A Norfolk Middle School student is one of the fastest pre-teen track and field athletes in the nation.
Later this month, 11-year-old Jamaya Koehlmoos will travel to Sacramento, California, to compete in the USA Track and Field Hershey National Junior Olympics against America’s best 11- and 12-year old girls.
Jamaya, the daughter of Vicki and Dan Koehlmoos, said she feels at home on the track. “Just having the competition, that feeling when you’re running, feeling proud of yourself afterwards, it’s great,” she said.
The sixth-grader-to-be competes for the Olympus Track Club out of Lincoln and this will mark her third trip to nationals. A year ago, in Greensboro, North Carolina, in the 9-10 age division, Jamaya finished 15th in the 200-meter dash in a time of 29.26 seconds and 19th in the 100 at 14.48.
She’s moved up to the 11-12 age division this year, and has improved her times considerably. Earlier this month at the regional meet in Fargo, North Dakota, she won both the 100 and 200 competitions with blistering times of 13.17 and 26.51.
Much of Jamaya’s success can be attributed to her coaches, Shon King of Norfolk and Raymonn Adams of the Olympus club.
King, a former all-American wide receiver at Wayne State, said Jamaya has a great work ethic.
“She just comes out and pushes herself every time we come out,” he said. “Her mindset is getting to the point to where she understands to push herself through everything she does.”
Jamaya and King meet approximately five days a week at the Norfolk Catholic track and then work quickly.
“We’re usually in here for less than an hour,” King said. “We get our warm-up in and then we get straight into our circuit, whether it be the endurance stuff or the speed stuff and then she has a little bit of a break in between — about six minutes, usually — and then rest of it is just her pushing herself.”
Jamaya’s first-place finishes in Fargo are even more impressive considering many of the girls she competed against were a year older.
“I’ve always made it to regionals, every year, then every other year, I’d make it to nationals,” she said. “I’ve never made it to nationals at the bottom of my age group, but this year I did.”
Jamaya’s biggest supporters are her mom and dad. “We love watching her run; she’s fantastic,” Vicki said. “That makes going to the track meets so much fun and she loves it. It’s good to see that smile on her face when she competes and when she’s done, when she knows that she’s done well.”
The Norfolk pre-teen’s first race in Sacramento will be her first-round heat of the 200-meter dash on Wednesday, July 24.
Should she advance, she’ll compete in the 200 semifinals the next day, as well as in the first round of the 100. The 100 semis are set for Friday while the 200 finals are on Saturday and 100 finals on Sunday.
Results and live streaming — for a fee — will be available at USATF.org.