WOODLAND PARK, NJ - Nine-year-old twins Tori and Vanessa Hackett of Woodland Park have qualified for the AAU National Track and Field Junior Olympics, which will be held in Greensboro, N.C. from July 26 to Aug. 3.
The twins, who will be entering fourth grade at Beatrice Gilmore School this fall, had to go through two rounds of qualifier meets in order to make the national championships. The first round of qualifying was the AAU New Jersey State Junior Olympics on June 2 in Edison. Tori went on to claim three gold medals at the NJ Junior Olympics while Vanessa won two silver and one bronze medal.
The twins then advanced to the AAU Region 1 Junior Olympic Championships at St. John’s University in New York at the end of June where they had to place in the top six in track and field events and top four in the multi events to advance to the national championships.
Tori won gold medals in the triathlon and javelin while taking a silver medal in the high jump. In the triathlon, which, consist of the 200m-shot put and high jump, she scored 830 points which currently ranks her number three in country in the event. She is also ranked in the top five nationally in her other two events the high jump with a personal best jump of 3’9.25” and the javelin with a personal best throw of 63’5”. She hopes to stand up on the podium in North Carolina to receive medals in all three of her events and earn possible All-American honors.
Vanessa won three silver medals in the triathlon, javelin and high jump, finishing right behind her sister in the triathlon and javelin while the twins tied for second in the high jump. She is ranked in the top 10 in the triathlon and more notably she is one of the top ranked high jumpers in the country with a personal best jump of 3’8.75”. She is also very motivated to earn a national Junior Olympic medal after falling just short at last years national championships finishing 10th in the javelin; top eight finishers in the country earn the right to stand up on the podium and receive a medal.
The girls competed this past spring with the Saddle Brook Jr. track team which is a part of the NJ Striders track club along with competing in multiple other meets on their own. When the girls aren’t training for the upcoming Junior Olympics, they enjoy attending soccer camp twice a week, hanging out with friends and going to the beach with their family. Tori and Vanessa will get a much needed break after nationals however that will be a short lived three weeks as the travel soccer season begins towards the end of August.