Cassia Roth of Carson High School and the Silver State Striders will try to continue what has evolved into a successful year when she runs at the USA Track & Field Junior Olympic National Championships this week in Omaha, Neb.
The meet began Monday at Harry A. Burke (H.S.) Stadium, showcasing more than 6,500 young athletes.
Roth, 16, will run the 3,000 meters on Thursday and then come back to run in the 1,500 trials on Friday. If she qualifies, the 1,500 finals are scheduled for Sunday.
"I'm really looking forward to this," Roth said. "I'm really excited; I've been training hard all summer, so I'm ready."
Roth is coming off her best race ever at the junior nationals last month in Palo Alto, Calif., where she 9 minutes, 58.05 seconds to finish 12th in the 3,000 -- a race won by Stanford standout Sara Bei (9:32.98).
"It was shocking, actually," Roth said. "I didn't realize I could do that well. Just to be around those athletes -- I was warming up with the professionals -- and there were college runners in the same race I was in. It was just amazing."
The junior national meet was held in conjunction with the USA Track and Field National Championships. For example, 2000 U.S. Olympian Marla Runyan won the women's 5,000 meters just one hour before Roth ran her race.
Incidentally, Roth's time at Stanford was only four seconds slower than the Junior Olympic meet intermediate division (15-16 year olds) record. She is aware of that record, but the main objective on Thursday will be to compete.
"I would like to run around 10 minutes, but I'm not really looking at the time as much," Roth said. "I'm going to race the race."
She hopes to contend for a gold medal against a quality field that will also include Silver State Striders teammate Collier Lawrence. Lawrence won the Nevada high school 4A state meet 3,200 meters race back in May, a race in which Roth finished fourth (11:24.97).
"I had a pretty good high school season, but not what I wanted," Roth said. "I've pretty much been training by myself this season, but Dave (Marson, Silver State Striders) is a great coach. He knows my running style and he knows my strengths; I don't think I could have done all this without him."
The Junior Olympic National Championships attract nearly 7,000 competitors and 9,000 total entries each year. Competition age divisions and corresponding birth years for Junior Olympics are as follows: bantam (1992-later), midget (1990-1991), youth (1988-1989), intermediate (1986-1987), and young men/women (1984-1985).