EAST ALTON/WOOD RIVER - East Alton-Wood River High School freshman Jayden Ulrich is definitely a rising star in area girls track and field.

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So far over the winter, Ulrich competed in the Class 2A portion of the Top Times Meet at Illinois Wesleyan in Bloomington and was third in a field of about 40 top throwers in Illinois. She also finished third in an invitational meet in Kenosha, Wisc., and medaled in all three meets she participated in during the indoor season. Her personal best is 39-9.5 and her last throw was 37-11.5. Her head girls track and field coach Russ Colona said the future is unlimited for the newcomer to high school. Her 39.9.5 ties her for fifth in Illinois.

Not only is Ulrich an outstanding shot putter already, she has run in the low 13s and 28s in the 100 and 200 meters. She was sixth in the 60-meter race in the Jersey Indoor Track and Field Meet over the winter. Jayden won the state championship in the shot put in eighth grade with a throw of 36-9.

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“Jayden has great potential,” Colona said. “I would say she is already in the top three of any girl I have ever had on the team as a freshman. She is a good kid. She is also a straight-A student. As a freshman, she has gotten off to a very solid start but shows she can still go farther and faster. She will compete next Saturday in the top times meet in Bloomington."

The outdoor state shot put qualifying mark is 37-2 and Colona said Jayden is already well above that.

Colona said he believes Ulrich will quickly catch the eyes of college track and field coaches with her various abilities. She wants to tackle the discus as the season begins and he said he feels Ulrich would be a possible decathlete one day.

“Jayden is the kind of track and field athlete who comes along about every 10 years,” he said.

“She is just so natural, strong and fluid in everything she does. She has great potential this season.”

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