On a typically drizzly winter Saturday in Portland, Oregon, top American high school runners gathered at the Glendoveer Golf Course for the 12th Annual Nike Cross Nationals. Sprinting off the starting line, the young athletes accelerated around the 3.1-mile course to meet the race’s 5k mark — their bright running apparel creating a painterly contrast to the day’s low grey skies.
Thousands of spectators cheered the tenacious participants, who had qualified for the Nike Cross Nationals at one of eight regional meets, with competitions held in the Northwest, Heartland, Midwest, Southwest, South, Southeast, Northeast and New York.
Rain soaked, the runners dashed towards the finish line, with Manlius XC girls team of New York defending their title while Temecula of California captured the boys team title. Senior Katie Rainsberger from Colorado Springs, Colorado, claimed her first individual title, with a time of 16:56. Casey Clinger of American Fork, Utah, took first place in the boys race, with a time of 15:03.
Heading into Saturday’s race, Manlius XC of New York was the girls team to beat. They were back to defend their title and their winning history, having taken first place eight of the past nine years. They did not disappoint, with a strong 55-point first-place finish, an 89-point differential from second place team Davis CA of California.
Katie Rainsberger came into the race with an unbeaten season. She pulled away from the pack to form a solid lead and crossed the finish line in 16:56, 14 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Ella Donaghu. This coming fall, following her senior year, Rainsberger will attend the University of Oregon.
The boys race began with no clear frontrunner between the favored teams, which included Temecula XC and Dana Point XC of California as well as Orland Park XC of Illinois. In the end, Temecula finished on top with 114 points. American Fork took second place with 163 points, led by junior and invidiual boys winner Casey Clinger. Clinger beat out a tight lead pack in the last stretch by just 1.5 seconds.