By Brian Cameron
After finishing with her personal best time of 24 minutes and 42 seconds in the State finals of the Cross Country 5K, Neah-Kah-Nie Freshman Montana Ruona was surprised to receive a very special invitation from Down Under Sports, located out of Melbourne Australia.
Down Under Sports hosts an annual event where they invite ranking high school students from around the world to compete in a variety of international sporting events in Australia, including football, cheerleading, basketball, volleyball, golf, cross-country, track and field, freestyle wrestling, and swimming.
“It was quite a surprise to me when I first got the invitation,” Ruona said. “I was sitting in science class when I first got it and thought that I really wanted to do this once and a lifetime experience.”
Montana has been selected by Down Under Sports to participate in two separate races, the Gold Coast Challenge 5.7K and the All American 5K races, both of which will be held in the city of Brisbane, Australia.
In order to go she still has to raise a sizeable amount of $5,700, and in order to do that she is taking donations from family, friends and folks around the community. Currently she’s about one sixth the way to her goal and hopes the community will give her a hand in heading down south.
“When I saw the initial cost I got very nervous,” Ruona said. “I realized in order to go I had to raise all this money and its not like I have almost $6,000 laying around.”
After discussing the opportunity with her parents and her coach, she decided the chance was too good to let pass her by, citing a strong desire to travel and see the world after high school, to her this was a true “bucket list” opportunity. According to her father Matt, he and his wife Meghan made sure to expose Montana to the concept of travel at a young age.
“Travel is pretty big in our family, it’s such a formative experience that we both encouraged Montana to take part in at a young age.” Matt said, “She would travel to her grandmother’s house in North Carolina and eventually did it without us going with her.”
The trip will be total of nine days and will begin on June 27, the journey includes two days rest and relaxation in Hawaii and also serves as a layover between trans-Pacific flights.
She asks if anyone is interested in donating to her running related trip to Australia then go online to www.downundersports.com/downundersports/payment.php and put her name, Montana Ruona, into the recipient’s field on the website. Another way for her to raise funds is by selling T Shirts, and information can be received at her parent’s business, Four Paws on The Beach on Laneda Avenue in downtown Manzanita.