Federal Way middle schoolers Kayla Johnson and Brett Ellingson brought home hardware from the Hershey’s Track and Field Games in Hershey, Pennsylvania on Aug. 2.
Johnson took first place in the 9-10 year old girls softball throw, and Ellingson brought home a second-place finish in the same event on the boys side.
Johnson earned her first place finish easily, her throw of 135.00 just besting the second place finisher’s throw of 133.04. On the boys side, the race was more contested, with Ellingson’s throw of 143-07 falling just short of the winning throw of 146-10.
Johnson’s dad, Mike, said his daughter’s performance at the Hershey’s national meet was indicative of the special athletic gifts she’s been able to develop so far in her young life.
“Obviously as her dad, I am her biggest fan,” he wrote in an email to the Mirror. “She is a special athlete and a special kid.”
He added that as the competition heated up, he started to feel a little worried about his daughter’s chances of succeeding.
“One of the girls threw it 133, and for her state record throw, Kayla threw it [approximately] 129. But Kayla got up there, she was one of the last to go, and with her last throw, she threw it 135, right on the money.”
He said he asked his daughter how she managed her personal best throw in the final rounds of a national competition.
“She said, ‘Dad, I wanted it really bad,’” he wrote.
Johnson made it to Hershey with the record breaking throw earlier this summer at the state meet. At that meet, she posted a throw of 128-9, breaking the previous state record that had stood for 12 years. Ellingson made his way to Hershey with a throw at the state meet of 136-06.
Johnson’s athletic skills extend beyond just track and field, as her father pointed out in an email to the Mirror. She also plays boys baseball as a pitcher and plays catcher and third base for the Federal Way Knights organization. She was recently named that team’s Most Valuable Player. Johnson and Ellingson are on that Knights baseball team. Johnson also plays club soccer, where she minds the goal and also plays in the midfield.
This year marked the last year that the Hershey’s Track and Field Program was run under that particular name and held at Hershey, Pennsylvania, according to hersheystrackandfield.com.
Next year, the program will be operated under the name “Run, Jump and Throw,” with the main event now being shifted to the “U.S. and Canadian National Youth Championships” of which Hershey’s will now be a main sponsor. The shift, according to the website, is so “the program [can] focus on skill development and improvement of fundamentals — running, jumping and throwing, instead of competitive advancement.”