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District Five Students Excel at Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships

IRMO, SC - Seven students from District Five competed in the USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics Cross Country Championships in Hoover, Alabama on December 10. The 9 and 10 year-old girls team from The Storm Track Club placed fifth in the nation. The following District Five students competed: Jais Ward (Harbison West Elementary), Abigail Gopp (Harbison West Elementary), Abigail White (Lake Murray Elementary), Lucy Ricks (Chapin Intermediate), and Taylor Washington (Ballentine Elementary), McKenszie Meier (Dutch Fork Middle) and Alexis Vandervelde (Dutch Fork Middle).

Heading into nationals, Ward was nervous because of the large field, but said, “It was a great experience and I love my teammates. Kids should try new things because you never know how far it can take you.” Ward finished 13th overall out of 308 runners.

“I am so proud of how well our team performed at the USATF Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships,” said Storm Coach Kimberly Taylor. “They have met and exceeded every challenge that has faced them this season. Our runners work together as a team.”

McKenszie and Vandervelde competed in the Women’s 4K event and placed second and fifth respectively.

The 9-10 Girls Team has been strong all season winning a state championship and competing in the USATF Region 4 Cross Country meet just one week later. The regional meet includes teams from South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. “We knew that the region meet would challenge our team, but our runners worked together to earn the USATF Region 4 Junior Olympics Championship by one point over Alpha Crush from Georgia. Every point and every athlete matters,” Taylor said.

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