A contingent of 26 Godspeed Wings team members will run today in Carrollton, Ga., at the USA Track and Field Junior Olympic Cross Country National Championships.
The Godspeed Wings range from 10 to 18 years old and represent the Carson City, Douglas County, Lake Tahoe and Elko.
The Youth Boys team of Trevor Birba, Tyler Bourns, Martin Cerceo, Kyle Conroy, Ian Rice and Chad Shroy won the team title at the Region 14 championships three weeks ago in Pleasanton, Calif., but will be without key runner Justin Grant.
The Midget Boys team that took first in both the Pacific and region meets hopes to finish in the top five teams today. The team consists of Travis Airola, second at regionals; Patrick Reilly, fourth at regionals; Spencer Brinson, David King, Brendan Rice, Richard Shroy and Patrick Van Epps.
The Youth Girls team of Christa Casci, Tiffany Halen, Kelsey McClurg, Lauren Riersgard, and Taylor Stokes finished fifth at the regional meet and are looking to crack the top 10 today.
"They will have to race to the very best of their ability because the youth age group is very competitive," coach Penny Sparks said. "The very best in their age group will be there from all over the nation."
The Intermediate Girls team that placed second at both the Pacific regional meets will only have two of its original five: first-time national qualifier Britney Almaguer of Elko and Annie Brinson, who is coming back after breaking her arm in late October. Three-time All-American Sheena Bonaldi is out with a sacroiliac injury.
The Godspeed Wings will have one entry in both the Young Women and Men's categories: South Tahoe High senior Hudson Wilvers and Douglas senior Taryn Joyce-Mendive will be vying for her second All-American award.
"Taryn should be one of the top young women competing," Sparks said of Joyce-Mendive, who has verbally committed to Lewis-Clark State College. "She has been training very hard since the high school cross country season ended and I feel she is ready to finish in the top 10 if she has a good race."
Anthony Stewart will compete in the Intermediate Boys race along with Ryan Woltz, both first-time Junior Olympic national qualifiers. Also running are Alli Collier and Katerina Von Rumpf, who placed third and fourth respectively in the regional Midget Girls age group.
Carson High senior Shanna Sparks will miss the trip to nationals after being diagnosed with a chronic infection this week. Sparks came down with strep throat 10 days before the Western Region Foot Locker Championships last Saturday, where she finished 25th in the elite girls race.
"It was very unfortunate that her last high school cross-country race was burdened by illness, however, as a coach I was very impressed with her performance," coach Sparks said. "She showed a lot of mental toughness and strength to overcome her handicaps."