Makena Morley crossed the finish line one more time this year and concluded a remarkable season with All-American honors.
The Bigfork junior placed eighth Saturday at the 35th annual Foot Locker Cross Country Championships National Finals in San Diego. It capped her historic cross country season with her best finish at the de facto national championship event.
In a race featuring 40 of the best high school runners in the nation, Montana’s lone competitor clocked 17 minutes, 43 seconds in the five-kilometer race and finished in a tight pack of six runners all within 12 seconds of each other. As a freshman, she ran 17:40 and placed ninth. Last year she ran 18:12 and placed 24th.
Tessa Barrett, a senior from Waverly, Penn., won in 17:16. Hannah DeBalsi, a sophomore from Westport, Conn., placed second, 17:26.
Click here for full results.
Grant Fisher of Grand Blanc, Mich., won the boys race in 15:07.
Last weekend Morley won the Foot Locker Western Regional in muddy conditions and rainy weather. She captured the 5K title in 18:06. She won by 20 seconds to claim her first Foot Locker regional victory after placing third both as a sophomore and freshman.
Morley’s junior season will stand out in Montana’s history books. Earlier this fall, Morley broke Zoe Nelson’s 2002 all-class state record, clocking 16:50 at the championship meet in Missoula and shattering the old mark by 15 seconds. It earned Makena her third consecutive Class B title as well as a shout out in the Nov. 11 edition of Sports Illustrated. The fleet-footed junior hasn’t missed a step since the high school season ended. She qualified for the Nike Cross Nationals after placing second at the Nike Northwest Regional in Boise. She ran the 5,000-meter championship race in 17:36, finishing nine seconds behind first-place Alexa Efraimson of Oregon.
Here is a recap of the race provided by Foot Locker staff:
In the girls’ five-kilometer race, Barrett took control after a swift opening mile and never looked back … Utah’s Lucy Biles (seventh in 17:43) set a swift pace early on, with the pack still bunched as it approached the first trip through the hilliest portion of the Balboa course. Just beyond the mile mark, Barrett used the downhill to gain her first advantage. The only runners to respond to Barrett’s decisive breakaway move were Iowa’s Stephanie Jenks (ninth in 17:43), who hugged her shoulder for a few moments, Virginia’s Caroline Alcorta (third in 17:31) and Missouri’s Taylor Werner (10th in 17:44). From there, however, it was all Barrett, who turned the final two miles into her own personal victory tour. Barrett finished with splits of 11:03 at the two-mile mark and 16:42 at the three-mile mark en route to her Foot Locker national title which she captured in 17:16.
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