Four local athletes compete at the TrackTown Youth League Championships in Eugene

EUGENE — Led by Joshua Kim’s third-place finish in the long jump, a quartet of young athletes represented Newberg well July 9 at the TrackTown Youth League Championships at the University of Oregon’s historic Hayward Field.

Along with Ethan Hein, Abigail Hein, Bella Torres and about 300 other athletes ages 8 to 14, Kim qualified for the championship meet at one of 14 free all-comers meets held across the state in May and June.

Kim qualified for a pair of events, placing third in the boys 8-10 long jump with a mark of 11 feet, 8.5 inches and sixth in the 100 meters in 16.09 seconds. Kim improved upon his long jump qualifying mark (10-4), which he posted at the final qualifying meet of the year June 20 in Newberg, by over a foot.

Abigail Hein placed seventh in the girls 13-14 1,500 meter run with a time of 5:38.34, while Ethan Hein was 12th in the boys 8-10 400 dash in 1:21.27.

Torres rounded out the Newberg contingent’s effort by finishing 13th in the girls 11-12 400 meters at 1:26.13.

The TrackTown Youth League was launched in 2014 as a way to introduce young athletes to track and field without any financial burden to their parents, who can simply show up the day of the meet and enter them to compete in any of six events — the 100, 200, 400 and 1,500 meters, along with the long jump and the turbo javelin. There are also boys and girls divisions in the 100, 200, 400 and turbo javelin for athletes with disabilities.

“I think it’s going to get bigger and bigger as we go, but I thought it was a really cool deal, especially when they don’t charge kids and they have them all over the state,” Newberg High School track coach Brandon Ramey said. “So you can come from eastern Oregon or southern Oregon and still qualify to compete at Hayward. It’s pretty cool.”

Ramey said that the Newberg all-comers meet was added late in the process, so there wasn’t as much publicity for it as he had hoped, but he said he was pleased with how it turned out and believes Newberg will host again in the future.

“It’s just a great way for kids to come out and experience track and field in a very free and fun environment,” he said. “They do a good job. They bring announcers and ribbons and a podium. They had some of our high school kids there to help. Anytime you can get youth involved in a free way, then I think it’s a really good deal.”

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