Ramos, Johnson ready or Junior Nationals
Lake Tahoe Track Club members Amber Ramos and Ben Johnson will conclude their seasons this weekend at the USA National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships in Portland, Ore.
Ramos, running in the midget (age 10-11) girls division and Johnson, youth boys (11-12), qualified for the championships by finishing ninth and 11th, respectively, at the Region 14 meet on Nov. 23 in Pleasanton, Calif.
“This is quite an accomplishment, going to the junior national meet,” said Track Club coach Anthony Davis. “The club is set up to take runners to the next level. I’m very excited for Amber and Ben.”
Ramos, a national star in three sports at the tender age of 11, said her first-ever season of competitive running has been a great way to continue her pusuit of becoming well-rounded athlete.
“So far it’s going really well. These workouts have been so much harder than the middle school. But it’s about coming up to a different level and competing against people who are serious about running and have goals,” said Ramos, a South Tahoe Middle School sixth-grader who was recently featured for her mountain biking prowess on CBS’s “Sports Illustrated for Kids” television show. “Running comes easy to me because I know pain and I know what it’s like to be on a starting line with a bunch of people.”
But Ramos said her busy schedule is all worth it.
“We live in Lake Tahoe. We have mountains to run, mountains to ski, mountains to bike. You’ve got to take advantage of it.”
Johnson is making a return trip to the junior nationals. Competing in the midget boys division last year in Kentucky, the then 12-year-old was “overwhelmed” by the experience and posted an 81st place. But the Kingsbury Middle School eight-grader, now 13, said he’s mentally prepared for the rigors of a national competition.
“Last year I was in shock at the start with all of the people. There was more than 300 runners. I’d never seen anything quite like that before,” said Johnson, who finished second in the Tah-Neva league championships during the middle school season and just five seconds out of fifth place in the highly competitive Region 14 meet. “Competition was really tight at Region 14 and I expect it’ll be the same this weekend. I think I can do a lot better. I’m ready for it.”
While Davis doesn’t subscribe to prediction-making for his young athletes, the prospect of a top-25 finish and the all-american status that accompanies it has the coach pushing his runners to compete at their highest levels.
“They’ve trained hard. Our major concern is they have to get out fast, not sit around and expect to catch up and be in at least the top 50 by the time the course narrows,” he said. “The expectations for both runners are very high. They both have experience competing at the national level. I expect them to do very well. I’m probably more nervous than they are.”
Ramos will run first at 11 a.m. in the 3,00 meter event, followed by Johnson at 12:30 p.m. in the 4,000. All races will take place in Blue Lake Park in Portland.
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