SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Dec. 10, 2022) — Karrie Baloga of New Windsor, N.Y. and Kole Mathison of Carmel, Ind. captured first-place titles at the 43rd Champs Sports Cross Country Championships National Finals today.
The prestigious event is the longest running high school cross country championship in the nation. Race conditions at Morley Field at Balboa Park in San Diego were ideal with mostly firm terrain, sunshine and temperatures reaching 57 degrees.
In the girls’ 5K race, Baloga took the lead in the final half mile of the race and pulled away to victory, winning in a time of 16:49.2 to become the eighth-fastest girl runner ever on the championship course. In the boys’ 5K race, Mathison broke away from his only remaining challenger along the last major uphill stretch to go on and claim victory in 14:56.6.
The National Championship Course at Morley Field at Balboa Park is a 1.5-mile loop run twice and covering 5,000 meters with a steep incline featured just after the mile and 2.5 mile marks. Some twists, turns and varied terrain also characterize the classic championship course situated in the hills of San Diego.
Champs Sports Cross Country Championships – Girls’ National Final:
Baloga, a senior from Cornwall Central High School, controlled the early pace across the first loop leading through the mile with a swift 5:17.3 split before yielding the front position to junior Ellie Shea (Belmont, Mass.) at the two-mile mark with a split time of 10:55.4. Baloga had actually exchanged front-running duties across three runners with both Shea and senior Paityn Noe (Huxley, Iowa) during the threesome’s breakaway charge shortly after the halfway point of the race. The trio ran within strides of each other until the steep uphill/downhill stretch that looms in the final mile. From there it was all Baloga, who pulled away from her main challengers, capping off one of the most competitive girls’ races in recent memory. Following Baloga to the finish line were Shea in a time of 16:55.1 and Noe with an effort of 17:01.5. Rounding out the top five were sophomore Abby Faith Cheeseman (Bell Buckle, Tenn.) in fourth at 17:13.4 and senior Ciara O’Shea (Richmond, Ky.) in fifth at 17:21.5. Click for full girls’ results.
Champs Sports Cross Country National Championships – Boys’ National Final:
After a fast initial pace set by senior Hunter Jones (Thompsonville, Mich.), who cruised through a one-mile split of 4:37.6, the boys’ race for the lead was between four runners as they entered the middle portion of the 5,000-meter race. From there it broke down into a two-man duel between eventual winner Kole Mathison, a senior from Carmel High School, and senior Rocky Hansen (Hendersonville, N.C.). Mathison came through the two-mile mark at 9:38.9 with Hansen right on his shoulder. But it was on the big incline on the second loop of the race where Mathison finally pulled away, shedding Hansen who faded out of contention in the process. With Mathison surging away to victory, senior Noah Breker (Plymouth, Minn.) kicked home strong to finish second in a time of 15:07.5 edging fellow senior Samuel Hansen (Bountiful, Utah) at the finish line in 15:07.7. Rounding the boys’ top five were senior Simeon Birnbaum (Rapid City, S.D.) in a time of 15:11.3 and senior Connor Ackley (Hilliard, Ohio) in a time of 15:11.8. Click for full boys’ results.