Runners from around the area and the state gathered on a brisk Sunday morning to be a part of the AAU Cross Country meet at Sunset Hill Farm, one of many great places that is facilitated by Porter County Parks and Recreation. Six different age groups participated, starting at the age of eight all the way up to 18. Those age groups then ran either a 2K, 3K, 4K, or 5K around the large grass and wooded area provided. The qualifiers from this meet will go on to run in the AAU Athletics’ National Championships that takes place in Georgia at the end of the year.
The first race of the morning was the eight year old’s 2K run, a short but no less tiring run. After that the nine and ten year olds ran in a 3K, and soon after the eleven and twelve year olds ran the same distance. Thirteen and fourteen aged girls and boys ran in a 4K before the fifteen and sixteen age group amped it up to a 5K run.
Carl Frey, who ran in the the thirteen and fourteen age division, conquered a personal best and said that, “This is my fifth championship race today but it’s probably my best ever time in this group. It’s a pretty serious sport for me so I train a lot to be able to compete in events like this and to keep doing better.”
Jasmine Reyeses who also ran in the 4K strived for the best she could do, “I think I’ll do pretty good today. I’ve got the boys with me who will keep pushing me on and I’ve been running a lot more since the last time I was here a couple years ago.”
To close up the day the final age group of seventeen and eighteen ran one final 5K.
Largely represented at the event were the Calumet Region Striders which comprised of students mainly from Lake and Porter County. Sue Brown Nickerson, the head coach of the Porter county region of the Calumet Striders and who also founded the junior Strider program, was very proud of how her team did today.
She explained that “There were a lot of personal bests today, which is what we strive for. A lot of the kids today ran their first race, so it measures progress from now on. Our veterans, though, will now be training for our next event in Louisville, Kentucky and the nationals coming up.”
All of the kids who ran for the Striders also were able to qualify for the national AAU Championships. She also made the point to thank all of the volunteers of students from various high schools who made it out to help with the event
“Their season is done so it was great to see them volunteering because these kids really look up to these older kids and I think that’s great that the kids are here. We need a lot of volunteers because it’s a large course, a lot of distances - it was really awesome to see them come out,” Nickerson said.
That statement did hold true for the day. Parents, volunteers and the kids made the AAU Cross Country meet a very successful one. There is only Nationals to go from here, and from the looks of the turn out today it will be a great triumph for Northwest Indiana.