JOLIET — Hot weather didn’t hold 11-year-old Rochelle Area Track Club hurler Zachary Dreska back from performing his best during the USATF Junior Olympic Regional Championships at Memorial Stadium this past weekend.
Dreska competed in two events at the regional including the javelin throw, where he placed fourth out of seven athletes in the 11-12 Boys Division with a distance of 19.42 meters, or 63.71 feet. Dreska’s mark was long enough to qualify him for the USATF National Championships, which will be held at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, California from July 22-28. While Dreska will be unable to attend, he said he was thrilled to learn he had advanced to the national level.
“I was super excited when I qualified for nationals,” Dreska said. “Hopefully I will qualify again next year and be able to go. It would be so cool to be there… Regionals were really, really hot, and I wanted to make nationals but there was really hard competition. I was so excited when they announced who qualified and they said my name.”
Dreska picked up track and field when he was 6 years old, and he’s been competing in the sport for the last five years. The javelin throw has quickly become his favorite event, and he said the transition from a turbo jab to an arrow javelin this year has been most exciting. Dreska aims to follow in the footsteps of his older brother’s fiancé Gabby, who won her events at nationals in college.
“My favorite part about track and field is being able to get better each year,” Dreska said. “This is my first year with the arrow javelin and it’s been awesome to use. I really enjoy making new friends in the Rochelle Area Track Club each summer. Coach Dobbs, coach Miller and coach Dreska have really helped me.”
Dreska finished sixth in the discus throw with a distance of 14.56 meters at the regional event. RATC member Ashyley Dwyer also competed, placing seventh in the 13-14 Girls Division javelin throw with a distance of 11.30 and taking 13th in the discus throw with a mark of 9.80.