SAN ANTONIO - Champions were crowned in six age groups at the 2013 Junior Olympic National Cross Country Championships in San Antonio, Texas, Saturday afternoon. More than 3,400 young athletes from 16 regions competed on the course at the National Shooting Complex.
The athletes competing in the national championship qualified through their respective state and regional competitions with races divided by age group. Each division competed according to the following distances: 8-and-under racing 2 km; 9-10 racing 3 km; 11-12 racing 3 km; 13-14 racing 4 km; 15-16 racing 5 km; and 17-18 racing 5 km.
Appropriately sunny for the opening race, the 8 & under girls were first to take the course.
Mackenzie Brown of the Lions Track Club was the day’s first finisher, crossing in 7:30.98 to take the 2 km title in the 8-under age group. In second with a time of 7:35.98 was Leah Futey of the Cougar Track Club followed by teammate Cecilia Campos who finished in 7:54.93 to take third.
In the boys 8-under race, Dennis Sachek of Town Track Club narrowly edged out the the unattached Owen Tighe and Liam Olson of Valley Track Club as the three finished the 2 km in 8:27.46, 8:27.58 and 8:27.92 respectively.
Aidyn Woodall of the Parker Panthers took first in the 9-10 girls 3 km, coming in at 11:02.7. Texastron’s Eva Jess was a close second with her 11:04.29 finish, and Alexis Fernandez rounded out the top three in 11:06.34.
From Forr XC, James Donahue’s 10:44.64 performance led the 9-10 boys division as Brandon Howell finished second in 10:52.35, nosing ahead of Azaan Dawson, who finished in 10:53.15 for third.
The 11-12 girls excited spectators with Devianna Salcedo breaking away from the field to cross in 10:28.66. Angela Saidma of Wilton Running Club and Lauren Robinson of Nashua PAL Gate City Striders fought to the finish, producing the day’s first-and-only tie when they crossed in 10:42.68.
Also breaking away was Joseph Waskom of Speed Unlimited who crossed in 9:41.49. Samuel Toolin’s 9:52.17 earned second for Sentinel A, and Thomas Gastineau came in at 10:06.14 for Indiana.
Marianne Abdalah from Wings of Moon may have finished last year’s race as runner-up, but she proved herself victorious in the 13-14 girls division with her time of 14:15.69.
“I knew I had something to prove to myself,” said Abdalah. “I had to pace myself at the start and kick at the right time. It was redemption to win today.”
Taylor Roe, running unattached, took second in 14:34.54 and said, “ I knew it would be tough competition.” Sofia Castiglioni, who earned third with her time of 14:36.37, said, “It’s definitely fun to be around so many great competitors.”
The third time was a charm in the 13-14 boys 4 km run as Erik Gonzalez of the Socal Road Runners took first with his time of 12:59.54. Gonzales finished seventh in his first appearance at this event before finishing 12th last year.
“I think I had a decent start,” he said. “I had my teammates with me, and I felt good about it. The second mile, I decided to just go for it and take the finish.”
Gabriel Fendel of the Cascade Striders took second in 13:06.8 while Devin Paredes of Cougar Track Club finished in 13:08.67.
In the 15-16 girls division, Lauren Jacob of the Buffalo Chips Running Club took the first 5 km crown, finishing in 18:20.76. Amanda Gehrich, running unattached, followed in 3:42.6 and Julia Wood of Richmond crossed in 18:53 for third.
Phillip Rocha from O’Brien’s Army was the top finisher in the 15-16 boys race with his time of 15:47.36. Jacob Ogden of the South Orange County Wildcats came in at 16:02.73 and Jarit Perkins of Evansville rounded out the top in 16:04.74.
Buffalo Chips runner Karlie Garcia took her lead and never looked back to finish in 17.36.09, nearly a minute ahead of her competitors. Veronica Yamane, who ran unattached, finished in 18:38.04, and Francesca Loayza - also of the Buffalo Chips - was the third place finisher with her 19:10.51.
Yamane, competing for a third time, said, “For the first part I was trailing, I thought maybe I could go a little faster. After that, I was just focussing on the girl ahead of me.”
In the final race, Estevan De La Rosa of O’Brien’s Army crossed in 15:31.68 for first place. Teammate Jarrick Wenslow was next in 16:04.43. Alex Conn of Hays Strider was third with his time of 16:08.43.
Two-time Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano will present awards to top race and team finishers at Sea World’s Ski Stadium Saturday evening.
For full results, click here.