Rivera Travels 5 States to Improve PB’s

Sophia Rivera is happy with a third-place medal and a personal best in the shot put at the New Balance Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Hassemer)

BHS junior medals in national meets, No. 6 in U.S. in javelin

By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit

For most 15-year-olds, summertime means sleeping in, hanging out, mowing the lawn and taking a family vacation. Not for Sophia Rivera.

Over the past six weeks she has been to New Mexico, North Carolina, California, Indiana and Oregon. And in August she’ll spend 10 days in Finland.

Not as a tourist but as a track and field athlete. She has spent the summer training and competing in four events: shot put, discus, javelin and the hammer throw. She trained at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in California. She has competed at national meets against some of the best high school athletes in the U.S. and even against throwers from NCAA Division I schools.

The Olympic torch burns at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.

Shattering Personal Bests

All the work has made the 5-foot-11 junior even better. Since repeating as the state champion in both the shot put and the discus in May, she has improved her personal bests in big chunks:

— By 9 feet in the javelin, to 157-0
— By 6 feet 2 inches in the discus, to 142-8
— By 18.5 inches in the shot put, to 47-2.50.

Among all female high school students nationwide, she is ranked sixth in the javelin, 20th in the shot put and 97th in the discus. Among those in her class of 2016, she is first in the shot put, third in the javelin and seventh in the discus.

Mayoral Proclamation

Rivera’s success has gotten the attention of the Brentwood Board of Aldermen. At the board’s regular meeting on Monday night at city hall, a mayoral proclamation was read aloud to recognize not only Sophia’s sports accomplishments, which include being all-conference in basketball and softball, but her grade-point average of 3.86.

“I believe it’s important to recognize, encourage and support our young outstanding residents who set a positive role model for all students and athletes at all levels,” stated the proclamation, which was written by Mayor Pat Kelly and read aloud by Alderman Anthony Harper.

Alderman Anthony Harper gives Sophia Rivera a plaque with a mayoral proclamation recognizing her academic and athletic success at BHS. (Photo by Steve Bowman)

Sophia’s Summer So Far

June 5-7, Albuquerque, N.M.: She won the discus throw and took sixth in the hammer throw and seventh in the javelin at the 39th Great Southwest Track and Field Classic. Competing for Team Missouri against high school athletes from 14 states at the University of New Mexico’s Track and Field Stadium, she threw 142-8 in the discus, 118-8 in the hammer and 132-3 in the javelin.

Rivera (far right) on the medal stand after taking sixth in the hammer throw in Albuquerque. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Hassemer)

June 13-15, Greensboro, N.C.: Rivera took third in the shot put with a personal-best 46-6 at the New Balance Nationals. She also took eighth in the discus (136-10) and ninth in the javelin (132-6).

Rivera at the meet in Greensboro, N.C. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Hassemer)

June 20, Chula Vista, Calif.: She attended a weekend training camp at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

Rivera received throwing instruction during her weekend at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.

June 27-29, Bloomington, Ind.: She won the shot put and javelin and took third in the discus and fourth in the hammer throw at the USATF Youth Outdoor Championships at Indiana University. Her distances were 44-1.25 in the shot put, 148-0 in the javelin, 128-2 in the discus and 117-8 in the hammer.

Rivera (right) receives the bronze medal for the discus at Indiana University. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Hassemer)

July 5-6, Eugene, Ore.: She took fourth in the javelin and fifth in the shot put at the USA Track and Field Junior Outdoor Championships at the University of Oregon in Eugene. She recorded personal bests in both events: 157-0 in the javelin and 47-2.50 in the shot put. Some of her competitors were from such schools as LSU, Duke, Nebraska, Michigan State and Kansas State.

Rivera with her medals in the shot put and javelin outside the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Hassemer)

July 30 to Aug. 8, Kuortane, Finland: She will fly to Finland to train in the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation’s Project Kultan Keihas Javelin Clinic, as well as compete. She is one of eight in the U.S. who was chosen to join a development program named Project Javelin, which includes training in Chula Vista and Finland.

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