The finishes of the boys and girls races at the 2019 Foot Locker National Cross Country Championship looked very different.
While Hersey High School (Arlington Heights, Illinois) senior Josh Methner dominated his run and crossed the line without a challenger pushing him, Pioneer (Ann Arbor, Michigan) runner Zofia Dudek broke into a sprint for the final few hundred meters to approach and take down Marlee Starliper.
Methner won his race in 15:08.8, an eight-second victory.
Dudek ran it in 16:45, beating Starliper of Northern (York County, Pennysvlania) by 1.8 seconds.
Approaching the final hill on the race, it was a four-woman race. Dudek had been right behind Glenbard West (Glen Ellyn, Illinois) runner Katelynne Hart on the approach in the first lap, and she thought she could improve her pace on the second time around.
“I thought I could do it faster. Second time through, I was just trying to make sure I go a little faster up that hill and possibly lose some of the runners behind me,” Dudek said.
Dudek and Starliper had pulled ahead, with Starliper initially in the lead before Dudek took it at the bottom.
“I was just trying to make it through that hill, and then afterwards just use all the energy I had,” Dudek said.
The two sprinted from that downhill to the finish for about 300 meters.
“At that point, I was definitely super scared Marlee would catch me,” Dudek said. “Finishes on a sprint are definitely very difficult mentally and physically but I knew I had a little bit of kick … I decided to go with it and that was that.
Dudek, a Stanford commit, managed to hold it and win by almost two seconds.
Her final time was the fifth-fastest in course history, according to Mile Split USA. Starliper, a North Carolina State commit who finished in16:46.8, had the sixth-fastest time ever and the best for a second-place finisher.
As fast-paced as the girls race was, the boys got off to a slower start. Methner first took the lead around the first hill, less than a mile and a half into the race, and quickly jumped ahead. From there on out, it was a race for second place.
“I wanted to be patient the first mile, mile-and-a-quarter,” Methner said. “After the downhill I made a move to pass people.”
He passed the entire group and picked up a healthy gain.
“After I passed the finish line on the first lap I knew I had a somewhat comfortable lead,” Methner said.
That he did. The Notre Dame commit’s time was eight seconds better than the second-place finisher, who finished a just ahead of a small pack.
Carter Solomon a Plymouth (Canton Township, Michigan) runner committed to Notre Dame finished second in the boys race with a time of 15:16.90 and Mount Lebanon (Pennsylvania) runner and UNC commit Patrick Anderson finished third with a time of 15:18.0, just a smidge ahead of Graydon Morris (15:18.10). Morris is an Aledo (Texas) runner committed to Texas.
As for the girls, Hart’s early lead translated to a fourth-place finish at 17:14.4. Ahead of the Michigan commit was Dudke, Starliper and Abby VanderKooi, a Western Michigan Christian (Muskegon, Michigan) sophomore whose 16:55.2 time was the second-fastest for a 10th grader ever in the meet’s history and the fastest ever for a third-place finisher, according to Mile Split USA.