CF’s DePina headed to nationals
In 11-12 age group, CF runner finishes third
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.
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.
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.