2022 XC Season Review: The Season's Top Seniors

* Irene Riggs heads out to an early lead at Team Nationals on Dec. 3

Photo Credit: Jan Smits/MileSplit

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The 2022 cross country season is officially in the rearview. 

And what a season it was. 

Over the last week we've been examining 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. 

Last up on our list is the Class of 2023.

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. 

Related Links: 

2022 XC Review: The Season's Top Juniors

2022 XC Review: The Season's Top Sophomores

2022 XC Review: The Season's Top Freshmen


OR Crater


As picked subjectively by the team 



Our MileSplit50 No. 1 runner earned his first national title at the Champs Sports National Cross Country Championships on Dec. 10 and was fourth at Team Nationals, securing the only top five finish in each national race this season for any high school boy.  Beyond those superior accolades, he racked up an Indiana state title and had seven sub-15 minute performances for 5K, including top 20 all-time performances at Balboa Park and LaVern Gibson. 

2. AARON SAHLMAN, Newbury Park (CA)

The Team Nationals champion earned it when it counted, storming to the line on Dec. 3 with a new meet record of 14:44.50 at Glendoveer Golf Course. That was part of a season that saw him capture a third-place finish at the California Division 2 Championships, a third-place finish at Clovis and three straight sub-15 efforts for 5K. He finished second on the MileSplit50 rankings.

3. TYRONE GORZE, Crater (OR)

He was first at the Oregon State Championships, first at the Northwest Regional Championships and first at the Woodbridge Cross Country Classic, scoring three monumental wins on the season, including that U.S. No. 1 time of 13:42.80 for 3-miles, which was fourth-fastest in history. He also landed a time of 14:11.38 for 5K on the track during the Crater Track Twilight Race -- on his home track -- and finished third at nationals, slipping under 15 minutes for 5K in 14:53.80. He was our third-ranked runner on the MileSplit50.

4. LEO YOUNG, Newbury Park (CA)

He led Team Nationals for long stretches and nearly pulled off a wire-to-wire win before falling to 11th overall. On the season, he was among the nation's best: He won three races, finished second to his brother Lex in three others -- including the California State Championships -- and closed off his senior season with a 5K season best of 14:25.90 at Clovis. He was our fifth-ranked runner on the MileSplit50.

5. JACKSON HEIDESCH, Dowling Catholic (IA)

He racked up seven wins, including an impressive Iowa Class 4A state championship victory in 14:56.66 and dropped a 14:57 in his very first meet in September. That all led up to his fifth-pace finish at nationals, which saw him run 14:55.50 for 5K. He also won the Heartland Region and out-lasted sub-4 miler Simeon Birnbaum down the stretch. He finished second at Roy Griak to Noah Breker. He was ranked No. 6 on the MileSplit50.

6. SIMEON BIRNBAUM, Rapid City Stevens (SD)

Birnbaum won his first four meets -- including his second straight South Dakota Championship -- before closing out his high school cross country career with a second-place finish at the Heartland Region, a seventh-place finish at the Champs Midwest Region and then sixth and fourth-place nods at both national meets. Only Kole Mathison had higher placements across both events. He finished the year ranked No. 7 on the MileSplit50. 

7. LEX YOUNG, Newbury Park (CA)

His last race wasn't his best one, but he did capture arguably his best cross country season to date, winning the California State Division 2 Championships in a season best 5K time of 14:27.87 at Woodward Park. That was part of three wins on the season, while he finished second to his brother Leo in three other meets. He was ranked No. 9 on the MileSplit year-end rankings.


1Aaron SahlmanNewbury Park (CA)Team NationalsORDec. 314:44.5204
1Kole MathisonCarmel (IN)Champs SportsCADec. 1014:56.6204
3Leo YoungNewbury Park (CA)Clovis InvitationalCAOct. 814:25.9202
3Hunter JonesBenzie Central (MI)Team Midwest RegionalINNov. 1214:21.8202
3Lex YoungNewbury Park (CA)California State ChampsCANov. 2614:27.9202
6Tyrone GorzeCrater (OR)Team NationalsORDec. 314:53.8201
6Noah BrekerRobbinsdale Armstrong (MN)Champs SportsCADec. 1015:07.5201



Noah Breker (above), Minneapolis Robbinsdale Armstrong (MN)

Hunter Jones, Benzie Central (MI)

Rocky Hansen, Christ School (NC)

Devan Kipyego, St. Raphael Academy (RI)

Connor Ackley, Hilliard Davidson (OH)

Connor Burns, Southern Boone County (MO)

Drew Griffith, Butler (PA)

* Irene Riggs competes during Team Nationals in Portland, Oregon

Photo Credit: Jan Smits/MileSplit

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We're going to shift focus now over to the senior girls. 

And here's where things got interesting, because a top time for 5K did not always equate to a strong national championship finish. 

Check below for more information on the performances of the Class of 2023.



As picked subjectively by the team


1. IRENE RIGGS, Morgantown (WV)

She was the season's biggest ace, winning all six of her races, including her third straight West Virginia State Championship, a Team Southwest Regional title -- in the second-fastest 5K time by a high school girl ever in 16:02 -- and Team Nationals, which saw the Stanford recruit gap the field early on and hold-on for a time of 16:40.90. 

2. KARRIE BALOGA, Cornwall (NY)

Baloga vs. Riggs would have been a great matchup. But alas, we did not get it. Still, it's hard to argue against Baloga's season, which saw the New Yorker secure eight wins, including a prestigious Manhattan Invitational title, an Ocean State and New York State Class B win, a New York Federation victory and a Champs Sports National title, which was the cherry on top. She ran a 5K PR of 16:49.20 at Balboa Park, which was among the top 10 all-time performances at the venue. 

3. BROOKE WILSON, Valor Christian (CO)

Performing when it counted most, Wilson landed a runner-up finish at Team Nationals, clocking a time of 16:54.60 for 5K. It was the biggest accomplishment of her career and capped off a season that saw her finish third at the Team Southwest Region and pick up wins at both the Colorado Class 5A Championships and the Desert Twilight Festival.


Wayzata's No. 1 runner was undefeated through eight races until she finished fourth at Team Nationals on Dec. 3. And those successes told a larger story about Nechanicky's come-back season, which came after she raced just once as a junior. The Colorado recruit won the Roy Griak Invite, the Minnesota Class 2A Championships and also clocked a time of 16;44 at the Team Heartland Region, a race she won. 

Photo Credit: Raymond Tran/MileSplit

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5. PAITYN NOE, Ballard (IA)

She won nine races over the fall season, was second at the Team Heartland Region, third at the Champs Sports Midwest Regional and then 10th at Team Nationals and third at Champs Sports Nationals. She exemplified toughness throughout the campaign and clocked a season best PR of 16:48.58 at the Iowa Class 3A Championships in October. That was her second straight state win.

6. CIARA O'SHEA, Madison Central (KY)

The most accomplished cross country runner in Kentucky history won seven races over the fall, including her fifth-straight Kentucky state title. She followed with a Champs Sports South Regional win and then was fifth at nationals. She ran a 5K PR of 16:52.10 at the Nike XC Town Twilight Invitational in September. 

7. SOPHIA KENNEDY, Park Tudor (IN)

Kennedy won just one race on the season, but sometimes winning doesn't tell the whole story. Kennedy finished her career with a third-place finish at state, which culminated four straight years of top five finishes at the Indiana State Championships. She also was fifth at the Team Midwest Region, second a the Champs Sports Midwest Region and seven at Team Nationals.


1Irene RiggsMorgantown (WV)Team Southeast RegionNCNov. 2616:02.1171
2Karrie BalogaCornwall (NY)Champs SportsCADec. 1016:49.2167
3Paityn NoeBallard (IA)Champs SportsCADec. 1017:01.5163
4Brooke WilsonValor Christian (CO)Team NationalsORDec. 316:54.6161
5Abbey NechanickyWayzata (MN)Team NationslORDec. 316:59.2159
6Ciara O'SheaMadison Central (KY)Champs SportsCADec. 1017:21.5156
7Grace SchagerGlenbard North (ILLake Park Harvey BrausILSept. 1016:00.5155



Tatum David (above), Richland County Olney (IL)

Leah Stephens, Our Lady of Grace School (MD)

Lily  Cridge, Bishop Chatard (IN)

Sydney Sundgren, Buchanan (CA)

Emily Lamontagne, Arapahoe (CO)

Jolena Quarzo, Brownsville (PA)

Thais Rolly, McLean (VA)