2022 XC Season Review: The Season's Top Freshmen

* Cleveland's Owen Clemons competes during the TSSAA State XC Championships in November

Photo Credit: Reily Anderson/MileSplit

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The 2022 cross country season is officially in the rearview. 

And what a season it was. 

Over the next few days, we'll begin to examine each graduating class, with look-ins on the times, performances and ratings that begin to explain the extent of success each class had over the recent season. 

We'll start first with the freshmen of 2022, reviewing both the girls and boys. 

To do this, we'll review a selection of factors, starting first with the boys. We'll check in with the fastest 5K performances, the top speed ratings and subjective reviews of each athlete. 

First up, let's talk about the boys. 



As picked subjectively by the team


1. OWEN CLEMONS, Cleveland (TN)

Hard to knock Clemons for effort. On the same day he ran a career best time of 15:01.90 for 5K at the Saturday Night Fever in Tennessee, he also ran a time of 15:10.10 just hours later, at another meet in Alabama. He closed his freshmen campaign with a Tennessee Class AAA title and finished 52nd at the Garmin Runninglane XC Championships. He also earned the highest speed rating of any freshman this year with a 187.

2. CADEN LEONARD, Southlake Carroll (TX)

The son of head coach Justin Leonard, Caden led Southlake Carroll as its No. 1 during the team's state team championship performance at UIL, finishing sixth there, and then was 18th at the Team South Region and 135th at nationals. Perhaps the only freshmen on this list with the highest-level of competition in 2022. He ran the freshmen class's top 3-mile time of 14:43.20 at Woodbridge in September. 

3. NOAH BONTRAGER, Westview (IN)

Bontrager racked up win after win in 2022, totaling seven across his season in Indiana, before hitting a new 5K best of 15:20.80 at Semi-State and then finishing 12th at the state championships, the highest of any freshman in the state.


He didn't appear in the season's top speed ratings for freshmen, but one shouldn't overlook Culpepper's impact on a team that's likely oing to be very good in 2023 and 2024. He won the Longs Peak League Meet in 15:18.90 in October, led Niwot at regions toward an individual and team win and then closed off his regular season by finishing 10th at state. He's the son of Alan and Shayne Culpepper and the brother of Cruz, who left his career in 2020 as one of the state's top runners. 

5. RYAN TUOHY, North Rockland (NY)

By virtue of being the brother of Katelyn Tuohy, the reigning NCAA Cross Country Champion, Ryan will get his fair share of exposure over the next few years. But in 2022, he held his own, leading North Rockland as its No. 1. He was eighth at the Six Flags meet in a 5K best of 16:07.00, he won the Section 1 XC Championships and he was just outside the top 25 at states in Division I. He also earned the seventh-best speed rating of any freshman this fall.

6. NOAH STROHMAN, Holliday (TX)

He may be the second Texan on this list, but he's the only one with a state title. Strohman claimed his UIL Class 3A win on Nov. 4 in 15:49.50, which was part of seven wins on the season. Better yet? He was the top finishing freshman at the Garmin RunningLane XC Championships on Dec. 3, a race that featured athletes from all regions of the U.S. 


This might be a contentious pick, considering there's another Ohioan freshman (Landon Kimmel), who was third-fastest across the 5K distance for his class this fall and the fifth-best in speed ratings. But we're going to go with Rickman here. He won 10 meets as a freshman, including his district and regional competition, and was second overall at the OHSAA Division 3 championships. Few freshman picked up as much experience as he did in races this year at the front. 

* Westview's Noah Bontrager at Indiana's Semi-State meet

Photo Credit: Mike Kepner/Indiana MileSplit



1Owen ClemonsCleveland (TN)Saturday Night FeverTNOct. 115:01.9187
2Noah StrohmanHolliday (TX)RunningLane ChampionshipsALDec. 315:41.6183
3Noah BontragerWestview (IN)Semi-State 3INOct. 2215:20.8182
4Caden LeonardS. Carroll (TX)Texas UIL ChampionshipsTXNov. 515:56.2181
5Landon KimmelTippecanoe (OH)Team Midwest RegionINNov. 1215:23.6181
6Grady LennDe Pere (WI)Wisconsin State ChampionshipsWIOct. 2915:47.8181
7Ryan TuohyN. Rockland (NY)Section 1-Class ANYNov. 516:38.6180



Landon Kimmel, Tippecanoe (OH)

Grady Lenn, De Pere (WI)

Aaron Brodrick, Oconee County (GA)

Radek Molchan, Knoxville Catholic (TN)

Canaan Dunham, Pella (IA)

Matthew Wroblewski, Portland Jesuit (OR)

Owen Horeni,  Yorkville (IL)

Next up in our season-end review of freshmen are the girls. 

Per usual, we saw more emergence from this class on the girls side of things than the boys.

Some of that can be explained by human physiology. Girls mature and physically develop faster than boys.

But we can also classify it by numbers. TullyRunners reviewed the top speed ratings of the season in December. Of the top 722 ratings over the 2022 campaign he included on the boys side, only nine freshmen made the list. 

On the other side, of the 699 ratings he reviewed with the girls, a total of 65 girls made the list. 

We had a number of freshmen girls shine in 2022. Below are their standings. 


OH Mason


As picked subjectively by the team


1. ELIANA BLACK, Cambridge Christian (FL)

Undoubtedly, Black was the most accomplished freshman in 2022. She won eight straight meets over the fall campaign, including a top 5K time of 17:15.50 -- second-best for freshmen this fall. She went on to win district, regional and state honors, finishing her season at Tallahassee's Apalachee Regional Park course in 17:55.10. She was eighth at the Team Southeast Region, just two spots out from qualifying on her own. 

Photo Credit: Raymond Tran/MileSplit


2. CHIARA DAILEY (above), La Jolla (CA)

She was the lone freshman competitor at Champs Sports Nationals, and finished as an All-American in 14th place overall, posting an impressive first-time performance on the Balboa Park course in 17:51.70. That backed up a season that also saw her finish second in the CIF Division 4 XC final and ninth at the Clovis Invitational. She ran the second and fourth fastest 3-mile and 5K performances in her class, posting times of 16:34.80 and 17:27.22, respectively. She was the only girl on this list to finish the year on the MileSplit50 honorable mention. 


The top overall freshman at Team Nationals, Ritzenhein finished 2022 in a blur. She was 18th at nationals, earning an All-American finish; she was ninth at the Team Southwest Region; and she was second at her Colorado Class 4A Championships, leading Niwot to a demolition win. The daughter of famed Dathan Ritzenhein, it's safe to say we should be looking out for her in the years to come.

4. MACY WINGARD, Denton Braswell (TX)

Ritz was the first freshman across the line at Team Nationals and Wingard was second, in 43rd-place. The Denton Braswell first-year athlete from Plano, Texas was 10th at her state championships, fourth at region and won five individual meets over the 2022 season.

5. EFA PASCHKA, Mason (OH)

Racking up four wins on the season, a sixth-place finish at state and a OHSAA Division I team title for Mason, Paschka was locked in for 2022. She was two spots shy of an All-American finish at the Garmin RunningLane XC Championships and she ran a 5K PR of 17:30.30 on the season.

6. MEG PETERSON, Prospect (IL)

Helping position Prospect as a top five team nationally by the end of the season, Peterson was the top finisher for her squad at Team Nationals. While her position ebbed and flowed with each race, Peterson was never in doubt as one of the main contributors on one of the country's top teams and she clocked times of 17:19.85 and 17:40.90 for 3-miles and 5K, respectively, which ranked No. 19 and No. 12 in the country, nationally, at those respective distances for her class. 

7. CAMERON MACIAS, Clovis West (CA)

A top performer across the 2022 season, Macias ran a 3-mile best of 16:41 for three miles, which was fourth-best in the freshman class, and clocked a 5K best of 17:28.50 for 5K. 

* Addison Ritzenhein during a regular season meet

Photo Credit: Bobby Reyes/MileSplit



    1Chiara DaileyLa Jolla (CA)Champs Sports NationalsCADec. 1017:51.7146
    2Addison RitzenheinNiwot (CO)Team NationalsORDec. 317:38.4146
    3Macy WingardDenton Braswell (TX)Marcus Coach T InviteTXSept. 317:15.3143
    4Cameron MaciasClovis West (CA)Clovis InvitationalCAOct. 817:28.5143
    5Kynzlee BuckleyBuchanan (CA)Clovis InvitationalCAOct. 817:36.1140
    6Jaelyn WilliamsEastlake (CA)California State MeetCANov. 2617:38.8138
    7Aelo CurtisVentura (CA)California State MeetCANov. 2617:42.0137



    Kynzlee Buckley, Buchanan (CA)

    Jaelyn Williams, Eastlake (CA)

    Kyleen Brady, Auburn (AL)

    Brielle Nilsson, Lone Peak (UT)

    Emily Cohen, Cherry Creek (CO)

    Jordan Banta, Air Academy (CO)

    Aelo Curtis, Ventura (CA)