Two of the SGV’s best,Â Arroyo seniorÂ Noah HibbardÂ and Mayfield sophÂ Audrey SuarezÂ finished their season at the 40th AnnualÂ Footlocker Championship on Saturday at Balboa Park in San Diego. This national championship meet brings together 40 of the top boys and girls from around the country (and US possessions) who have qualified through regional meets.
The girls led things off on the rolling 5000m course. California Div. IV champ Suarez did not go with the lead group of 7 who blew off the front in 5:15 for the first mile, sitting 35th in 5:35. In the slower second mile of the course, she split 6:05 but moved up four spots. In the faster final section of the course, she gained one more spot (and nearly another) in the last 1.1 mileÂ to finish 30th in 18:31.
Afterwards, Audrey said the race “… was an experience I have never had before. I think coming into this I really didnâ€™t have any expectations, which was good. So I wasnâ€™t disappointed. This is definitely the coolest experience that running has led me to by far.”
Hibbard, State Div. II runner-up, was in the middle of the pack of the boys race, 3 seconds off the lead, as the whole field stayed together through the first mile. In the second 1-1/2 mile, a lead group of 11 formed, with Noah coming just off the back of the second group, standing 26th at the split. He held his place over the final 660m to finish 26th in 16:10.
While Noah had expected a better finish, he was thankful for the chance to race one more time. “Although I felt that I ran terribly, I feel blessed to make it here to compete against the very best. This was the first year I went to states and regionals, so making it to nationals was an extra bonus. My goal was to place in a good pack, in the top half. Being in the top 20â€™s gives me confidence, knowing that I finished among the top 30 in the nation.”
And with that, the 2018 Cross Country Season comes to an end.
Stay tuned for our post-season honors and track and field coverage.