Lindo runs to second national title at National Junior Olympics in Florida


On Saturday (9-Dec.), forty-six (46) athletes and four (4) teams from New York competed at the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships in Tallahassee, Florida. A total of 3,139 athletes and 227 teams from all 50 states competed in the championships.  The races were conducted under unseasonably cold and damp conditions with temperatures in the low 40s throughout the day. Rain fall from the previous days left the course soggy and muddy in spots.
Athletes earned spots on the starting line by either finishing in the top 30 (or as a member of a club that finished in the top 5) at the region 1 championships on November 19.
Races were contested in 6 age divisions (8 & under, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18) for boys and girls.  The top 25 finishers in each age division earned all-American status and the top 3 teams were presented with championship recognition during the post event awards ceremony.
Eight (8) New Yorkers earned trips to the awards podium to collect championship medals and all-American hats for finishing in the top 25.  

The storyline for the day was the national championship title won by Brianna Lindo (NY Novas) in the 9-10 girls race. Lindo came in as the #1 returner in the age division having finished ninth at last year’s championships in Alabama and won the Region 1 title two weeks earlier in Rhode Island.  On paper she was the favorite and she fulfilled that projection winning a close and exciting race over Carysa Marquez of Colorado by 1 second.  Lindo stopped the clock at 10:48 to record her first sub 11 minute performance over the 3 km distance.  She came through 1600m in fourth place, three seconds behind Marquez, Adelynn Rodriguez (Texas) and Yamilet Lopez (California).  Over the next 800m she was able to move into second place and finally passed Marquez with 50 meters to go winning her second national title (she won the 7-8 division two years ago in New Mexico).  
"I usually like to take the lead where I am more comfortable,” stated Lindo following the race. “My coach explained that because I was in the outside box I should be patient and relax. "I never came from behind at the end  like that before so it was scary, but exciting.”
Other top 50 finishes in the 9-10 girls race were turned in by Lily Day (40th, Westchester Striders Track & Field), Sahar Victoria (44th, The Camp) and Melanie Romero (49th, Notre Dame Track).
In the 7-8 boys race Wilem Wikstrom (Unattached) ran a very quick 7:26 over the 2 km course to place third in a field of 239 runners.  The race was won by Austin Carlile of Indiana in 7:18 with Gabriel Hislop (South Carolina) finished second just one second in front of Wikstrom.  Also running to an all-American finish was Giordano Simpson (New York Starz) in 14th place, running 7:48. At last year’s championships Wikstrom finished 11th and Simpson was 104th.  In the team competition the Prospect Park Youth Running Club finished 15th with 296 points.  They were led by the 51st place finish by Sebastien Aubourg with Shane Walker, Calvin Gumbs-Jacobs, Caiden Romeo, and Pablo O’Neill all scoring for the team.
In the 7-8 girls race Xaera Mehta (Chelsea Greyhounds) finished 21st running 8:32.  Just 15 seconds behind her were Anaia Jean-Francois (Prospect Park Youth Running) and 
Noa Yirmiyahu (Hunter Athletics) finishing 46th and 48th, respectively, both stopping the clock at 8:47.
Tobias Wolfson (MHC TC), Alissa Graham (Club44), and Amos Pres (Chelsea Greyhounds) all finished in the top 10 in their races.
Wolfson ran to a solid fifth place finish in the 15-16 boys race as he stopped the clock at 16:04.  The race was won by Kevin Ramos Leyva of California in 15:33.  Wolfson’s MHC TC teammate Nathaniel Oakes finished 26th, missing the last all-American spot by four seconds.
Competing in a new division this year Graham ran to seventh place finish in the 11-12 girls race.  Last year she finished second in the 9-10 race.  This is the third year in row she has earned all-American honors (2015 she was 24th in the 9-10 division).  Juliette Salazar (New York Starz Track), the New York and region 1 champion, finished 15th. Salazar led her team to a ninth place finish.  The other scoring athletes for the Starz were; Brianna Carter (70th), Rihanna Defreitas (82nd), Isabel Slippen (97th), and Margaret Jennings (299th)
In the boys 9-10 race, Pres continued his incredible season as he finished eighth running 10:37 over the 3 km course. The race was won by Daniel Skandera of California in 10:02. Sun-Jin Shah (Five Points Runners) finished 48th to join Pres in the top fifty.  The Prospect Park Youth Running Club finished sixth in the team competition; the best team finish on the day for the New York clubs.  They were led by Sebastian Scott (87th), Sam Ryland (92nd), Luca Danieuski (105th), Ariel Yaron (115th), and Chester Kawczynski (119th).
Next year’s championships will be held in Reno, Nevada on December 8.
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