GJ youngster heading to Region 10 Junior Olympic track meet
By KENT MINCER
For someone with a hoops preference, Robert Harrison is doing awfully well on the track this summer.
Harrison, who’s set to begin the 8th grade next month, had a stellar meet at the Colorado Junior Olympics Track & Field Championships last month.
Competing in the 13-14 year-old age division, Harrison won the long jump, triple jump and discus, to earn a berth in Region 10 Junior Olympic competition beginning today in Provo, Utah. If he wins one of his three events, he’ll do something few athletes in the Grand Valley have achieved — compete next month in the national Junior Olympic meet in Greensboro, N.C.
His feats are more impressive considering track & field isn’t Harrison’s favorite sport.
“I’m a basketball player,” he said.
At the suggestion of his middle school track coach, Marty Wood, Harrison took up the triple jump this spring and immediately found success. It’s become his best event.
He had a very successful four-meet middle school track season last spring, finishing first 12 times and second four times. He set a District 51 7th grade record of 17 feet, 7 inches, in the long jump, shattering the previous record by 13 inches. He also tied the district triple jump record.
His father, Ron, decided it was time to go online and check out the summer Junior Olympic schedule.
Harrison competed in three meets in June, culminating with the state finals in Aurora.
Since the start of the summer, he’s been working three or four nights a week on the track.
After meeting Central High School track coach Lanton Kame at a basketball camp last month, Kame offered to help train Harrison for the Junior Olympics.
“He’s showed me little techniques that helped get me ready,” Harrison said.
The techniques helped him to a triple jump of 37 feet, 1.25 inches at the state meet.
“He’s got some athletic, raw talent,” Kame said.
Among Harrison’s biggest assets is his ability to learn.
“He picked up on everything to quickly,” Kame said.
Ironically, Harrison moved across town last week from the Grand Mesa attendance area to the East Middle School attendance area, which will put Harrison at Grand Junction High School for his freshman year in two years.
Kame has been able to put that behind him and work with a future Tiger.
“You like to see kids from the valley accomplish things and do well,” Kame said.
Harrison has been spending the past couple of weeks working on his approach speed in both jumps and on gaining more height in his jumps.
Regardless of how he finishes in Provo, he’s already aware of his accomplishments.
“It’s been a good summer,” he said, an ear-to-ear grin spanning his face.