Waldron captures All-American honors
A disappointing finish at the Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships last March was all it took for Nathan Waldron to set his goals high for this season.
After finishing in the mid-60s in both the skate and classic freestyle nordic races at the JOs in McCabe, Idaho last year, the J1 (ages 14-16) Aspen Valley Ski Club nordic ski racer was determined to get back to the national event and do better.
“I was real disappointed with my results last year,” the 16-year-old Aspen High School junior admitted. “It really made me want to do a lot better this year.”
So after qualifying last month for the JOs for his third consecutive year, Waldron had an opportunity to redeem his “disappointing finishes” last year.
Not only did Waldron finish with better results than he did a year ago, he did better than even he dared hope.
Waldron placed 11th in the J1 15-kilometer skate race in Anchorage, Alaska in 47 minutes, 5.1 seconds.
“I was amazed,” he said. “I was just hoping to finish in the top 20 – I couldn’t believe it.
“I knew there were people behind me that hadn’t finished yet,” he continued. “So I didn’t think that I would stay that high because sometimes the fastest skaters are at the back, but when I knew that I had finished 11th, I was shocked.”
If finishing 11th was a shock to Waldron, who also finished 56th (35:30.01) in the 10-kilometer classic race, he was due for even a bigger surprise when he was named an High School All-American because of his results.
“That’s pretty amazing,” he said. “When people ask me how I did at Nationals, I can say I was an All-American.”
Waldron said being named an All-American is a confidence booster for next year, but he won’t let it go to his head.
“I’m not going to rest back on being an All-American,” he said. “Next year, I’m going to have to bust my butt to get back to Nationals.”
After qualifying for the national post-season finale for the last two years, Waldron said there wasn’t any real pressure to return for a third year – just ambition.
“I don’t think there was any pressure as much as there was a personal desire to make it again,” he said. “I knew that I wanted to get back to JOs, but there wasn’t any pressure to get back.
“Just knowing that I could have done a lot better last year made me want to go back even more this year,” he said. “I wanted to change what happened last year.”
Next year, Waldron will move to the OJ division (16 and up) and knows he will have his work cut out for him.
“The more you compete at the bigger races, the more you see how much better everybody is than you,” he said. “So I know that I have to work a lot harder if I want to get back next year.”
Also competing at the JOs from AVSC was Michael Otte competing in the J2 (12-13) division.
Otte finished 37th in the 5-kilometer classic race in 17:45.03 and 42nd in the 5-kilometer skate race.
Four-year JO qualifier August Teague, competing in the OJ (16-and-higher) category, finished 14th in the 15km skate race in 46:57.07 and 34th in the 10-kilometer classical race in 34:58.03. Teague attends Colorado Rocky Mountain School.
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