Claire Graves national champ at Junior Olympics Cross Country Nationals
Claire Graves of Highland brings home the national championship in Hoover, Ala. By Dr. Michael Deleong
The Southern California Roadrunners competed at the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships held at Hoover, Ala. at Veterans Park on Dec. 11 with outstanding results.
Claire Graves (Highland/ Beattie Middle School) won the Midget girls national championship leading from start to finish culminating her undefeated XC season in 2010.
The Roadrunners came home with teams finishing among the top 3, and 11 individuals achieving All American Status by finishing among the top 25 runners in their respective age group.
A total of 57 Roadrunners traveled to compete after surviving preliminary rounds by either finishing among the top 25 runners or top 3 teams at the Association championships held at Mt. Sac and the Region XV championships also held at Mt SAC against the top teams from So Cal, San Diego, Hawaii and Las Vegas.
The Bantam boys (2000 – after) team were a big surprise this year as many athletes were at the younger end of the division with only two athletes at the top of the age group.
The team won the Association championship and placed second in the Region. Many were running in their first National Cross country championship.
The team placed 8th overall at the National meet and were led by All American Charlie Davis (Claremont) finishing 12th overall. There were 231 finishers and 21 teams competing.
Kyle Rummens (Glendora) finished 39th overall but was the 5th runner born in 2001 or later.
Noah Tamagno (Brea) finished 60th overall and was the 11th in the younger end of the age group.
Other members of the team were Antonio Diaz (Pomona) taking 145th, Max Balderas (Pomona) taking 168th, Sammy Puraci (Highland) in 177th, and Mikey Leong (Highland) finishing 223rd.
The Winning club was Cougar Track Club from New Mexico with San Diego Roadrunners in second.
The Midget girls (1998-1999) teams were led by its top two runners Claire Graves and Brittany Blackwell (Sundland) as they led the first loop of the 3000 meter course together. Claire ran 11:03 over the course for a 10 second victory for her first National title.
Brittany finished fourth overall to achieve All American status.
Iesha Magallanes (Pomona) placed 85th overall as the number three runners and Janeth Dominguez (Compton) placed 119th. Andrea Diaz (Pomona) placed 130th. Other athletes competing were Kassandra Martinez (Pomona) taking 135th, Kyrien Wickersham (Redlands) placed 158th and Olivia McKenzie (Redlands) in 167th. There were 236 competitors and 17 teams competing for the team title. The Roadrunners placed fourth as a team with 170 points as the Equalizers won the team title followed by Whidbey Island and the Granite State Flash (New Hampshire).
The Midget boys team competed with an entire new cast of runners as last years National championship team graduated to the older age group. All first year Cross country runners were the top five scorers as they challenged for the National team title. Phillip Rocha (Azusa), Zafir Abou Zamzam (Redlands) and Xolan Brown (Redlands) achieved All Amercan status finishing among the top 10 in their first year of Junior Olympic XC competition. Phillip placed third, Zafir placed 7th and Xolan went from 20th to 10th in the last 400 meters.
Alexis Gonzalez (Riverside) placed 30th overall missing being an All American by 7 seconds. Pedro Mier (Santa Ana ) survived muscle cramps to finish 106th as the fifth scorer for the team.