With her compact frame, Diyana Hackley races with a vigor and focus not seen in many 11 year olds. Her focus is only matched by her fleet-footed grace, as she finds that extra gear and blisters down the final stretch of races, often resulting in first place or a top five finish.

Diyana and her younger sister Larissa have embraced the sport of short distance sprinting, and at an early age have exhibited a knack for the sport.

Diyana for the past couple years has been eyeing the opportunity to establish herself in the upper echelon of the top youth sprinters in the nation, and in 2017 has put together an exceptional push.

Earlier this month at a highly competitive Running Rebels/Top Pacers Invitational held at Contra Costa College, the sixth grader put together a strong race in the 100 meter dash, finishing fourth of 66 racers with a time of 13.25. She backed that up with a second place finish in the 200 meter race with a time of 27.48. Many of the competitors in these two races are some of the best young talent in the nation, yet Diyana more than held her ground against stiff opposition.

Diyana has continued to get better, taking on the stiffest competition in the region, and her hard work has shown. With her recent times, Diyana currently rests in the top 10 in the nation in the 100 and 200 meter races in the 11-12-year-old age group according to athletic.net. To put into perspective Diyana’s success at a young age, if Diyana had raced and put forth those times in the 100 and 200 meter dash at the Western Athletic Conference league meet last week, she would have finished just shy of third place against high school competition as an 11 year old.

“She’s really evolving into something special,” her father Howard Hackley said.

Her sister Larissa has been no slouch either, putting forth personal records at the same meet.

Larissa darted across the finish line earning a personal best 14.86 in the 100 meter race, and with that result rests in the top 50 in the nation in her age group.

“She has been setting personal records every week,” Howard said in regards to Larissa.

The duo represents the city of Patterson at their meets while racing under the banner of the Oakland PAL Track Youth Club. Oakland PAL consists of some of the best youth racers in the region and the nation, and the Hackley sisters have benefitted from participating in a strong youth club that pushes the sisters to excel, while offering some of the best competition in the state on a weekly basis.

With his daughters continuing to increase their skills on the track, Howard hopes to take his daughters to compete at the AAU Track and Field Club Championships from July 10-15 in Orlando, Florida. Only the top youth track and field clubs in the nation are qualified to attend the meet.

Following the Club Championships Diyana has also qualified individually to compete in the USA Track and Field Hershey National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships held from July 24-30 held in Lawrence, Kansas.

Lastly, the Hackleys hope to squeeze in the AAU Junior Olympic Games held from July 28 through Aug. 5 held at Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Financing and planning such a daunting schedule is no easy task, but their father Howard is determined to find a way.

“You have to make the commitment to these kids for them to be successful,” Howard said.

PI sports writer

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