Young guns for national crown
June 11, 2008 · Updated 4:18 PM
"Hershey, Pennsylvania, is one of worlds centers for delicious chocolate. But Ryan Young of the Poulsbo Thunderbolts is there for something of even more significance.This year, hes there for gold. Young, 12, started competing with Poulsbos youth track team when he was 9 years old. In three full years of competition one season was cut short by a broken arm the Silverdale resident has two state championships in the softball throw and a bronze medal at the 1997 Hershey National Track and Field Championship to his credit. The third place medal wont do this time, though. Youngs goal is to take home a first place that, and one of those 5-pound chocolate bars so popular with locals and visitors alike. In order to qualify, the freshman-to-be at Poulsbo Junior High School had to best a tough field at the state meet in Tumwater. He topped his nearest competitor by more than 10 feet, though, and hell be Washingtons representative at Hershey Nationals, which begin Aug. 14.The key to Youngs success? Practice, he said. At least every other day, he can be found throwing the softball a work ethic he learned from his older brother, Jeremy, a former college pitcher.Ive been throwing baseballs since I was 5 years old, he explained. (And) I practice on just about all nice days.Jeremy isnt the only family member thats been helping in Youngs quest. His mother, Kathy Felix, and his grandmother, Jean Iverson, attend just about everything he competes in.Having my grandma around me (is a big help), said Young. Her house is like a second home to me, because I go there just about every morning. He credits the presence of his family for helping him concentrate a key in track and field.With his mind at peace, Young has a technique that serves him well.I just kind of visualize the throw, he said. If I want to get 192 feet, I think of a 192 throw. That throw an impressive toss for most anyone, almost Herculean for someone his age is Youngs current personal best. Dont think, though, that hes satisfied with it.I have to try to throw 200, he said. Because next year, most of the kids will be throwing 190.If that kind of long-term planning seems odd coming from someone who was born just before the Bush administration, dont think its an anomaly. Though Young is an apt name for an athlete still in his pre-teen years, his planning skills show him to be mature beyond his years. In a world that lives in the moment, Ryan Young doesnt dwell on the present hes already looking to the future.Im hoping to make it next year again, he said. And this year?My goal is just to do the best I can, he said before leaving for Hershey. If I set a record, I set a record.With the way things are going for Young, dont bet against either of those."