Evergreen runners perform well at Junior Olympics cross country

Wilson earns All-American status for her age group

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter



Members of the Evergreen Storm -- Emily Wilson, Paige Neff, Kaylee Merritt, Carla Jooste, Ashlin O'Neill, Serena Smith, Callie Rheaume and Jenna Efraimson -- show their enthusiasm before the Junior Olympics Cross Country championships.

Emily Wilson’s 13th-place finish highlighted a solid day for the Evergreen Storm Track Club at the USA Track and Field Junior Olympics Cross Country Championships on Saturday.

Wilson finished the 3,000-meter race for girls born in 2000-2001 with a time of 11 minutes, 33.23 seconds, earning All-American status for her age and helping the Storm team to 10th place in the girls midget division race. This is the third time in as many cross country seasons that the Vancouver club has placed a team in the top-10 at the national meet.

The Junior Olympics national cross country championships were held at Balloon Fiesta Park in Albuquerque, N.M. Boys and girls races were held for six age groups.

The Evergreen Storm Track Club had two girls teams of eight runners and two boys at the national championships. Each qualified through their success at state-level and regional championship races.

Taylor Roe, who beat Wilson to win both the state and the regional races, won the girls midget national race with a time of 11:04.9.

Running at Albuquerque, with an elevation of approximately 5,000 feet above sea level, presented a new challenge for the runners.

“We dealt with some altitude challenges but they all ran very well. It’s brutal for the runners,” Evergreen Storm founder and president Scott Slamp said. “The kids all fought hard through it though and we had some terrific results.”

The Storm’s youth girls team placed 12th in its division, led by Marley Lefore’s 32nd-place finish in a field of 250 runners who were born in 1998-99. Running 4,000 meters for only the third time, Lefore finished in 15:41.36. Savannah Craig finished 51st with a time of 15:58.05.

Both Wilson and Lefore attend Skyridge Middle School.

The youth girls team was coached by Mike McKinney. Other members of the Storm’s youth girls team at nationals were: Maddie Woodson (123rd in 16:44.94), Samantha Rosenkranz (131st, 16:51.49), Meghan Finley (143rd, 17:01.06), Lauren Mahnke (160th, 17:13.96), Ellie Echeverio (161st, 17:14.62) and Cambryn Gulzow (165th, 17:20.56).

The 3,000-meter midget girls race included 263 runners and 22 teams. In addition to Wilson, the Storm’s midget girls team at nationals included Serena Smith (59th place, 12:05.54), Ashlin O’Neill (74th, 12:12:14), Jenna Efraimson (148th, 12:45,89), Carla Jooste (151st, 12:48.81), Paige Neff (170th, 12:57,75), Kaylee Merritt (197th, 13:13.82) and Callie Rheaume (230th, 13:47.27). Chantel Efraimson coached the midget girls for the Storm.

Two runners represented the Evergreen Storm in the 5,000-meter race for boys born in 1996-1997. Evan Yackell finished 87th with a time of 18:33.46, and Jordan Moore placed 92nd in 18:35.85. A total of 160 boys finished the race.

Evergreen Track Club was founded by Slamp in the spring of 2009. Its athletes have competed in track and field for five seasons. This was the third year it raced cross country events.

Five members of The Columbian’s All-Region team for high school girls cross country this fall — Woodson, Alexa Efraimson, Alexis Fuller, Cassie McKinney and Alissa Pudlitzke — have represented the Evergreen Storm at track or cross country national championship meets.