At the AAU National Cross Country Championships in Florida, three runners from Sacramento-based Loomis Elite hit the course in the girls 15-18 5000-meter race: Cate Joaquin (far left), Riley Chamberlain (833), and Harper McClain (far right). (Credit: Adair Lyden)
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While California continues toward a full pandemic-related shutdown, Golden State high school and youth distance runners hit the road Saturday and left their mark in Arizona, Florida and Texas.
In Arizona, a one-off grassroots event titled Sundown 5000 at Eastmark High in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa, the obviously fit boys of Newbury Park made history. In Texas, Crescenta Valley (SS) senior Mia Barnett held her own in an elite field in Lubbock, and in Florida, athletes from across the state grabbed AAU titles and medals in Tallahassee.
Saturday night in Arizona, junior Colin Sahlman won the 12-runner boys 5K in 14:27.03 leading four others from the Newbury Park Athletic Club under 14:50, including sophomore Lex Young, whose 14:27.11 finish made history.
Young's result, officially timed by Greg Wayne of Event Management, LLC, set a CA sophomore record previously set at 14:27.14 by Yong-Sung Leal of San Lorenzo Arroyo (NC) in 2001.
NPAC coach Sean Brosnan said that Sahlman led most of the race and had to "do the hard work of being the pacer. Lex got to get pulled to a new CA sophomore record!"
Senior Patrick Curulla (De La Salle/NC) was the first non-Newbury Park athlete to finish, placing sixth in 15:00.01. Senior Nathan Lennox (Great Oak/SS) was seventh (15:16.40), senior Aaron Sahlman (Newbury Park/SS) eighth (15:17.25) and sophomore Jacob Swanson (Jesuit/SJ) was ninth (15:21.91).
Newbury Park AC junior Samantha McDonnell ran 17:04.86 as the lone girl to compete.
Brosnan said "it was a last minute decision" to race in Arizona after a scheduled event in CA was cancelled.
"I'm just glad all the guys got an official race and times," Brosnan said. "I believe we have six guys that can break (nine minutes) in the 3200m this spring. They are fit and motivated to be great!"
(In the inserted John Hays photo from Desert Twilight in October, Colin Sahlman, right, and Lex Young, lead the boys 5K field, with Nicholas Goldstein a stride back on the left.)
High School Cross Country Invitational
Thorvaldson, from Wyoming, and Brown, from Texas, entered the race ranked No. 3 and No. 2, respectively, in the MileSplit50 rankings. Senior Sophie Atkinson, from Texas, crossed fourth in 17:12.20 and junior Abby VanderKooi, from Michigan, was fifth in 17:34.22.
Barnett is a three-time Southern Section Division V champion, two-time State Meet runner-up, and 2019 Foot Locker West Regional champion. She recently signed with the University of Virginia where she will be joined by Atkinson.
Barnett broke with Thorvaldson and Brown from the start and remained among the leaders throughout. Barnett says going out fast has been part of her training in this interview with MileSplitTX editor Will Grundy.
Interview with Mia Barnett
AAU National Cross Country Championships
Sadie Engelhardt, a record-setting distance runner on the track over the summer, earned a cross country national title on Saturday in the girls 13-14 age division 4000-meter run. Engelhardt, 14, who won both the 1,500m and 3,000 meter races at the AAU Junior Olympic Games in August, setting an age group record for 1,500, won Saturday in 13:19.82.
Engelhardt, representing Valley United Striders, finished 2.11 seconds ahead of Sydney Collier of Cascade Striders (Bellevue, WA), and nearly four seconds faster than Tessa Walter of Kokopelli Racing (Colorado Springs, CO).
Engelhardt attends Cabrillo Middle School in Ventura and will attend Ventura High School in the fall of 2021. Below, she discusses her strategy for the race in this interview with Florida MileSplit editor Adair Lyden.
Interview with Sadie Engelhardt
Also in the 13-14 girls race (a 214-runner field), representing the Los Gatos Track Club, Chiara Bonomi placed eighth (13:40,67), Shea Elmore was ninth (13:41.37) and Kylie Hoornaert was 13th (13:47.03). Arielle McKenzie of Pacific Coast Shockwaves was 12th (13:46.45) and Tiffany Sax (Valley United TC) was 14th (13:48.37)
Loomis Elite from the Sacramento area, brought nine girls to the meet, including CIF-State champions Riley Chamberlain and Harper McClain. The girls 15-18 age group was broken into divisions of Young Women (17-18) and Intermediate (15-16) but team scores were overall and Loomis Elite narrowly took the title, falling one point short of Kokopelli Racing.
Loomis Elite, created about four months ago by Del Oro coach Dustin Fee, grew, he said, because of Riley Chamberlain "and a lot of her friendships that she had developed through racing over the years."
He said Chamberlain and McClain had been roommates last December at Team Nationals in Portland. The development of that relationship led to McClain running with the club.
Loomis Elite circled the AAU Nationals from the outset and gave athletes an opportunity to not only train, but train toward competing in a confirmed event.
Among Young Women (17-18), the Oregon-bound McClain placed seventh in 17:48.51 in a race won by Stanford University freshman Zofia Dudek, the 2019 Foot Locker National champion. Dudek, from Michigan, finished the 5K course in 16:16.16, some 38 seconds faster than runner-up Brooke Rauber of South Tully (NY) and a North Carolina State recruit.
McClain, a senior at St. Helena (NC) and the defending CIF-State Division V cross country champion, crossed in 17:48.51.
Cate Joaquin, a junior at Sacramento St. Francis, also running for Loomis, was 10th in 18:14.89. Joaquin, fourth at the CIF-State Championships in Division II and a Foot Locker National finalist in 2019, fell toward the finish and scrambled to dive over the line to earn nine points in the team scoring, Fee said.
Among Intermediate Women (15-16), Chamberlain, a junior at Del Oro (SJ), was fourth in 17:22.43 in a field won by Riley Stewart, a junior from Greenwood Villiage (CO) Cherry Creek HS and Kokopelli Racing (17:02.04). Chamberlain, a two-time CIF-State Division III champion, was eighth overall in the merge of the 15-18 girls.
Among Intermediate Women, Natalie Wieland, a junior at Ponderosa (SJ) representing Loomis Elite and competing for the first time in more than 13 months, was 11th (18:12.21).
Tiani Goeson, a junior at Serrano (SS) representing Pacific Coast Shockwaves, was 12th (18:16.20); Daniela Quintero, a junior at Harvard Westlake representing PC Shockwaves, was 14th (18:20.51); freshman Karissa Chamberlain of Del Oro, representing Loomis Elite, was 17th (18:35.91), and freshman Angie Gutierrez of Whitney (SJ) and representing Loomis Elite, was 37th among scorers (19:20.58).
Fee said it was the first time the Chamberlain sisters have been able to compete together in a high school race.
"Really proud of her for how she did," Fee said of Karissa.
Also in the merge, McClain was 13th, Wieland 19th, and Goeson 23rd.
Fee shared a comment from Wieland that most likely applies universally:
"I forgot how much fun racing is," he said she told him.
Also at AAUs ...
Victor Jaimez-Solorio, who like Engelhardt, was a multiple champion and record-setter last summer on the track, ran away with the Boys 9-10 3000-meter title in a field of 137.
Jaimez-Solorio, from Apple Valley and representing Pacific Coast Shockwaves, finished in 10:09.00. Runner-up Caden Muller of the Colorado Coyotes was 22.03 back. Sterling White from the SoCal Comets was third 10:37.33.
Among other divisions at the AAU CC Nationals, Mehari Winheim of Valley United was first in a field of 212 in the Boys 11-12 division. Winheim ran the 3K course in 9:42.62, leaving 10.13 seconds between himself and runner-up Dylan Smith of Parker Panthers. Valley United's Tyler Halvorsen was 16th in 10:20.84.
In the Boys 13-14 division, Jason Parra of Long Beach Flyers TC was third in 12:02.73, some 13 seconds behind champion Keegan Smith (11:49.39). Aydon Stefanopoulous of Los Gatos TC was sixth in 12:14.82 and Eyan Turk of PC Shockwaves was 12th (12:30.41) in a field of 245.
Senior Alex Mainvielle of West Torrance (SS) and representing PC Shockwaves, placed sixth in the Young Men (17-18) division, running the 5K course in 15:42.05. First in that field of 194 was Erik Le Roux of Kokopelli Racing in 15:13.66.