SAN DIEGO — In her third and final visit to the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in San Diego, Abbey Leonardi put forth the best effort by a Maine schoolgirl in the 33-year history of the event.

A Kennebunk senior, Leonardi finished fourth on a sunny Saturday morning at Balboa Park in San Diego in a 5-kilometer race featuring 40 of the finest high-school runners in the country.

Pre-race favorite Molly Seidel of Hartland, Wis., won the race in an unofficial time of 17 minutes, 21 seconds. Erin Finn of West Bloomfield, Mich., who led for the first 14 minutes and briefly re-took the lead from Seidl after being passed once, held on for second.

Third went to Syracus (N.Y.) sophomore Laura Leff (17:33.9), who was fifth in the Northeast Regional, followed closely by Leonardi, a three-time Northeast runner-up bound for the University of Oregon, in 17:35.3.

Leonardi held off Karlie Garcia (Roseville, Calif.) by three tenths of a second.

The previous highest finish for a Maine girl was fifth by Susannah Beck of Waynflete in 1985. Not since Louis Luchini of Ellsworth placed second in 1998 has a Maine runner finished among the top four.

Madison High senior Matt McClintock grabbed the 15th and final all-America slot with a 15:31.3 finish in a boys race won by New Jersey state champion Edward Cheserek in 14:51.5. Cheserek and runner-up Futsum Zeinasellassie of Indianapolis (14:52.1) finished nearly half a minute before the rest of the field.

McClintock, who placed sixth in the Northeast Regional, was the third Northeast qualifier to finish Saturday in San Diego, holding off New Jersey’s Timothy Ball (15:32.7) for 15th.

 

 

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