As 2015 draws to a close, MileSplit revisits the Top 10 Upsets of the Year... Stayed tuned to this page as the countdown continues every day this week.
10. Seventh-Grader Grace Ping Wins Roy Griak Over No. 1 Ranked Judy Pendergast
Judy Pendergast entered the Roy Griak Invitational in Minn. as the nation's fastest three miler with a PR of 16:18. The Naperville North, Ill. senior was the prohibitive favorite in what looked like her breakout year. However, it was a five-foot even, blonde ponytail that led the field from the gun -- not Pendergast's lankier, red-headed frame.
That blonde ponytail belonged to Grace Ping, a seventh-grader representing Winona Cotter High School in Minnesota. The age group World Record holder (18:02 5K for 11-year-olds, among five others) didn't look back, winning in 18:12.47. Pendergast ran gamely, but ultimately could not keep up with the 12-year-old and faded to runner-up honors in 18:16.44.
Watch the Girls Gold Race below:
Watch the post-race interview with Grace:
The race was no fluke, as Ping would earn All-American honors by placing 12th at Nike Cross Nationals. Pendergast did not let the upset repeat itself, however, as she cruised to eighth place at the Portland championship and fourth at Foot Locker Nationals. Pendergast would end the season ranked No. 5 in the nation; Ping closed out 2015 with a No. 22 national ranking.