KEYSER - Nine-year old Isabella Ascherl, a student at Fountain Primary School, has qualified for the AAU Junior Olympic Games, with her event to be held on Aug. 1, 2019, in Greensboro, North Carolina.

By Chapin Jewell

Tribune Correspondent

KEYSER - Nine-year old Isabella Ascherl, a student at Fountain Primary School, has qualified for the AAU Junior Olympic Games, with her event to be held on Aug. 1, 2019, in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Isabella will participate in the 1500-meter race, the event she qualified for the Junior Olympics in after successful races at the district and regional levels.

First came the district qualifier held in Randallstown, Maryland, where Isabella needed to place in the top 16 to advance. She finished the event in fourth place with a time of 5:53. The next step was regionals held at the Prince George’s Sports Learning Complex. At Regionals, Isabella finished in sixth place with a personal best time of 5:47.

Isabella’s times are progressing as every dedicated runner’s time should.

“I’m probably going to get my fastest time at Nationals. I’m really excited to go North Carolina because we’ve never been there before,” Isabella explains.

Isabella is the daughter of Dan and Amanda Ascherl, who are not native to Mineral County, West Virginia, or even the tri-state region. Dan hails originally from Nebraska; Amanda is from Minnesota. The Ascherls moved to West Virginia, Mineral County specifically, as part of Dan’s work on a wind turbine project.

Isabella gets much of her talent and knack for hard work as a runner from her mother, who ran collegiately at Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa.

Two years ago, Isabella participated in a track meet held at Keyser High School. It was there the family learned of the local Antelope Running Club of Allegany County.

“I started running last year when I was 8 years old with the Antelope Running Club. I practice on Tuesday and Thursday and sometimes Friday. I do gymnastics and I run for that either 12 laps or six laps a day; 12 laps is a mile and six laps is half a mile,” Isabella explains.

The Antlopes are an affiliate of the Howard County, Maryland based Bullseye Running Organization. The organization focuses on boys and girls from kindergarten to eighth grade and serve as a de facto feeder system for area high schools. The Antelopes hold practices on the Track at Allegany College of Maryland in Cumberland and claim membership from Allegany, Mineral and Garrett counties. Practices focus on stretching, plyometrics, and a workout geared towards endurance or speed, depending on the day.

Isabella shows great enthusiasm for her chosen sport and has ambitious goals with respect to her running career. The talented and dedicated youngster has her eyes set on running careers in both the high school and collegiate ranks. But it won’t end there, Isabella is clear on what her ultimate running goals entail, “My goal is to go to the Olympics someday.”

As we gathered for our interview and photo opportunity on the track at Keyser High School, Isabella happened to be enjoying a slice of pizza. Her father asked if she was ready to put the pizza down to begin the interview, to which Isabella replied, “Not yet, I’m just now getting to the best part,” which happened to be the crust.

Isabella knows what she wants and she’s going to go after it. That drive will serve her well. Besides, even at 9 years old, she’s well aware she’ll need to load up on carbohydrates to do her best at the Junior Olympics in August.

We’ll be sure to track her progress.