Saipan International School’s Jude Rayphand and Erica Long of Oleai Elementary School bagged gold medals in the 9U division of the 2021 PSS/NMA Cross Country Championships last Saturday at the old Saipan Country Club golf course behind Saipan Vegas.
Rayphand won the boys 9U 1.3-kilometer run with a time of 5.50. He was followed by Gregorio T. Camacho Elementary School’s Kylee Babauta with Garapan Elementary School’s William Flores coming in third in 6.28.
With Rayphand spearheading the team, SIS took home the perpetual plaque for topping the boys 9U cross country championships. His teammates include Gabriel Walsh, Jake Duenas, Tristan Bertoncini, Philip Seman, and Carver Gross.
Long won the girls 9U 1.3-kilometer run after crossing the finish line in 6.36.67. Brilliant Star School’s Scarlett Burrell was second in 6.53 with SIS’ Windsor Gross completing the Top 3 in 7.03. Gross helped SIS win the team gold medal award along with Leilani Ruszala, Neveah Arriola, and Michelle Im.
Northern Marianas Athletics cross country director Dr. Ron Snyder said this year’s cross country season was an amazing success.
“Despite the added restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 400 athletes were able to compete in our four meets, with 230 runners at the championships. This tremendous feat could not have been possible without the strong leadership of the Public School System and Northern Marianas Athletics as well as the community partnerships with Saipan International School, Run Saipan and Kagman High School,” he said.
Snyder said these partnerships made the races more fun for the students by allowing organizers to spread the courses across the beautiful island on Saipan.
“I hope to see more schools become hosts in the future to increase both the quantity and quality of competitions for athletes in this amazing sport. Having the three preliminary meets as open competitions really allowed us to build a sense of community and team. Team is the hallmark of cross country where individual successes contribute to the overall team score and where any school can strive for first place,” he said.
The Public School System partnered with Northern Marianas Athletics, the governing body of athletics in the CNMI, to organize track and field as well as cross country events in the 2021-22 school year.