NXN Capped Off Meaningful XC Season For Addy Ritzenhein

You couldn't script a better end to Addison Ritzenhein's cross country season than what happened in the final race of the season. 

Despite finishing third at NXR Southwest, which was her only loss of the year, the Niwot High School sophomore found redemption only a few short weeks later, winning her very first Nike Cross Nationals title on Dec. 2 in Portland, Oregon and claiming a national title 23 years after her father, Dathan, last did the same at Foot Locker Nationals in 2000. 

As a result, we're naming Ritzenhein as this year's MileSplit50's No. 1 runner for the cross country season. 

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* Addison Ritzenhein reflects on her NXN race in Portland, Oregon

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The Niwot (CO) sophomore had a nearly perfect record this fall, recording seven wins in total. 

At NXN, however, it was her coup de grace.

Over the last 1,000 meters, Ritzenhein made her decision move on the Glendoveer course, moving past Elizabeth Leachman before sticking on the gas through the finish.

Shocked with the result, she covered her face with her hands and then found her father, where the two then shared a loving embrace. 

"I was overwhelmed with emotion," Ritzenhein said. "I didn't even think about getting an individual national title. I ran for my team and that boosted our spirits. I was living in the moment." 

With the win, Ritzenhein became the third high school girl from Colorado to win NXN, following Brie Oakley in 2016 and Katie Rainsberger in 2015. 

She also was the first sophomore to win since North Rockland's Katelyn Tuohy in 2017. Tuohy was able to defend the title for three straight years.

Earlier this year, Ritzenhein ran a 5K personal best of 16:44 to win the Desert Twilight XC Invite. Her second 5K time under 17 minutes was at the Colorado 4A Region 3 Championships and then she followed with her first Colorado 4A Cross Country Championship title, claiming a new Class 4A state record in 17:08.

Her performance was also the third-fastest time ever on the Norris Penrose course.

Photo Credit: Bobby Reyes / MileSplit 

Preseason, Sept. 12: Ellie Shea, Emerging Elite

MileSplit50 Athlete Of The Year History:

2023 XC AOY: Addison Ritzenhein, Niwot (CO)