After a successful 2018 cross-country season, Isaiah Labra and Stefen Rasmuson were selected by the Mesa coaching staff to participate at the USA National Junior Cross-Country Championships held in Tallahassee, Florida. The USA National Junior (U20) Cross Country Championship serves as the qualifier for the World Junior Cross-Country Championships and any other international events. Labra and Rasmuson were selected because of their commitment to education and athletics. Both athletes embody the legacy of the Mesa cross-country and track and field program.
“This was a game changing experience for Isaiah and Stefen,” states head coach Sean Ricketts. “They now bring back the knowledge and the expectations needed to be successful not only at the four-year college level, but also at the elite level. Our hope is that they share their experience to the rest of the team for the upcoming season.”
In addition to competing against the top runners in the nation, the trip also provided exposure for both Isaiah and Stefen. The coaching staff was able to introduce both runners to top division I coaches to learn about opportunities at their schools. One of the highlights of the trip was having the opportunity to tour the Florida State Athletic facilities.
Stefen finished in 19th place at 25:34 and Isaiah in 30th place with a 26:23 time in the 8K distance.
“The trip to Junior Nationals was a huge learning experience for me,” states Rasmuson. “It gave me a glimpse of where I need to be in order to compete at the highest level. The race was a huge confidence booster after setting a personal record during the 8-kilometer race. I am thankful for this opportunity.”
“The USATF junior national race was a necessary learning experience for me,” states Labra. The trip in and of itself really taught me that San Diego Mesa College has brought many opportunities that are uncommon of the average community college student. Competing against other four-year university athletes is something that most community colleges will not get the chance to do. We are truly being set up to transfer and go on to do great things here at Mesa. I'm very excited to carry this knowledge and experience into my future seasons of running.”