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O’Neill to run at Hershey’s track meet in Pennsylvania

One up-and-coming Powell athlete will compete at the Hershey’s Track and Field North American Finals Aug. 2 in Pennsylvania.

Incoming Powell Panther JuliaKay O’Neill will run the 800-meter race against athletes from across North America at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pa.

O’Neill qualified for the North American Finals at Wyoming’s state meet in Rock Springs June 21.

“I just want to get a better time (in Elizabethtown) than I did at the state meet,” O’Neill said. “It would be cool to be able to get a better time than my middle school time.”

The former goal should be easy, though the latter will be a challenge.

O’Neill’s state meet time bested her mark of 2:36.25 set at the local Hershey’s meet but was about five seconds slower than her Powell Middle School personal best (and PMS record) time of 2:24.52.

“I had never ran in heat like that before, and it was just pretty tough to do that,” said O’Neill of the conditions in Rock Springs.

If O’Neill can equal or best her personal record she could finish in the top five. Last year’s fifth-place finisher ran a time of 2:28.22.

She now has three weeks to prepare for the big stage.

“I contacted my middle school coach, Mrs. (Dale Ann) Meeker and she’s giving me some workouts to do,” O’Neill said.

O’Neill said it will be tough to regain her midseason form, but is focused on running a consistent race.

Preparation will improve her time but won’t erase her nerves.

“When I learned that I was going (to the finals) I already got nervous,” O’Neill said. “So I’ll probably be nervous there.”

Once the race starts O’Neill said she’ll be thinking only of running.

“I usually just get nervous before,” O’Neill said. “When I’m getting ready to run I just kind of forget about it.”

The three-day trip to Elizabethtown, about 90 miles west of Philadelphia, will offer O’Neill her first look at the East Coast.

“We get to do some cool activities like go to the museums there,” said an excited O’Neill.

The record for the girls ages 13-14 800-meter run record is 2:13.26.

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