An All-American Girl
Ashlyn Aguilar is an All-American Girl.
The 9-year-old from Socorro earned All-American status at last month’s USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics in Wichita, Kan., by placing fourth in her age division in the javelin throw.
The sport seemed to come naturally to Ashlyn, the daughter of Steven and Julia Aguilar of Socorro.
“This is her first time around track and field,” said Cody Lee, her coach with the Soco Compete track and field club. “I guess she’s quite the baseball player. She picked up the javelin the first time and hasn’t put it down.”
Ashlyn threw what’s actually called a turbo jav — a scaled down version of the kind of javelin used by high schoolers — 23.14 meters, or 75 feet, 11 inches. Coach Lee said her mark was actually about 3 meters better than her previous best.
“She only did about 20 meters before that. Everything came together for her,” Lee said.
The winner of the event in the bantam division (8- and 9-year olds) was Kamil Henry of the Speed City Track and Field Club of Carson, Calif., whose winning throw was 14 feet better than Ashlyn’s.
But only the top eight placers earn All-American designation, so placing fourth out of 32 competitors from across the country was good enough for the first time out.
“It was pretty cool for her. She was excited about it,” the coach said.
Lee took several other athletes to the National Junior Olympics. They had to earn there way to Wichita by qualifying at a regional meet in Albuquerque in July.
Socorro’s 1600-meter relay team ran one race in Wichita, but didn’t advance to the next heat. The team of Ibrahim Maiga, Dylan Gallegos, Chandler Benevidez and Ray Vaiza clocked in a 3:44.84 and placed 24th out of 31 teams.
Vaiza also competed individually in the long jump. A third-place finisher at this year’s Class 3A state high school meet, Vaiza placed 40th at nationals with a leap of 20-03 3/4.
Zoe Howell, who placed second at the 3A meet in the 400-meter dash, finished 43rd at nationals, completing the lap in 1 minute, 1.78 seconds.
Lee said National Junior Olympics was the biggest meet any of them had ever been to before and they were all a bit wide-eyed about the experience. But the coach said having the chance to compete at a big meet against other top athletes from around the country will benefit them down the road.
“It was good for them to go up there. It was a good experience,” he said.