Alder Creek Middle School duo qualifies for Cross Country Junior Olympics
After capping a championship season for the Cougars, Alder Creek Middle School seventh-graders Skyler Flora and Gabrielle Rinne have their sights set on the national stage as they train for the Cross Country Junior Olympics.
The Junior Olympics are scheduled for Dec. 12 in Reno.
Both seventh-graders qualified at the Pacific Association Regional Championships the weekend of Nov. 28 on the same race course in Reno.
The Pacific Association covers Northern California, including the Bay Area, as well as Northern Nevada, and draws national champions and other nationally ranked runners.
The Regional Championship marked the girls’ first foray into such a high level of competition. Despite their relative inexperience, however, they both finished in the top 20 of their races to advance to the Junior Olympics.
Flora, who just turned 13, placed 18th in the youth division’s 4-kilometer race in 16.28 minutes, while Rinne, 12, finished ninth in the 3-kilometer midget division race in 12:23 minutes.
Competing in separate races was a new and welcome experience for the girls. They are accustomed to racing against each other in middle school, where races are organized by grade level rather than age.
Over the past two years of competition they have traded the top spots in most races, while keeping their close friendship in tact. In fact, their friendly rivalry helps to spur each other on.
In the Tah-Neva Championships in Carson City this past October, Flora and Rinne finished first and second, respectively. The Alder Creek Middle School sixth- and seventh-grade girls and boys teams both took home league championship trophies, the best finish in school history.
Not only do the girls look forward to representing the Pacific Region at the Junior Olympics in Reno, they also look forward to the novel opportunity to cheer for each other rather than chase each other.