Cross-country: Rice wins Jr Olympic Cross Country Championships; San Diego wins club titles

INDIANAPOLIS – Paige Rice of Oregon CC claimed her third straight national cross country title and the San Diego Southern California Road Runners captured four national team titles Saturday at the 2008 USA Track & Field National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships at Pole Green Park in Mechanicsville, Va.

The USATF Virginia Association, Hanover County Parks & Recreation, the Richmond Metropolitan Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Sports Backers (Richmond Region Sports Commission) played host to the event that featured nearly 2,000 age-group youth athletes from around the country. The Junior Olympics were contested over the challenging landscape of Pole Green Park, which consists of a 232-acre area in Hanover County. Temperatures on Saturday hovered in the mid-40s, with light winds.

On Saturday, athletes aged 8 to 18 battled it out for boys’ and girls’ titles in five age divisions. The USATF Junior Olympic program age divisions are bantam (10 and under) racing over 3 kilometers; 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.

The 2006 bantam girl’s winner, Rice dominated the field in the midget girls 3 km race for the second consecutive year, crossing the finish line first in10 minutes 36 seconds. She finished 13 seconds ahead of runner up Anne Charles of the San Diego Southern California Road Runners.

Additional girls winners included Julia Pounds (Palo Alto Lightning/Pacific Assoc.) in the Bantam division 3 km race, Avery Evenson (unattached/Mighigan) captured the Youth division 4 km title, Kelsey Lakowske (Fairchild Flyers/Colorado) was victorious in the Intermediate division 5 km race and the Young Women’s group 5 km race was won by Elizabeth Brandon (YMCA Team/Snake River).
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