MacKenzi Holmes-DiGiovine might have been on stand-by this week, but the Desert Vista sophomore definitely has not been sitting idly by since placing at the state track meet as a freshman.

Holmes-DiGiovine, along with several area track athletes, has been going through the rigors of qualifying for the Junior Olympics, which involved placing high enough in two previous meets to advance to the national event this week in Wichita, Kan.

"I want to use this experience to get better," Holmes-DiGiovine said while waiting for a stand-by flight on her way to the event. "I did OK (as a freshman), but I have to be more consistent with my form. If I can learn to do that while competing against some of the best in the country, it is going to make me better."

Holmes-DiGiovine qualified in the discus and hammer-throwing events; the hammer is not a high school event, but it is essentially the same as the shot put.

"They are definitely similar and getting better at the hammer will help me in the shot," she said. "I am just trying to get better any way I can."

One of her coaches at Desert Vista, Ross Walker, said the opportunity to compete at a national event can only help an athlete's development.

"They are competing against their peers, seeing how others go about their way of doing things," he said. "So it isn't just about the results. We want them to perform well, but it is also about picking up little things here or there that can help."

Holmes-DiGiovine entered the event with qualifying throws of 106-0.44 feet in the discus and 63-9.35 in the hammer throw. She missed out on qualifying for the shot after throwing 29-11.45.

"The thing with MacKenzi is the fact that she is so young still," Walker said. "She hasn't developed that consistency that allows her to be at her best every event yet. Last year, she would do well for two weeks and then take a step back. What we have to work on is extending the good period to three, four weeks straight and beyond."

Holmes-DiGiovine, who finished fifth in the discus at the Division I state meet, was ready to take a similar approach.

"I want to get my best throws of the year, but really it is really about the experience," she said. "I just want to go there, have a good time, learn and come back better for it."

Holmes-DiGiovine is one of a handful of area athletes who have qualified for the event, which got under way Tuesday at Wichita State's Cessna Stadium.

Some qualified, but chose not to participate for various reasons, like DV graduates Sydnee Freeman and Prasanna Polite and Mountain Pointe senior Shaman Bailey.

Mountain Pointe freshman D.J. Ward (100-meter dash), Desert Vista freshman Alexa Homewood (400) along with the Thunder's Octobria Saddler and Cierra Reeves, who make up half of the 4x100 qualifying team, should be competing this week.

Regardless of how the results play out, the time on the track is the most important thing.

"These summer events are a great test to see where you stand and where you need to improve, especially for the younger kids," DV coach Cassandra Cline said. "While we all want to do well, sometimes just experiencing a big meet is the best way to teach them to prepare and perform at a high level."

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