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Lancer Club sprinters qualify for Jr. Olympics — in shot put

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Throws coach Paul Whitaker keeps an eye on Leticia Heron as she works on her form.


POSTED July 23, 2012 11:21 p.m.

Leticia Heron and Kelley Higginson were not shot putters to start the summer track and field season.

Yet it is the shot put that earned them a ticket to next week’s 46th USATF National Junior Olympic Championships at Morgan State University’s Hughes Stadium in Baltimore.

“Of call things, yeah, I’m surprised that I made it in the shot put,” Heron said. She and Higginson are the only members of the Lancer Open Track and Field Club to advance to the Junior Olympics.

Heron will enter her junior year at East Union High. This past spring, she competed in the long jump, high jump and the sprints for the school’s track team.

“Last summer, one of the coaches (during a meet at San Joaquin Delta Community College) told me I should be a heptathlete because he saw me running around from event to event,” she said. “Apparently, to be a heptathlete you have to be able to throw, and I thought this would be an interesting thing to try.”

Higginson, a seventh grader at New Haven School, is also a sprinter. She began competing in Manteca Unified Student Trust track meets in the fourth grade and runs the 200, 400 and 800.

So what got her into the shot put ring?

“I don’t know, I just thought it would be fun,” Higginson said.

They qualified for the Junior Olympics by placing in the top five in the USATF Central California Region 14 Championships July 6-8 at Bob Mathias Stadium in Tulare.

Higginson set a personal record of 24 feet, 3 ¾ inches for a fifth-place finish in the midget division, which uses 6-pound weights. Heron, who throws 8-pound shots, threw 25-9 ½ for fourth in the young women’s division. Her PR stands at 26-2, but in practice last week she nailed a mark of 27-2.

Heron won’t make the trip to Maryland but is proud to at least qualify. Higginson competes on Friday starting at 8 a.m.

“I don’t know what to expect, hopefully I can PR again,” Higginson said. “I’m just looking forward to the experience.”

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