The athlete went to the USA Track and Field/Niagara local qualifier on June 23 in Hilton, N.Y., where she finished second, in the 1,500-meter run. That qualified her for the July 15 Junior Olympic Regional Qualifier, which was held at Strider Field in Jamestown.
Competing in the 13 – 14-year-old age group, Sam finished third, in the 1,500–meter, with a personal best time of 4 minutes, 52.9 seconds.
Sam will now travel to North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro, N.C., for the National Junior Olympic Championships. She and her family will leave from their home in Springville on July 22 and arrive on July 24.
Sam will compete on Thursday, July 25, for the semifinal seeding race. That event will consist of 38 girls from all over the east coast. The top 12 athletes will advance to the finals on Sunday, July 28, when the winner will be crowned.
“She’s very driven and very goal-oriented,” said Dale Peterman, about his daughter. “That’s her drive from within. She’s set some pretty lofty goals for herself that she’s done on her own. She has worked very hard, to live up to those expectations.”
Peterman has been running with his daughter at Sprague Brook Park, since the first week of June, to prepare Sam for the meet and help her train for the cross-country season. He said that he has tried to focus on the cross-country season in the fall, and not just the 1,500 race.
High school cross-country races are typically 5K. Sam and her father have been running 4 – 7 miles, four nights per week, to keep her in shape.
“I hope that she can do the best she possibly can,” Dale Peterman said, about his expectations for Sam’s performance in North Carolina. “I know that she’s driven and she’s pushed herself enough, to get to this point. I’m pretty sure that she’ll come through and at least make the top 12 and qualify for the finals on Sunday.”
As an eighth grade athlete this spring, Sam took first place in the 1,500 five times. She broke the 13-year-old school record, in the 1,500, formerly held by Desiree Zielen-Ersing, and then broke Zielen-Ersing’s 3,000 record at the Lancaster Invitational, with a time of 10 minutes, 37.25 seconds.
Sam broke her own school record in the 1,500, later in the season. She also competed in the 800 and the 4-by-800, as an eighth grader.
“She is one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met,” said Coach Mark Heichberger. “She wants to win and she holds nothing back. It’s a great mentality to have and it’s just going to help her out, so much.”
Sam ran indoor and outdoor track at Springville, last year, but she will compete in cross-country for the first time, this year.
The athlete is the daughter of Dale and Renee Peterman.