Pollard continues to excel

Published 9:30 pm Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Thirteen-year-old Betsy Pollard of Suffolk continues to excel as a runner and has expanded the range of athletic challenges she takes on at a variety of levels year-around.

She has made a home at first place in the one-mile run, currently holding the Isle of Wight Academy record for fastest mile by a middle school girl with a time of five minutes and 47 seconds.

Thirteen-year-old Betsy Pollard has now achieved success in a wide variety of running events, as well as the standing long jump.

Thirteen-year-old Betsy Pollard has now achieved success in a wide variety of running events, as well as the standing long jump.

Pollard has consistently won her age division among girls in one-mile area races open to the public.

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“I’m feeling pretty good,” she said, commenting on her performances as of late.

She had a rare second-place finish that came during her first time competing in a 5K outside of her school’s club team.

The 5K is one of the new challenges Pollard has tackled, as well as the standing long jump, the 800-meter run, the 1600-meter run and the 4×800-meter relay.

The motivation for expanding her repertoire was quite simple in some cases. She said she tried the standing long jump to “see if I was any good at it.”

She was selected as a Virginia finalist in the Hershey’s Track and Field Games meet held last weekend in Crozet. This followed her advancement from the Suffolk Hershey’s Games meet held last month, in which she produced qualifying marks in the 800 meters, the 1600 meters and the standing long jump.

It was her first time competing in the latter two events. She is still waiting to find out if she is among the 480 athletes qualifying to compete at the North American Final in Hershey, Pa., on Aug. 2.

Pollard said the most challenging of the new events she has added is the 800-meter run. There are typically a myriad of people competing in it, and many are experienced members of the 13 to 14 age bracket.

“I’m at the bottom of the age group since I just turned 13,” Pollard said.

She said in the 800, experienced distance runners know how to exercise control, while experienced sprinters know when to pour on the speed.

“I’ve never run an 800, so I didn’t know,” she said, though she has begun to learn.

On June 14, she ran in an Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic qualifier and qualified in all four of her events: the 800-, 1500- and 3000-meter runs, as well as the 4×800-meter relay.

She advances to compete at Lakeland High School this weekend. If she places in the top eight for the individual events and top four for the relay, she will compete in them all at the AAU Junior Olympic Games in Des Moines, Iowa. That event runs from July 22 through Aug. 2.