Ericka Leblanc had two first-place finishes during the five events (80 meter hurdles, shot put, long jump, high jump, 800 meter) of the 11-12 year old Girls Outdoor Pentathlon event at the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships held from July 22-28 in Sacramento last week to finish second overall in the gauntlet of events.

Leblanc took the initial lead in the standings with a first place (13.25) finish in the 80-meter hurdle event, but she slipped into second place behind Noelle Boyd when she finished in eighth place in the shot put.

A third-place slot in the high jump (1.35 meters), a tenth-place in the long jump (4.04 meters) and first-place honors in the 800-meter event (2:25.20) kept Ericka in the top five the entire way through. When the scores were calculated, Ericka finished in second behind Boyd. Boyd tallied 2996 points across the five events. Ericka notched 2857 points, over 200 points ahead of third place finisher Ja’Niya Haley of Sacramento Speed. Laila Bolton of Top Flight earned fourth with 2525 points, and Mary Taylor of Dave Bethany Track Club took fifth with 2379 points.

Ericka has been participating in the pentathlon for roughly two years. Her father, Patterson High track team assistant coach, and University of Oregon track and field alumni, Nnamdi Leblanc, explained that the Pentathlon is a grueling event to participate in. The athletes are asked to compete for roughly seven hours during the day, with 30-minute breaks between events. He explained that Ericka uses those breaks to hydrate and mentally move on from the previous event in order to prepare for next. Nnamdi explained Ericka’s long jump was the worst she has put up this year. Considering that, he felt a first-place finish was within grasp. 

Ericka also took on the 400-meter dash outside of her pentathlon obligations. Her time of 59.64 was strong enough to take a top-five spot in fourth place.

With her second-place finish in the Pentathlon, Ericka will now peer towards 2020. Her top- three finish qualifies her to compete in the New Balance Indoor Nationals held in New York in March.

Her sister Lindsey Leblanc only entered one event at Sacramento, taking sixth in the 1500-meter race (5:28.23) and medaling in the process.

Patterson’s Diyana and Larissa Hackley were also in attendance, but neither were able to crack the top 15 during their attempts at a medal.

Diyana ran in the 100, 200, and 400-meter events, while Larissa took her shot at the 4X100 relay event with fellow Oakland PAL team members Arianah Banks, Brooke Chatman and Skylar Kane-Ross and the long jump event.

PI sports writer

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