Local Athletes Place At Junior Olympics

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Front Page / Aug. 10, 2017 11:33am EDT

Simack Siblings Are Power Throwers
By Emily Ballou and Maegan Winters

Coach Linda Trombley, center, is full of pride for Jack Symack, left, and his sister Wynter, who both won medals at the national competition in Michigan. Five other area athletes also competed at the prestigious event. (Provided) Coach Linda Trombley, center, is full of pride for Jack Symack, left, and his sister Wynter, who both won medals at the national competition in Michigan. Five other area athletes also competed at the prestigious event. (Provided) Seven local, distinguished track and field athletes, ranging in age from 9-15, have qualified and competed at the AAU Junior Olympics at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich.

Qualifying for the Junior Olympics, a national level competition, was no easy feat. The track and field athletes first had to compete at the New England district meet in Massachusetts and place in in the top eight of their age group to be eligible for the regional competition held two weeks later in New Jersey.

To advance from regionals (New England, New Jersey, Connecticut, and metro New York athletes) to nationals, the competitors had to finish in the top six of a running event, the top five of a field event, or the top four of a multi-event.

More than 15,000 athletes ages 7-18 competed in this summer’s national competition, the 51st annual AAU Junior Olympic Games. Taking place July 29 - Aug. 5, it is the largest national multi-sport event for youth in the United States, with competitions in over 18 different sports. For track and field, the top eight finishers in each event and age division receive medals.

Tromnados

Hailing from Sharon, Hartford, and Springfield, local AAU track team the “Tromnados” includes Bella Trombley, Katie Trombley, Sophie Trombley, Cadence Wheeler,

Ana Elizabeth, and Jack and Wynter Simack as the seven athletes who commendably qualified for nationals.

The athletes competed in a variety of events, including javelin, turbojav, long jump, triple jump, shot put, and the pentathlon. An eighth member of the team qualified, but chose not to compete after injuring her knee.

Two of the youngest team members, Christian and Connor, did not qualify for the Junior Olympics, but still show great promise in the eyes of their coach.

“This team’s greatest strength is their drive,” said fourth-year coach Linda Trombley. “They show a level of commitment to the team that is incredible to witness. They urge each other on and encourage each other.”

(The team name “Tromnadoes” stems from a combination between Trombley’s last name and the natural disaster themes of her daughters’ school and hockey team mascots, the Hurricanes and Storm.)

Coach Trombly explained that she considers the Tromnado’s school athletics to be enough for daily workouts. Once school sports end, they meet once a week until districts. The training increases to three times a week until regionals, and then extends to everyday practice in preparation for nationals.

Practices rotate among the schools the athletes attend—South Royalton, Hartford, Hanover, and Springfield High Schools.

“Our greatest challenge has to be the lack of training sites available,” Coach Trombley told The Herald. “Only two of the places at which we train have actual tracks.”

Despite this challenge, the Tornado’s exemplary dedication and connection as a team drives them toward success. According to their coach, they not only earned a place in nationals, but also a chance to establish new relationships with other athletes their age, overcome challenges such as shyness and health concerns, and experience success together as a team.

“All of them practice and compete to levels higher than I would have ever imagined at their ages,” said Coach Trombley. “Each of these kids is incredible in their own right.”

Sibling Medals

At the Junior Olympics, there were many successful athletes who finished on the podium with a medal. Tromnado Wynter Simack of Sharon was one of those successful Junior Olympians. Competing in the turbo-javelin, she launched the 400-gram turbojav 26.88 m (88’ 2”), placing 7th overall out of 40 girls in her age division.

(The turbo javelin, or turbojav for short, is shorter than a traditional javelin, but thrown the same. Made of plastic, it has a plastic tip and fins, and is utilized by those under the age of 13 for safety reasons.)

In her third consecutive year competing at the Junior Olympics, this is the second year in a row that Wynter has medaled. Last year, she brought home Vermont’s first-ever AAU track and field medal.

Wynter’s older brother, Jack, also earned a podium finish. With a javelin throw of 37.93 m (124’5”), he finished 6th overall out of the 55 boys in his division.

Wynter and Jack both started participating in summer rec track when they were eight years old. Incoming freshman Jack, now 14, and rising middle schooler Wynter, now 12, are already successful athletes, even before hitting high school and varsity athletics.

While Wynter enjoys the competition of track and field, Jack simply explains, “I like to throw things.”

While neither athletes were nervous while competing, Wynter says that “a few more meters” was racing through her mind while in Michigan. For Jack on the other hand, “I was hungry and I was hot, so I was actually thinking about pizza and throwing farther than the other kids.”

Hopefully we will hear more about the successful Tromnados and their path back to destroy at the Junior Olympics next year.

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