Lindo Wins National Junior Olympic Title in New Mexico


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On Saturday, thirty-two (32) athletes from USATF New York competed at the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Cold rainy conditions marked the day and the thin air of running at 5000m feet altitude made for overall conditions some would call “just perfect for cross country running.”  While the altitude may have slowed the athletes’ times, the races were competitive and engaging for the athletes and spectators.  Those who started conservatively were able to execute their race strategies while avoiding the effects of the altitude.

Athletes qualified to compete in the national championships 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 21.
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.  A total of 2742 athletes competed.
Eight athletes from New York earned all-American honors - Brianna Lindo, Leilani Gibson, Alissa Graham, Juliette Salazar, Grace Lillis, Amos Pres, Behailu Bekele-Arcuri, and Keshaun Javois.
Lindo The Leader
The story of the day for the New York athletes was the dominating win by Brianna Lindo of in the girls 8 & under race.  Lindo, 8, who competes for the New York NovaStarz, won by am impressive 19 seconds over Juliana Peters of Oregon over the 2000m course. Lindo’s time was 7:54.  At last year’s championships in South Carolina Lindo placed sixteenth.
The Terrific Threesome
Leilani Gibson, Alissa Graham (CLUB44), and Juliette Salazar (New York NovaStarz) have battling all season in the 9-10 girls division and their battle continued on Saturday in Albuquerque where they finished just 5 seconds a part to finish 18th (Gibson - 12:42), 24th (Graham - 12:46), and 25th (Salazar - 12:47).  Salazar claimed the last all-American spot by just .6 seconds over the hard charging Rebecca Duran of Texas.  At the regional championships last month the trio swept the top three spots, with Graham taking the win, and were separated by a total of 7 seconds.  In the 9-10 girls race the New York NovaStarz finished a strong 10th (out of 25 teams) with 284 points. The team scorers were Salazar (25th), Rihanna Defreitas (55th), Paige Smith-Griffin (68th place), Nailah Delgado 163th), and Jiannna Molin (173rd).
Lillis Provides Some More Girl-Power
In the 11-12 girls race, Grace Lillis (unattached) ran a tactically perfect race as she moved up throughout the race to finish tenth.  She passed through the mile in 6:17 in 23rd place and then passed 13 girls over the last 1400m.  Her last 1400m slit of 5:27 was the sixth fastest in the race.  
We Got Some Dude-Power Too
While the ladies were impressive the gentlemen were equally awesome.  Leading the dude-power brigade were Amos Pres (Chelsea Greyhounds), Behailu Bekele-Arcuri (eXCelsior Running Club), and Keshaun Javois (CLUB44).  Pres finished eighth in the boys 8 & under race running 8:17.  Behailu Bekele-Arcuri finished fifth in highly competitive 13-14 division running 13:46.  The boys 13-14 race was the largest race with 345 finishers.  Javois placed 20th in a time of 18:09.
Next year’s championship will be held in Hoover, Alabama on December 10.

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