On a very cold, windy day on Saturday, December 14, 2019, ten Lake Tahoe Track Club athletes competed at the USATF Cross country Jr. Olympics at Yahara Hills Golf Club in Madison, Wisconsin.

In below freezing temperatures ten determined LTTC athletes competed hard and represented our club extremely well. These ten athletes progressed to the National meet after qualifying through the Region 14 qualifiers at Woodward Park, CA, in pouring rain and flooded fields/trails.

Our club was led by 15-18 athlete Niklas Pietzke. Niklas was the top qualifier for his age from our region and he carried that good form to Wisconsin. Niklas finished 15th out of 171 athletes, earning recognition as an All-American for his age at the meet. Jimmy Cleary also ran well in this division finishing 115th overall.

The 13-14 runners were greeted in their boys division with the largest race of the meet. With 380 boys starting the race. Brendan Pietzke ran his best race of the season in tough conditions to finish 58th. Luke Davis and Luc Casini also both had great runs to finish 169th and 170th respectively.

We had three girls qualify for the National meet. The frozen conditions had a clear impact on all three of our girls and they found it tough to adapt to the low temps and freezing cold wind. However, they still raced hard and gave their all. Madeleine Patrick finished 268th out of 317 runners in the 11-12 girls division. Shelby Erikson was our best placed girl in the 9-10 division finishing 190th out of 241 runners. Lily Cooper was not far behind Shelby with a 215th placed finish.

Our two youngest runners, braving the harsh condition, ran extremely well. Brooks Erikson, running in his first National meet, had a fantastic race and finished 65th out of 190 runners in the boys 7-8 division. His teammate, Miles Cooper, raced hard and finished 164th in his first National meet too.

Coach Kris Nugent shared, “Throughout a lifetime of running and coaching it’s fair to say that these was the toughest conditions I’ve experienced at a meet, with low temperatures, bitterly cold winds, and frozen ground. I’m so proud of our club athletes for their commitment to fly across the country and represent themselves, and our club, so well. They raced hard.” Kris added, “I also want to give a shout out to all of our XC runners this season. We were unlucky not to have more athletes at Nationals, as they just missed qualify at the Woodward meet in the driving rain! It’s been a great season and I look forward to the upcoming summer on the track”.