SAN DIEGO -- Edward Cheserek successfully defended his national title by winning the Foot Locker National High School Cross Country Championships on Saturday.
Cheserek, a senior at St. Benedict's Prep School in Newark, N.J., took the lead on the final steep hill of the 5,000-meter course just as he did last year to win in 14 minutes 59 seconds. He is the fourth boy to win back-to-back.
Sean McGorty of Chantilly High in Fairfax, Va., who led most of the race, finished second in 15:05 with Jake Leingang of Bismarck (N.D.) High placing third in 15:07.
"It's really something special for me to be national champion twice," Cheserek said.
Sophomore Anna Rohrer of Mishawaka (Ind.) High overcame an early fall to win the girls' title in 17:25 and finish 4 seconds ahead of Catarina Rocha of Peabody (Mass.) Veterans Memorial High. Maria Hauger of Shakopee (Minn.) High was third, 5 seconds back.
Rohrer fell about 400 meters into the race but recovered to take her first lead with about 1,500 meters remaining.
"I knew it wasn't going to change the race," Rohrer said about her fall.
The Utah contingent enjoyed a good performance on both the boys and girls side of the competition.
In the girls competition, Orem High's Summer Harper finished 28th against elite competition in 18:23, while Ogden High junior Sarah Feeny ran in 18:31 to finish 32.
"It was a really neat experience," Feeny said via phone call on Saturday evening. "My family all drove down. We got to know the other kids from other schools and had some dinners and activities."
In the race, Feeny thinks she may have gone out a little too conservatively against the top runners.
"I might have gone out to conservative, because I had a big kick left," Feeny said. "This was such a good experience against all these talented runners."
While this is the last race of the prep cross country season, Feeny is already looking forward.
"I can't wait for track season," she said.
The West girls finished fourth in the team competition.
On the boys side, Park City's Ben Saarel finished fourth overall, while Sky View freshman Conner Mantz finished 12th ahd Alta's Kramer Morton finished 16th.
The West boys finished second as a group.
The Foot Locker Championships is comprised of four regional 5K races, which took place on Nov. 24, and Dec. 1, culminating in the National Finals. The pre-race and race footage can be viewed online at footlockercc.com.