The 2013 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships will be held in two weeks in Columbia and will feature the top 19-and-under athletes in the world. Former Rice Lake high jump state champion and current University of Minnesota All-American Wally Ellenson will represent Team USA in the games.
Ellenson is spending a rare weekend home, working out Saturday afternoon at Rice Lake high school with his dad John looking on. Wally qualified for the Pan American Games earlier this summer when he cleared 7-feet and one-half inch to finish second in the high jump at the USA Junior Outdoor track and field championships in Des Moines, Iowa. Earlier in June, Ellenson earned All-American honors at the NCAA championshps, tying for 8th with a jump of 7-feet, 2 1/2 inches.
This year's Team USA squad headed to Columbia will be looking to best the 72 medals won by the United States at the 2011 Pan Am Junior Athletic championships. Wally says it will be a thrill to wear the red, white, and blue, "I'm very excited. I'm so excited that I can represent Team USA down at the Pan-Am games and I can't wait for that experience and how that really is. It's really just to better myself down there. I obviously want to be the best under-19 in the world. That is definitely the goal, but just raising the bar again so I can get ready for senior competition next year. The first year was a big transition with the travel and every thing that I had to go through, but with all this experience with the first year I'm pretty confident in next year. Oh, it's crazy, it's a ton of fun. I've gone across the nation every weekend and I just get to see a ton of places. It's really fun, but it's nice to be home too."