CF’s DePina headed to na­tion­als

In 11-12 age group, CF run­ner fin­ishes third

Woonsocket Call - - SPORTS - By JON BAKER jbaker@paw­tuck­et­

CEN­TRAL FALLS – Ernest Fen­nell calls Jayla DePina one of the most tal­ented young sprint­ers he’s ever seen.

Of course, he’s DePina’s head coach with the FAST TRACK Youth Track & Field Team, so he’s a bit bi­ased.

He nev­er­the­less has a point, and she backed it up at the USATF Re­gion 1 Youth Out­door Cham­pi­onships at Com­se­wogue High School in Port Jefferson Sta­tion, N.Y. on Satur­day.

DePina scorched the Long Is­land track in the 400 me­ters, hustling to a pre­mier (and PR) clock­ing of 1:05.76 to fin­ish third over­all in the girls’ 1112 age group. And, with that time and fin­ish, she qual­i­fied for the USATF Na­tional Ju­nior Olympic Cham­pi­onships in Sacra­mento, Calif. later this month.

Last week, she mus­tered sec­ond in the same cat­e­gory at the New Eng­land meet at Fitch­burg State Uni­ver­sity with a time of 1:07.98.

“About a year ago, her best time was about 1:10, so that’s a big-time im­prove­ment for Jayla,” Fen­nell stated Mon­day af­ter­noon. “We knew she had fin­ished third, but we didn’t know the fi­nal time be­cause we had to wait for the re­sults; there was a sys­tem break­down. We had to wait around, and that cut it mighty close to us catching our ferry back home.

“The thing about Jayla is that she’s still learn­ing how to run the 400 in seg­ments – that is, break it down into two, four even more seg­ments,” he added. “I tell her to push the pace the first 60-70 me­ters with­out go­ing all out, then set­tle into a rhythm. I also tell her when she hits the 200 mark, to pick it up for the next 30-40 me­ters be­cause, at that point, she’ll start to feel an ele­phant on her back (fa­tigue) once she gets to the 300.

“I say, ‘When you feel that, try to in­crease your leg drive and be­gin to pump your arms as if you’re run­ning up­hill. That should carry you down the rest of the straight­away … The good news is she did that per­fectly at the re­gion­als in Long Is­land, but she didn’t at the New Eng­lands. She got too ex­cited, went out too fast, like girls this age will do, and gassed her­self at the 300.

“If she hadn’t done that, she may have come out of it with the New Eng­land ti­tle.”

FAST TRACK team­mate Ari­anna Cunha, a stu­dent-ath­lete at East Prov­i­dence High, also com­peted in the girls’ 15-16 age group 100-me­ter dash (13.73). She did not qual­ify for the Ju­nior Olympic event.

“Her fastest time for EP was 15.53, but she told me she took some time off af­ter the (high school) state meet (on June 1 at Brown Sta­dium),” Fen­nell noted. “She started train­ing with me three weeks ago, and at the New Eng­land meet fin­ished in 13.86. She went in seeded 15th and came out 11th, so that’s im­prove­ment, too.”

Young Jayla is nip­ping at the bit to show her tal­ents to the top 11-12 year-olds in the coun­try at Sacra­mento State Uni­ver­sity, but Fen­nell in­di­cated the two of them will need $4,000 for air­fare and lodg­ing to the event.

“She’s run­ning so well; we’d love to get her to na­tion­als,” he said. “With the sup­port of those in the com­mu­nity and those who love youth sports, we hope to raise enough money to get the ex­pe­ri­ence she’s worked so hard to at­tain.”

Fen­nell stated DePina won’t com­pete in the 400 pre­lims un­til Fri­day, July 26 at 10 a.m. (fi­nals will take place at 9 a.m. the fol­low­ing Sun­day), so there is time to gather funds.

Those wish­ing to con­trib­ute may visit www. go­fundme. com/ fast- track- 039039sjay­la-depina-to-sacra­mento-ca.

Sub­mit­ted photo

Cen­tral Falls sprinter Jayla DePina, left, fin­ished third in the Re­gion 1 USATF 1112 Di­vi­sion 400-me­ter dash in a time of 1 minute, 5.76 sec­onds to reach na­tion­als.

Sub­mit­ted photo

Cen­tral Falls speed­ster Jayla DePina fin­ished third in the 400-me­ter dash over the week­end at the USATF Re­gion 1 Ju­nior Olympic cham­pi­onship in New York.

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