US Junior Championships
It was a day of confident front-running in the Junior Men’s & Women’s races today. Boulder, one of America’s top running communities, hosted the event, which was held at the Flat Iron Golf Course. Boulder is at altitude but one would never have suspected, while Elise Cranny and Sean McGorty both went out fast and dominated their respective fields. In both races their possible challengers failed to accept the challenge, as brisk early paces were never covered. The only question was whether the altitude would cause the leaders to falter. Those, who ran conservatively, were left well back in their wake and in the end there was no doubt about the credentials of either of our new national champions,
McGorty, a Stanford freshman who placed second at Foot Locker in 2012, pressed from the gun and held a sizable gap in less than two minutes. The 8K course, which is hardly challenging, was wet in spots but a wind of about 16 MPH made it made it more difficult. The temperature may have been 36 degrees yet it seemed ideally pleasant for McGorty, who opened up a fifteen second lead by the five minute mark. At that point seven harriers had already essentially been relegated to vying for second place. That group witnessed Jack Keelan & (I believe) Bailey Roth as the titular leaders. Sam Wharton of Stanford & Steven Fahy followed in close pursuit, as did Richard Ho of UCLA and Kevin Polman of Oklahoma. Safely tucked into that small phalanx was John Dressel of Mt. Spokane, who ran a brilliant race. Dressel, who recently placed second in the prestigious Foot Locker National Championship, is only a prep junior and well younger than the rest of that group.
McGorty ran in the front with confidence and determination and continued to push the pace. As the race ensued he widened the gap and his only sign of concern was a brief glance over his shoulder on one of the sweeping turns. The snow-capped Rockies in the distance appeared as sentinels keeping watch over the elite harriers, who were game enough to take on each other and the altitude. Relentless in pursuit of his first national title the Sean continued to widen the gap before finally finishing in a very fine 24:43 for the 8K distance.
While McGorty made sure there was little drama concerning the winner, there was a fine struggle being waged for the various positions behind him. Stanford teammate Jack Keelin and Sam Wharton ran together for a time with Keelan looking quite fluid yet running an impressive race was the young Dressel, who gradually moved from eighth place into fifth by the thirteen minute mark on the race. Running with poise beyond his years Dressel positioned himself in fourth just two minutes later and appeared ready to challenge more of his elders until they pulled away in the final stages of the race. The Stanford teammates worked together to assert themselves and only competed against each other down the final stretch. Still at race’s end he easily remained in fourth in 25:42 behind Jack Keelan & Sam Wharton, who were both credited with 25:26.
Estevan De La Rosa, a senior from Arcadia, ran solid fifth with a time 25:52. Thanks to the folly of the Arcadia administration Estevan ran for his fired coach as a member of O’Brien’s Army. Hats off to the young senior, who shows far more sense than his elders, who are entrusted with academic power. It was a good day for high school runners, for Steven Fahy, a senior from La Costa Canyon placed sixth in 25:54. Kevin Polman followed in seventh in 26:01
Elise Cranny came in as the pre-race favorite and ran accordingly. The senior from Niwot High in Colorado had broken away from the field in less than a minute and never looked back en route to a commanding victory on the 6K course in 21:14. Allie Buchalski was a distant second in 22:05 and Sarah DiSanza followed four seconds later.
One of the feel-good stories of the meet was Grace Tinkey, who placed fourth in 22:12. Two years ago in St. Louis she was one of the lead pack, when she broke her leg on the frozen course. The injury was so severe it took her over a year to recover and cost her the chance of becoming a rare four-time Foot Locker qualifier, although in a classy act by the company Grace was invited to participate in the Foot Locker events. Still it was inspiring to see Tinkey had persevered on the hard road back to medal in our national championship.
Katie Rainsberger, a senior at Air Academy in Colorado, garnered fifth and was the second prep runner with her time of 22:22 and Sabrina Seay of UCLA took sixth in 22:33. Jamie Shannon finished seventh with 22:51, while Laura Hamilton came in eighth with23:12. Hamilton is a senior at Classical Academy in Colorado. Also of note is the fifteenth place finish Roni Yamane of Arcadia, who represented O’Brien’s Army with her time of 24:07.
It was a fine day of running, that included impressive wins in the Open Division by Chris Derrick and Amy Van Alstine. Derrick successfully defended his title by making a break in mid-race and pulling away from former champion Bobby Mack. Van Alstine, who had not even been mentioned in some previews for some reason, ran with authority also on her way to her first national title. Unfortunately none of this year’s medalist will represent America, because there will be no World Championship this year. Our runners deserve much better from the so-called world representative. My suggestion is to run the Super Bowl once a decade & World XC every year and hope for a less obese globe.