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Middle school and high school runners set for BAA invitationals

Posted by Zolan Kanno-Youngs  April 12, 2013 04:54 PM

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While the elite runners and professionals are looking forward to Marathon Monday, middle school and high school track athletes have Sunday’s Boston Athletic Association Scholastic Invitational Mile.

“It’s an honor,” said O’Bryant track coach Jose Ortega. “It’s an opportunity to run on the biggest stage of cross-country or marathons in the world.”

While the high school students will run a 1-mile race, the middle school race will be just 1 kilometer.

Both races, which loop around Boylston and Newbury Streets before finishing on the Boston Marathon’s finish line, will feature student-athletes from all around the state.

Catherine Van Even of Latin Academy will participate after winning the mile in this winter’s indoor city championship.

“It will be exiting because I’ve never done something like that before,” the eighth grader said.

According to Latin Academy coach Brian Luessler, excitement as well as anxiety are common feelings for an eighth grader running in a race of this magnitude.

“She asked me if I was going to be there and I said, ‘If I go, I won’t be able to get anywhere close to you, I’ll be so far in the back,' '' said Luessler. "They're going to let a parent in with you, there'll be youth stands set up."

It should also excite the students that a professional race will be held right after the youth races. Nick Willis, a silver medalist in the 1,500 meters at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, highlights the men's field, and 2010 World Indoor Championships 1,500-meter gold medalist Kalkidan Gezahegne leads the women.

John Lara and Jovan Talavera of the Rafael Hernandez K-8 school will run in the middle school race for the second straight year. Lara came in second last year. And just like last year, coach Michael Baugh, who also coaches track for English, will be there to support him.

“It’s just fun to watch because they do it from middle school all the way [to] the pros,” Baugh said. “It’s really, really fun to watch.”

The first middle school race begins at 9:30 am.

Zolan Kanno-Youngs covers Boston Public school athletics. He can be reached at kannoyoungs.globe@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @KannoYoungs.

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