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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 23, 2002 - Issue 55


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Wings of America Cross Country Teams Take First and Second in USA


Wings of America national cross-country team

The Wings of America national cross-country teams competed at the 2002 USA Winter National Championships February 9 & 10 in Vancouver, WA. The Wings junior women captured the team title in their event, and the junior men were awarded 2nd place following a tie for 1st.

On Saturday, Felicia Guliford (Zia Pueblo) led the Wings junior women's team with an 8th place finish over-all. She posted a time of 21:55 on the 6000-meter course, averaging a 5:52 mile. Guliford is a multi-time NM state champion from Gallup, NM. She was followed by Erin Lewis (Acoma Pueblo living in Grants, NM) in 27th place with a time of 24:25; Janice Tosa (Jemez Pueblo, NM), 29th place, 24:30; Christine Concho (Acoma Pueblo living in Barstow, CA), 31st place, 24:58; Jerri Martin (Navajo from Gallup, NM), 35th, 25:18; and Vanessa Dan (Navajo from Fruitland, NM), 36th, 25:30. The winning time in the Junior Women’s 6K was 21:05. Coaching the Wings junior women was Alice Kinlichee (Navajo) from Hogback, NM.

The top Wings junior men's runner was Anthony Bachman (Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux from Gillette, WY) who finished 14th overall in the 8000-meter race posting a time of 26:00. The other Wings team members and their place of finish and times are: Forrest Tahdooahnippah (Comanche from St. Paul, MN), 20th, 26:11; CR Davis (Navajo from Gallup, NM), 37th, 27:23; Ira LaFontaine (Chippewa from Portland, OR), 49th, 28:27, and Bradley Wells (Blackfeet from Bowling Green, OH) who finished 51st in a time of 28:57. Navajo runner, Arvin Thomas of Sanders, AZ, was unable to finish due to injury. The scores of the top four finishers of each team are tallied to determine the winning team. At the end of the race, the Wings team was tied with Williamette University. The scoring then goes to the fifth place team finisher, which resulted in the win for Williamette. The top time in the Junior Men’s race was 24:48. The Wings junior men were coached by James Nells (Navajo) from Moodys, OK.

Wings Executive Director Edison Eskeets and Associate Director Anne Wheelock Gonzales accompanied the teams. Eskeets comments, “The Wings junior men’s and women’s teams were very competitive, and they shared their cultural identity and character through running with pride. They represent several tribal affiliations and are wonderful ambassadors on behalf of all Native peoples. The girls ran well without concerns; several of the boys were plagued with injuries and head colds! The results, however, showed warrior effort from all runners. We embrace their efforts with honor. The Wings program is unmatched and unique in fulfilling dreams of the younger generation with the hope and harmony of a healthy life.”

On Friday afternoon before the races, the Wings runners were hosted at Nike World Headquarters where Alberto Salazar, USA and world record-setting marathoner, spoke to the group. The Nike Native American Employee Network and other supportive employees then provided a job shadowing experience to each athlete. Over the four-day weekend many other special individuals gave of their time to inspire the Wings group including: Deena Drossin, Olympian and 5-times USA 8K cross country champion; and Wings alumni Chance Rush (Hidatsa/Dakota/ Arapaho), motivational speaker and founder of Cloudboy Consulting and Phillip Castillo (Acoma Pueblo), now a member of the Army World Class Athlete Program. Wendy Hollister and dog Samson helped support the Wings athletes on their race day. Samson has his Delta Pet Partners AAT (Animal Assisted Therapy) and his HOPE AACR (Animal Assisted Crisis Response) certification. Area supporters Jillene and Fred Joseph; Kim Just and friends; the Portland Area Indian Health Service staff; Liling, John and Sam Sherry; and the Native American Youth Association provided snacks and dinners.

Financial support for the trip was provided by Carl and Wahleah Davis, Notah Begay III (through the Albuquerque Community Foundation), and the Greg and Jenny Swanson family. Edison Eskeets also contributed the proceeds from his “Running for Generations” ultra-run to this program. Nike, Inc. provided uniforms and shoes for the Wings teams.

Donors such as those listed above make Wings’ programs possible.

Wings of America is a non-profit American Indian youth development program of The Earth Circle Foundation based in Santa Fe, NM. The Wings’ mission is to enhance the quality of life of American Indian youth. In partnership with Native communities, Wings uses running as a catalyst to empower American Indian and Alaskan Native youth to take pride in themselves and their cultural identity, leading to increased self esteem, health and wellness, leadership and hope, balance and harmony. Other programs include leadership and camp facilitator training, running and fitness camps, coaches training, product distribution, the annual Wind Messenger Footrace and sponsorships to Footlocker Regional Races. For more information about Wings of America, call 505-982-6761 or e-mail <>.

For detailed results of the 2002 USA Winter National Cross Country Championships, go to: <>.

By Anne Wheelock Gonzales
Associate Director
Wings of America
1601 Cerrillos Road
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Phone: 505-982-6761
Fax: 505-989-8995

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Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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