(Strafford, MO) -- A local runner has been chosen to represent Missouri cross country in the 24th annual Down Under Sports Tournaments in Australia.
Anthony Gott, 17, is a high school student, but his ability to outrun most kids his age is what got him invited. Gott says he realized he had a gift in the 7th grade.
"Whenever I started finishing in first, second, and third, whenever I was running for junior high."
He says he didn't become serious about cross country until after he quit another hobby.
"I was doing football at the same time, but then my parents made me quit football because I had a cousin who had an accident in football."
But his mom says it didn't matter what sport he was playing. He was always good at it.
"He played football all through school and he liked running and when he runs he can just run more and he doesn't really get tired," says Amanda Gott.
He says his favorite part of the sport is practice -- just hanging with the guys.
"We talk the entire time that we go, so they always make it something funny."
To him and his friends, cross country is not just running.
"It's more of a lifestyle than even a sport," says Jackson Eiken, Anthony's friend and teammate.
Gott says it's nice to have a group of people that you can relate to.
"We're social outcasts. We don't really fit in with anyone else, so it's nice having a few guys you can talk to."
While Gott might feel that way, Eiken says he's very well-liked.
"He does great in school. He's got good character. He's one of those people, in front of people and behind the scenes, is a good person all around."
Gott can run a 6-minute mile for about 3.1 miles. That statistic makes the upper classman fear for their top spots.
"Whenever someone younger gets really good or something like that, they kind of talk you down, just to try to keep you in your place."
But that won't stop him from raising money to compete in a tournament halfway around the world.
"Who doesn't want to compare themselves to the rest of the world to see how they're doing?"
And he's already prepared.
"I even got a passport! It's the first passport I've ever had and I really want to use it this year!"
Other kids were offered the opportunity to go, but Anthony is the only one who took the initiative to try and raise the $5,000 it will take.
If you want to help Anthony make it to Aussie-land you can find help him by filling out the form below. Under federal statutes, Van Matre is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 60 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $500,000.
A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
Van Matre remains in federal custody; he was ordered to surrender any weapons he owns.