2023 Wings National Team

For the 34th time since 1988, Wings of America will sponsor a team of the fastest Native American runners ages 14-19 to compete at the USA Cross Country Championships. Eight young men and eight young women will represent the organization in the “Junior” age division races on January 21, 2023 in Richmond, VA at Pole Green Park. More information about the National Meet and course can be found here. With the help of Wings and their regular coaches, these student-athletes will train through the winter holidays to stay in shape for running competition. They will have the unique opportunity to race the NCAA regular-season cross country distance (Women 6KM, Men 8KM), as well as numerous college freshman, in Richmond.

The 2022 Wings National Team post-race in San Diego, CA. January 8, 2022.

Runners were selected for the team based on their performance at post-season championship races, including Nike Cross Regionals and Champs Sports Regionals (formerly “Footlocker” and “Eastbay”). After an open registration period in which runners identified themselves as eligible for selection, those with the 8 fastest regional qualifying times were invited to be a part of the team. In some cases, knowledge of bad weather and/or difficult course conditions at a regional race will encourage Wings to choose a runner with a slower qualifying time than one run at a “fast course”. For example, the “Mt. Sac” course for Champs Sports West is notoriously difficult. So slower times from that course are sometimes selected over a faster performances at Nike Cross Southwest.

A total of 61 student-athletes representing 14 Native American Tribes registered to be considered for selection. 52 of these runners eventually posted qualifying times at regional races. However, many other Native and Indigenous athletes competed at these selection races without registering to be considered for the National Team. For a full list of those runners that ran a qualifying mark to be considered for the team please take a look at the seeding document below. We would like to say thanks again to all the athletes, parents, coaches and family members that made the effort to extend their cross country seasons and push Native runners to the next level!

Qualifying Race Registration & Lodging Assistance

Apart from sponsoring the National Team, Wings provided dozens of deserving student-athletes with travel and race registration assistance to attend their regional qualifying race. A caravan of 10 Wings athletes attended the Nike Cross Southwest Regional in Tempe, AZ on November 19, 2022 with Wings staff. Dozens of others made the trip with their families, with race registration and lodging covered by the organization. Eight of the sixteen athletes selected for the National Team received some form of assistance to attend their qualifying race.

Wings encouraged Native to runners band together to best prepare for their race at Nike Cross Southwest. Though many of these runners ran as rivals all season, they came together proudly to represent their Tribes and the Native running tradition.

A list of those selected for the 2023 Wings National Team and their qualifying times is included below:

NameTribal Affiliation(s)Seed Time(s)Qualifying Race(s)School/Town
Karis Brightwings-PeaseCrow18:39NXR HeartlandHardin MS, Hardin, MT
Emery MayfieldCherokee18:47NXR MidwestFulton HS, Fulton, MO
Madeline Castillo*Pueblo of Acoma19:11NXR SWAlamosa HS, Alamosa, CO
Laila MartinezPueblo of Acoma/Pueblo of Laguna19:17NXR SWGrants HS, Grants, NM
Stella HallHopi19:22NXR SWHighland HS, Gilbert, AZ
Taylor Biggambler**Navajo19:47/19:43NXR SW/Champs WestFlag HS, Flagstaff, AZ
Lia Castillo*Pueblo of Acoma19:50NXR SWAlamosa HS, Alamosa, CO
Shania ChavezPueblo of Zuni19:59NXR SWZuni HS, Zuni Pueblo, NM
Janessa Segay*Navajo20:01/20:23NXR SW/Champs WestChinle HS, Chinle, AZ
Micah Slivers*Navajo15:58NXR SWGanado, HS, Ganado, AZ
Ryan KeeNavajo16:24/17:28NXR SW/Champs WestWindow Rock HS, Ft. Defiance, AZ
Noah Begay**Navajo16:25NXR SWLehi HS, Lehi, UT
Casey LittleSeminole16:34NXR SouthOwasso HS, Owasso, OK
Theodore Round FaceNavajo/Crow/Lakota16:36/17:16NXR SW/Champs WestGallup HS, Gallup, NM
Quentin DavisNavajo/Hopi/Choctaw16:37NXR SWPage HS, Page, AZ
Lucas WilliamsTohono O’odham/Navajo16:38NXR SWLaguna-Acoma HS, Laguna, NM
Antwon Shendo**Pueblo of Jemez16:52/17:13NXR SW/Champs WestCleveland HS, Rio Rancho, NM
Shaud BecentiNavajo16:48NXR SWDesert Vista HS, Phoenix, AZ
Dathan EssonNavajo
*Runners that have made a previous Wings National Team **Selected for National Team, but declined spot due to other committments

NOTE: Four runners selected for the National Team, Lia and Maddie Castillo, Emery Mayfield and Theo Round Face, are children of runners that have made previous Wings National Teams. We are especially proud that our program is now fostering the ambitions of multiple generations of Native runners!

Wings National Team Winter Training Camp

In addition to travelling with Wings to Richmond in January, National Team Members are invited to a training camp hosted in Albuquerque, NM over the holidays. Apart from providing additional motivation to train for Nationals, this camp provides an opportunity for Team Members to get to know one another before travelling together. We are happy to revive this training camp tradition in 2022 after COVID prevented it from happening in 2020 & 2021.

Wings created the Wings National Team opportunity to showcase the talents of American Indian youth and provide them with exposure to higher levels of competition in the company of runners from other Tribes. Many program alumni have earned the attention of college coaches and/or a spot on a junior national team competing for “Team USA” internationally. Wings National Teams have captured 34 national titles since their debut in 1988.

We would like to extend a special thanks to the Padma Foundation for its financial support in providing race registration and lodging assistance to families helping their runners make the Wings National Team.

Questions? Contact Daan Haven, Program Director

Ph: (928) 349-7221 eMail: dustin@wingsofamerica.org