Kahzi Sealey placed sixth and Ryan Outerbridge 44th in their respective age groups during the AAU Cross Country Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee, last weekend.
Coach Cal Simons had nothing but praise for the seven Bermuda Pacers youngsters who competed in tough conditions.
“The athletes had to run over a very difficult course that was covered in water, very thick mud and temperatures between 50 and 55 degrees,” Simons said. “The five male and two female team were among 1,800 other athletes between the ages of 7 and 18 representing teams from across the United States and Canada.”
Running in the combined 15-16 and 17-18 age groups, Outerbridge placed 44th in a time of 19min 48.17sec and tenth in the 15-16 boys’ 5k event. In the 13-14 boys 4k, Sealey placed sixth in a time of 14:57.81, third in his age group, some 39 seconds behind the winning time of 14:18.69.
In the 11-12 boys 3k, Jace Donawa crossed the line first for Pacers, 15th overall, finishing in 34th in a time of 12:57.7 while Jaelyn Grant finished in 14:10.50, 35th overall. Maximillian Reid finished 116th overall in 16:42.20. Some 240 runners competed in that race.
The final race of the day for the Pacers team was the 9-10 girls’ 3k where, competing against 130 girls, Ellise Dickinson finished in thirteenth in 14:02.70. Jaeda Grant covered the same course in 15:01.8 to place 35th out of a field of 135 runners.
“Unfortunately for Jaeda, the course really hampered her running as she went down three times over the 3k distance,” Simons said. “This event was a great learning experience for the athletes, team of officials and parents. I have never seen anything like that before. In each of the races they had up to 200 runners.”
The event served as preparation for the youngsters ahead of the National Cross Country Championships at Clearwater Beach on Saturday. “They will definitely be ready for the nationals,” Simons added.
The Pacers team plans to attend another one of the AAU meets next year.
Meanwhile, Donna Raynor, the Bermuda National Athletics Association president, is looking forward to some exciting races in the National Cross Country Championships.
“We are so excited, as we will be hosting the event at the Clearwater Beach for the very first time,” Raynor said. “We have been advised that this is a very spectator-friendly course.
“We will also be announcing the winners of the cross country series. We are looking forward to seeing some of our Carifta Games potential athletes competing: Ryan Outerbridge, Ashley Irby, Johndell Cumberbatch, Sancho Smith and, of course, some of our up-and-coming athletes.”
Races start at 8.30am with the under-10, under-12 and under-14s, followed by the older age groups.