BY LOGAN MCCOURTNEY –
Robert McIntyre, a local high school track and cross country runner, will be competing in the international annual Down Under Sports Tournament this summer in Australia, representing the North Central Conference Cross County Team. Robert has been a standout track athlete for Mena high school and as a sophomore has received the opportunity to come showcase his skills.
The invitation was received in November. The track coach called Robert into his office to tell him about the letter. “Coach called me into his office to tell me about the letter and that it was a great opportunity for me and for our program,” explains Robert. He admits that he was shocked when he received the letter to come and compete with the best in the world. “I honestly didn’t think I had met the standard yet that would be required for an event like this. I was just really surprised.”
Robert started running track in 8th grade and joined Cross Country in 9th grade. He has shown a lot of promise and has continually improved. In his most recent track meet, Robert set a new personal record in the 1 mile event with a time of 4.58 minutes. “I am pleased with my times and my improvement, but I only hope to continue to improve. I want to be running in the 4.30’s when I go to the event.” Robert has been doing a lot of training, some on his own, but much of it is done with his coaches. He credits his coaches for a lot of his success and improvement this year, “Coach Pennington and Peters have helped me a lot. They have helped me with speed work and endurance and they have helped me break my limits.”
While competing in the Down Under Tournament this Summer, Robert will have the opportunity to sight see in both Australia and Hawaii. He is excited about the opportunity to have an experience like this, “I have never really traveled and so this will be a blast. I will get to meet people and experience new culture. One of the things I get to do that I’m excited about is scuba diving on the great barrier reef on one of my down days.” Robert will be gone a total of 12 days, many of those days spent competing and training, and even a few of those days will be used for students to relax and enjoy their trip.
Receiving an invitation to compete is certainly a great honor, but in order to compete, Robert is fundraising to pay for his trip. “The total cost is almost $7,000. That money pays for our meals, lodging, plane tickets, and many other things.” Robert is already very close to his financial goal and hopes to reach it the next couple of months. To raise the funds needed, Robert and his family have completed several fundraisers. “Most of what we have done is food fundraisers. We have sold baked goods, fudge, and even sold over 1,300 cupcakes. It has been good, who doesn’t like good food?”
Although this is a great opportunity for Robert, he hopes it is only the beginning of his running career. Robert’s goal is to go to college on a running scholarship in a couple of years. His dream is to run at the University of Arkansas for the Razorbacks. “I am extremely thankful and blessed to have received this opportunity. It is an honor to represent my team, school, and state.”