Although Science Hill sophomore Jenna Hutchins didn’t win the race, she came away with somewhat of a moral victory finishing as the runner-up in 17:04.60.
The winner of the featured race was New York’s Katelyn Tuohy, the two-time defending Nike Cross Nationals champion who crossed the line in a course-record 16:22.80 (5:16/mile), breaking the previous mark by more than 14 seconds.
Even though 42 seconds is a lot of time in between first and second place, it was one of the closer margins of victory Tuohy has had in the last two and a half years.
She usually wins by more than a minute.
“I felt really good about my race today. I knew it was going to be a deep, fast field and I was really more focused on place,” Hutchins said. “I knew a fast time would come the further I was to the front. … It was an honor competing against (Katelyn) and it’s inspiring seeing someone out there that’s as good as she is.”
Hutchins improved her time by 36 seconds and place by three spots from last year, which is a big step in the right direction.
“I was really happy with the improvement. I was wanting to hit around the high 16 to low 17 minutes range and that’s what happened,” she said.
The race was quick from the start as Tuohy jumped out to a 20-meter lead before the first half-mile and passed the mile mark in a mind-boggling 4:52.
Her 2-kilometer split — going up a hill — was 6:10, which is 15:25 pace for a full 5K.
Hutchins got into second early and stayed there, hitting the mile in 5:09 — which is still quick for her.
Tuohy’s two-mile split was 10:23. For comparison, Hutchins’ track personal best is 10:25.10. It looked like a woman amongst girls the way that Tuohy glided with each step.
With her time, Tuohy moves into the second slot for best performances in the country so far by time — but is still, in most experts’ eyes, the one to beat.
Great Oak (California) came away with the team title, scoring 71 points, averaging 18:18 and having a 20-second first through fifth runner split.
OTHER ’TOPPER PERFORMANCES
The boys varsity tried its hand in the Boys Race of Champions and fared well.
There were several personal bests, including senior Aaron Jones, who beat his previous best time by over 30 seconds with a 15:34.70. It was good enough for 40th overall.
Ray Richardson also had a personal-best of 16:34.10, placing 164th overall.
Caleb Lee ran 17:39.90 while Anderson Fickley crossed the line in 17:42.0.
Steven Johnson ran 18:00.10 to round out the Hilltoppers’ scoring. Tatum Mackie also ran 18:09.40. Overall, Science Hill finished in 37th place, but averaged 16:58 on a tough course.
The boys’ team title in the Race of Champions fittingly went to the Great Oak Wolfpack as well with 69 points, smoking Loudoun Valley (Purcellville, Virginia) in a much-anticipated team battle by 39 points.
The rest of the girls varsity ran in the seeded division and everyone broke 22:30.
Trinity Duncan chopped off better than 30 seconds from her previous best, running 19:33.90. Destiny Haller ran 20:18.10 then Ashley Doyle posted a 20:20.90.
Jordan McIntosh was next, finishing in 20:40.60, then Taryn Seeley crossed in 21:08.10.
Katherine Flynn rounded out the Lady Hilltoppers’ efforts, running 21:58.0.
The Lady ’Toppers — without Hutchins in the same race — averaged 20:24 and finished 17th with 388 points.