Acasio Pinheiro has only been running for the last four years but he has already come a long way in the sport.
Earlier this month, the 10-year-old Princeton resident placed second in the AAU Cross Country Nationals Championship meet in Orlando, Fla. A year earlier, Pinheiro had placed third in the AAU national event.
For Pinheiro, a fifth grader at the Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart, taking up the sport was a way to continue a family tradition.
“I started running when I was six,” said Pinheiro, who placed first in the New Jersey AAU race to qualify for the national competition. “My dad was a runner when he was young and I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
Pinheiro’s dad, Angelo, imparted some of his knowledge to Acasio after he showed an interest in running.
“My dad made me train before I raced,” said Pinheiro. “I run with the Sport Newark club now. I run 3.2 miles a day, six days a week.”
The active Pinheiro, who also wrestles and plays baseball, sees running as a way to channel his energy.
“Running helps calm me down,” said Pinheiro, whose cousins, Rui and Marco, are soccer stars at the Princeton Day School. “I like passing people; it is just having fun.”
While Pinheiro enjoyed himself at the AAU race, he had mixed emotions about the result.
“I was proud but I was also sad because I wanted to win,” said Pinheiro, who covered the 3k course in 10:59.81 with the winner, Lucas Bourgoyne clocking a time of 10:48.97. “I will be trying to win next year.”
Pinheiro is planning to win a lot of races over the next 10 years or so.
“I want to run in high school, college, and all the way to the Olympics,” said Pinheiro.