Monroeville youth Jayla Robinson earns bronze at USA Track and Field nationals
Jayla Robinson made the most of her first summer of track and field competition.
The 8-year-old Monroeville resident and third grader at Ramsey Elementary in the Gateway School District captured a bronze medal in the turbo javelin July 25 at the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Championships.
“I was pretty excited to qualify for nationals,” said Jayla, who also competed in the long jump this summer.
“I was surprised I did this well.”
The championship meet on the campus of North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, N.C. capped a summer where she stayed alive in each step of the process from the Three Rivers Association Championships in June to the Region 2 Championships early last month.
Her top throw of 56 feet, 9 inches in the 8-and-under division at nationals was a personal best and the best throw from any member of the Three Rivers Association or Region 2. A total of 49 competed in the event at nationals.
“She’s pretty competitive and wants to do well, but I don’t think, at the time, she realized exactly what she did against the best kids in the event from all over the country. She was pretty relaxed,” said Jared Robinson, Jayla’s father. “Everyone was so excited with her medal, but she was mainly concerned with finding something good to eat. But it was quite an accomplishment to finish as high as she did.”
The turbo javelin Jayla and her competitors used this summer weighed a sixth of a pound and was 28 inches in length. It is designed to help a younger thrower develop the correct technique while teaching the basic fundamentals and mechanics of the event. The soft nose allows it to also be thrown indoors.
Robinson will return to the competition slate next summer with hopes of winning the national championship. This year’s national champion in the 8U turbo javelin set the bar with a top throw of 75 feet, 4 inches.
Robinson, a member of the Future Stars Athletics Track Club in Pittsburgh, started her journey by winning the turbo javelin at the Three Rivers meet with a distance of 46-3.
The top six advanced from Three Rivers to the Region 2 meet at The College of New Jersey. She had to finish in the top six at regionals, and she was able to that with a fifth-place throw of 40-8.
Jayla’s arrival at the turbo javelin came from time spent in watching her older sister, Amaya, compete in track and field meets.
“I kind of sensed that Jayla didn’t have the foot speed like Amaya, but we wanted to find something for her to do,” Jared Robinson said. “She also played baseball, and the way she threw the baseball led me to believe she would have the skills to throw the javelin, as well. We wanted to find an event in which she could flourish.”
Amaya, a ninth-grader at Gateway High School, competed this summer in the 13-14 age group. She ran the 100-meter dash and 200. She also qualified for the national championships, where she placed 46th in the 100.
“Jayla has been around the track for a long time and has really looked up to Amaya,” Jared said. “She wanted to follow in her sister’s footsteps, so it was important to find and event that worked the best for her.”
Jared said he’s happy to impart some athletic ability to his daughters. He was a track and field thrower at Johnstown High School and went on to play football at Duquesne.
“I let my daughters know that the sky’s the limit if they work hard, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on them,” he said. “I want it to be something where they have fun.”