SPRINGVILLE — Springville-Griffith Institute track athlete Sam Peterman of Springville competed in the Jr. Olympic National Championships from July 25 – 28. The games were held in Greensboro, N.C. On July 25, Sam competed in the semi-finals for the 1,500-meter run. There were 44 regional finalists, from all over the country, competing for 12 spots in the championship race that would be held on July 28.
The girls would race in a three-heat format, with the top two finishers in each heat guaranteed a spot in the finals. The next six fastest times would advance, as well. Running in heat No. 2; Sam led the entire race, before being passed by Rebecca Eggeling on the last lap . She finished in second place, with a time of 4 minutes, 53.04 seconds, just off her personal best time, which she set at the Regional Qualifier in Jamestown.
Her second place finish automatically advanced her to the finals. Sam’s dad, Dale Peterman, said that, with her championship race being held on Sunday, their family had a few days to see the North Carolina scenery. Sam and her family arrived at the North Carolina A&T University track around 11:45 a.m. for the finals race, set to start at approximately 2 p.m. Dale Peterman added that the weather on Sunday was much cooler, but still “a pretty humid day.” Race organizers chose to move the race to an earlier start, due to a potential thunderstorm that they saw on the radar.
Sam had the third fastest time, heading into the finals, but since she did not finish first in her heat, she was seeded fourth. The race began at 1:24; Sam held the second position in the race, after running a 51-second first lap. Sam and the leader battled well into the second lap. The leader, Sophia Cantine, began to pull away, but Sam and a small pack of girls running together trailed closely behind. As the group of girls were coming around the 800-meter mark, Sam tried making a move to the outside position, to pass another competitor and move into second place, but another runner caught Sam’s leg, causing her to trip. Another girl then tripped over Sam. After the accident, Sam got up and finished the last 700 meters, to finish in 11th with a time of 5:02.9.
“Although extremely disappointed, she is very happy to be able to have been a part of the National Championship race,” Dale Peterman said, about his daughter. “The experience alone was priceless, and just knowing she was able to be competitive, on that level, was very rewarding.”
The Jr. Olympic National Championships marked the final stop for Sam, during her season on the track. In addition to qualifying for the national competition, Sam broke the 1,500 and 3,000 records at S-GI, this past spring.
“Through all her accomplishments this year, [Sam’s mother] Renee and I were never more proud of her than we were when she fell and knew she was out of it, but got up and got herself together, to finish the race,” added Dale Peterman. “That showed her true character, in that moment. A lot of kids would have called it quits, at that point.”
Sam will focus on cross country, in the fall.