Showing savvy and athleticism well beyond her years, 11-year-old Oakdale resident and Fair Oaks sixth grader Sara Stevens sped to a fantastic leg of the 3200-meter relay and joined three other Central Valley runners in championship honors at the 2010 USA Track and Field National Junior Olympic Championships.
The event, which began July 27, was held at Hughes Stadium at Sacramento City College.
Stevens, representing the second of four two-lap legs in the relay, helped the team win Section 2 and advance to the event finals on July 28.
In the finals, Stevens took a baton pass from Turlock’s Kiana Clay and watched Waterford twins Meagan and Nicole Warwick take the baton to a 9 minute, 53.73 finish for the national title.
It was especially impressive, considering Stevens was sidelined after an ankle injury just three weeks before Junior Olympic qualifying. She healed early enough to help her team qualify and fought through the injury to join three others on the gold medal podium.
“I was really happy we won because that was the first time the Junior Olympic Nationals had been in California,” Stevens said. “It was so much fun to win.”
The four runners compete on the highly respected, Modesto-based Central California Roadrunners. Nicole Warwick also won a national title in the 800 later in the venue’s schedule.
“I really enjoy running with all the girls and seeing other teams to compete against,” Stevens said. “I am excited for when I get to go to high school and see new coaches and try out different races.
“I just love to run.”