Local athletes competing at Hershey Track Meet

PARKERSBURG – A trio of local athletes are at the 37th annual Hershey’s Track and Field North American Final Meet, set to get underway on Saturday at Henry Hershey Field on the Milton Hershey School campus in Hershey, Pa.

In all, more than 450 children ages 9 to 14 will compete in various competitions as former Olympians Carl Lewis, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Dan O’Brien and Rafer Johnson will be on hand serving as event ambassadors.

All three competitors from the Mid-Ohio Valley – Ritchie County’s Gus Morrison (9-10 softball throw) along with the Wood County duo of Brionna Patterson (11-12 softball throw) and Annmarie Uhl (9-10 standing long jump) – qualified for the North American Final for the first time at the June 21 state meet held at Cabell Midland High School.

Uhl, a two-time all-around state champion gymnast for Gymniks head coach Nikki Thompson, will be in third grade at Williamstown Elementary School.

The 8-year-old, who will turn 9 on Sunday, will spend today with everyone else touring Hershey’s Chocolate World and going to Hersheypark.

“I want to do my best,” said Uhl, who is looking forward to the amusement park and has enjoyed coasters at both Kings Island and Cedar Point, which she noted her favorite ride at the latter was “the Millennium Force.”

Uhl’s winning effort at state was 6-feet-8 and 3-4 inches, but she has cleared 7-feet before in practice.

“I want to do my best,” added Uhl, who plays on Williamstown’s West Central Soccer League 8-and-under team.

Patterson, a 10-year-old who attends Gihon Elementary School, enjoys playing softball as a member of the local West Virginia Vipers travel squad.

“I play catcher and also third base, but mainly I’m the catcher,” said Patterson, who concentrates her time just on the sport of softball.

Much like Uhl, Patterson said she’s going to the Keystone State “to win” and added “I was surprised (that I won the state meet) and I’m really happy (to go). I threw almost 130 feet and we practice out front in my yard.”

Morrison, who attends Harrisville Elementary, enjoys about any sport and plays football, baseball and basketball while also finding time to hunt and fish.

He said the only amusement park he’s ever been to was “Kennywood once” and he plans to “try to do the best I can.”

Morrison had a winning throw of 139 feet at the state meet, although he said his personal best was 147 feet.

“We’ve been practicing in my yard and we marked it off. First place last year was 139 feet and I beat it already,” added Morrison, who enjoyed his trip earlier this summer to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.