U.S. Junior Mountain Running Team selected to compete at World Championships in Bulgaria

COLORADO SPRINGS, CO – Looking to capitalize on outstanding performances resulting in medal-winning success, USATF’s Mountain Ultra Trail executive committee has selected some of the nation’s top junior cross country, track, mountain and trail runners to compete at the World Mountain Running Championships in Bulgaria this September. Junior athletes, ranging in age from 16 to 19, from California, Colorado, Utah, and North Carolina will be toeing the line for Team USA

“The Junior Teams have won medals the last three years at the World Championships. We continue to see more student athletes of a high caliber for our team,” noted Paul Kirsch, Team Manager of the Junior Mountain Running Team. “Word has gotten out that this is a great opportunity for a junior athlete to represent their country. It’s is great to have the support of more and more coaches who really see the value in providing their athletes the chance to compete in a World Championship event.”

“The junior team has been an important development program for the U.S. Mountain Running Team since 2002. After reviewing over close to 50 applications I’m confident this most recent crop of young runners is the strongest we’ve ever brought to the world championships. I’m excited to watch them race in Bulgaria and think they have an excellent chance to win both team and individual medals,” said Richard Bolt, Team Leader for the U.S. Mountain Running Team.

The teams will be competing on Sunday, September 11, in Sapareva Banya, Bulgaria, at the 32nd World Mountain Running Championships along with the senior men’s and women’s squads which were selected two weeks ago at the U.S. Mountain Running Championships in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Unlike the men and women who compete in a qualifier race, the junior squads are selected by running resume and letters of recommendation, acknowledging the challenge of high school athletes’ ability to travel to a mountain running championship event. Juniors selected for the team must be between the ages of 16 and 19 of the competition year.

The world mountain running championships alternates between uphill only courses and up/down courses every other year. This year’s course in Bulgaria is an uphill course with the junior women competing in a 3.6 kilometer race with 531 meters of elevation gain, while the junior men will compete in a 7.3 kilometer event with 773 meters of elevation gain.

This year’s U.S. Junior Team includes:

Junior Women

Soleil Gaylord, 16, Telluride, CO

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Soleil goes to Telluride High School and is the youngest member of our Junior Squad. She has a 5km cross country PR of 18:50 and 5:15 1600 meter track personal best. She was the top under-20 runner at the 2014 Black Canyon Ascent. Soleil also excels in snowshoe running, being a member of the 2016 US Snowshoe team with her top Junior time at Nationals.

Claire Graves, 18, Highland, CA

A student at Citrus Valley High School in California, Claire was a member of the 2016 USA Junior Cross Country Team that competed at the Pan American Cross Country Championships in Venezuela. She has a 5km Cross Country PR of 17:36 and was also 4th place at the USATF Junior Cross Country Championships in Bend, OR. Claire was also a Foot Locker Cross Country All American.

Sarah Hamon, 19, Wilmington, NC

Sarah runs Cross Country and Track for UNC-Wilmington and has a 5K Cross Country PR of 17:58. She is from Cary, North Carolina and was All State in Cross Country in High School and voted MVP of her college team in 2015.

Julia Jaschke, 18, Greenwood Village, CO

Photo credit: Martina Valmassoi

Photo credit: Martina Valmassoi

Julia was selected for the Salomon Running Academy in 2016 and attended the training camp in Garmisch, Germany. She finished 9th at Nike Regionals in Arizona and earned a national elite ranking. Julia also placed first in her age division at the Mount Evans Ascent. She has a 5km cross country PR of 18:49 and a 1600 PR of 5:22. She will be attending Middlebury College in Vermont this Fall and running for their cross country team.

Junior Men

Joseph Benson, 17, Orem, UT

Joe attends Timpanogos High School in Orem, Utah and has a 5km cross country personal best of 14:55 and a 1600 meter track personal best of 4:20. Joe was 4th at the state cross country championships in 2015 and 16th at Nike Cross Country Nationals.

Ben Butler, 19, Highland Ranch, CO

Ben finished 9th at the World Mountain Running Championships last year in Wales and is the only returning junior team member. Ben was also a member of 2016 US Team that competed at the 2016 Pan American Cross Country Championships in Venezuela. Ben was the 2014 and 2015 Colorado 3A Cross Country State Champion. He finished 23rd at Nike Cross Country Nationals and has a personal best of 14:56 in the 5k and a 4:18 1600 meter track time at altitude.

Eduardo Herrera, 19, Madera, CA

Eduardo is finishing up his senior year at Madera South High School and has a 4:04.99 personal best in the mile as well as being 5th at Nike Cross Country Nationals in 2016. His 5km cross country PR is 14:49 and spends some of his training time in Mammoth Lakes, CA. He will be attending the University of Colorado in the Fall where he will be on their cross country team.

Phillip Rocha, 18, Azusa, CA

Philip has the fastest 5k cross country PR on the team with a 14:32 and a 3200 track PR of 8:59.42. He was the top junior for the US at the BUPA Great Edinburgh Cross Country Challenge in Scotland and was also 2nd overall at Footlocker Cross Country Nationals. Phillip has also been a three-time USATF cross country champion. He will also be attending the University of Colorado in the Fall and competing for the Buffaloes as part of the cross country squad.

The juniors will join the senior men’s and women’s teams that include: Ladia Albertson-Junkans, 30, Seattle, WA, Addie Bracy, 29, Longmont, CO, Kim Nedeau, 36, Leverett, MA Bethany Sachtleben, 24, Manassas, VA, Matt Daniels, 28, Evergreen, CO, David Fuentes, 29, Austin, TX, Joe Gray, 32, Colorado Springs, CO, Brett Hales, 29, Layton, UT, Hayden Hawkes, 25, Cedar City, UT, and Andy Wacker, 27, Boulder, CO.  Read more about our senior team here.

This is an official USATF team that receives partial funding for the trip to Bulgaria. We encourage donations to help offset travel for our junior team members. Interested supporters can donate via our usmrt.com website (via PayPal), or send a check to the fundraising arm for the team, the American Trail Running Association, PO box 9454, Colorado Springs, CO 80932, and make a notation that the funds are for the U.S. Mountain Running Team.

To learn more about the U.S. Mountain Running Team, you can follow them on social media at any of the following links:
Web: www.usmrt.com
Twitter: @usmrt
Facebook: usatfmut
Google+: +USMountainRunningTeam
USA Track and Field Official Website: www.usatf.org
To learn more about this year’s World Championships, go to http://saparevabanya2016.info