Charlestown roots run deep. Family roots even deeper. That’s why “Townie Pride” waves supreme in honor to a son and grandson of one of the town’s well known families, the McGonagles of Elm Street.
Ten year old James Donahue of Reading, son of Andy and Marie McGonagle Donahue and grandson of Marie and Charlie McGonagle, took first place in the Junior Olympic Championship Cross Country competition held in San Antonia, Texas, the youngest person in the their 60 year history to win the race.
The fifth grader started running in August and spent the autumn breaking records in meets throughout the district. These outstanding achievements won him a spot as a member of the Sentinel Striders USA Track and Field New England Junior Team.
James clinched his medal in a 3K race for boys ages 9 & 10 in 5:20 minutes, beating out 329 other runners, making him the first Massachusetts athlete to ever win a Cross Country Junior Olympics National Championship and the 2nd youngest athlete in the USA Track and Field New England Association to win a national title.
Watching her son approaching the finish line in Texas, his mother Marie remembers “having chills up my spine.” She added, “He worked really hard for the national competition. I want him to know that it pays off. If you are dedicated and work hard, you will succeed. He proved that to himself.”
After crossing the finish line, watching his parents crying with joy and his brother Charlie and sister Elizabeth cheering hysterically, James said, “I was just surprised I did it!”
A well rounded athlete, James also plays hockey, baseball and lacrosse. Hid dad, Andy, said, “One day he’ll need to narrow his focus, but for now he’s enjoying being active on the trail, ice and fields. Participating is always a great way to spend time and enjoy the moment.”
After a recent session at the State House with James receiving a certificate honoring his big win and even after the receipt of the “Athlete of the Month” award by the USA Track and Field New England Association, in his humble manner, James, when asked what he thought of his running skills, said, “I like to get outside. It’s really fun.”