* Kole Mathison poses with Karrie Baloga and University of Colorado alums after winning the Champs Sports Nationals XC title
Photo Credit: Cory Mull/MileSplit
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SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Kole Mathison had to withstand a few things on Saturday at Balboa Park.
First, the Carmel (IN) High School senior had to keep in touch with a blistering first mile from Benzie Central's Hunter Jones, who went out in 2:14 and 4:37 through the 800m and mile splits at the Champs Sports National Cross Country Championships.
Then, once Mathison made a move and claimed the lead, he had to fend off Christ School's (NC) Rocky Hansen, who ran lock-and-step with the Indiana state champion up until, really, the final back-breaking hill.
From there, it was all Mathison.
And beyond him, it was all the Midwest Region.
Mathison never looked out of control on Saturday, earning his first national title in his last high school cross country race, winning the Champs Sports Nationals crown in a time of 14:56.6.
Mathison, who was one of five Midwest runners to finish in the top six, ran the fastest time at Balboa Park since 2015 and was the first to break 15 minutes since Drew Hunter that same year. The performance ranks Mathison 22nd overall at the course. He was fifth as a junior in 2021.
The Midwest, meanwhile, was downright dominant.
Mathison's win marked the fifth-straight race where an athlete from the region earned the title, following performances by Sandburg's Dylan Jacobs (2017), Indianapolis Cathedral's Cole Hocker (2018), Hersey's Josh Methner (2019) and Hartland's Riley Hough (2021).
Seven of the region's runners finished as All-Americans, including runner-up Noah Breker of Robbinsdale Armstrong (MN); fourth-place finisher Simeon Birnbaum of Rapid City Stevens (ND); fifth-place Connor Ackley of Hilliard Davidson (OH); and sixth-place Cameron Todd of Brebeuf Jesuit (IN).
The first four finishers all ran faster than the winning time in 2021.
Todd's performance, the top one from a non-senior, was particularly impressive.
The high school junior was third at his Indiana state championships -- behind Mathison and Carmel's Anthony Provenzano -- and fourth at the Midwest Region.
The lone athlete to break-up the Midwest contingent was West Region winner Samuel Hansen, a senior from Woods Cross (UT) who went from last place in the early stages to third overall, finishing in a time of 15:07.7.
Northeast runners Samuel Burgess of Framingham (MA) and Drew Griffith of Butler (PA) were seventh and eighth, respectively, in 15:13.6 and 15:14.4, while Rocky Mountain's (IN) Landon Heemeyer was ninth in 15:14.5 and Jones was 10th in 15:21.1. Hansen, who fell just meters from the finish line, scrambled to 11th in 15:22.0.
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