More than 8,500 athletes from across the country converged on the Hershey-Harrisburg area from July 31 to Aug. 4 as the region played host to the biennial State Games of America National Championships. More than 26 sports were contested, and within them multiple events, including youth swimming, figure skating, gymnastics and track and field (youth, open, masters).
On Friday, Aug. 2, Nathan Merena, 6, of Pennsburg, placed sixth overall in the boys (8-and-younger) long jump competition. His spectacular leap of 2.89 meters (9-05.75) was four inches shy of a medal. His previous best in the long jump, in competition, was achieved on July 15-16 during one of his weekly spring youth meets, a mark of 2.23 m (7-04). Nathan bested the next highest 6-year-old finisher, Quinn Winslow (2.62 m), by almost a foot. The gold medal went to Quinn’s 8-year-old brother, Mason, 3.45 m (11-04).
Merena is an upcoming first-grader. He competes for Lickity-Split (Youth) Athletics/LSA. LSA is the only USA Track and Field (USATF) club for youth (ages 4-18) located in the quad-county (Berks, Montgomery, Lehigh, Bucks) area. Nathan is team coached by his father, Peter, a level one USATF coach for hire, and Jim Roma of Barto.
In 2011, the State Games of America (SGA) were held in San Diego, Calif. On Friday Aug. 2, the 2015 State Games of America were awarded to Lincoln, Neb. As the youngest finisher in the 2013 long jump competition, Nathan has been personally invited to Nebraska to take part in the long jump.