Jamilee Iddings heads to U.S. Junior Olympics
Sunday, July 20, 2008 12:01 AM PDT
By Ben Zimmerman

Jamilee Iddings of Kelso is about to take a vacation.

After spending a few days on a houseboat at Lake Roosevelt in Kettle Falls, Wash., 11-year-old Jamilee and her parents, Ken and Kristie, will then take in Chicago.

There, they'll enjoy the city's world-class dining, go to the Lincoln Park Zoo, visit Soldier Field and catch a Cubs game.

It will be a typical Chicago vacation - with one crucial exception.

Jamilee is one of a select group of athletes who will compete in the United States Junior Olympic Skills competition, the official skills competition of the United States Olympic Committee.

How select?

As the West Region champion in track and field, Jamilee is one of 72 national finalists in a competition that began with an initial pool of 1.7 million.

It's pretty cool, she said.

Jamilee will compete in the 50-meter dash and the standing long jump, where she'll try to top her personal bests of 6.80 seconds in the dash and 6 feet, 6 inches in the jump.

She's done training, by the way.

I'll do some swimming at Lake Roosevelt, said Jamilee, who'll be a sixth-grader at Coweeman Middle School this fall. I've been practicing for the last few months, and um ... yeah, it's time for a break.

She and the other athletes headed to Chicago qualified by winning their age and gender category at one of 150 regional events. Prior to regionals, they competed in 7,500 local qualifying events.

Jamilee won the West Regional in Goldendale, Wash., on June 10.

The Olympic Skills competition features athletes ages 8-13 in four sports: basketball, soccer, tennis and track and field. It is held at the University of Chicago starting Thursday and continuing through next Sunday.

Jamilee started running and jumping in track two years ago at Butler Acres Elementary in gym class. She also plays volleyball and basketball.

Said the only kid from Washington headed to a national championship tournament: That's pretty much it,

That's it?

Not bad, Jamilee.

Not bad at all.