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Cambridge Students to Compete at National Orienteering Championships

Cambridge Students to Compete at National Orienteering Championships
Posted on 03/22/2016
Two teams of Cambridge students will compete at the 2016 USA Nationals in the sport of orienteering in Ohio on April 1-3. On each day, the athletes will race both on and off trail using only map and compass, with distances ranging from 2.5 to 6 kilometers, as the crow flies. Each course consists of a series of checkpoints on the map. The competitors will not know the course until the start of the race. As they run, they must optimize route choice to simplify the navigation and avoid mapped obstacles and excessive climb.

The Intermediate team students attend the 7th grade at Cambridge Street Upper School (CSUS): Nicolena Capello, Alex Rosenberg, Harlan Altepeter, and captain Keegan Harkavy. Junior Isak Prellner will captain the Cambridge Rindge and Latin (CRLS) team; the other members are senior Walter Ditrani, and sophomores Pilli Cruz-De Jesus, Ethan Rothenberg and Jeffrey Chen. Jeffrey chose to be on the team to “be outside more, connect to nature, and release stress.”

The teams have been training to hone their map navigation skills in parks in Cambridge, and in forests around the Boston area. Keegan Harkavy reports that his strategy at the races will be to “take my time, make sure I know where I am going, and use what I have learned in training.” Harlan Altepeter’s approach will be to “try not to get lost and take the most efficient route, keeping the map oriented at all times.” This is the first time Cambridge has fielded teams to the Interscholastic Championships, which draws competitors from across the country and is held annually. The CSUS team members learned orienteering when it was offered as an elective at their school last year by Physical Education teacher Daniel Fusco. The high school team members developed strong running ability on the CRLS crosscountry and track teams, coached by Scott Cody and Jamahl Prince.

Local organization Navigation Games is providing coaching and equipment. Once they arrive in Ohio, the students will be coached by Isabel Bryant, 18, a 2015 CRLS graduate who was named the 2015 Junior of the Year by Orienteering USA, and competed for Team USA at the Junior World Orienteering Championships the past four years. Local clubs Cambridge Sports Union and the New England Orienteering Club have provided support for the Cambridge teams, including training maps. The teams are raising funds to pay the cost of the trip, and gratefully acknowledge the financial support of individual orienteers, family, friends, and businesses.

About Orienteering

Orienteering is a navigation sport. Using only a map and compass, competitors navigate through a series of checkpoints in forest and park terrain. The fastest competitor to visit all the checkpoints in the correct order and return to the finish wins. The sport started in Sweden in the 1800s as a military training exercise and came to the US in the 1960s. CSUS Team Captain Keegan Harkavy stated, “I recommend orienteering to anyone who likes running but finds it a bit boring. Orienteering is a sport that uses running, but also has a mental aspect that makes it more fun.” Harlan Altepeter describes orienteering’s benefits as “having fun, getting exercise and map reading skills.”

About Navigation Games

Navigation Games was founded in 2015 to bring map navigation skills and outdoor experiences to children in Cambridge. In 2015, Navigation Games delivered 167 hours of teaching and training, reaching over 400 people, mostly children, through school, after-school, and community programs. Notably, we partnered with the Cambridge Community Schools to bring navigation education to 7 different afterschool programs. Navigation Games applied for tax exempt status in 2016.

About the New England Orienteering Club and the Cambridge Sports Union
Both the New England Orienteering Club and Cambridge Sports Union host several orienteering meets per month throughout the fall and spring in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and eastern Connecticut. In 2015 the two clubs hosted 46 meets. For more information click here or here. CSU was founded by Cantabridgians Larry and Sara Mae Berman, and celebrates its 54th anniversary this year.

About Orienteering USA
Orienteering USA is the national governing body of US orienteering; it was founded in 1971 and is comprised of 60 local orienteering clubs. Learn more >>