Sprinter takes act to nationals

VIENNA – As an incoming freshman this fall at Parkersburg High School, Logan Wooddell has high aspirations when the track season arrives.

For now, the 14-year-old from Vienna is wrapping up a banner summer on the Junior Olympic circuit. Beginning today at 2:45 p.m., he begins his quest in a pair of sprint events at the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics on the campus of North Carolina A&T in Greensboro, N.C.

Wooddell is one of 80 national qualifiers in both the 100 and 200 for the 13-14 age division. The first round, semifinals and final heats are scheduled for today in the 200, while the same qualifying rounds await Wooddell in the 100 beginning at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday.

“Mom is a nervous wreck,” said his mother, Angie Offenberger. “We just want Logan to do the best he can – a personal best is what we would like.

“We’ve always told him to focus on his race and not worry about who is around him or what’s going on. He’s done everything anybody’s ever asked him to do.”

The road to Greensboro began with gold-medal finishes in both the 100 and 200 at the state level conducted at Cedarville University (Ohio).

Next up were regionals at Olivet College (Mich.), which encompassed qualifiers from West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan. Wooddell needed to finish in the top 5 to advance, and despite some issues with his starts he managed a silver in the 100 and bronze in the 200.

“I had really bad starts – they were off,” Wooddell said. “I talked to my trainer Randy Gibbs and we fixed those, and set my blocks differently.”

Since involving the services of Gibbs, Wooddell can tell a noticeable difference in his times. The weighted vest Wooddell wears when running steps along with his ladder work creates pain but in the end it’s well worth the effort. Wooddell’s personal best is 11.70 seconds in the 100 and 24.06 in the 200.

“Some of Randy’s workouts are really hard, but he’s been helping me a lot,” Wooddell said.

Wooddell’s success did not happen overnight. As an eighth grader at Jackson Middle School this past spring, he lost only one race during the track season. At the Wood County Middle School Championships at Erickson All-Sports Facility, he claimed high-point honors with a perfect score of 40 after winning the 100, 200, 400 and high jump?

Involved in football and basketball at one time, Wooddell has narrowed his athletic endeavors to track. His favorite events are the 100 and 200.

“The 400 is not really my favorite event,” Wooddell said. “The 100 and 200 are the most exciting.”

Regardless of this week’s outcome, Wooddell has plenty of medals to proudly display to his grandparents when he visits them in Fairmont on the return trip from Greensboro.

“Logan has comparable times heading into this week,” said his father, Kevin Wooddell. “I hate to jinx him, but a personal best will do pretty well for him.”