Maddie Nossek’s track and field exploits have earned her a coveted ducat to the prestigious USA Junior Nationals where she will compete against world-class athletes under 20 years of age.
A good showing at the Junior Nationals could earn Nossek a berth on Team USA when the Junior World Championships are held July 19 to 25 in Moncton, Canada.
The Junior Nationals are being contested June 23 to 27 at the fabled Drake Stadium — home of the Drake Relays — near Des Moines, Iowa.
The nationals are being hailed as “the greatest track and field meet ever held in the state of Iowa,” by USA competition director Mark Kostek.
He claims the event is special “because you will see the best high school athletes in the United States competing.
“There will be some emerging elite athletes who could be household names at the 2016 or 2020 Olympics.”
While Kostek says the nationals are for “high school athletes,” Nossek — who graduated in May from Payson High School — expects to compete against some college students.
“Because it (the nationals) is for athletes under 20 (years), some will be (college) freshmen,” she said.
Nossek and her father, Scott, flew to Iowa June 22 to begin preparations for the teen’s participation in the two-day heptathlon.
She says she’s excited about competing at Drake because of the rich tradition of the school and the chance to compete against the country’s best athletes.
The former PHS basketball and track star earned the invitation to the Junior Nationals with her eighth-place finish, among 20 elite athletes, at the 35th Annual Great Southwest Track and Field classic held June 3 and 4 at the University of New Mexico.
There, she earned a personal record 4,364 points in the heptathlon — a grueling seven-event test of speed, strength, endurance and will power.
A year earlier, she surged onto the national multi-event scene by finishing 14th with 3,892 points at the Great Southwest Classic.
Nossek’s point total in 2010 was just shy of the 4,432 that former Lady Longhorn Stephanie Robertson carded in 1999 when the mark was a state record.
At the conclusion of her senior year, Nossek was named All-Arizona honorable mention by the Arizona Republic sports staff.
During the regular season, she won the 3A state championship in both the long jump (17 feet, 2.5 inches) and high jump jump (5 feet, 3 inches), and was second in the 400 meters, setting a school record of 58.63. In the 800, she was also second, turning in a very commendable time of 2:22.04.
A week later at the Meet of Champions, Nossek squared off against Arizona’s finest prep athletes and tied for second in the high jump (5 feet, 2 inches), and was fifth in the long jump (17 feet, 6 inches).
While Nossek is a star in individual events, it is in the heptathlon where she shines brightest.
As an excellent all-around athlete who excels in a number of throwing, running and jumping skills, Nossek can pile up multi-event points with the country’s finest.
One of her best events might be the shot put. At the Great Southwest, she threw 34 feet, 5 inches and was third among the 20 invitees.
She is also recognized around Arizona as a fine high jumper and long jumper with good speed for the heptathlon’s 200-meter run.
If there is an event she’s looking to improve on, it’s the javelin. Because the javelin is not an offering in Arizona track and field meets, she has few competitive opportunities to hone her skills.
Next school year, Nossek will take her considerable talents to Arizona State University where she will be a member of the Sun Devil track and field team.