As I could not be at the Foot Locker this year, we asked Erik Boal, who writes for Dyestat Cal, to cover the FootLocker Cross Country Nationals races. This is the first of two articles that Erik wrote for RunBlogRun.
Anna Rohrer made it back to the Foot Locker National Championships and made a statement to the entire country about her resolve and mental toughness Saturday.Rohrer, a senior from Mishawaka, Ind., captured the 2012 Foot Locker national title, but was unable to defend her championship last season when surgery to repair navicular fractures in both feet resulted in her being relegated to a wheelchair.But Rohrer stood tall again in her return to Balboa Park’s Morley Field in San Diego by standing up to the challenges of fellow seniors Ryen Frazier from Ravenscroft, N.C., and four-time finalist Makena Morley of Bigfork, Mont.Rohrer pulled away in the final mile and covered the 5-kilometer layout in 17 minutes, 12.9 seconds to become only the fifth girl in the meet’s 36-year history to win multiple championships and just the second to do so in non-consecutive years, joining Jordan Hasay in 2005 and ’08.“It’s just hard to think of the words to describe it because a year ago this was so far away and I was in no position to be able to get back and run it that year,” Rohrer said. “I’ve been working so hard and so long and I never stopped thinking about this and believing in myself and thinking about getting back and taking one last cross country championship.”Rohrer led Frazier by one second entering the final mile, but made a well-timed surge ascending the final hill to pull away from her competition and never looked back, powering through the course despite softer footing after rain pelted the grass and dirt layout Thursday and Friday.“Going up the hill, I was telling myself ‘I’m tougher and I’m stronger and I’ve been through this before,’ so I know what to expect,” Rohrer said. “The hill I used as the opportunity to move ahead and it really worked out at the top. Just crossing the line and remembering how it was, I’m just so grateful to be back here and I’m just so thankful to be injury-free right now.”Frazier, whose older sister Wesley was a two-time Foot Locker national finalist in 2009-10, held on for second in 17:22.5, leading the South team to its first victory in meet history by edging the Midwest 41-44.The South lineup had four runners in the top 10 to hold off the Midwest, which had six runners finish in the top 15.“I didn’t have that much pressure on me because everyone was saying that Anna has got it in the bag,” Frazier said. “I didn’t run the smartest race I’ve ever run. I went out too fast and I paid for it. But it was the last race of my high school career and I wanted to make the best of it. I’m happy because I gave it everything I had.”Morley, the only four-time finalist in the girls field and the 23rd female to make four national appearances in the meet, placed third in 17:28.7. She was bidding to become Montana’s first national champion since Zoe Nelson of Kalispell in 2002 and wound up earning All-America honors for the third time, after finishing eighth last year and ninth as a freshman.“I was trying for that win. I went for it and I ended up third,” said Morley, whose freshman sister Bryn was 26th in 18:32.5.“I feel more comfortable going out hard and being up there near the front, but Anna and Ryen were both really strong and they’re amazing competitors.”Paige Hofstad of New Braunfels, Texas, who was second Dec. 6 at Nike Cross Nationals in Oregon, was the top junior at Foot Locker after placing fourth in 17:32.6, followed by Hannah DeBalsi of Staples, Conn., who rounded out the All-American first-team honorees by placing fifth in 17:46.9.Libby Davidson of E.C. Glass in Virginia was the fastest sophomore by taking sixth in 17:47.9 and Annie Hill of Kalispell, Mont., was the top freshman following an eighth-place finish in 17:51.3. Montana had three national finalists for the first time, with Hill and the Morley sisters.
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