Truckee’s Jackie Robinson makes name for herself in track
Tahoe-Truckee High School junior Jacquelyn Robinson didn’t know how famous her moniker really was until she stepped up to the plate while playing Little League baseball in the fifth grade.
“Hey, Jackie Robinson,” the kids would yell. “I saw you playing on TV!”
“I used to hate it; I’d say my name is ‘Jacquelyn, not Jackie,'” said Robinson, now 16. “I even wanted to change my name.”
Today, Robinson says she’s come to grips with the fact she has the same name as the Hall of Fame baseball player who broke major league baseball’s color barrier 50 years ago while playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
“Now, I don’t mind it,” Robinson said. “I used to get made fun of, but not too much any more.”
Although her baseball career ended with Little League, Robinson has followed in her namesake’s footpath in another sport, becoming a star in track and field much the same way the Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson became while competing in track at UCLA during his college days. (Robinson competed for the Bruins in both baseball and track during the spring sports seasons.) She is one of the Wolverines’ most versatile athletes, able to compete in any race from 200 to 800 meters and the long jump.
This Saturday, Robinson will compete in three relay events and the 300-meter low hurdles at the divisional track championships at Elko High School. Her time of 54.05 leads the Wolverine qualifiers and her split of 2:31.15 at the Manogue Invitational last weekend was the fastest of any Truckee runner in the 4×800 meter relay.
“Jackie’s probably our best all-around athlete on the team,” said Wolverine track coach Doug Roberts. “She could qualify in several individual events, but because of the order of events at the divisional meet, we’ve put her in the relays.”
Roberts gave an example of how versatile Robinson can be at a track meet.
“At one meet, we put her into the shot put without her ever practicing that event,” Roberts said. “She came in fourth place and had Truckee’s longest throw of the season.”
Although she earned a silver medal at the state meet as a member of the second-place Wolverine 4×800-meter relay last year, Robinson said the two-lapper is still not her favorite. She will team up with Becca Shook, Sarah Murray and Christina Harvey in that event Saturday.
“I like running every event, except I hate the 4×800 relay,” Robinson said. “It’s one of the first events in each track meet and it kills you for the rest of the meet.”
Although she has run the 300-meter low hurdles only a handful of times, Robinson believes that event could be her ticket to the state meet in an individual event.
“At first, I did the event with horrible technique – I was hopping over the barriers rather than hurdling,” Robinson said. “But I’ve been practicing and my technique has gotten better.”
Like the Dodgers’ Robinson, who lettered in four sports while at UCLA, Truckee’s Robinson has also had success in a number of sports. During the fall soccer season, she scored 28 goals for the state champion girls’ team and during the winter she played guard for the Wolverine team that advanced to the state playoffs.
“This has been my best year in sports,” Robinson said.
What would top the year off for Robinson would be a victory over Spring Creek Saturday in the 4×800 meter relay.
“I think we’ll have a chance,” Robinson said. “We had a close race with them at state last year – both teams ran faster than the old state record but they won the race.”
And like the classic Dodgers vs. Yankees World Series match ups of the 1950s, Robinson is hoping the underdog Wolverines can upset favored Spring Creek in the team standings.
“We don’t have any one great person that stands out on the team this year, but we have a bunch of good, solid athletes,” Robinson said.
Division I Track Meet
Qualifying spots for the AAA state meet scheduled for May 23-24 are on the line for Truckee athletes Saturday at the Division I Meet at Elko High School. In order to advance to state, relays and individuals need to finish in the top-three to qualify for state.
“We’ve had a good week of practice and our athletes competed hard at our meet last Saturday at Manogue,” Roberts said. “The kids are realizing that their hard work is paying off and they can do well.”
Roberts said it would be difficult for Truckee to overtake Spring Creek in the team standings, but that he expects several Wolverines to qualify for the state meet.
According to Roberts, the Truckee boys to watch for include Nick Candler in the 200 meters, Jarome Pond in the 400 meters, Chris Birchard in the 800 meters, Ryan Dustin in the 110-meter hurdles and Chris Waller in the 1,600 meters, along with the 4×200, 4×400 and 4×800 meter teams.
Wolverine girls to keep an eye on include Robinson in the 300-meter low hurdles, Corrie Crom in the 300-meter low hurdles, Murray in the 400 meters and Harvey in the 1,600 and 3,200 meter runs, as well as the entire 4×200, 4×400 and 4×800 meter relay teams.
The Wolverines began to peak for the division meet by competing at the Manogue Invitational last Saturday.
First-place finishes in the meet went to Dustin in the 110-meter hurdles (16.00) and Harvey in the 3,200 meters (13:13). A new school record of 9:00.00 was also set by Ben Loomis, Pond, Birchard and Dustin DeMont in the 4×800-meter relay.
“The meet at Manogue was a preview of the divisional meet as all of the Division I teams were there,” Roberts said. “I thought the team showed some good improvement and competed hard. It was a really good meet for us.”
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Students from North Tahoe and Truckee recently made the trip to Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley to compete in the annual Kays Ostrom Invitational.