Cuffe and Verzbicas Claim National Titles at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships National Finals
San Diego, Calif., December 11, 2010 – Aisling Cuffe of Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y., and Lukas Verzbicas of Orland Hills, Ill., won the 2010 Foot Locker Cross Country Championships National Finals (FLCCC) at Morley Field, Balboa Park in San Diego, Calif., today. The runners competed in perfect racing conditions, under beautiful sunny skies with a temperature of 60 degrees.
In the girls’ race, Cuffe, a three-time FLCCC National Finalist and senior at Cornwall Central High School, dominated from the start and powered through the field. Cuffe took an early lead, pushed the pace and opened the gap even further to capture the title in 16:53. Rachel Johnson of Plano, Texas, placed second in 17:27, and Julie Nacouzi of Santa Rosa, Calif., finished third in 17:29. Johnson, a senior at Plano High School and Nacouzi, a senior at Montgomery High School, are two-time FLCCC National Finalists.
In the boys’ race, a large chase group of runners led by defending FLCCC National Champion Lukas Verzbicas and Futsum Zeinasellassie of Indianapolis, Ind., set a hard, fast pace hitting the mile-mark in 4:45. The two runners started pulling away from the field coming off the hill and ran neck-and-neck heading toward the two-mile mark, at which point Verzbicas began to push the pace. Zeinasellassie tried to answer the surge, but Verzbicas continued to open the gap to become the FLCCC National Champion for the second consecutive year in 14:59. Verzbicas is the third male runner to capture two consecutive FLCCC National titles in the history of the race (Abdirizak Mohamud ’96 & ’97; Dathan Ritzenhein ’99 & 2000). Zeinasellassie placed second in 15:10, with Tony Smoragiewicz of Rapid City, S.D., finishing third in 15:16. The Foot Locker Cross Country Championships is comprised of four regional 5K races, which took place across the country in the Midwest (Kenosha, Wis.), Northeast (Kings Park, N.Y.), and South (Charlotte, N.C.) on Nov. 27, and the West (Walnut, Calif.) on Dec. 4, culminating in the National Finals here today. The pre-race and race footage can be viewed online at footlockercc.com.