Valley Flash Running Club Wins National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships for 15-18 Year Olds | Focus on sports in high school

With legs splashing in mud and spikes of agglomeration to the point of unrecognizable, the Valley Flash runners made their way through the botched landscape of the U.S. National Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in Paris, Ky. On December 11.

The team represented the region well, passing the 15-18 age bracket with 77 points, edging the riders in Prospect Park (Brooklyn, New York) by 10 points and overtaking the field of 12 teams.

No preparation could have prepared the team for what they endured on Saturday.

A day after the deadly and destructive tornado that swept through western Kentucky, the remnants of that storm swept through Bourbon County, causing harsh conditions. Bourbon County Park turned into a mud pit with three to four inches of mud replacing the dirt road.

The goal was to get off to a quick start as head coach Frankie Ferraro knew conditions would limit the amount of ground that could be overtaken during the race.

For 3.1 miles the boys fought together.

“For them to compete and maintain their position in the race, keep fighting other teams, that was, as a coach – you don’t have a lot of opportunities like this, where you just know at the end of the day your team basically, they just dumped it as a team, they ran together, they ran in pairs, they trained, “said Ferraro.” I coached for a for a while it was one of the funniest races to participate in for training as well. ”

The chance to win a national title did not materialize overnight or even on training courses. Valley Flash has gone from a program with four runners four years ago to 65 this year.

For a club team that relies on recruiting to fill its roster, Valley Flash has been successful in attracting runners who already spend the majority of their year running for their schools.

It is not always easy ground.

But as Ferraro says, runners run.

After pushing for state titles during the school year, the runners made a concerted effort to come together for their club and go for the national championship.

They designed personalized jerseys and adopted the team attitude. As the older group began to march forward, the younger groups followed suit.

Running through snowfall, windstorms and rain, Ferraro needed his runners to be able to withstand any element and any condition.

“I know some parents raise their eyebrows,” Ferraro said. “Not after the national championships, (now) they’re like, ‘Oh, we see why you’re running us.’ The only time runners don’t run is if there is lightning. Parents will text me all the time, just checking the weather and practicing. And I answer the same every time: runners run, period.

That mantra led to the national title and six All-Americans in total.

The All-Americans are recognized by being one of the top 25 runners in an age group.

In the 17-18 group, Alex Wright (17: 40.11) was fifth, Ethan Sheneman (17: 44.30) sixth, James Tanner (17: 52.17) eighth and Kellen Souza (18:24, 73) 17th were All-Americans.

Jacob Nicholls in the 15-16 age group finished 17th with a time of 18: 27.12.

And among 8 and under: Danny Hughes, eight, also won an All-American award.

But the 15-18 title wasn’t won on the backs of the All-Americans alone, as the eight-boy team all had to perform well for the title to come to Spokane.

Giovanni Ferraro (19: 01.18), Landon Stafford (19: 09.55) and Colin Wright (19: 41.30) completed the squad.

Giovanni had to stay in front of his field as his father pushed him the last 800 meters and Stafford and Wright had to settle in front of the New England Elite Track Club.

After the release of the unofficial results showing Valley Flash atop the podium, the team went wild and just started cheering.

Even though work was done on the course, Valley Flash still had work to do in the mud.

“Everyone was stuck (trying to leave),” Ferraro said. “I told the boys that they left their crampons on and just rushed to the parking lot after winning the national championship, pushing the cars to free themselves. It was so cool. They came to get their prize, but there was a car that got stuck and they jumped out of the line and started pushing that car to get them out. It’s just a good bunch of guys.