Navajo Wings’ runner helps Team USA to 2nd place!

Special to News From Indian Country 4-09

With Rolonda Jumbo’s (Navajo) ninth place finish at the USA Cross Country Championships while representing Wings of America, she qualified to be a member of Junior Team USA to run at the North America, Central America and Caribbean Athletic Association (NACAC) Cross Country Championships at Chain of Lakes Park in Orlando, Florida, during March.

With the weather at 85 degrees and humid, the course was grassy with little hills. Since Rolonda was used to Arizona cross country courses, race conditions were the opposite. Under the coaching expertise of Shaun Martin (Navajo), they knew she had to go out fast, while maintaining a near all-out effort in order to be in contact with the front runners at the end of the race.

Rolonda’s race plan was to go out with her first two American teammates. Then in the last 800 meters, Rolonda pressed as much as she could until she crossed the line. One American teammate was able to catch Rolonda in the final stretch, which pushed Rolonda back to an 11th  place finish overall. Her finishing time was 13:46 for a 2.5 mile course. Her average mile pace was 5:31!

Rolonda commented on the overall highlight of the NACAC trip, which was the race and getting the experience to race some of the best runners that’ll someday be the future Olympians. On being a Wings of America runner and racing at the NACAC Championship, Rolonda stated, “I’m happy about making the Wings team and racing at NACAC, it was a real honor.” As Rolonda reminisced back on those events, she wanted to say to Wings of America:

“Out of running I’ve always wanted to run in big races to find out how much more effort I have to put into running, how much harder I’d have to work to reach my goals and dreams. Now I got the experience that I’ve always wanted and its’ all a big, huge thanks to Wings of America. I would’ve never been to the places we went or raced in these two meets. Thank You!”

Rolonda’s coach Shaun Martin had this to say: “What Wings of America has provided for her, and all Native American runners, is priceless. The experience every Wings runner has during the USATF Cross Country National Championships helps our athletes see what else is out there in the running world. This experience helps them see what is possible and set goals for the future. As the two Wings sponsored trips, she slowly came out of her shell and grew more comfortable around others. 

Seeing new areas of the country, running with other very high caliber athletes and being a part of team USA was a great experience that may have never happened without Wings of America.   As a former Wings runner, I would like to thank Wings for all the support I have received. Now, as a coach, I want to give back to the Native American running community as much as possible. With running and without Wings of America, I would not be the person I am today. THANK YOU!

Wings of America is an American Indian youth program operated by the Earth Circle Foundation, Inc., a non-profit corporation based in Santa Fe, NM. For further information, please contact the Wings office at 505-982.6761. Or, visit our website On The Net at .

Meet Information: .

USATF Wings Junior Team during competition earlier this year: Back
row, left to right: Coach Shaun Martin, Donovan Jim, Vernard
Martinez, Thomas Zuni, Julia Foster, Chantel Hunt, Marlinda Pecos,
and Coach Felicia Guliford. Front row, left to right: Dillon Shije,
Christian Brown Otter, Shanice Lambert, Rolonda Jumbo, and Myka