USAF Athlete Of The Month: Claudia Lane

Claudia Lane capped an incredible 2016 cross country campaign by winning the Foot Locker Nationals wire-to-wire in 17:04.81, the fastest time at Balboa Park since Aisling Cuffe ran 16:53 in 2010. The impressive win makes her the USAF Athlete of the Month for December.

The sophomore from Malibu High School shocked pundits with a breakout season that started at the Seaside Invitational in September. At that early-season meet, she improved her time from 19:30 as a freshman to 16:25 over three miles. That rate of improvement would be the theme for Lane's year. She improved from 19:42 to 16:32.6 at the Mt. SAC Invitational, and from 18:20.7 to 16:45 at Woodward Park for the California State Championships. All were sophomore records.

Who is Claudia Lane? Meet The Next California Superstar

The sky is the limit for this young star, whose only loss this season was to NXN champion Brie Oakley at the Woodbridge XC Classic in September. Her mile and two-mile splits through 5K were regularly faster than her track PRs, 5:09 for 1600m and 11:00 for 3200m, which indicates room for more huge improvements this spring.

Watch the post-race interview with Claudia Lane: