Team NSAF returning to Iceland, sending 12 to Reykjavik International Games!

by Steve Underwood

(Jan. 12, 2020 update)

After more than a decade of success of creating and hosting teams of rising-star prep standouts to compete in late spring Caribbean meets, the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation (NSAF) for the first time last winter selected a Team NSAF for an indoor event – sending eight student-athletes to Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik to compete in the Reykjavik International Games (RIG).

The event was so successful that we’re doing it again – and with more athletes.

Now a group of a dozen sprinters and middle-distance runners – a mix of accomplished seniors and fast-rising juniors and sophomores from eight states – were selected and will make the trip to compete in the 2020 version of this unique European two-week winter sports festival ( The 1-day indoor multi-nation track and field meet in which Team NSAF will compete is Sunday, February 2. It is held on the 200m banked Mondo track in Iceland’s national indoor arena, is a European Athletics Permit Meeting and has both Senior- and Junior-level (Under-20) events.

Team NSAF, which will be coached and chaperoned by several NSAF staff making the trip, will leave Friday, Jan. 31 for Iceland and return Monday, Feb. 3.

The squad includes six girls and six boys, with all competing in individual events and four from each gender contesting the 4x200m relay. Sprinters Aaliyah Pyatt (Fredericksburg, VA), Victoria Bossong (Cumberland Foreside, ME), Charlee Crawford (Newark, DE) and Gianna Paul (Huntington Station, NY) will compete in the women’s 400m and 4x200m relay, while Taylor James (Erie, CO) and Marlee Starliper (Wellsville, PA) will run the 800m. Starliper is the reigning NBNO mile champ and All-American XC runner, among her many credentials. Pyatt is the current national indoor leader at 300m and 500m, while James is one of the nation’s best long-sprint/mid-distance combo runners.

The boys’ team includes sprinters Malcolm Johnson (Alexandria, VA), Laurenz Colbert (Bowie, MD) and Gavin Sawchuk (Aurora, CO) in the 60m dash, plus Calob Larson (Bismarck, ND) in the 400m – with all four sharing the stick in the 4x200. Willie is the senior among the young guns, part of several record-setting and NBN championship-winning relays at the Bullis School in MD. Seniors Cole Sprout (Highlands Ranch, CO) and Tyler Shue (Ephrata, PA), among the nation’s best in their specialties, will handle the 1,500m and 800m, respectively. Shue, like Starliper, was an NBNO champ last spring – but in the 800m.

Note: Malcolm Johnson (Team NSAF in the '19 Iceland meet) was announced to replace Ryan Willie (Bullis School, MD sr) on Jan. 12. Willie, who had also repped Team NSAF in Cuba last spring, withdrew from the squad due to injury.

See below for the profiles of each athlete.

How the NSAF get involved in this international meet? “Five or six years ago a person from the event contacted me about bringing athletes over, but that all fell through at the time,” said NSAF Executive Director Jim Spier. “I did some research later, though, and thought it might be a good idea to bring a small team. I contacted the head of the Iceland Athletics Federation in early 2018 and arranged to bring eight student-athletes for last year’s meet. Our board approved the funding and we proceeded.”

Needless to say, the event was outstanding enough to inspire a return trip. “It was such a great experience for all of us last year – from the meet itself, to the special awards presentation and dinner and also the way all of us were made to feel welcome here at this event. We knew we wanted to come back and expand the team. In the future, we may bring field event athletes as well.”

The NSAF started its spring Team NSAF event, the Caribbean Scholastic Invitational, back in 2006. From the start through 2013, that meet – which included 28 preps selected from around the country in most track and field disciplines – was contested in Puerto Rico through 2013. The intent has been to provide rising star athletes – generally high school juniors who are considered Youth or Junior Team USA prospects – an opportunity for a first international team experience in a low-pressure environment.

Then in 2015, the NSAF worked with the athletics federation of Cuba to hold the CSI meet there (that year basically a USA-Cuba dual) – thanks to a long-standing relationship between NSAF board member Tracy Sundlun and Cuba’s Olympic legend Alberto Juantorena. Then in the four years since, Team NSAF has competed as part of the Memorial Barrientos – a major international meet in Havana – with the exception of 2018, we they contested a meet in Freeport, Bahamas (due to construction on the Havana track and conflicting dates with NBNO).

Here are the bios of each Team NSAF athlete for the Reykjavik International Games.


Aaliyah Pyatt

Massaponax HS, Fredericksburg, VA
400m/4x200, Junior, Class of 2021
PRs: 53.60 400m, also 23.11 200m, 38.33i 300m, 1:14.49i 500m
Notes: Emerging as one of the best U.S. prep sprinters, Pyatt has the early national lead in the 300m (38.33 Marine Corp title) and 500m (1:14.49) … her 53.60 400 PR came last summer in capturing USATF JO national title (15-16yo) … won VA state Class 5 100 last spring, plus 3rd in 200 and 400 … at indoor state was 2nd in 500, plus top 5 in 55 and 300 … took 6th in NBNI 400 final last March (54.87 indoor PR).

Victoria Bossong

Bishop Cheverus HS, Portland, ME
400m/4x200, Junior, Class of 2021
PRs: 53.81 400m, also 24.54 200m, 39.68i 300m, 2:18.08 800m
Notes: After winning last March’s NBNI Emerging Elite title with 55.28 indoor PR, Bossong got her first sub-54 in last June’s NBNO championship final – taking 8th at 53.81 and “skipping” the 54’s(!) … 39.68 indoor 300m PR came in New England Champs 3rd-place finish … already has 8 Maine Class A state titles through soph year, including tripling the 100/200/400 last spring and 60/200/400 last winter.

Charlee Crawford

St. Georges Tech, Middletown, DE
400m/4x200, Junior, Class of 2021
PRs: 54.55 400m, also 24.53 200m, 1:37.55 600m
Notes: Crawford set her 54.55 400m PR in winning the ’18 NBNO frosh 400 … she was also 3rd in NBNI Emerging Elite 400 last winter with 55.60 indoor PR … has already won 7 DIAA state titles in the 200 and 400, overcoming shin splint issues this past spring for two more … started her ’19-’20 indoor season off with a 3rd in Bishop Loughlin 600m (1:37.55) … has also run 2:22.25 for 800.

Gianna Paul

Whitman HS, South Huntington, NY
400m/4x200, Sophomore, Class of 2022
PRs: 54.85 400m, also 25.07 200m, 39.63 300m, 18-5 LJ
Note: Paul’s fast start to her current indoor season includes 39.99 runner-up 300m finish at Bishop Loughlin … her 400 PR came at a great time, a 54.85 that won her the NY state title last June … followed that with 55.95 3rd in NBNO freshman 400 … she was 4th in the same 9th-grade event at NBNI three months earlier … scored her big 18-5 LJ PR at Long Island Elite Meet indoor.

Taylor James

Niwot HS, Niwot, CO
800m, Junior, Class of 2021
PRs: 2:05.83 800m, also 24.76 200m, 54.25 400m, 4:59.35 1600m, 5-8.25 HJ
Notes: James set her US#6 2:05.83 800m PR with a stellar Music City Carnival victory, one of four 800s at 2:08 or faster for her last spring … two weeks earlier, she had tripled the 200, 400 and 800 at her 4A state meet … has incredible range, ranging from 12.48/24.76 dashes to 4:59.35 1,600 and 17:37 for 5k XC … on top of all that, she is a consistent 5-3 to 5-6 high jumper – including a 5-8.25 as a frosh in ’18.

Marlee Starliper

Northern HS, Dillsburg, PA
800m, Senior, Class of 2020
PRs: 2:09.44 800m, also 4:37.45 1,600m, 4:39.05i 1M, 9:20.91i 3,000m, 9:58.22i 2M
Notes: Arguably one of top 3 prep distance girls in the nation overall, Starliper is coming off XC season that finished with 5th at NXN and 2nd at Foot Locker … won NBNO mile title last June at 4:41.18 after 2nd by .01 at NBNI (4:39.05) … won USATF U20 3,000m to make Team USA for Pan Am U20s, where she won silver medal … NC State signee also won Millrose Mile last winter and Penn Relays mile in ’18.


Malcolm Johnson

St. Stephens & St. Agnes School, Alexandria, VA
60m/4x200, Junior, Class of 2021
PRs: 6.86 60m, also 6.38 55m, 10.50 100m, 21.37w/22.19i 200m
Notes: Coming off a new 6.38 60m PR to win Montgomery Invite, Malcolm brings talent and experience to the table -- having also repped Team NSAF in Iceland in '19 ... after 6.96 for 3rd in Iceland last winter, he went on to win 2 VISAA state titles, plus 1 runner-up, and take 7th at NBNI (1st soph) with 6.86 ... also won NBNO frosh 100 in '18 at 10.62.


Laurenz Colbert

Eleanor Roosevelt HS, Greenbelt, MD
60m/4x200, Junior, Class of 2021
PRs: 6.91 60m, also 10.62/10.59w 100m, 21.57 200m
Notes: Colbert’s indoor season is off to a strong start with PRs at 300m (36.37) and 60m (6.91), the latter for 2nd at Prince George Holiday Invite … big improvement came last summer, with 10.62 PR at International Youth Champs in MD, then finishing with a 100/200 sweep at Russell Blunt Invite with 10.59w/21.57 PRs … as a freshman in ’18, he was 4th in indoor AAU JO national 200 final.

Gavin Sawchuk

Valor Christian HS, Highlands Ranch, CO
60m/4x200, Sophomore, Class of 2022
PRs: 6.89 60m, also 6.46 55m, 10.62 100m, 21.81/21.99i 200m
Notes: Sawchuck was the NBNI Frosh 60m runner-up last March with 6.93, and also ranked #2 for season with 6.89 PR … ranked #1 among 9th-graders in indoor 200, as well, at 21.99 … outdoors he brought 10.62 and 21.81 PRs into state, but injured hamstring after winning 100 prelims … brought stellar record in age-group completion into frosh year at Valor … he’s also a 5-star running back in football.

Calob Larson

Legacy HS, Bismarck, ND
400m/4x200, Junior, Class of 2021
PRs: 48.21 400m, also 7.05i 60m, 10.78 100m, 21.97 200m, 21-9.75 LJ
Notes: Larson already has nine individual North Dakota Class A state titles to his credit from his frosh and soph seasons, sweeping the outdoor 100m, 200 and 400 in ’18 and ’19, and the 60m, 200m and 400m last winter … his 48.21 best came in the Charlie Denton meet in April … he was also the runner-up in both the Howard Wood 100m and 200m last spring … his 48.22 400m at state in ’18 was the fastest by any 9th-grader in the country.

Tyler Shue

Ephrata HS, Ephrata PA
800m, Senior, Class of 2020
PRs: 1:50.39 800m, also 4:15.20 1600m
Notes: Another of 4 Team NSAF seniors, Shue’s crowning achievement is the ’19 NBNO 800m title with his US#5 1:50.39 PR, completing an unbeaten season … he was the 800m PA AAA state runner-up in and out as a soph in ’18, then swept both as a junior, with the outdoor title being 3-second PR that set up NBNO … set his 4:15.20 1600m PR while 2nd in league meet … he has signed with Penn State.

Cole Sprout

Valor Christian HS, Highlands Ranch, CO
1500m, Senior, Class of 2020
PRs: 3:47.19 1,500m, also 4:04.19 1M, 8:40.73 3,200m, 1:53.87 800m
Notes: Sprout was unbeaten in 1M/1600 last year, including state, Chandler Rotary and Music City (4:04.19 1M PR) victories … the Stanford commit set his US#2 4:06.68 indoor mile PR with NBNI runner-up finish … his US#2 8:40.73 3,200 PR came in epic Arcadia finish (but narrow loss) vs. Nico Young … he finished 3rd and 7th in the past two NXN XC national finals … he has captured seven state titles through first three years.


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