ALBUQUERQUE - Twelve national champions were crowned at the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships on Saturday as more than 2,300 of the best youth athletes in the United States competed at the sunny Balloon Fiesta Park.
The athletes competing in the national championship qualified through their respective state and regional competitions. Races are divided by age group, with each division competing at the following distances: sub bantam (8 and under) racing 2 km; bantam (9-10) racing 3 km; 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.
In the first race of the day Logan Smith won the Sub-Bantam Girls Division in a time of 7:45.96, with Alayna Szuch finishing in a close second place in 7:48.88. The hometown Cougar Track Club won the team title with 31 points.
Rheinhardt Harrison won the Sub-Bantam Boys race in 7:30.37, to gap second place Jamin Harlin by seven seconds. Harlin’s runner-up finish was enough to lead his Cougar Track Club to the team title with 43 points.
In a mad-dash to the finish, Zoe Ta-Perez took first place in the Bantam Girls race in 11:44.57, with runner-up Caroline Fischer finishing by her side in 11:44.63. Ta-Perez’s win led her Corona Panthers Track Club to the team title with 54 points.
Maxwell Wilson won the Bantam Boys race in convincing fashion in a time of 10:47.60. Derrick Silva took the runner-up spot in 10:54.91. Albuquerque’s Cougar Track Club won the team title with 43 points.
In the Midget Girls race Taylor Roe broke the tape in 11:04.90, with a comfortable margin over runner-up Chantae Steele who crossed the line in 11:14.01. The Cougar Track Club continued to excel in the team scoring as they won the division with 87 points.
Ivan Pineda-Dominguez ran to the win in front of a hometown crowd as he took the top spot in the Midget Boys race in 10:10.17. Coleman Mitchell finished as the runner-up in 10:23.31. The Cougar’s were victorious again as they won the team title with 57 points.
Mary Bell dominated the field in the Youth Girls race as she covered the 4 km course in 14:23.83. Bell outpaced the field by 17 seconds, as Marianne Abdalah took second in 14:40.50. The Cougar track club picked up another win as they claimed the division with 97 points.
Phillip Rocha picked up his fifth youth title of the year and improved on his runner-up finish from this meet last year as he won the Youth Boys race in 12:43.38. Jacob Ogden finished second in 12:52.71. The South Orange County Track Club took the top team honors with 69 points.
In the Girls Intermediate race Olivia Hayden stole the show as she won in 19:14.34. Julie Giannini finished as the runner-up in 19:22.07. Giannini led her Cougar Track Club to win the team title by only one point (50) over the Equalizer’s Track Club (51).
Miguel Bautista won the Intermediate Boys race in 16:24.11 to lead his Equalizers Track Club to the team title with 26 points. Austin Tamango finished second in 16:32.56.
Melissa Eisele won the Young Women’s race by a comfortable margin as she crossed the line in 19:15.14. Rachel Galton took second in 19:26.78. Eisele led the Equalizers Track Club to win the team division.
Estevan De La Rosa won by the largest margin of the day as he obliterated the field of the Young Men’s division. De La Rosa crossed the line in 15:42.75 to put 30 seconds between him and his closest competitor. Brian Barraza took runner-up honors in 16:13. In the closest team race of the day, Obriens Army and Equalizers Track Club tied with 48 points, but when the tie was broken it was Obriens Army who came out on top as the champions.
Full results are available at www.usatf.org