TRUJILLO, Peru – Before Steven Cross launches headlong into his sophomore cross country season at Florida State, he has a little patriotic duty to take care of Saturday at Chan Chan Stadium.
As the United States Junior 10,000-meter champion, Cross will represent his country for the first time in the eight-man field of the XIX Pan American Junior Athletics Championships over the 24-lap distance, Saturday at 12:50 p.m. (ET).
“Steven has had a great freshman year and representing the Noles and the USA in the Pan Am Juniors is an incredible honor,” Florida State track & field coach Bob Braman said.
Cross is just the sixth Florida high school product to win the USATF Junior 10,000-meter title and the second Seminole, joining Tallahassee’s Herb Wills, who claimed the US title in 1979. The Merritt Island, Fla. native earned his first US National team berth on June 24 at Sacramento’s Hornet Stadium, when he charged home over the final 400 meters of a tactical race in 61 seconds to claim the title in 31:20.95.
It marked just the second 10,000-meter race of the young standout’s career. He was the runner-up at the 2017 Penn Relays in 29:31.22, though that performance came during a redshirt freshman campaign. Still, it was faster than Wills’ freshman record of 29:37.6, 38 years ago.
With one eye on the coming cross country season – the Noles report to camp August 14 – Cross is hoping Saturday’s race shakes out similarly to the tactical affair that went down a month ago in California, when he ran among the top three the entire way before his winning kick.
“Steven is in cross country preparation now, so he’s going to let the competition dictate his tactics,” Braman said. “If it’s a tactical race I like his chances to medal.”
Cross is one of five Floridians on the USA team competing against qualifying athletes from South and North America in the meet comprised of athletes under 20 years of age.
The 10,000-meter race will be streamed live http://www.milesplit.com/articles/217047-watch-pan-am-juniors-live with live results available at http://www.athleticsnacac.org/per-panamericano-u20-trujillo-2017/.