Contributed photo/Angela Hanson
Athletics East Running Club participants, pictured from left to right, Dillon Dorado, Michael Lantz, Sam Alvarez, Riley Parker, Chloe Cook, Jordyn Murphy (Pendleton), Kallyn Wilkins (Condon) and Emily Johnson recently competed at the USATF Regional Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships Saturday at Woodland Zoo Park in Seattle, Wash., with the trio of Dorado, Lantz and Alvarez each finishing within the top 30 to qualify for nationals, which is slated for Saturday, Dec. 9 at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Fla.
Facing off against a group of 37 competitive runners in the 15-to-18-year old classification, The Dalles trio of Sam Alvarez, Michael Lantz and Dillon Dorado qualified to participate in the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships after standout regional performances this past Saturday at Woodland Zoo Park in Seattle, Wash.
In order to qualify for nationals, slated for Saturday, Dec. 9 at Apalachee Regional Park in Tallahassee, Fla., Alvarez, Lantz and Dorado needed to wrap up final times in the top 30.
Alvarez scored 13th place in the field with his mark of 17 minutes and 55 seconds, Lantz added an 18:01 for 15th place, and Dorado hit for a 19:01 to claim 25th in the standings.
Running against tough competitors from all over the state, then the region, which includes Oregon, Washington, Northern Idaho and Alaska, the Athletics East program, through Junior Olympics, gives these athletes an entirely different platform to really expand their craft.
“Now these three representatives of Athletics East and The Dalles get the amazing opportunity to compete against runners from coast-to-coast,” said volunteer parent Angela Hanson. “It’s not something everyone is able accomplish and is an outstanding honor, bringing pride to our amazing high school coaches, our Athletics East coach and the entire community of The Dalles.”
The Woodland Park Zoo Course is considered the toughest course that any of the athletes have encountered this year, and a combined group of 704 runners, spanning 28 teams, were able to give it their best to see where they stood.
Although none of the female runners qualified for nationals, they will be a year older and wiser during the 2018 fall season.
The team’s lone runner in the 11-to-12-year old 3,000-meter race, Riley Parker, of The Dalles, put up an impressive 13:49 in her final race of the season.
In the 13-to-14-year old division, TD’s Chloe Cook had the best time with a mark of 17:08.
Jordyn Murphy, of Pendleton, crossed the finish line in 17:16, Condon’s Kallyn Wilkins motored home with a 17:41, and Emily Johnson, of The Dalles, turned in a respectable 18:33.
“We had new, first-time additions, and some returning veterans to the girls’ team, with ages ranging from sixth grade to freshmen in high school,” Hanson said. “Running in the new, exciting arena will allow them to grow and advance their sport in the years to come. They all ran extremely tough and should be very proud of their individual performances.”
Alvarez, Lantz and Dorado have 18 calendar days to prepare for the USATF National Championships.
A fundraiser through www.gofundme.com has been set up to help pay for plane fare, lodging and entry fees.
In his first year running, Alvarez was top-3 in the Columbia River Conference and won all-league honors, a state qualification and team awards, as well as The Dalles High School’s Athlete of the Month.
During his Junior Olympic slate, Alvarez is the leading runner of the boys’ 15-to-16-year old division.
“When Sam was young, he always dreamed of becoming a professional athlete and nothing would stop him from achieving that,” said Soledad Alvarez, Sam’s mother. “As he grew older, he tried playing many sports and liked a lot of them, but it wasn’t until he got into high school and soon discovered a new-found passion for running. When his coach expressed to him that he could be one of the best runners in the Dalles, he took notice and began training to compete and constantly break records.”
Mrs. Alvarez said that her son comes from a family that knows that nothing is free in life and that cherishing everything you accomplish is an essential part of life.
“He has worked very hard for everything he’s ever achieved and needs all the support he can get,” Mrs. Alvarez said. “I am asking that people can please help Sam get to Florida, so he can represent The Dalles.”
To help Alvarez, Lantz and Dorado make this trip, donors can log on to https://www.gofundme.com/supportthedalles.