After earning two medals at the PIAA Track and Field Championships in May, Da'Lynn Mills wasn't about to take the summer off.
Mills, who will be a senior at Seneca Valley, joined the River City Elite Track Club and already has made an impact with the team.
At the recent Junior Olympics Regionals in Buffalo, N.Y., Mills placed first in the high jump (1.62 meters) and 400-meter relay (47.95 seconds), and second in the 100-meter run (12.62).
For those efforts, she will compete at the national championship meet, which runs today through Monday at Morgan State University's Hughes Stadium in Baltimore.
The success in Buffalo did not catch Mills off-guard.
"I've been practicing all summer," said Mills. "I was nervous going up to the regionals. (Charlise Davis, a member of the 400 relay) has been there since the second grade, so she helped calm my nerves."
Davis (Oakland Catholic), Terhea Doaty (Pine-Richland) and Mattie Collins-Wood (Allderdice) make up the 400 relay foursome.
Alonzo Webb, coach of the River City Elite Club, saw Mills last year in practice, but she could not make the weekend meets due to vacations.
Still, he could see the potential was there.
"She's a really good athlete. There's a lot of potential not realized yet," said Webb, who is also the University of Pittsburgh men's and women's track and field and cross country coach.
"She's a very competitive person. She's dedicated herself to what she loves to do," he added.
Mills is coming off another strong season at Seneca Valley. At the state championships in Shippensburg in May, she placed third in the high jump and sixth in the 200.
Her time of 24.86 in the 200 at the WPIAL Class AAA Northern Qualifiers not only was a school record but also was the second-fastest time ever recorded by a Butler County female. Butler's Gwen Murray ran a 24.8 in 1978.
As a sophomore, her time of 12.06 in the 100 was the best time ever in the county, just ahead of Slippery Rock's Liz Davis in 1980 (12.1). Her 5-6 in the high jump is tied for fourth all-time in the county, while a 49.41 in the 400 relay (along with Aly Triscuit, Logan Gamelier and Carrie Wack) is third all-time.
As a freshman, Mills, along with Wack, Nikki Bryan and Ashlee Zinkhann, turned in the fifth-fastest time in county history with a 49.7 in the 400 relay.
"She's got a great love of the high jump," said Webb. "I was a little surprised by her sprinting, but once I got to know her, you could see she was good."
This week, Mills will get the opportunity to try her hand at competing on a national level and see how she compares.
"With some of the girls from Texas and California, the big running states, you never know what you can do when you get there.
"Running with the people on the team has helped a lot. When you're running on a team with the top people in the region, when you practice with that, it helps you in competition, and your teammates are right there."