American U20 Teams Capture Bronze At World XC Championships

* Ellie Shea at the Champ Sports National Championships in December

Photo Credit: Raymond Tran/MileSplit

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For the first time in the history of the World U20 Championships, an American women's junior team reached the podium on Saturday in Bathurst,  Australia. 

If that was the only story on the day, it would have been a fruitful one. 

But on the flip side, the American junior men's performance was just as significant, as they became the first men's in over 40 years to also earn a medal. 

A career day it was. 

Ellie Shea, a high school junior from Massachusetts, led the U.S. women's team with a 10th-place finish for the 6K course, finishing in 21:48.

She was followed by Morgantown's (WV) Irene Riggs in 12th (22:03), Cornwall's Karrie Baloga in 13th (22:12) and William Floyd's Zariel Macchia (23:05) in 19th. Macchia is just a high school sophomore. 

Non-scorers were Eva Klingbeil, who was 29th in 23:29, and Allie Zealand, who was 34th in 24:00.

Meanwhile, a little luck, smart race-planning and a big-time execution led to the performance on the men's side, with the first four Americans finishing in the top 25 positions to earn a third-place team finish for the first time since 1982. 

Newbury Park's Leo Young was the top American finisher in 16th-place for the 8K course, clocking a time of 26:03 for 8K.

Villanova's Marco Langon was 19th in 26:16, Air Force's Max Sannes was 21st in 26:24 and Carmel's Kole Mathison was the final scorer in 25th in 26:42. 

Non-scorers were Wisconsin's Micah Wilson, who was 27th in 26:50, and Evan Jenkins, who was 53rd in 28:00.

Oklahoma State coach Dave Smith led the Americans to the podium, with LetsRun reporting that the coach hatched a plan for the junior team to build progressively after the first lap. 

That's exactly what the men did, moving up from ninth in lap one to sixth after two and then third into the final stage. 

Uganda, which had three runners in the first 11 positions, would have taken third, perhaps, if they had a fourth. But the country did not field a last runner due to VISA issues, LetsRun reported.