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FACES IN THE CROWD
 
February 20, 2012 issue
Francis Tiafoe
College Park, Md. > Tennis

Francis, who studies and trains at his hometown's Junior Tennis Champions Center, where he is in eighth grade, won the boys' singles at Les Petits As in Tarbes, France, 6-0, 6-2 over William Blumberg (Greenwich, Conn.). Francis dropped just one set as the No. 4 seed. The nation’s top-ranked boy under 14, he also took the boys' singles title as the No. 15 seed at the AEGON Junior International tournament in Bolton, England a week earlier, defeating Michael Mmoh (Bradenton, Fla.), 6-3, 6-3.

Mina Anderberg
Louisville, Colo. > Cycling

Mina, an eighth-grader at Louisville Middle School, won her third cyclo-cross national championship title with a victory in the 13-to-14-year-old girls' division at junior nationals in Madison, Wis. Racing for the Fuji team in muddy conditions on the 2.1-mile outdoor course, she defeated Skylar Schneider (West Allis, Wis.) by seven seconds in the two-lap race, with split times of 11:07 and 11:33. Her overall mark of 22:40 was the fastest time for the first two laps by any female under 18 at the event.

Tomoki Hiwatashi
Hoffman Estates, Ill. > Figure Skating

Tomoki, a Thomas Jefferson Elementary sixth-grader who trains at the DuPage Figure Skating Club near Chicago, won the intermediate men's gold at the U.S. junior championships in East Lansing, Mich., for his second straight national title. He was first in the short program and the free skate, where he scored 66.56 points in a routine that included two triple Salchows (102.34 points overall). A two-time Upper Great Lakes regional champion, Tomoki won the juvenile boys' gold last year.

Ashley Shin
Flower Mound, Texas > Figure Skating

Ashley, an eighth-grader at Shadow Ridge Middle School who trains at the Dallas Figure Skating Club, won the intermediate ladies' gold at the U.S. junior championships. She came back from a ninth-place finish in the short program to win the free skate, executing a triple toe loop-double toe loop combination, for 68.05 points and a 99.41 cumulative score to take the title by just .35 of a point. Ashley returned to skating a year ago after sustaining stress fractures to two lower back vertebrae.

Jen Peeks
Bethel, Alaska > Sled-Dog Racing

Peeks, 31, a mental health counselor at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, became the first woman to win the Bogus Creek 150 in the 24-year history of the overnight round-trip race from Bethel to Bogus Creek. An event rookie, racing for Kaiser Racing Kennel, Peeks finished in 17:41:19, completing the 146-mile course with seven of her 10 dogs to defeat two-time defending champion Lewis Pavila (Kwethluk, Alaska) in 0° temperatures with 25-mile-per-hour gusts and powdery trail conditions.

Rashad Wright
Agawam, Mass. > Basketball

Wright, a 6'10" junior center at Keene (N.H.) State, hit a jump hook to score the go-ahead basket with 1:12 to play and then blocked Middlebury's potential game-winning basket with 2.2 seconds left to lead the Owls to a come-from-behind 77-76 win over the previously undefeated Panthers. He had a team-high 15 points and nine boards, rallying his team from a 10-point deficit with just over six minutes left to help Keene (18-5 through Sunday) knock Middlebury from the No. 1 spot in Division III.

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