Athletes endure weather at JO Cross Country Champs

INDIANAPOLIS - Ten junior athletes persevered through strong winds in the aftermath of blizzard-like conditions that rocked the northeast to win individual titles Saturday at the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships held at Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island.

More than 2,000 athletes age 8 to 18 from all 57 USATF Associations competed for boys' and girls' titles in 10 age divisions. The USATF Junior Olympic program age divisions are bantam (10 and under) racing over 3 kilometers; midget (11-12) racing 3 km; youth (13-14) racing 4 km; intermediate (15-16) racing 5 km and young men/women (17-18) racing 5 km.

"We had over 2,000 kids competing despite the weather conditions where athletes (and their families) were stuck at airports and dealing with flights that were canceled in less than 24 hours before the start of the meet," said Meet Director Ron Boemker. "The younger kids were making snow men in the 8 to 10 inches of snow."

The individual winners for girls included Rhode Island native Ashley DiClemente (No. Kingstown) in the bantam division, 12:39.83; Amanda Ward (Team Idaho) in midget 12:08.06; Emily Sisson (Flyers) in youth girls 15:55.06; Krystal Harper (Sojourners A) in intermediate, 17:51.06; Cassandra Schenck (Unattached-Lake Erie) in young women. Girls' team champions were Rain City Flyers in bantam, Granite State Flash in midget, Team Idaho in youth girls, Sojourners A in intermediate and Buffalo Chips in young women.

Individual boys' winners were Jack Pearce (Rain City Flyers) in bantam, 12:17.07; Shaine Kirtright (Mercury Track) in midget, 11:00.05; Thomas Turina (Oregon CR) in youth boys, 14:02.78; Matthew Frerker (Issaquah Gliders) in intermediate, 14:56.57 and Andrew Wheating (New England) in young men, 14:54.01. Team champions were Arizona Blaze X-Country in bantam, Granite State Flash in midget, Oregon Cross Country in youth, Equalizers HS in intermediate and Team Idaho in young men.