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Turlocker claims National Junior Olympics title in track
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Kiana Clay had an overwhelming task in the National Junior Olympics on Wednesday afternoon at Sacramento City College. In the 4x800-meter relay, her team was in third place by the time the second leg of the race was presented in her hand.She took the baton and never looked back.By the time she was done with her leg, in which she turned in a time of 2 minutes, 27 seconds, her team — which is part of the Central Valley Roadrunners out of Modesto — was ahead of the pack. And her teammates did the rest, as they celebrated a national title after clocking 9:51 in the midget age group (11-to-12-year olds).Coaches said they won by about 100 meters.Clay’s teammates were elated, knowing the rarity of winning such a prestigious event. It is believed that this is the first time a Turlocker has ever claimed a National Junior Olympic title in track. Her coach and dad, Ivan Clay, couldn’t be happier, considering all he wanted was the team to do its best. Kiana was still in shock hours after she accepted her medal and posed for pictures.“We were extremely nervous” before the race, she said by phone. “We didn’t know how we would do, but once we found out we were national champions, we were excited.”It was a nice memory for her to have before she begins attending Dutcher Middle School in the fall, after finishing Osborn Elementary School. Kiana and her teammates — Modesto’s Megan and Nicole Warwick and Oakdale’s Sarah Stevens — had been training all summer to get to this point.Entering Wednesday’s race, the team posted a qualifying time of 10:12.“I’m very proud, very happy,” Ivan said. “They put a stamp for the whole season for us. I know they worked hard. It accumulated to this, and it’s all worthwhile.”To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.