SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA -- Riley Hough was waiting for his chance to pounce, and he wasn't about to miss it on Saturday at the Eastbay Cross Country Championships.
On the final descent of the final hill, and with just 400 meters to go in the race -- often cited as Balboa Park's most decisive spot -- Hough made his move.
And with his signature long strides, the Hartland (MI) High School senior bounded past Connecticut's Gavin Sherry and quickly opened up a big gap, never slowing down as he went on to win the boys title on Saturday in 15:11.
San Diego native Kenan Pala, a Yale recruit, would go on to out-duel Sherry in the last quarter mile to take second in 15:14 while Sherry, the Northeast Regional champ, finished third in 15:17.
The Michigan State signee Hough used the momentum of the steep downhill in the last half mile and that carried him through to the finish.
After a fifth-place finish at the Garmin RunningLane Championships last week, Hough rebounded in a big way to beat a talented Eastbay field and captured his first national title.
Hough became the fourth straight boy from the Midwest region to win the Eastbay/Foot Locker national crown, following the likes of Josh Methner (Hersey, IL), Cole Hocker (Indianapolis Cathedral, IN) and Dylan Jacobs (Sandburg, IL).
Mathison made the first move, opening up a gap on the field in the first loop of Balboa Park.
The other five later reeled him back in before Sherry, a Stanford signee, made his next move to the front around the two-mile mark. Hough was content, tucking in with the pack before making his winning move on the final big descent.
Bergen, who was one of four boys to break the previous record for fastest 5K in high school history at RXC2 -- he ran 14:09.91 on Dec. 4 -- ended up fourth in 15:20.
Mathison hung on well to take fifth in 15:22 and made it three in the top five for the Midwest, which handily won the regional team competition with 32 points over the Northeast (49 points). Gorze, a junior, was sixth in 15:26.
2021 Eastbay Boys All-Americans
|CHAMPIONSHIP BOYS 5000 METER RUN FINALS|
|2||Kenan Pala||12||Francis Parker (SD)||15:14.80||0|
|3||Gavin Sherry||12||Conard High||15:17.30||0|
|4||Zane Bergen||12||Niwot High School||15:20.20||0|
|5||Kole Mathison||11||Carmel High School||15:22.30||0|
|7||Shane Brosnan||12||Union Catholic Reg. HS||15:27.90||0|
|8||Izaiah Steury||12||Angola High School||15:27.90||0|
|9||Marco Langon||12||Bridgewater-Raritan HS||15:28.10||0|
|10||Emmanuel Sgouros||12||St. John's Houston||15:29.40||0|
|11||Kevin Sanchez||11||Austin Vandegrift||15:30.10||0|
|12||Michael Maiorano||12||South Medford||15:33.70||0|
|13||Aidan Puffer||12||Manchester High School||15:33.90||0|