JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Janae Jackson, who took up the sport less than a year ago at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Boxing Academy, placed fourth in her weight class at last month's 2010 USA Boxing Junior National Championships at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Jackson, 15, lost to defending national champion Katherine Keller of Lockhart, Texas. Keller stopped Jackson at 1 minute, 8 seconds of the second round.

Keller lost to Domonique Gerlach in the 138-pound championship bout.

"She was prepared to do better," said Susan Jackson, the boxer's mother and a certified personal trainer at JBLM's McVeigh Sports and Fitness Center.

"Janae was really nervous. She just was not mentally there at all, and we knew it."

Yet, Jackson emerged as the No. 4 ranked boxer in the U.S. in her weight class. Susan said that her daughter also discovered that national-level fighters aren't unbeatable.

"She had it so hyped up in her mind that she was going there against these elite boxers, which they are, but she's also really good, too," Susan said. "She also has learned that she has to go there with her game plan in mind, and no matter what happens, she has to keep those goals in sight and not let anything or anyone detour her from doing what she came to do.

"And being young, that's hard. It's hard for an adult, let alone a young person."

Jackson's ultimate goal remains one day earning a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. Her newfound reputation might make it difficult to find opponents, however.

"We'll probably have to start traveling to California, or even Nevada," Susan said. "This will make her just have that much more experience with different kinds of fighters, but it's going to be expensive and difficult.

"She's really excited for this upcoming year, because she knows that she could do some really good things. We just hope we can get her enough fights."

Bob Reinert is assistant editor of Joint Base Lewis-McChord's weekly newspaper, the Northwest Guardian.