Photos by Rome City Schools
Rome High track and field athletes, Ja’Lia Evans and Ja’Taria Jackson, are preparing to make the trek to Sacramento, Cali. for the USATF Hershey National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships.
Both students qualified for the national championship after their performances last weekend at the Region 4 Junior Olympic Championships in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
The national championship meet will be held July 22-28 at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium, and Evans and Jackson will be competing in the first round of preliminaries on Thursday, July 25.
Evans will run the first round of the 100 meter hurdles at 10:40 a.m. PST, while Jackson competes in the first round of the 100 meter dash at 2:10 p.m. PST. Evans will then go on to compete in the triple jump finals at 4:00 p.m. PST.
Head Coach Nick Bridges is beyond excited for his two athletes who have been given this incredible opportunity. “These girls have been given the greatest opportunity to showcase their talents in a place that they have never even dreamed of going to. I am so proud of their accomplishments and can’t wait to celebrate with them over the next few weeks!”
“I am just so excited to see California. I have never been before,” said Ja’Lia Evans. “This is really an amazing opportunity and I am hoping to sightsee and just do everything on my bucket list before we have to come home.”
Ja’Taria Jackson feels the same way about the trip to California, as she has never traveled in a plane until now.
“I have actually never been on an airplane before, so I am most excited to experience that. I am excited for the track meet too, but I try and treat every single track meet like it’s just a normal meet. I just go on the track and run my best every single time. This time is the same, just in a big way,” smiled Jackson.
According to Evans and Jackson, practices were more intense in preparation for the upcoming National Championship. “As soon as we got back from regionals, we have stepped up our practices from twice a week, to every single day,” explained Jackson. “We practice about an hour every day, and then train on top of that. It is a lot, but it is so worth it.”
The success of these two athletes is, of course, a direct result of all of their hard work. However, without the guidance of their trusted leader, Coach Bridges, they feel that none of it would be possible.
“I am so thankful to have had the privilege of getting to know Coach Bridges,” said Evans. “When I first started running track, he always made me feel like home. He is a big reason why I love the sport, so I owe a lot of my success to him.”
“I, too, want to thank Coach Bridges for his support throughout my entire high school career. He is just such an inspiration to me. He is always so positive and so supportive, no matter what. He treats us like his family, and that means a lot to me,” said Jackson.
We would like to congratulate Rome’s own, Ja’Laih Evans who is now the National Junior Olympic Triple Jump Champion!! GO WOLVES!