Congratulations to Cross Country National Champions: Maya Martinez and Zack Childers!
Nineteen runners from the Northridge Pacers’ Cross Country Team joined the Valley Youth Conference’s post-season team, the Valley Striders, at the 2011 AAU Cross Country National Championships in Orlando, FL. Seven teams contributed runners to the Striders, and Pacer athletes made up a full 1/3rd of that post-season roster.
Led by the Pacers, the Valley Striders impressively finished in 3rd place overall at Nationals. Like space shuttles launched at the nearby Kennedy Space Center, our athletes literally “blasted off” when they heard the starter’s gunshots.
Our very own, Maya Martinez (9) demolished her competition in her first trip to Nationals. She placed first out of 52 athletes in the Sub-Bantam age group with a time of 12min 13:39sec in the 3000m race. The second place finisher was a full 17 seconds behind her trying to stay out of the flames of Maya’s rocket engine.
Another one of ours, Zackary Childers (8) beat 80 other runners and placed first in the 2000m Gremlin (called Primary by AAU) race with a time of 7min 17.86sec. Less than a minute into the race, Zack broke through the front of the pack and never looked back. Some extremely strong competitors struggled to close the gap, but never succeeded.
Johnny Hawkins, ever the tough competitor, finished a strong 6th place out of 74 runners. He accomplished this awesome feat in spite of some extremely unsportsmanlike behavior from two east coast runners who boxed him in and pushed him into the bushes. Parents from other clubs and one of our coaches observed the incident that took place in the forest. Unfortunately meet officials could not do anything about it because no course monitor saw what happened. We are very proud of him for fighting with his feet rather than with his very high-level Karate skills.
Also notable is Zoe Fleck’s finish in 13th place out of a crowded field of 70 girls. After a challenging season for her, she dug deep and excelled in the post-season.
The Pacers sent the following kids to Nationals with the Striders:
Helena Hawkins (7)
Isis Diaz (7)
Zackary Childers (8)
Elliot Fleck (8)
Maya Martinez (9)
Joseph Hawkins (9)
Grace Swift (10)
Eliza Mancillas (10)
Jonathan Hawkins (10)
Vincent Mancillas (10)
Zoe Fleck (11)
Katherine Kaiser (12)
Frank Hawkins (12)
Julianne Mogab (13)
Madison Cowell (13)
Megan Satterfield (13)
Jacob Seemann (13)
Andres Feldstedt (13)
Sean DeLaEspriella (13)
It was a direct result of the hard work and determination of all 19 of these athletes that our National team placed 3rd overall. It couldn’t have been done without every single one of them, and we are very proud of them. XC runners are particularly tough breed of kids and they like to tell other athletes: “Our sport is your sport’s punishment.”
SoCal teams continue to dominate cross country across the nation. Valley Striders placed 3rd overall and our friendly rivals, the SCYTFC Comets, finished first. The Comets accomplished this feat with only a single top-six individual finisher out of all of the age groups (a Gremlin girl placed 3rd). The Striders have deep talent in our conference, but the Comets send far more kids to Nationals. In fact, they fielded multiple 8-athlete teams in four of the age groups. A goal for the Valley Striders and Northridge Pacers is to increase the number of runners on our cross country teams next year. Tell your friends! (The tough ones.) The Pacers XC team had about 40 runners this year, and we want to double that number next year!
Name of Attached Pictures and Suggested Captions:
Bantam Girl Striders – “Bantam Girls Maya Martinez, Eliza Mancillas and Grace Swift with their Striders teammates.”
Bantam Girls Startline – “Pacer Maya Martinez emerged from this crowd of girls to place first in the Sub-Bantam division. She can be seen just to the right of center looking forward with the eye of the tiger.”
Frank with Striders – “Pacer Frank Hawkins towers over his Striders teammates. What do they feed that kid?”
Johnny – finish – “Pacer Jonathan Hawkins finishes strong after a brutal race.”
Maya – Champion – “Maya Martinez, National Champion.”
Maya with Medal – "Maya Martinez, National Champion. "
Midget Girls – 3rd Place – “Striders Midget Girls team finished 3rd with the help of Pacers Zoe Fleck and Katherine Kaiser.”
Youth Boys – “The Pacers sent Youth Boys Jacob Seemann, Andres Feldstedt, and Sean DeLaEspriella to Nationals. Way to go boys!”
Youth Girls – “The Pacers sent Youth Girls Julianne Mogab, Madison Cowell, and Megan Satterfield to Nationals. Way to go girls!”
Zack – Champion – “Zackary Childers, National Champion.”
Zack – finish – “Zackary Childers leaves his competition in the dust in the final sprint.”
Zoe – Finishing Strong – “Pacer Zoe Fleck leaves her last ounces of energy on the course during the final sprint.”