by lisa perkins
KINGSLEY — Long hours and miles of training runs have paid off for members of the K-Town Striders cross country team.
Each of the 12 runners, ages 9-14, has qualified for the 2010 USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships to be held Dec. 11 in Hoover, Ala. Some 3,000 young athletes are expected to participate.
"This is just our second year in competition, and they have all qualified. I am very proud," said Jolie King, coach of the group made up of Kingsley-area school students.
The runners qualified for the national event by competing in the Michigan champions in Northville and the Region 5 Championship held in Charleston, W. Va., on Nov. 20. Many of the athletes also participated in their school's cross country team.
"I thought the championship in Reno was a lot of fun last year, but I'm hoping to have a better finish this year," said Katelyn Duffing, 9, who placed 87th in the National Championship last year in Reno, Nev., and is shooting for a top 35 finish this year. Duffing finished third at the state meet and fourth in the regional meet with a personal best time of 13:20 over the 3K course.
"We have had a lot of support from the parents of the athletes as well as the community," said King, noting that the K-Town Striders are still short of their fundraising goal to help cover the cost of the national championship trip.
The team plans two fundrising events this week:
n A chili dinner will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, at Kingsley High School. The cost is $5 per person or $20 per family.
n The Striders will offer baby-sitting for busy Christmas shoppers from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at the Kingsley Middle School.
Children will be supervised by members of the K-Town Striders and their parents. Activities for children include arts and crafts, games, basketball or tumbling, and a movie. Parents should send their child with a sack lunch. Pre-registration is required.
Parents may register by calling 263-5261, ext. 3336, or by e-mail at email@example.com. The cost is $10 per child, or $25 per family of three or more children.