Bill Rozak

Just because the high school cross country season ended for local stars Samantha Smith and Kaylee Sedler, it doesn't mean they've stopped running and competing.

In fact, the duo stepped it up a notch on Saturday by traveling across the country to compete in the prestigious USA Track and Field National Junior Olympics Cross Country Championships held at Whispering Pines Golf Course in Myrtle Beach, SC.

"It was an amazing experience," said Sedler, a senior at Bret Harte. "We had so much fun. We went to the convention center the day before the race and we were walking around and people were taking our pictures. It was really cool."

Sedler and Smith, a junior at Sonora, both run for the Buffalo Babes. The Babes are a girls' division of the Buffalo Chips Running Club, an elite invitation-only club based out of the Sacramento area.

Sedler, racing in the Young Women division, finished the flat, 5k course in 10th place out of 75 competitors with a time of 19:08.48 and earned All-American honors.

"When the race started I was in front and it was mind boggling," said Sedler. "In all my other races all the girls start so fast. And then I got into a groove and some girls passed me including one of my teammates. But I passed two girls at the end and finished in 10th and I couldn't believe it. My mom was almost in tears."

Sedler finished 54 seconds behind the leader, who finished with a torrid time of 18:14.36. She finished 16 seconds behind her teammate Maxine Goyette who finished in sixth. As a team, the Buffalo Chips finished in second place.

Smith, racing in the Intermediate Girls division, finished in 28th out of 139 competitors with a time of 19:20.96 on the 5k course.

"It's a great experience getting to run against people from all around the country," said Smith. "It's a different atmosphere than the high school team. It's all girls and we're all passionate about running, but we're not so comepetitive that we don't get along. I had tons of fun."

Smith finished 1:32 behind the first-place finisher who torched the course with a time of 17:48.53.

"I was happy with my performance," said Smith. "I finished third our of seven on our team. and the team finished in fourth."

Both Sedler and Smith will begin to prepare for the track season which begins in the spring.