Two Maine high school seniors made the most of their appearances in the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships on Saturday in San Diego.

In her third attempt, Abbey Leonardi of Kennebunk placed fourth at sunny Balboa Park in a 5-kilometer race featuring 40 of the finest high school runners in the country.

In his Foot Locker debut, Matt McClintock of Madison Area Memorial High School held on for the 15th and final all-American slot.

No runner from Maine had achieved an all-America designation since Ben True of North Yarmouth and Greely High placed fifth in 2003.

True, now a professional runner with his sights on the 2012 Olympic team, was on hand as well as an honorary captain of the Northeast contingent. Upon meeting McClintock Friday night, True responded to the runner’s request for “some Maine love on the back of my bib number” by writing “Rip it up, man. Wicked good!”

“We Maine people stuck together for this race,” said McClintock, whose parents remained home in Athens but who nonetheless received a hug from Leonardi’s mom Lynda before the race and vocal support from Jack Leonardi throughout it.

McClintock spoke by cellphone from a balcony of San Diego’s swanky Hotel del Coronado — “The whole complex is bigger than my hometown,” he marveled.

The girls race began Saturday morning with Erin Finn of Michigan racing to a big lead. Abbey Leonardi remained among the leaders of a chase pack through two miles before attempting to attack.

Wisconsin senior Molly Seidel finally caught Finn after 14 minutes, only to see Finn re-take the lead before Seidel surged to a two-second victory in 17 minutes, 21.4 seconds.

Syracuse (N.Y.) sophomore Laura Leff was third in 17:33.9 followed by Leonardi in 17:35.3 and West Regional champion Karlie Garcia of California in 17:35.6.

The best finish for a Maine schoolgirl had been 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 at nationals.

“I’m excited because I feel like I did my best,” Leonardi said by phone from Balboa Park. “I think you’re never completely satisfied with the race because I feel like, ‘Aw, (Leff) was only a second or two ahead of me. I could have been third.’ But I did the best I could.”

Leonardi opted not to follow Seidel when the Wisconsin runner set out to overtake Finn, a junior.

“I really just tried to stick to my own race,” Leonardi said. “I didn’t want to go too early and ruin my race.”

McClintock’s scariest moment may have come during his cool-down run, when an on-site announcer read the list of all-America runners and concluded with “third team, all-American from Athens, Maine … Timothy Ball.”

Ball, from Piscataway, N.J., actually finished 16th, but the announcement sent McClintock sprinting back to his tent to double-check results.

Edward Cheserek of New Jersey — a high school junior in his second year in the United States after growing up in Kenya — won a duel with Nike Cross Nationals champion Futsum Zeinasellassie of Indianapolis by half a second in 14:51.5, nearly half a minute ahead of the rest of the field.

McClintock’s time was 15:31.3. After getting boxed in early in the race, McClintock said he remained between 20th and 25th until the midway point when the pack began to thin and he found room to move up.

He said the first mile passed in the low 4:50 range and the second in 9:58, at which time he was running alongside eventual third-place finisher (and one of his two roommates at del Coronado) Nathan Weitz of Spokane, Wash.

“I started my kick with about 1,000 meters to go and caught a couple kids,” McClintock said. “Then the last 150, I got caught by three kids but I had enough of a cushion and I was able to hold on to (15th).”

McClintock wasn’t sure whether he and Leonardi would receive a certificate, medallion or trophy at Saturday night’s awards banquet.

“I just like to be able to say I’m all-American,” he said. “That’s the most important thing to me is just the title. I mean, there’s only 15 kids a year who get it out of everybody in the United States.”

It means “you ran against the best competition in your region and you were lucky enough to qualify,” he said. “Then you ran against the best competition in the country and you were lucky enough to get all-American.”

Leonardi will continue her career at the University of Oregon. McClintock has yet to choose a college.

“It’s really fun to compete against all the top kids,” Leonardi said. “It gets you motivated to work hard.”

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