Whiz Kids: London Claxton, Nolan Defreitas, Nina Acevedo, Lauryn Aviles, Chelsea Ogindo, Kunal Shah
Schools: Oakside Elementary, St. Columbanus School, Lakeland Copper Beech Middle School, Peekskill Middle School and Lakeland High School
Accomplishment: These promising young athletes recently qualified to compete in the 2011 USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships taking place in December.
Key to Awesomeness: The six distance runners who all hail from Peekskill and Cortlandt, will travel to South Carolina for a December 10 meet—continuing to demonstrate their talents by facing off against over two hundred of the country’s young track and field elite. The top 25 runners will take home an “All-American” title.
Ted Bitter, coach of the Westchester Striders Club where Chelsea Ogino, London Claxton and Kunal Shah are all members, says he is impressed not only with the students’ athletic abilities but also their attitude. “The discipline of these kids—and their desire, determination and dedication will serve them well throughout life,” he said.
Along with the New York Starz Track Club where Nolan Defreitas Lauryn Aviles and Nina Acevedo practice, the Westchester Striders Club provides young athletes ages 7-18 with a formal program in which to train and compete, explains Bitter.
“Our track and field clubs are like feeder programs to the upper grades” he said. “I am confident that these runners will go on to compete in high school and in college.”
Twelve year-old Aviles, says it feels great to know that all her hard work is paying off.
“Running teaches you to never give up: you may fall a few times, but in the end when you're holding up the medal that you won, you feel as if nothing in the world can bring you down,” she said.