Menlo School senior Lizzie Lacy didn't run to victory at the 36th annual Foot Locker Cross Country Championships National Finals on Saturday, but she did come away with at least a moral triumph at Balboa Park in San Diego.
After finishing behind Caroline Pietrzyk of Malibu High at the CIF Division IV State Championships and at the Foot Locker West Regional, Lacy finally defeated her rival at nationals by clocking 18:01 over the 5,000-meter (3.1 mile) course. Pietrzyk, meanwhile, finished 14th in 18:08.
Lacy was the No. 1 finisher from California while Pietrzyk was No. 2. The two were third and second, respectively, at the West Regional at Mt. SAC last weekend in Walnut as Makena Morley of Montana won the race. Morley finished third on Saturday in 17:29. Anna Rohrer of Indiana was the winner in 17:13.
"It's like what she's been doing all season, exceeding all expectations," Menlo coach Jorge Chen said. "I knew that she was going to do well but I didn't know she was going to do this well! Race after race, Lizzie has always been exceeding our expectations -- and her own I'm sure."
Lacy was seeded 21st entering the race, and seemed to have little trouble picking off runners ahead of her.
"Before the race, I told her this year is probably one of the fastest fields of runners," Chen said. "Yet because of the nature of so many good and fast runners, maybe some of the mid-pack runners might go to go out too fast -- the seeded runners -- Lizzie, might be able to pick up steps in place, and she did just that."
Wearing borrowed spikes that the race sponsor gave runners to handle the weathered, flooded terrain, Lacy nonetheless earned All-American honors.
Lacy and Chen went over film and strategy in the days leading up to the race. What wasn't expected was the runners having to make a quick adjustment to running in spikes. Lacy, who has played lacrosse the past several spring seasons, doesn't even typically lace up spikes for track. But the change didn't faze her.
"Lizzie was so proud of Menlo there," said Chen, who also coaches track and soccer. "She has represented the school well and made us all so proud. I feel really lucky to coach her and the whole entire cross country team."
Lacy finished ahead of Stanford recruit Hannah Long of Eureka High in Pacific, Mo. She finished 19th in 18:20.
Two other Stanford recruits did quite well in the boys' race as Grant Fisher of Grand Blanc High in Michigan defended his national title with a 15:03 clocking. Alex Ostberg of Darien High in Darien, Conn., was ninth in 15:22.
Fisher won the 2013 Foot Locker national race in 15:07. Fisher, who won his second consecutive Michigan Division I cross country championship earlier this month in 14:52.5, was the most sought-after distance running recruit in the country after posting times of 4:02.02 at New York City's Dream Mile and 8:51.28 at the Brooks PR Invitational two mile in Renton, Wash., last spring. Both were victories against strong competition.
Fisher has won five state championships overall, including two at 3,200 and one at 1,600. He also is an outstanding soccer player and has been selected for Olympic Development Program teams. College will offer Fisher the opportunity to concentrate on one sport.