Youth athletes shine at USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships

Youth athletes shine at USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships

Provided by USATF

MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina -- Twelve national champions were crowned Saturday at the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships at the Whispering Pines Golf Course. Over 3,400 athletes competed in the event, which represented 16 regions and over 300 track teams.

Each age division competed over 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.

2014 USARC Champion and 25k American record holder Christo Landry will present awards to top race and team finishers at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center Saturday evening.

In the first race of the day, Ivy Estrada took the 8-and- under 2k with a time of 7:47.70. Arielle Mckenzie and Tori Carter were in a battle for the silver, crossing in 8:00.38 and 8:00.61 for second and third, respectively.

In the 8-and-under boys 2k, Shawn Woodall from the Parker Panthers earned the victory in 7:27.81. Everett Capelle and Jason Parra were close behind, crossing in 7:30.24 and 7:31.78 for silver and bronze.

In the 9-10 girls 3k race, Roisin Willis was impressive, finishing in 10:24.06, a time that would have gotten her silver in the 9-10 boys age group. Alayna Szuch and Elizabeth Lucason also registered podium finishes with their times of 10:33.03 and 10:33.61, respectively.

For the 9-10 boys 3k, it was Espen Lehnst who took home the victory in 10:23.13. Parker Paragas edged Thor Newsome at the line for the runner-up spot, crossing in 10:29.93. Newsome finished in 10:30.29 for third place.

For the 11-12 girls 3k, Aidyn Woodall nabbed her second straight national title, finishing in 10:16.72. Caroline Fisher and Alexis Fernandez earned the other podium spots with their times of 10:24.02 and 10:26.12, respectively.

The 11-12 boys 3k was one of the closest races of the day, with the trio of Xander Black, Derrick Silva and Maxwell Wilson breaking away from the pack early. Wilson led for much of the race before Black kicked to the front in the last kilometer. On the final straightaway, Silva made his move in front of Black and the two broke away with Silva just edging Black, 9:36.68-9:37.04. Wilson maintained his position and held off the chase pack, finishing third in 9:52.50.

In the 13-14 girls 4k, it was a fight to the finish between Taylor Roe and Devianna Salcedo. The athletes were neck-and-neck throughout the course until the final 20 meters, when Roe kicked for the finish to edge Salcedo by .24 seconds. Roe crossed in 13:52.68 to take home the title while Salcedo earned the runner-up spot with her time of 13:52.92. Haley Hooper nabbed the final podium finish, crossing in 14:13.58.

Alexander Scales of Los Gatos Track Club ran away with the 13-14 boys 4k title, finishing with an 11-second advantage in 12:33.56. Raymon Ornelas finished second in 12:44.75, while Coleman Mitchell was third in 12:50.12.

Rylee Bowen took home the 15-16 girls 5k crown in 17:40.61, while Madison Troy and Julia Wood also grabbed podium finishes in 17:51.55 and 17:58.21.

Phillip Rocha ran a wire-to-wire race in the 15-16 boys age division, crossing in an impressive 14:49.19 in the 5k. Cooper Teare earned the runner-up spot with his time of 15:30.90 and Griffin Mackey crossed in third with a 15:37.01 finish.

In the 17-18 women’s 5k, it was Emma Benner who took the title, crossing in 17:52.78 and competing unattached. Melissa Menghini nabbed the silver in 18:14.85 and Jenica Dodge crossed in third in 18:24.54.

In the final race of the day, Hayden Harrison was steady from start to finish, leading the pack for the entirety of the 17-18 men’s 5k. Harrison crossed in 15:27.01 with Michael Stoker on his heels to grab second in 15:29.19. Jarrick Wenslow earned the final podium finish with his time of 15:30.86.

Race video, results, post-race interviews and photos will be available shortly after the race. Join the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #JOXC. Full results from the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships can be found here.

Amanda Brooks