LAMONT, Calif. (KGET) — Students of the Lamont School District have qualified to compete in a prestigious cross country meet in Tennessee but they still need around $3,500 to reach their goal.

These 13 elementary and middle school students have worked all year to prepare for nationals and they have had multiple fundraisers.

“Running means a lot to me. I’ve loved running since I was little. I never gave up the running opportunity. I just kept on going forward and now I’m here,” Rodrigo Guerra, one of the athletes, said.

Rodrigo Guerra and the 12 other students from the Lamont School District are traveling to Tennessee next week to compete at the Amateur Athletic Union National Cross Country Championships in Knoxville.

But they’re seeking the community’s help, as they haven’t raised all the money they need.

“They are all required to meet a $475 dollar monetary requirement and most of our students are not able to give those $475 dollars, so those $475 dollars, those $6,000 in total, it is going to go toward their flight, their hotel stay,” Maria Gonzalez, the Lamont country coach, said.

Aileen Hernandez says being a cross-country runner has opened many doors for her.

“I’ve never gotten the opportunity to be on an airplane or go running a far distance, but I feel very great about myself because it’s my passion and I’ve been running ever since I was in 1st grade,” Aileen Hernandez said.

Meanwhile, the team’s cross country coach, Maria Gonzalez, says nationals is more than just a race.

“Cross country is all about a growth mindset, and really being able to work passed that pain, and I think it really teaches them life lessons, so I do think that this is an opportunity that they have and if we’re able to make this possible for them, it’ll just allow them to go to different places,” Gonzalez said.

For Rodrigo Guerra, bringing back a trophy means not only a victory for the team but also a victory for Lamont.

“It feels great to represent Lamont. If we accomplish doing it, then everyone is going to know me and say oh that’s the kid that won. And I’ll say yeah that’s me,” Rodrigo Guerra said.

If you’d like to donate, you can contact the team’s coach Maria Gonzalez at (559)670-0157