Trip to Australia to represent Delaware involves raising travel money.

Just a few short years ago, Talasia Brickhouse was getting her introduction to track and field, watching internet videos and joining her middle school team.

Now, entering her sophomore season, Brickhouse is one of the Lady Panthers’ up-and-coming athletes in the triple jump and other track events.

“When I was younger I used to watch track videos and I really got my start during a field day in middle school,” Brickhouse said. “That’s when I noticed I had some untapped potential.”

That potential began to blossom during her freshman season, which saw her finish fourth in the Henlopen Conference and sixth in the DIAA Division I Track and Field championships in the triple jump. Brickhouse was also a member of Polytech’s 4x100 relay team, which placed sixth in Division I at states.

After her impressive freshman campaign, Brickhouse was invited to participate in the Down Under Games on the Gold Coast of Australia.

The Down Under Games, founded by New Zealand native George O’Scanlon in 1989, will hold its 29th competition in July.

At first it was the Down Under Bowl, an American football event. Then the Down Under Hoops Classic started, eventually leading to the Down Under Games. Now, it features football, basketball, wrestling, volleyball, golf, cross country and track and field.

The goal of the Down Under Games is to “use the common language of sports to bridge the continents and provide a forum for athletes around the globe to compete head-to-head in the sport they love.”

Being invited is a once in a lifetime opportunity for any athlete. It’s a chance for Brickhouse to take a life-changing trip across the globe and represent her school and country.

“I was extremely excited to receive the invitation. I’ve never gotten any kind of exposure like this in my life,” Brickhouse said. “I know it’s a great opportunity.”

She must now raise the money to make the nine-day trip possible.

Talasia’s family and friends are working hard to help send her to Australia, but they need community help. Talasia needs to raise $5,172 herself and $5,972 for her mother to accompany her. The deadline to pay for the trip is June 2.

“We just heard from Down Under Sports, they were concerned about whether or not she would be able to get the funds, we’re working diligently,” said Talasia’s mother, Rosetta Brickhouse. “Even though I’m having parental anxiety about it already, I’m willing to sacrifice my trip to help get her there.”

Many athletes over the years have made the trip, including Middletown’s Marquis Dendy and Sussex Tech’s Brianna Hall. Polytech head coach Czar Bloom says many never get the opportunity after failing to raise the money.

“The trip to Australia can be quite costly for athletes, so unless they can do well fundraising or can afford to attend, many don’t get the chance,” Bloom said. “Talasia has a ton of natural talent and, athletically, she excels in numerous sprint and jumping events. It would be a neat experience for her to travel to Australia and compete with athletes from around the world.”

“I think I’ve grown tremendously as an athlete, making this trip would mean a lot,” Brickhouse said. “I would be honored to do it.”