McChord youth to participate in high jump championships

McChord Air Force Base -- A McChord family member has been selected to participate in the 2006 USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in Baltimore, Md., July 26-27.

Brandon Angles, 12, who initially joined Fort Lewis' youth track and field team to beat his dog in a race, said he is excited about the opportunity to compete in the championships.
"I want to see how good I am out of all the other people in America," he said.
Brandon, who has only been doing the high jump since April, made the nationals by displacing his peers — peers who Brandon said were equally talented — in the regional tournament.

"I had to get in the top three in the region," he said. "I ended up getting first place. One kid jumped the same height as me, but because he knocked the bar off more times than I did, he ended up getting second."

Brandon's father, Tech. Sgt. William Baker, 62nd Maintenance Squadron, said he was both proud and amazed when Brandon made it to the nationals.

"I tried to talk Brandon out of doing the high jump, actually," Sergeant Baker said, "[because Brandon] never got to practice high jump except at the games."

However, Sergeant Baker said he is confident that Brandon will do well at the games because Brandon is passionate about track and field.

"Brandon is very competitive," Sergeant Baker said. "He has a lot of heart. He tends to find that last little ounce that he has and pushes it."

Now, the biggest obstacle facing the talented junior athlete is financial. Brandon's family has been trying to raise money so he can travel to the event.

"We've gotten sponsorship from family members and a number of organizations have been supportive."
Despite the cost, Sergeant Baker said that it's important that Brandon participate in the nationals because this is his son's opportunity to show off his talent.

"He may not have a chance like this again," said Sergeant Baker.

More than 6,000 athletes ranging from 8 to 18-years-old, who performed well at the preliminary, association and regional levels of the 2006 USATF Junior Olympic Program, are expected to attend this year's event at Baltimore's Morgan State University, according to the USATF National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships Web site.