2009-06-25 / Local & State

Jensen Boehme To Compete In Speed Skating Nationals

7-year-old to travel to Peoria, Ill., for individual, relay competitions
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz STAFF WRITER

Seven-year-old Jensen Boehme of McConnellsburg will be traveling to Peoria, IL next month to compete against other children in her age division during the 2009 United States National Speed Skating Championships. Seven-year-old Jensen Boehme of McConnellsburg will be traveling to Peoria, IL next month to compete against other children in her age division during the 2009 United States National Speed Skating Championships. What began as a spin around the floor in an oversized pair of inline skates has turned into a passion for Jensen Boehme. The 7-yearold McConnellsburg girl was recruited off the floor that very evening by coach Patty Leazier and is now in her second season as an integral member of the Fast Forward speed skating team based in Hagerstown, Md.

Jensen's parents, John and Christy Boehme of Mc- Connellsburg, initially thought the prospect of their daughter being recruited in the midst of a kid's birthday party was a bit crazy. However, after following up on the coach's request with a little online research into the sport, the couple learned maybe Leazier's suggestion wasn't so out of line.

Jensen attended her first practice within days of the birthday party and "immediately fell in love with speed skating," her parents told the "News." A little leery of passing, Jensen's has overcome her fears and reveals her only dislikes of the sport include "crashing and losing." Topping her list of favorite aspects of speed skating are "going fast" and, of course, "winning."

There have been very few loses over the last two seasons for Jensen, who garnered numerous second-, third- and fourth-place victories last year. John stated they encountered a "totally different monster this year" as Jensen's reluctance to pass the competition dwindled away.

The end result is a best time of two minutes and 32 seconds with relay partner Baylee Sprankle from Hagerstown, Md. The time shattered the Northeast Region 1200-meter relay record by more than five seconds during championship competition held last month in Donora, Pa.

Jensen and Baylee will get the opportunity to compete as a relay team July 19 through 26 at the United States Speed Skating Championships to be held in Peoria, Ill. In addition to participating in three relay events, Jensen will also compete in her signature 100-, 200- and 400-meter events. Jensen and Baylee will be accompanied by 16 teammates from the Fast Forward team, which is coached by Leazier and Brett Donaldson.

To prepare for the upcoming competition, Jensen is logging two practices daily, five days a week with her teammates at a variety of locations, including Turners Skate Palace, Starland, Hagerstown Airport and Hagerstown Fairgrounds. The practices include both outdoor training to build endurance as well as indoor training to work on speed.

Following the national championships, Jensen will enjoy a month's rest before gearing back up for her third season of competition, which will include practices three days a week and once on weekends.

In two years, she will be eligible to try out for the United States Junior Outdoor World Team. Normally, skaters do not compete at this level until age 12 but, the Boehmes noted, the coaching staff at Fast Forward would like her to begin competing as early as possible. The top four contenders for the World Team move on and could earn a spot on the Olympic team.

The prime age for speed skating competitors is the 12 to 24 age range, and children Jensen's age can typically reach speeds of 21 to 25 miles per hour. With very little fear and a need to always do her best, Jensen has already set high goals for herself - a World Championship title and a future job as a veterinarian.

Jensen is the granddaughter of Tom and Melinda Howells of McConnellsburg; Rodger Seville, Chambersburg; and John Boehme and Lissa and Jay Simon, all of Pittsburgh.

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