a local meet on Sunday, “so she certainly has her work cut out for her. As winters progressed, her vertical jump has disappeared!” Her father, Peter, is a USATF coach of the pair.

The two qualified for nationals having finished sixth in their respective events at the Trials held February 22-23 indoors at the Bennett Center “Bubble” in Toms River, NJ. 

Heading into Trials, Nathan was ranked fourth in the long jump (PR 2.90 meters/9 feet 6 inches), but finished a disappointing 9th place. “He simply had no speed”, said his dad. “He complained his instep was hurting in one foot and his shin in the other but we could not attribute the pain to any injury or equipment malfunction/shoes/laces – it was baffling! Last week we found out he has strep so we figure that caused the joint pain, dunno really.”

Jessica competed in two other events at the Trials. She set a PR (personal record) in the 11-12 long jump with a mark of 3.41 meters (17th place), 8-inches further than her best. She also put the shot 4.49 meters and finished sixteenth.

The brother-sister duo compete for the Lickity-Split COUGARS Athletics (LSA) Youth Winter Track Club. The COUGARS are the only winter track and field team for youth in Bucks County and accepts girls and boys ages 4-18+, no experience necessary, special needs included.


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