Five athletes from Colorado and one from New Mexico comprise this year’s squad
This year marks the 14th edition of the WMRA International U18 Mountain Running Youth Cup, and the third consecutive year that Team USA will have a full squad at the event. Held in Susa, a mountain village in the Piedmont region of Italy known for its roman monuments and proximity to Via Lattea in the Italian Alps, is the host venue for the competition scheduled for Saturday, August 24, 2019. The event is organized by Atletica Susa, the same organization that hosted the 2016 World Masters Mountain Running Championships and the Stellina Mountain Race, now in its 29th year.
The approximately 5-kilometer course will start and finish in the village under a memorial archway and include pavement, cobblestone, single track mountain paths with steep ascents and fast descents. Competitors must be 16 or 17 in the year of competition, and the top three finishers per country will score for the team results.
Introducing the 2019 USATF U18 Mountain Running Team
Girls: (age listed is the age at the end of 2019)
Samantha Blair, 16, Eagle, CO. Attends Eagle Valley High School. PRs include 300 hurdles: 46.04 (2019 Colorado State Championships), 400m: 58.43 (2019 Multi League Championships Grand Junction, CO), 800m: 2:11.65 (2019 Greensboro, NC), 1600m: 4:58.18 (2019 Kansas Relays), 5K cross country -17:36.30 (2018 Liberty Bell Cross Country Invitational), 5000m: 17:49 (2018 Desert Twilight, AZ). “I am very honored and super excited to be selected to be part of team USA. I think this will be an amazing experience and great opportunity. I can’t wait to go to Italy and experience all the different languages and cultures, and mostly get to run in another continent!”
Madeleine Burns, 17, Durango, CO. Attends Durango High School. PRs include 800m: 2:19 (2018 Great Southwest Outdoor Classic; Albuquerque, NM); 1600m: 5:00 (2019 Colorado State Track and Field Championships; Lakewood, CO); Mile: 4:55 (2019 Festival of Miles; St. Louis, MO); 3200m: 10:36 (2019 Chandler Rotary Invitational; Chandler, AZ); 5000m (cross country): 17:52 (2017 Desert Twilight XC Festival; Casa Grande, AZ). “It’s a huge honor to be selected to represent Team USA in Italy. I’ve put a lot of hard work into running and I can’t imagine anything that shows it paying off more than this. I’m very excited to represent Team USA in the best way possible in August. In Italy, I’m looking forward to exploring the trails in a new, beautiful place, as well as the opportunity to compete against international talent. I’m also looking forward to the team aspect – I’m excited to take on this race with such a competitive, fast group of runners from the USA.”
Maggi Congdon, 17, Steamboat Springs, CO. Attends Steamboat Springs High School. PRs include – 400m: 58.14 (2019 Multi League Championship Meet), 800m: 2:13.35 (2019 Colorado State Track and Field Championships – 4A State Runner Up); 1600m: 4:59.62 (2019 Stanford Invitational). She was the 1600m and 800m 3A state champion in 2018, and her team placed 2nd in 3A at the 2017 Cross Country Championships. She finished third at the 2018 National High School Trail Running Championships and raced to an 18:01 in the 5000m at the 2018 Nike SW Regional Cross Country. “I have always had a passion for running, especially trail running, and living in in Steamboat Springs, I have a very wide access to a variety of amazing trail networks. I love racing on technical courses, and trails always provide new challenges. Being selected to represent team USA in Italy is such an honor, and also an experience that I am so excited to partake in. I have always wanted to travel to Europe, and being able to race there as well is something I never imagined happening! I cannot wait to meet new people, see new places and compete with my teammates for USA”
James Gregory, 17, Fort Collins, CO. Attends Fort Collins High School. PRs include, at altitude, 5K cross country 15:48 at Liberty Bell; 15:39 at Nike Cross Regionals; 3200m: 9:42 (altitude); 1600m: 4:30.5 (altitude); 800m: 2:07 (altitude). He finished 16th at 2018 Colorado 5A State Championships and is a 3-year varsity letter winner and the two-time reigning champion of the National High School Trail Running Championships. “I have always considered running trails to be my passion and where I feel most comfortable as a runner. I am unimaginably excited and grateful to represent the US in Italy.”
William Ledden, 17, Lafayette, CO. Attends Peak to Peak Charter High School. PRs (all set at altitude) include 1600m: 4:30 (May, 2019); 3200m: 9:46 (May, 2019), 5k: 15:59 (September, 2018); and 10k: 35:56 (May, 2018). “I have always dreamed of being able to represent my country and I never thought that I would get this opportunity to do so in my favorite sport. It is truly incredible and I am really looking forward to being able to race people from all over the world that share the same love of running that I do.”
Rafael Sanchez, 16, Los Alamos, NM. Attends Los Alamos High School. PRs: 15:43 for 5K; 800m: 2:05.66; 1600m: 4:36.84; and 3200m 9:45.85. He was a member of the 2018 Los Alamos High School Cross Country New Mexico State Champion Team finishing second. He won the 2018 Nike Southwest Regional Medium Sized School Division and raced to a 15:43 for 5000M at the 2018 Nike SW Regional Cross Country. He holds top 10 individual cross country finishes in 24 of 26 varsity level events since 8th grade with 18 finishes under 16:45 and 3 finishes under 16 minutes. “I feel like my hometown of Los Alamos, New Mexico, has prepared me very well for mountain running. I am honored to represent Team USA in Italy, and am prepared to do my very best.”
Nancy Hobbs, Colorado Springs, CO, has been on the team staff for the U18 championships each year USA has sent athletes (2015, 2017, 2018). “Providing this opportunity to such a talented pool of athletes is so very rewarding and I look forward to our team’s performance in Italy. These young men and women will get exposure to international competition and realize memories that will last a lifetime.”
Mark Weeks, Colorado Springs, CO, will serve on his third consecutive team staff for the U18 championships. “The USA teams at this event get more competitive with each passing year. I believe we enter this year’s competition with the best and deepest representation yet. In my third year of attending this competition, I’m anxious to see how team USA will stack up against the world’s best youth.”
Last year, Team USA finished in bronze-medal position for the girls, led by Joslin Blair with an individual gold medal, and in seventh for the boys. In 2017, Team USA was fifth in the girls’ competition and seventh for the boys. In 2014, Team USA was represented by one athlete, Cameron Moore, who finished 43rd among the boys.