Katie Rainsberger, Casey Clinger Extend Winning Streaks As Tight Team Battle Wreaks Havoc On Rankings
Story and photos by Alan Versaw
Katie Rainsberger Continues To Roll
If the names of Katie Rainsberger and Lauren Gregory sound altogether familiar, it could be partly because they also went 1-2 in this race last year. Adding to the refrain, Courtney Wayment coupled her individual qualifier bid from last year with another this year.
Wayment's individual qualifier bid, though, could change to a team bid of her Davis team (Wayment ran as an individual last year but was part of the Davis team this fall) receives an at-large bid.
Joining Rainsberger, Gregory, and Wayment as individual qualifiers this year are Brie Oakley of Colorado and Amanda Mayoral of New Mexico.
The 1-2 of Rainsberger and Gregory, however, wasn't nearly the nail-biter it was last year. Whereas last year, Rainsberger passed Gregory only in the last 160 meters, this year Rainsberger made a decisive break from the lead group at about two miles and was never heard from again. Once Rainsberger made her break, you could have found more mystery and intrigue in the PIllsbury bake-off. By the time she reached the finish line in 17:06.7, Rainsberger had opened a margin of 20 seconds.
Amanda Mayoral made a late charge that came within three seconds of nipping Gregory for second.
Team scoring was dominated by American Fork (UT) throughout the race. The red-and-black singlets of AF were visible toward the front of the pack from the earliest stages of the race and remained there to the end. Slamming three exclamation points onto the American Fork title were the top-16 finishes of Sara Musselman (photo, left), Sophie Baird, and Sammy Hollingsworth, with a scant 19 team points between them.
Second place in the team scoring derby took a lot more calculation to settle.
When places had been confirmed, and all teams fully entered into the scoring, second place with to Xavier College Prep (AZ) by two points over Davis (UT). Sarah Carter paced the Xavier effort with 17:56.1 for 12th.
Davis now gets to sit and wait a week for the rest of the third-place regional teams to make their case. Davis's case is strengthened by a win at Bob Firman that included a solid defeat of Northwest champion Bozeman. But, much remains to be decided in the next week.
If Davis is granted an at-large bid, that would move Lexi Reed into an individual qualifying position with Wayment then becoming part of a team qualifier instead of an individual bid.
With a fourth-place team finish, the Air Academy season which showed so well at the same course at Desert Twilight seven weeks ago almost certainly comes to an end.
Meet Results, Photos, and Videos (posting all evening Saturday and into Sunday)
Tight Team Battle Leaves Four Ranked Teams At Home
Mark this one down as one that fooled the prognosticators.
Not only did it fool the prognosticators, it will go down as one of the closest finishes of all time in Nike regional, or any other championship meet, for that matter.
Official results are still not posted as of this writing (4:23 MST), but as announced at the venue, Mountain Vista (CO) scored one of the season's biggest upsets with first place at 108 points. Second place went to Timpanogos (UT) and third place to Lone Peak (UT), both with 109 points.
And, that's a riddle the NXN at-large selection committee gets to deal with in another week.
Timpanogos' presence on the podium was the only non-surprise of the event. Utah state champion Davis slipped all the way to seventh (pending final results). Traditional Utah power Utah managed a fourth place, and that despite the dominating effort of Casey Clinger who took the individual title, 14:41.7 to 14:42.6.
With unfamiliar singlets and a dumbfounding number of places that exchanged hands over the final 150 meters, nobody watching had so much as a first clue what the order of the top teams would be. So, following the announcement of American Fork in fourth at the awards session, it was hold-your-breath time for the top three places.
Nobody could have imagined that a scant point would separate the top three teams.
And, dissecting the order of finish reveals just a little of how jumbled up it all was.
Drawing first blood among the top teams was Timpanogos, who got on the board with Will Handley and Joe Benson tandemed at 9 and 10. Adam Jensen and Jamison Wilkes answered for Lone Peak in another tandem at 16 and 17. An answer was forthcoming from Mountain Vista in the form of Parker Mackay and Paxton Smith at 18 and 23.
Last to start, however, became first to finish, as Mountain Vista completed their scoring with Joshua Romine in 38th, Alex Fu in 48th, and Shayan Zarrin in 54th. A total of 29 seconds separated Mackay from Zarrin, and the total would have been considerably less than that had Zarrin not taken a fall and gotten spiked early in the race.
For Mountain Vista, the regional title marks a first for Colorado. All previous boys regional titles have been won by Utah or New Mexico schools. Colorado has, until today, struggled even to qualify a boys team for nationals. But Mountain Vista has now revised that script.
Timpanogos, the Utah 4A state champion and second-place team in an overall merge, will return to Nike Cross Nationals for a second-consecutive year. Traditional NXN fixtures of American Fork and Davis appear to be without reasonable hope to make return trip to Portland.
Lone Peak, only the fourth-place team in Utah 5A last month and fifth in an overall state merge, will bank on the strength of their Nike regional performance to make their case for an at-large bid. Their presence in the top three rates as an even greater stunner than the presence of Mountain Vista at the top of the order, underscoring an old adage about why you run races on courses rather than on paper.
Casey Clinger Continues Undefeated Streak Over Alek Parsons
Individually, Clinger earned his title by a gap of less than one second over fellow Utahan Alek Parsons out of Ogden. Behind the Utah pair come four consecutive Colorado entries. Paul Roberts, earning a return trip to Portland, took third. Roberts was followed by Isaac Green, Henry Raymond, and Ben Butler. At this point, Butler sits as the odd man out so far as NXN individual qualifying is concerned. None of the five in front of him are members of qualifying teams, nor does the at-large process figure to change any of that.
Meet Results, Photos, and Videos (being added all evening long, Saturday into Sunday)