* Natalie Cook and Ethan Ashley claimed Eastbay South Region Championships on Saturday
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Flower Mound High School (TX) and Denmark (GA) seniors Natalie Cook and Ethan Ashley officially booked their tickets to the Eastbay National Cross Country Championships on Dec. 11 in San Diego, California, on Saturday after winning the Eastbay South Regional Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina.
This will be Cook's second appearance in a national meet overall as she finished 60th in 2018 at the Team Nationals Cross Country Championships. For Ashley, this will be his first.
He competed at the RunningLane National Cross Country Championships last season and ran at the Foot Locker South Regional meet in 2019, finishing fourth in the sophomore race.
Cook and Ashley were both individual state cross country champions this season. In the girls race, the top 10 finishers closed within 45 seconds of each other.
The Oklahoma State signee Cook crossed the finish line in an astonishing 16:38.05 and was the only girl to break 17 minutes for 5K on the McApline Park course. Madison Central (KY)'s Ciara O'Shea grabbed a close second in 17:13.20 while Covenant School's (VA) Maddie Gardiner was just a hair afterward in 17:13.95.
Freshman Abby Faith Cheeseman of Webb School (TN) punched her ticket to her first Eastbay Cross Country Championships and was the only freshman girl to qualify out of the region.
The athletes who punched their tickets to Eastbay Cross Country Nationals on the boys side finished within nine seconds of each other.
Ashley continued his undefeated streak as he clocked a new personal best for 5K in 15:00.31 to edge out Sahil Dodda's 15:01.06.
Viera's (FL) Michael Toppi closed for third in 15:02.84. Last year, Toppi finished 48th at the RunningLane Cross Country Championships.
Emmanuel Sgouros clocked a 15:04.22 to solidify a ticket to the Eastbay Cross Country Nationals. Last season, he finished 76th at the RunningLane Cross Country Championships.
Similar to the girls field, the boys also had one freshman qualify for the national championship in December. Knoxville Catholic's (TN) Keegan Smith finished seventh in 15:06.78. Out of all three regionals, he's the only freshman male to qualify thus far.
To round out the rest of the qualifiers, the sophomores Patrick Koon of Leon (FL) and Ferenc Kovacs of Woodberry Forest (VA) finished eighth and ninth respectively. Nathan Solomon of Shiloh (GA) grabbed the final spot with a 15:09.89.
A pre-race contender for a top 10 automatic berth to Eastbay, MileSplit50 No. 6 athlete Sam Rich, pulled his hamstring at mile two and struggled to continue, though managed to finish the race, MileSplit learned.
- Eastbay South Regional Meet Results
- Riley Take Two: Hough And Stewart Claim Eastbay Midwest Titles
- Gavin Sherry, Angelina Perez Snag Wins At Eastbay Northeast
- Eastbay Cross Country Nationals Meet Page