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UJ’s Reyes leaves legacy

The University of Jamestown’s Aleona Reyes will try to become a three-time NAIA cross country All-American today at the national meet in Lawrence, Kan. (Photo courtesy / Greg Goff)

Aleona Reyes’ All-American credentials have long since been established.

This year, she’s added the title of leader to her stellar résumé.

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The Jimmies’ two-time cross country All-American will try to make it a hat trick today, but her legacy will endure beyond awards, her coach said.

“Like a lot of kids when they start college, Aleona was out to do well and make her mark,” said University of Jamestown cross country coach Jim Clark. “I think she has grown and it is just as important to her now to look back and realize she has helped her teammates reach new levels.”

It could be called mentoring, and when Reyes arrived on campus from Belen, N.M., four years ago, she had one of the best in 11-time All-American Katie Conlon.

“Learning from Katie was an amazing experience,” Reyes said. “What she passed on to me I’ve tried to pass on to my teammates. It’s fun to see the younger girls on our team improve and try to push themselves to a higher level.”

Clark said Reyes has had a similar impact in her senior season, specifically on sophomore Samantha Goff, who had never competed in cross country prior to coming to Jamestown. Now, Goff is a legitimate All-American candidate, although breaking into the top 30 out of 332 runners is a tall task.

“Sam has leaned on Aleona for knowledge and has worked for two years trying to catch her,” Clark said. “She has closed the gap a lot. They have been great running partners and best friends.”

The success of Reyes and her teammates is no accident. Her top week of training included a whopping 66 miles. Not only is the training physically taxing, but they’ve run the gambit of weather conditions.

Temperatures soared to near 100 degrees when the season began in August, contrasted with a week of sub-freezing level readings heading into today’s finale.

Reyes has set a high bar for today’s meet in Lawrence, Kan. She placed 12th as a sophomore and 25th as a junior and would like to climb the ladder one last time.

“I’d like to finish in the top 10. I know that’s going to be hard, but I feel confident in how I’m running right now,” she said.

Reyes and Goff will be joined by another up-and-comer in freshman Christa Lysne, who appears poised to become the team’s next star.

“Christa has come on late in the season and all of the sudden was on Sam’s heels. They have all worked together so well,” Clark said. “I have to say I’ve enjoyed this season a lot.”

Andre Aguinaga will represent Ed Crawford’s men’s team. Aguinaga has made a pretty significant impact on campus as a freshman. On top of qualifying for nationals in cross country, he also has a bright future in wrestling and is currently the No. 2 125-pounder for the Jimmies.

The men’s meet starts at 10:30 a.m. today, with the women around 11:45. It won’t be the last of Reyes in the orange and black, however. She still has two seasons of eligibility remaining in indoor and outdoor track.

“I think we’re all excited for (today) and trying to peak in our last meet,” Reyes said. “We’ve worked hard to get here and now we want to do our best.”

Sun sports editor Dave Selvig can be reached at (701) 952-8460 or by e-mail at

Dave Selvig
Selvig has been a sports writer at The Sun since 1999 and sports editor since 2009.
(701) 952-8460