Third grade cross-country runners compete for national title
Lydia Kloke and Chethan Brahmapuram are third grade Lexington County cross-country runners with national championship aspirations.
Kloke attends Holy Trinity Lutheran School in West Columbia, while Brahmapuram is a student at Midway Elementary. Both are members of the Lexington Youth Cross Country team, coached by Anna Owens under the sponsorship of the Lexington County Recreation and Aging Commission.
Kloke and Brahmapuram will be competing in Reno, Nev. at the United States of America Track and Field National Championships Saturday.
Kloke, 8, placed fourth at the state meet and finished ninth at the regionals, both 2K run events, to qualify for the nationals. This was Kloke’s first season with the team after training and completing a 5K run last winter with her parents and siblings.
Kloke’s mother, Sara, said Lydia is completing three practices weekly in preparation for the nationals. She said her goal is to “race her fastest time of the year” and, although winning or ranking in the Top 25 would be “great”, Lydia is more focused on racing her best time and “enjoying her experience at a huge national level meet”.
The Klokes have three children who participate in the program. Sara praised the coaches for “Inspiring the the children to run their best, push themselves, set individual goals and display good sportsmanship.”
“Watching these young children compete in a sport that is so demanding physically, while having fun, is amazing,” she said. “The parents enjoyed watching all of the races at the meets, as these athletes cheered for their teammates and encouraged each other. There are some amazing coaches for this team, and it is a great program for any athletes that might be willing to try running.”
Brahmapuram and his family have lived in Lexington since moving from Concord, N.H. in 2017. As a way to make new friends, Brahmapuram’s mother, Christine Bowman asked him if he wanted to sign up for cross-country.
“He responded with excitement,” she said. “’Cross country skiing?’ We are very happy he’s as excited now about cross-country running as he was about cross-country skiing.”
Brahmapuram has quickly taken into the Youth Cross-Country program in his second year. He qualified for the 2,000 meters 8-and-under division at the nationals with a personal-best time of 9:20.5.
In preparation, Bowman said her son is practicing with his coaches, teammates and even his mother. His goal, she said, to set a new personal record and “spread his spirit of good sportsmanship by supporting other athletes.”