White Plains Future Stars have defied their team name by becoming current stars in the AAU National Cross Country Championship in Rock Hill, South Carolina on Dec. 1.
Team members Jonah Gorevic, 9, became a national champion when he placed second in his race and Natalie Weiner, 12, placed ninth in her race.
Gorevic, a Rye Neck FE Bellows student, came in first in the sub-bantam with a time of 10:25.70 and he was second overall with the combined sub-bantam and bantam race. Also he was five seconds off the age group national record. This race is a 3K for this age group. Weiner, a Rye Middle School student, placed ninth out of 82 runners in the sub-midget girls 3K race with a time of 11: 15:61.
Six other WPFS competed in the competition, where five of them beat their personal bests and all made coaches and parents proud.
“As their coach, I would say that these children bring the perfect combination of attributes (incredible talent, focus beyond their years and wonderful teammates) – it is a blessing to have them on the team,” said White Plains Future Stars cross-country coach Carl Curran. “We are very focused now on cultivating their talents while ensuring they continue to love the sport and avoid over-training because they both have what it takes to go a long way in the running.”
Winning a national race and being a part of a team has been a clear inspiration to Gorevic.
“When I was on the podium, I heard everyone cheering for me and my team chanted my name,” Gorevic said. “I had the smallest team there, but the loudest cheer. It was one of the happiest moments in my life.”
Approximately 50 teams and over 1350 athletes competed in the national competition last weekend. Six WPFS teammates who are White Plains residents also competed and cheered each other on.
The team of 11 kids, led by coach Curran and Madge Anderson, trains four times a week. Because many of the kids play other sports, most train and race about three times a week.
The kids enjoy the camaraderie of participating with a team, even though track is an individual sport.
“One thing I love is going to see my track friends and my coaches. They push me to work hard but at the end of the day, the hard work pays off,” Weiner said. “I have the best teammates and coaches. People think running is an individual sport, but if you could hear the way my teammates cheer each other on, you would know we are a team and really care for each other.”
The parents feel as much a part of the team as the children and express deep gratitude for the time and effort the two coaches commit to their children.
“I feel very fortunate to have met such great people through this track experience,” said Natalie’s mom, Ani Weiner. “Not only wonderful coaches, kids, parents and grandparents, but even a local jeweler in Rye (John, from Royal Jewels of Rye), gave Natalie a pair of earrings for good luck. It doesn't get nicer than that.”
Coach Anderson has been training the WPFS for the last 16 years. But Anderson is a sprint coach that had never focused on cross-country events. After meeting Carlin and his daughter Olivia at the track earlier this year, Olivia joined the team and Anderson asked Carlin to coach the distance athletes and develop a program that would prepare them for 2012 cross-country competition season. Carlin, a 10-year veteran of running and triathlons, had never coached youth runners and was happy to participate, he said.
“This core group of kids are a wonderful for a coach – they are dedicated, talented and push each other in a very positive way,” Carlin said. “Even with the modest amount of practice these kids have had, their performances have stood out all season,” he said, adding that he is grateful for Anderson and the support of the parents.
This year, all 11 of WPFS athletes qualified for the AAU National Championships, but only eight decided to participate. At Nationals we had seven of eight athletes reach personal best times, “Jonah was crowned 9-year old National Champion, Natalie broke into the top-10 in the nation in the 11-year old age group and Olivia and Luke finished in the top half of the national qualifier field (33rd and 45th respectively).”
In the sub-midget 3K, Alexis Simmons, 10, placed 66th with a time of 13:30:79 and Adja Tall, 11, placed 79th with a time of 15:90.
The two girls are sprinters, but wanted to do cross country race for a better indoor season, Coach Anderson said.
Out of the 94 competitors in the midget girls race, Olivia Curran, 12, placed 33rd overall with a time of 11:46.94 and Natalie Ferrando, 12, placed 64th with a time of 12:59.79. The midget girls took tenth place as a team, which is excellent since this is there first competing as a team, Andreson said.
Our of 114 competitors in the midget boys race, Luke Ferranado, 12, placed 45th with a time of 11:07.61. Malik Postell, 13, placed 86th in the youth boy race with a time 17: 42.36. Ferranado started running last year and this is Postell’s first season.
Congratulations to all runners who competed in the nationals!
To read a Q & A with Gorevic and Weiner, click here.
To share news about your child’s accomplishments, click here.