Two local cross country runners found themselves in Myrtle Beach, S.C. on Saturday, Dec. 13 to compete against some of the best middle-school-age runners that the United States has to offer.
At the USA Track and Field Junior Olympic Cross Country National Championships, 13-year-olds Jessica Kain and Chris Anderson — eighth graders at Scotts Valley and San Lorenzo Valley middle schools, respectively — each placed highly against hundreds of competitors.
Kain placed 17th in a field of close to 400 girls in the 13 to 14 age group, a top 25 finish that earned her All-American honors for the second year in a row.
According to her father, Pete Kain, only seven seconds separated the 6th place girl and the 18th placed girl.
For the four-kilometer race, Kain’s time was 14:36.7, for an average mile pace of 5:52.0.
She placed 18th at last year’s national championships in San Antonio, Texas at age 12.
Currently, Kain races for the Los Gatos Track Association Team.
For his part, Anderson finished the four-kilometer race with a time of 13:28, good for 37th out of 405 runners in his age category.
“He was No. 9 overall in the country for 13-year-olds,” said Rob Collins, who coaches Anderson as part of the Fall Creek Track Club. “He’s got a bright, bright future in him.”
Collins noted that, for middle-school-aged runners, the 13 to 14 age category is particularly tough, as many of the older runners are already participating on high school teams.