|The finish chute at Nike Cross Nationals (NXN)|
I thought the conditions would favor East Coast/MW teams in the circumstances but it turned out the State of WA put on a clinic. Girls up first and I was way more excited to watch this race over the Boys. In October I went down to the Dellinger Invite in Eugene (see entry below) and watched Alexa Efraimson (JR, Camas WA) get gapped by, then kick down and outkick Emma Bates of Boise St. for the win. I knew then and there that Alexa would beat NXN queen Sarah Baxter (Simi Valley,Ca). Emma Bates recently followed up that performance with a runner up performance at the NCAA XC Champs last month. The race followed true to form with Baxter, Efraimson and mile star Elise Cranny (CO) breaking away early.
|Girls lead pack early on|
|Alexa Efraimson powers in for a course record. Kara Goucher holds the tape.|
Huge surprises in the team battle as Wayzata, MN defeated 7 time defending champ Fayetville-Manlius for the win. Back runners were the key as FM was ahead after the first 3. Never underestimate the importance of the back scorers.
The boys were up next. I figured (as did most) it would be a battle between Gig Harbor (WA), CBA (NJ) and Arcadia (Ca). CBA was the winner in 2011 with Arcadia winning in 2010 and 2012. Gig Harbor however, already a national power, added the much needed final piece to the puzzle when Mahmoud Moussa (younger brother of former Arcadia/current CU star Ammar Moussa) transferred from Arcadia to Gig Harbor after a family move.
|Boy's lead pack|
|Kai Wilmot powers in to a course record. German Fernandez and Centro JR hold the tape.|
Boy's team gave another victory to WA as Gig Harbor edged out CBA for the win. In an odd twist Moussa became the first runner to win 2 national team champs, for different schools! I think the win really took CBA by surprise as they were the most somber looking national runner up squad I have ever seen.
|Gig Harbor (WA) celebrates a team victory|
On a personal note, I was lucky enough to jump in to some USATF XC Champ races. Got my butt kicked as I transition to Masters racing but look forward to a full XC season next year and running some Indoor Race this February. It's why I moved here. Jumping in races with the like of Alan Webb, German Fernandez, and watching Kara Goucher work her way back to fitness was a LOT of fun.
|Kara Goucher en route to winning the USATF NW XC Champs last month.|
Gerry Escapita closed a great XC career with a 3rd place at State in class 4A. Brian Casillas has one of the best seasons an individual EW runner has had with a lot of early season victories. The same goes for Anna Mora of EW.
On to Indoors!