#TeamNSAF is on its way to Iceland!

by Steve Underwood

A crack group of a dozen of the nation’s best prep sprinters and middle-distance runners, selected last month by the NSAF will travel Friday night (Jan. 31) to Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik to compete in the final day of the 2020 Reykjavik International Games (RIG) – a unique European two-week winter multi-sports festival (https://www.rig.is/en). The track & field portion of the Games, in which Team NSAF will compete, takes place on Sunday, February 2.

Team NSAF, a mix of a dozen accomplished seniors and fast-rising underclassmen from eight states, 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.

At right, see the #TeamNSAF 2019 Iceland squad, with NSAF staff after the competition in Reykjavik.

The squad includes six girls and six boys, with all competing in individual events and four from each gender contesting the 4x200m relay. Sprinters Victoria Bossong (Cumberland Foreside, ME), Charlee Crawford (Newark, DE) and Gianna Paul (Huntington Station, NY) will compete in the women’s 400m; Aaliyah Pyatt (Fredericksburg, VA) will contest a high-powered 200m; and all four will run the relay. Meanwhile, Taylor James (Erie, CO) and Marlee Starliper (Wellsville, PA) will run the 800m. Starliper is the reigning NBNO mile champ and a double All-American XC runner, among her many credentials. Pyatt is among the current national indoor leaders 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 Jr. (hometown Fort Washington, MD), 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. Johnson is representing Team NSAF for the third time (Iceland and Havana, Cuba last year). 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 – while Sprout is a 2-time NXN All-American and 8:40 3,200m runner.

Following many years 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 international indoor meet trip – sending eight student-athletes to this unique event. 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. The event was so successful that we’re doing it again – and with more athletes.

RIG Event Site | RIG Facebook Page | Iceland Athletics Facebook (several Team NSAF photos) | RIG Instagram | RIG Youtube

NSAF Home Page | Upcoming coverage on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Youtube

Here are the bios of each Team NSAF athlete for the Reykjavik International Games, with current statistics through Jan. 28:

Jump to history of Team NSAF in Iceland and Cuba.


Aaliyah Pyatt

Massaponax HS, Fredericksburg, VA
200m/4x200, Junior, Class of 2021
PRs: 53.60 400m, also 7.07i 55m, 23.11 200m(24.20i), 38.29i 300m, 1:12.87i 500m
Notes: Pyatt has been one of the nation’s top prep sprinters all winter, setting early U.S. leaders and still in the top 10 from the 55m to the 500m (US#5 1:12.87) … 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 7.37i 55m, 24.54 200m, 39.68i 300m, 2:18.08 800m
Notes: After her 55.28 indoor PR NBNI Emerging Elite title, Bossong got her first sub-54 in last June’s NBNO championship final – 8th at 53.81 (“skipping” the 54’s!) … her 39.68 indoor 300m PR came in New England Champs 3rd-place finish … she already has 8 Maine Class A state titles through soph year, including the 100/200/400 last spring and 60/200/400 last winter … has run two meets in ’20 so far, with 56.51 400m best.

Charlee Crawford

St. Georges Tech, Middletown, DE
400m/4x200, Junior, Class of 2021
PRs: 54.55 400m, also 7.25i 55m, 24.53 200m, 39.34i 300m, 1:16.14i 500m, 1:37.55i 600m
Notes: Crawford has set PRs at 6 distances this winter, including 39.94 300m and 1:16.14 500m, both good for 3rd at New Balance Games … also won Ocean Breeze Invite 400m (56.47) … she 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 best … already has 7 Delaware state titles in the 200 and 400, overcoming shin splint issues this past spring for two more.

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, plus 40.12 victory at Bullis Speed Invite … her 400 PR came at a great time, a 54.85 that won her the NY state title last June … fshe ollowed 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: During low-key start to ’20 season, James has raced from 60m to a mile, highlighted by 1:36.57 600m PR win at Let’s Get REAL Classic … she set 2:05.83 800m PR with Music City victory last spring, one of four 800s at 2:08 or faster … at her 4A state meet, she tripled the 200, 400 and 800 … great range: 12.48/24.76 dashes to 4:59.35 1,600 and 17:37 for 5k XC … plus she’s a consistent 5-3 to 5-6 high jumper – reaching 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 overall, Starliper is coming off a stellar XC season topped by 5th at NXN and 2nd at Foot Locker … strong ’20 indoor start includes US#1 2:49.17 1k and 10:23.59 3,200 … won NBNO mile title last June at 4:41.18 after 2nd by .01 at NBNI (4:39.05) … captured USATF U20 3,000m to make Team USA for Pan Am U20s, where she won silver medal … NC State signee also won ’19 Millrose Mile and ’18 Penn Relays Mile.


Malcolm Johnson

St. Stephens & St. Agnes School, Alexandria, VA
60m/4x200, Junior, Class of 2021
PRs: 6.86 60m, also 6.26 55m, 10.38 100m, 21.37w/21.72i 200m
Notes: Johnson brings tremendous experience and talent to the table, including having already twice represented Team NSAF in Iceland last winter (6.96 60m, 3rd) and Cuba last spring (10.38 PR, 2nd) … he’s also had a fantastic indoor season to date, highlighted by a US#2 6.26 55m PR win at the VA Showcase … he finished last winter with two VISAA state titles, plus 1 runner-up, and took 7th at NBNI (1st soph) with 6.86 ... also won the 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 6.41i 55m, 10.62/10.59w 100m, 21.57 200m(21.64i), 35.16i 300m
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: 6.78 60m, also 6.46 55m, 10.62 100m, 21.81/21.99i 200m
Notes: Sawchuck has just one indoor meet so far in ’20, but it was a doozy, a then-US#1 6.78 60m at USATF-CO AC Invite 3 weeks ago that’s still US#4 and #1 soph … in ’19, he was #1 frosh indoors at 200m (21.99) and #2 at 60m (6.89) and NBNI Frosh 60m runner-up at 6.93 … outdoors he brought 10.62 and 21.81 PRs into state, but injured hamstring after winning 100 prelims … had great age-group success before HS … 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 ND Class A state titles to his credit from his first two 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 100m and 200m at the ’19 Howard Wood … his 48.22 400m at state in ’18 was the fastest by any 9th-grader in the country … Iceland will be his ’20 indoor debut.

Tyler Shue

Ephrata HS, Ephrata PA
800m, Senior, Class of 2020
PRs: 1:50.39 800m (1:53.85i), 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 … low key start to ’20 includes recent 1:58.77 victory.

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 three years … Iceland will be his ’20 debut.

How did 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).


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