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Mercedes Osceola Wins Track Meet

By Libby Blake

FORT LAUDERDALE- Mercedes Osceola, the current Junior Miss Seminole Princess, won the District 7 Cross Country Track Meet held at Westminster Academy's West Sports Complex on Thursday Nov. 4. JoJo and Tasha Osceola, Mercedes' sisters, finished in the top 15. The girls are the daughters of Joe Dan and Virginia Osceola.

Mercedes completed the 3-mile race in 21.10 minutes. Second place and a scant 0.02 seconds behind Mercedes was fellow teammate Megan Mann with a 21.12. JoJo finished in 22.28 minutes and Tasha came in at 23.25 minutes. Other teammates and their times were as follows: Zeina Zein - 22.18, Beth Alexandroff - 22.38, and Barbie Huddleston - 27.57.

The girls run for Sheridan Hills Christian School in Hollywood. They placed first in the team competition with six of their runners finishing in the top 15. Mercedes is a sophomore at the school; Tasha is a freshman; and JoJo is in the seventh grade. The Seminole Tribe provided the team with a tent and banner for use at meets.

A total of ten teams - seven full and three partial - competed for the opportunity to advance to the Regional level. A team consists of five to seven runners. Advancement could be obtained by finishing in the top six full team places or in the top 15 individual places.

The regionals were held Nov. 11 at Westminster's Complex. Sheridan Hills girls finished second. Individually, Mercedes came in fifth; JoJo seventh; and Tasha eleventh. The team then advanced to the state finals held in Titusville the following weekend. Out of 160 runners Mercedes placed 30th, JoJo placed 40th, and Tasha placed 60th. The team came in 7th overall.

Cross country running requires discipline and stamina. Mental endurance is as important as physical conditioning. High school cross country races usually are between 2.9 and 3.1 miles and cover various terrain. Parental, peer, and team support is also essential for a successful runner.

Joe Dan and Virginia support the girls 100 percent in all they do and are especially proud of their accomplishments. Mercedes, Tasha, and JoJo stated, "keeping (their) focus on God, Who gave them (their) individual talents, was the key."

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