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Country School runners Laila Goodman, Keve Frusztajer, and brothers Connor and Sam Duffy earned the honor of representing their school, Litchfield Track Club, and Connecticut at the Junior Olympics Cross Country National Championships on Saturday, December 8, with 2nd Grader Goodman making history by becoming All-America.
Taking place this year in Reno, Nevada, the Junior Olympics attracts the fastest young people from all 50 states. With these four runners qualifying for Nationals, Country School has now sent more runners over the last six years to the Connecticut Junior Olympics (92), the Region 1 Junior Olympics (79) and the National Junior Olympics (19) than any other school in Connecticut.
Racing first, at 9:00 a.m. with snow on the ground, Laila Goodman took 8th overall out of 712 runners who tried out for Reno. After the opening 400 meter uphill, Laila was in 26th place and then steadily ran down her competition over the 2000 meter race course, sprinting hard at the end to defend her hard-fought position as a young 7 year old in the 8 & Under race. All America status is finishing in the top 25 in the United States, and Laila becomes the 2nd Country School runner to achieve that, after alumnus Robbie Cozean achieved that three times. Cozean has gone onto National status as a high school runner at Xavier, also achieving High Honors academically.
Next up for The Country School boys’ was Keve Frusztajer, who flashed across the finish line 86th out of 634 runners who tried out to compete in Reno in the 8 & Under race. This was the second time Keve had qualified to compete at the National Junior Olympics, an outstanding accomplishment for such a young runner. Keve’s strong finish is even more impressive when the 4200 foot elevation is considered.
Connor Duffy also qualified impressively--for the fourth time!--to compete in the Nationals in the 8 & Under competition but got spiked accidentally early in the race by another runner's cleated shoes and had to receive medical attention. Having finished 3rd overall in Connecticut during qualifying, Connor will no doubt be back for more top racing against the nation’s fastest runners.
The Country School's racing concluded with Sam Duffy taking 164th place out of the 279 runners in the 9-10 division race among the 1090 athletes who tried to qualify to compete in Reno. By the time of Sam's race, the course was slushy and muddy and the terrain was slippery. Sam, a veteran of three National Cross Country Championships, knew how to hold his ground with ⅜” spikes and compete against the fastest runners his age in the United States.