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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 8, 2003 - Issue 82


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Wings Teams Capture 1st and 3rd at Nationals

by Anne Wheelock Gonzales Wings of America

Wings of America All-Indian Cross Country Team photos taken at USA National Cross Country Championships at muddy Buffalo Bayou, Houston, TX, February 15-16, 2003. Photo credit: Wings of America Staff


The Wings of America all-Indian junior men’s and women’s teams captured 1st and 3rd places respectively at the USA Winter National Cross Country Championships held in Houston, Texas, February 15-16.

The challenging European-style course at Buffalo Bayou Park was especially brutal after rain fell Friday night and most of the day Saturday. Runners slipped and fell on the steep hills and sharp turns as they plowed their way through the slick mud. Even the spectators were covered in mud during the two-day event.

After the junior women’s 6K race on Saturday, the Wings team was tied with the Dallas Metroplex Striders for second place, but fell to third after the tiebreaker. Sheyenne Lewis (Navajo), Church Rock, NM, was the first Wings runner across the line in 21st place with a time of 27:02 followed by Roxann James (Navajo), Gallup, NM, in 22nd place at 27:05. Jessica Hale (Navajo), Rehoboth, NM, and Phoebe Garcia (Hidatsa), Parshall, ND, finished 27th and 28th with times of 27:48 and 28:07, followed by Cateka Tsosie (Navajo), Gallup, NM, in 30th place at 28:32. Kristin St. Germaine (Navajo) from Blue Gap, AZ, rounded out the team with a 38th place finish. Lyn Pine (Lakota) from Pine Ridge, SD, coached the Wings junior women’s team.

On Sunday, the Wings’ junior men were led by Forrest Tahdooahnippah (Comanche), St. Paul, MN, who finished 24th overall with a time of 29:01 for the 8K course. Next was Marshall Medicine Bear (Cheyenne), Watonga, OK, in 42nd place with a time of 30:28. Following were: Jonathan Harmon ( Hopi Tewa/Navajo), Holbrook, AZ, 47th, 30:47; William Smallwood (Spokane), Spokane, WA, 52nd, 31:54; Patrick Grass (Oglala Sioux), Pine Ridge SD, 55th, 33:14; and Justin Marsette (Three Affiliated Tribes), Roseglen, ND, 60th, 37:25. Serving as coach for the junior men was James Nells (Navajo) of Moodys, OK.

“Racing on the deteriorating course against mostly college freshmen was tough-it brought out the character, pride and discipline of the Wings runners”, said Bob Nakaidinae, Wings Program Director. “Both coaches were satisfied with the preparation and performance of their athletes. In addition to the focus of the races, the trip also provided opportunities to learn about the NASA Space Programs, view materials from historic Carlisle Indian School, and meet with a representative of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe. Phillip Castillo, a Wings’ alumnus now running with the Army World Class Athlete Program, was the keynote speaker the final evening. Several runners also experienced their first airplane flight. The trip provided learning experiences on several different levels.”

Wings of America has been taking junior teams to national cross-country championships since 1988. This year’s competition improves the Wings overall record to 16 team championships in 15 years.

The experience and opportunity of competing at the USA National Championships is one of eight programs offered by Wings, an American Indian youth development program operated by The Earth Circle Foundation, a nonprofit corporation based in Santa Fe, NM. The runners who went to nationals will be invited to attend the Wings’ Leadership/Camp Facilitator Training in June and will then be eligible to work in running and fitness programs in their communities.

Also in June, Wings and Nike, Inc. will co-host the sixth annual “American Indian Running Coaches Clinic” in Santa Fe. Coaches and others working in running and fitness programs in Indian country will have the opportunity to share information with experts and prominent individuals from the running world.

In November and December of 2002, Wings sponsored ­­19 runners to the four Regional Foot Locker Races for middle and high school students. The Regionals are qualifiers to the national Foot Locker Cross Country Championships, which has been called the premier high school cross-country event in the country. Sponsored runners this winter were: Megan Shaw (Lakota) for the Northeast Region; Natika Baker (Mandan), Rachel Chouteau (Cheyenne), Phoebe Garcia, Jamie Loy (Cherokee), CaSarah Pine (Oglala Lakota), Patrick Grass, Forrest Tahdooahnippah, Bradley Wells (Blackfeet), and Nupa White Plume (Oglala Sioux) for the Midwest; and Tracy Honanie (Hopi), Sheyenne Lewis, Jerri Martin (Navajo), Cateka Tsosie, Ryan Dodson (Navajo), Daniel Concho (Acoma), Stet Lomayestewa (Hopi), and Lloyd Yazzie and Billison Haskie (both Navajo), for the West Region. There were no applicants from the South Regional Races.

Supporters making this year’s trips possible include Carl and Wahleah Davis; Greg, Jenny and Tori Swanson; Jan and Nicholas Zettlemoyer; Rice Native American Student Association; NASA Johnson Space Center and NIKE, Inc., which provides a cash grant, uniforms and shoes and matching grants for employee donations. In addition to many caring individual donors, businesses and corporations, Wings of America receives support from Justice for Athletes, Santa Fe Community Foundation, The Bowerman Family Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation, Ambrose Monell Foundation, The Educational Foundation of America, Bank of America Foundation and Margaret Jacobs Charitable Trust.

For more information about the Wings programs, contact Bob Nakaidinae at 505-982-6761 or

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