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Yuba City's Gillen a national champ at Hershey
Each year, a handful of Mid-Valley youngsters sniff the Northern America Hershey Track and Field Games, and sometimes even qualify — rarely do they bring home gold.
Darcy Gillen, 10, of Yuba City, jumped the hurdles of local, state and regional tournaments to qualify for the big show in Hershey, Penn., and went on to outlast the nation's best in the softball throw event to capture gold on Saturday.
The tournament is nothing new for her mother Ann Gillen, who works for the Yuba City Parks and Recreation Department and has been a part of coordinating the local event held at River Valley High School for the past few years.
"It's kind of funny how that worked out," said Ann Gillen. "We didn't even realize that she had such a great arm until she was entered into the event last year."
Last year, Darcy Gillen won the local event and finished third at the state meet in San Jose.
This year, she cruised past the competition.
Gillen won the local meet before shattering the marks in San Jose — a throw of more than 120 feet. The second place throw was recorded at 90 feet.
She went on to win the regional tournament, which includes the best from Utah, Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada.
Jordyn Mills of Plumas Lake also qualified for the nationals and finished sixth in the 200 meter run.
Gillen is a standout in Little League and also plays travel ball for the Sutter Buttes Thunder.
One would think third base or center field with Gillen's arm strength, but the Yuba City resident, who just turned 10 in June, is a middle infielder.
"You would think she would play in the outfield, but she usually plays shortstop or second base," Gillen laughed.
Gillen won the 9-10 year-old division, but still continues to play up in Little League.