HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, N.J.– Anthony DiLascio burst around the turn on the track at Hasbrouck Heights' Depken Field while his father and coaches looked on.
Anthony, 11, was getting in some final work before flying to the West Coast to compete in the USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships in Sacramento -- the first Heights track athlete to advance this far, his coaches said.
"It's a pretty cool thing," the sixth-grader said. "Over the last three years I've had a lot of good training that propelled me to this. I've been running, sprinting – everything I can possibly do to excel."
Anthony trained at the high school's field three to four times per week the past four months.
"While other kids are out playing, he's here practicing," said James Ryan, the recreation track and field head coach.
"He's the hardest-working kid I know and he's so young," assistant coach Alex Quinn added. "Here's a kid from a small town going to California, there at the end of the season, the very last meet."
Anthony advanced to the nationals after finishing fourth in the 100m against runners from New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania in the 2016 Region 2 Junior Olympics at Widener University in Chester, PA, earlier this month.
Ryan ran the 800m, mile and two-mile for HHHS in 2008. Quinn ran the 400- and 800-meter events. Tom Hughes (Class of 2013), a varsity assistant, also helps out.
"We're all runners. We understand each other," Anthony said. "We tell stories. They're really funny."
Anthony is a star running back, as well: He's scored 37 touchdowns in his career.
"I was the fastest kid on the football field, so I joined track because I had the potential to be a good runner," Anthony said. "I learned and became a good runner and reached that potential."
If Anthony doesn't win this week, it won't be a disappointment in his eyes.
"I just want to make everyone proud," he said, "make the top 24 the first day [to advance to the semifinals] and see how I stack up against the competition."
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