Jennifer Barringer of Oviedo High School proved on Saturday that she could not only compete with the best high school runners in the country—she could hold her own with the best college runners as well. The junior placed an impressive fourth in the Junior Race (under 20) at this past weekends US Cross Country Championships in Indianapolis, covering the snow packed 6-kilometer distance in 21:21.
Barringer was the only high school athlete to finish in the top six and qualify for the world team. She will now have the opportunity to take on the best in the world when she travels to Brussels, Belgium in March to compete in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships.
Her effort at the US Championships capped off a remarkable season that saw her defend her Class 4A Cross Country title while breaking the state record, win the South Regional Foot Locker Championships and then move on to place third in the Foot Locker Nationals. Look for an in-depth feature on Barringer in the coming weeks. Tampa King's Laura Bowerman was also in the field, finishing a distant 34th in 24:03.
UCLA freshman Alison Costello surprised the field as she made a strong surge on the second of the three 2-kilometer loops to open a sizeable lead and finish comfortably in front of the loaded field. Her time of 20:55 was more than ten seconds ahead of Stanford freshman Kathleen Trotter who finished 21st at the 2003 NCAA XC Championships. BYU's Amber Harper was third, followed closely by Barringer. Amanda Trotter of Stanford and Baylor's Brittany Brockman rounded out the top six finishers.
Conditions were far from ideal on a snowy weekend in Indianapolis as some of the nation's best cross country athletes gathered to compete for spots on the world team. In addition to Junior races for men and women, the event also showcased some of the best masters (over 40) competitors and four open races that featured some of America's best distance runners.
On Saturday, the Open Men's 4-kilometer race was contested. The quick two-loop event went to former Kansas Jayhawk and standout miler Charlie Gruber. Gruber had no problems moving on the slick snow-packed surface as he finished just ahead of former Notre Dame steeplechaser Luke Watson. Defending champion and Ohio State distance coach Robert Gary was third. Wisconsin Badger alum's Jared Cordes and Isaah Festa were fourth and fifth, while Ian Conner picked up the last world team spot in sixth.
The final championship event of the day was the Open Women's 8-kilomter race. With many of the best female distance runners in the country preparing for April's Olympic Marathon Trials, the thin field was easily picked apart by veteran and former World Cross Country bronze medallist Colleen DeReuck, who devastated the field from the gun, winning by more than 30-seconds.
Former Michigan star Katie McGregor was second, followed by Ann Marie Brooks-Schwab. Sisters Kate O'Neill and Laura On'Neill find fourth and sixth, while fifth place finisher Molly Austin rounded out the world team.
In Saturday's masters' competition, Peter Magill won the U.S. men's 6-km title, and Carmen Ayala-Troncoso won the U.S. women's crown over the same distance.
The action continued on Sunday with the running of the men's junior 8-kilometer race. Former Florida star Ryan Deak, now living in Aurora, Colorado finished second and qualifying for his first World team. John Janson finished 10-seconds ahead of Deak for the win. University of Illinois freshman Trent Hoerr had a breakthrough performance for third. Stanford's Forrest Tahdooahnip, high school 2-mile leader Joshua McDougal and Ian Burrell will all be a part of this year's US Junior team.
The Open Women's 4-kilometer race went to two-time defending NCAA XC Champion Shalene Flanagan. The North Carolina Tarheel just held off former Villanova great Carrie Tollefson to take her first US championship. Lauren Fleshman, Mellisa Buttry, Janet Trujillo and Sarah Hann will also be traveling to Belgium.
The final race of the day was the longest as the elite men took to the trampled course to compete in the Open 12-k race. American record holder and Indianapolis resident Bob Kennedy tore through the 6-loop course on his way to yet another US title. Kennedy looks to be healthy again and was able to hold off a hard charging Robert Gary to win in 35:03. 2002 NCAA Cross Country Champion Jorge Torres was third, just ahead of former high school phenom Alan Webb. Abdi Abdirahman and Nolan Swanson finished fifth and sixth respectively.