HAUPPAUGE, N.Y. – Three local racewalkers excelled over the weekend in a cold competition on Long Island.

Matt Forgues of Boothbay earned a spot on the USA Junior World Cup Racing Team, eclipsing the qualifying standard in 38-degree weather with winds gusting up to 30 mph.

Christie Bernier of Auburn and Nicole Court-Menendez of Lewiston also achieved new personal standards. Bernier finished seventh in her first World Cup 10-kilometer walk with a time of 57 minutes, 42 seconds on the road course.

Bernier, an Edward Little High School sophomore, was the youngest racer in her field. Most walkers were college freshmen, trying one last time to earn a spot on the USA Junior World Cup Team (ages 14-19). The top three finishers make the Junior World Cup Squad and will travel with Forgues to Russia in May to compete for the USA Junior World Cup Team.

Court-Menendez entered the All-Comers Women’s 4K and set a personal best with a time of 24:42, good for second place. At 13, she is not old enough to compete at the Junior Level, but many elite race walk officials and coaches took note of the eighth-grader.

Both girls will travel to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia for the 113th running of the famous Penn Relays. They will be part of a select group of non-collegiate entries to race in this year’s contest.

Each will walk five kilometers in the women’s race on Saturday, April 26. Bernier hopes to top her sixth-place finish last year, while Court-Menendez looks to gain big-race experience.

The girls are coached by Nicole’s father, Tom Menendez, who introduced racewalking to Bernier in 2004. Court-Menendez began racewalking last spring. In this short time, Bernier has been named three times to the National All-American High School Track and Field Team. She also won a high school national Title at the 2007 Nike Indoor National Meet in Landover, Md.

Bernier, the reigning Class A high school state champion, is nationally ranked among high school competitors: first in the 3K event and fourth in the one-mile.


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