By Jack McNeel, Indian Country Today Media Network
Few people can say they’re All American athletes by their twelfth birthday.
Xavier Guillory has taken it one step further with his second title in a national track and field competition. Two years ago in Wichita, and this year in Greensboro, North Carolina, Xavier, a Nez Perce tribal member, achieved All American status.
The 12 year-old competed in the U.S.A. Track and Field Junior Olympic National Championships which were held in late July in Greensboro. Xavier qualified to race in three events at the National Championships: 400 meters, 800 meters, and 1500 meters. Brackets are broken down into two-year age levels and he competed in the 11-12 age bracket.
The country is divided into 16 regions and athletes must qualify as one of the top five finishers in their events at regional competitions to be eligible to compete at the National Championships where only the top eight in each event earn All-American status. About 8500 track athletes from around the country compete in regional events and even qualifying for nationals is a major accomplishment.
In the regional tournament held earlier this year in Seattle, Xavier set a new club and personal best time of 2:18 in the 800 meters, running for the Mercury Track Club of Spokane. “He ran an incredible race and everything came together,” said his father, Raphael Guillory. “Last year his fastest time was around 2.25.”
But during the Nationals, running conditions were not optimal at race time. Temperatures were hovering in the 80’s and humidity was high. Then, just before the 800 meter race was to start, a lightning storm hit. The runners were taken to the lockers to sit and wait until the storm passed and they remained there for nearly three hours.
One good thing came from this unexpected delay. It gave the kids a chance to get acquainted. Xavier later told his dad that one of the things he enjoyed most about the Nationals was getting to know the kids he was competing against.
When the race finally did start, it ended in a tight finish. “It was a pack coming around that last 100 meters,” Raphael recalled. “As they sprinted for the goal they kind of thinned out. There was only about three seconds between first and eighth place finishers.” Xavier finished 8th, but just over two seconds behind the winner.
So how did Xavier feel about the national meet? “Even though I’m experienced there, there’s still that feeling it’s my first year. I’m nervous, just thinking about the races the whole time. It’s fun but you also have to get serious about it. The thing I have trouble thinking about is competing with national athletes.”
He also ran in the 400 and 1500 meter finals. His finishes weren’t quite as high, finishing 35th of 52 runners in the 400 and finishing 14th of 41 runners in the 1500, but Xavier was competing with the nations’ best junior runners.
“It’s a lot of training; a lot of discipline,” Xavier added. “All the hours you put in for a short amount of time for a race, but you need it.”
He hopes and plans to return next year where he will move up a class to the youth division. But for right now, it’s football season. Fortunately the two sports don’t overlap. “There’s the side of me that wants to take track,” he says. He’s a running back in football and says this year he’ll also play cornerback, “and kick returner and punt returner,” he adds.
His family also stresses education. “Xavier has done very well. He’s really strong in science and reading and writing,” Raphael says. He’s now moving into middle school and they have him in a summer math program just to keep his chops up mathematically and to give him that added confidence.
“When we got back I told him to just be a kid; play with your sisters, go to the store, run around, hang out,” Raphael said. “Then football is mentioned and he’s going out[side] with his football. The kid’s a motor. I tell him to chill out and he just doesn’t know,” Raphael laughs.
Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/09/18/hes-all-american-kinda-kid-151336