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Starkey places at national meet

POLSON— Aja Starkey, a Polson Middle School 8th grade student, represented Montana and the Bozeman Track Club on Dec. 12 at the 2009 United States of America Track and Field (USATF) National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships. The meet was held in Reno, Nev., at Rancho San Rafael Region Park. Aja finished 18th with a time of 16.02. The Bozeman Track Club Team placed second in the meet.

The top 25 girls earned medals at an awards ceremony.

Aja qualified for the race by finishing second at the Montana state meet held in Bozeman on Nov. 7.

The USATF website predicted 55 degree sunny weather for the championships, but instead Aja and 282 other 13 and 14-year-old girls competed in a snowstorm on a hilly, snowpacked and “not-so-snowpacked” 4K course.

“There was about a foot of snow,” Aja said, “and it was snowing a lot.

There was enough snow on the ground that cross country ski classes were going on beside the race course according to Bill Starkey, Aja’s father. 

“The kids were just really resilient,” Bill said, “ and basically tromped down the course.”

Course workers would have had to hand shovel the course to clear it of snow as they weren’t allowed to use mechanical means.

Aja started out running at fun runs about once a year, but then in fifth grade she “got into running a lot.” 

“I want to run cross country in high school,” Aja added. 

Chances are Matt Seeley and the Polson High School Cross Country team will be glad to have her running with them.

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