Three young track and field athletes from the Bangor area will compete on the national stage over the next week and a half during the Junior Olympic Nationals and the Hershey Track & Field Games North American Final.
Ten-year-old James Petersen of Hermon, Seraphina Provenzano (age 13) of Holden and Tia Jackson (14) of Old Town all excelled in state and regional meets to advance to the national meets.
The Junior Olympics are under way in Sacramento, Calif., through Sunday while the Hershey meet will be held on Aug. 7 in Hershey, Pa.
Even though he is only 10, Petersen will be competing in his second national Hershey meet and will run the 400 again in this year’s meet, while he will compete in the 100, 200 and 400 at the Junior Olympic meet.
He first got involved in track two years ago when he attended a track and field camp for a week in Bangor.
“We knew he was fast and he loved to run,” said his father, Dan Petersen, adding that the camp coaches were also impressed by his son’s speed.
James Petersen then went on to win every race that summer with the Hampden Track Club before winning Junior Olympic state titles in the 100, 200 and 400 while setting two state records in the process. He won all three again this summer.
“For such a young kid, he is disciplined and dedicated to training,” Dan Petersen said. “Like last fall, even though it wasn’t a track season, we had a six-week training period of structured workouts. Then, when the snow was gone, we had another six-week program.”
James Petersen has a simple reason for participating in the sport.
“It’s just fun,” he said, latter adding that he started the sport because “I loved running and just wanted to start competing.”
He also likes other sports and participates in soccer, basketball, baseball, football and wrestling, in which he also won a state title.
His sister, Claire, who is two years older, offers some friendly family competition, also, as she still has a faster time than her brother in the 200 while he has surpassed her in the 100 and 400.
Dan Petersen said his family is a “big sports family” and doing so is beneficial.
“They’re involved with their friends, having fun and trying to improve themselves,” he said. “The nice thing about track and field is the measured distances and measured time. Then a child can really set goals and try to improve those marks.”
Petersen finished fifth in the 400 in last year’s national Hershey meet while his best times thus far are 13.75 seconds in the 100, 29.19 in the 200 and 1:06.04 in the 400.
Like Petersen, Provenzano has had a short, but successful career in track as she started in the sport last year as a member of All-Saints School track team in Bangor.
“She loves to run. She always has,” said her mother, Gina Provenzano.
“I just wanted to try it. It was for school and lots of fun, so I kept doing it,” added Seraphina Provenzano, who also plays basketball and soccer.
She went on to qualify for last year’s national Hershey meet where she earned a sixth-place finish in the 400 in the ages 11-12 division.
She then moved up an age bracket to the 13-14 division, but still earned a national berth in the Junior Olympics meet in the 400 with a time of 1:04.45. She also showed off her versatility by taking on the 800 and also excelling by qualify-ing for the national Hershey meet in that event with a 2:30 clocking.
“For the Hershey meet, they don’t have the 400 in that age bracket, but the 800 has become a fun race for her,” Gina Provenzano said. “The race is more of a game, it’s a more strategic race than the 400.”
Provenzano added that her daughter enjoys the sport because she can always try to beat her time and likes the support from the people in-volved in the sport.
“It’s lots of fun, but I’m always trying to do better. There’s a lot of work but there’s lots of good things at the end,” Seraphina Provenzano said, explaining that the Hershey meet offers lots of activities and events for the participants.
She has been training this season with a sprinting workout on the track every other day and 2-5 miles on a treadmill on other days.
Jackson will be competing in the triple jump and long jump at the Junior Olympics after winning the triple jump at the regional meet with a distance of 34 feet, 5½ inches and placing third in the long jump.
Three Aroostook County athletes will also be competing in Hershey meet as Kolleen Bouchard (ages 9-10) of Houlton will vie in the softball throw while Brandon Theriault (11-12) of Fort Kent and Molly Anthony (11-12) of Bridgewater will run in the 100. Theriault and Anthony both competed in last year’s national meet, also.