Salem’s Jenna Wilkes will be rubbing elbows with the NFL’s best this weekend as she attends the Pro Bowl and Punt, Pass and Kick National Championships in Orlando, Florida.
Jenna, a seven year old, is just a couple kicks and a pass away from being a national champion.
Wilkes, who the daugher of Salem’s Chris and Kristen Wilkes, began her journey when she won the local PPK competition in September at Spartan Field. She then won the sectional competition at Alleghany High School on November 6, and her score qualified her as one of the four finalists for the Washington Redskins team championship competition, which she won on December 3 at Fed-Ex Field in Washington. Her score was then compared to all 32 NFL team champions, and the top four qualified for the national PPK championship in Orlando on January 27.
Currently Jenna’s score is ranked third in the nation in her age group. Her pass was the top score in the nation among the 32 team champions.
In Orlando, Jenna will punt, pass, and kick, then the distances will be combined for the final score. She will be judged on distance and accuracy. Other competitors in her age group will represent Dallas, Green Bay, and Cleveland as winners of their area.
The competition will take place at 1:30 pm this Friday, January 27, at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex. At 7:15 pm that night, she will attend media night with NFL Pro Bowl players and media. Saturday Jenna will visit Disney’s Magic Kingdom with all PPK finalists and their families
On Sunday, January 29, Jenna will be a special guest at the NFL Pro Bowl in Camping World Stadium, capping off a big weekend.
“She’s a big Redskins fan and her favorite is Ryan Kerrigan,” said dad Chris, an assistant principal at G.W. Carver Elementary School. “She was a little disappointed when she found out Ryan couldn’t come, but this week they added Kirk Cousins to the team.”
Jenna won the Redskin championship last year as a 6 year old, but did not qualify for nationals. She became interested in PPK from watching her brother Andrew compete. Andrew was the Washington Redskin team champion in 2012 and this year he made it to the sectional round. Jenna won the Redskin Championship 4 years to the day that Andrew won it.
“We are all proud of Jenna and we are really excited about her competing for the National Championship,” said Chris.
“I am very proud of Jenna and admire how hard she has worked to get to this level,” said her mom, Kristen. “We are so excited to share this adventure as a family.”