NXN Girls — A Familiar Name At The Front

Addy Ritzenhein — 18th last year as a frosh and the daughter of renowned 2-time Foot Locker champ Dathan Ritzenhein — declared after winning, “I guess I really like the mud.” (KIM SPIR)

PORTLAND, OREGON, December 02 — The Nike Cross Nationals girls race couldn’t have looked more different from the boys, as bold moves and big leads defying soggy course conditions were the order of the day. In the end, it was the savvy pacing of soph Addy Ritzenhein (Niwot, Colorado) that ruled the day. The team race went to Air Academy of Colorado, topping Ritzenhein’s favored squad.

At the gun it was Rachel Forsyth (Pioneer, Ann Arbor, Michigan) who took it out. The senior bolted to a 20-meter lead in the first 800. Then it was Elizabeth Leachman’s turn. A soph from Champion (Bourne, Texas), she quickly bridged the gap before the 1K mark (3:09) and built a margin that was over 30m when she hit the mile in 5:10.

The course was in far worse shape than it was for the boys run 90 minutes earlier, and Leachman found herself running very wide on many of the turns just to get solid footing. Still, it appeared the Texas champion had enough of a lead to run however she wanted. But far behind her, fans could see two runners overtake Forsyth, Colorado state champion Ritzenhein and last year’s 3rd-placer here, Bethany Michalak (Air Academy).

At 3K (9:59.2), Leachman had a 14.7-second lead on her pursuers, but soon it became apparent that the margin was shrinking. A kilometer later, Leachman passed the 4K mark in 13:44.9, with Ritzenhein just a step behind. The Coloradan went into the lead and just kept going as Leachman faded, eventually finishing 15th.

By the time Ritzenhein got to the hills before the finish, she appeared to be safe from any late sprint that Michalak could summon. She cruised to the finish in 17:10.4, then collapsed to the ground overwhelmed by the emotion of the experience.

“The conditions were perfect, considering in Colorado we race in every condition possible,” said Ritzenhein, who had finished only 3rd in the Southwest Regional. “I guess I really like the mud. I’m so happy. I couldn’t be happier.”

Michalak finished runner-up in 17:16.4, and had the added bonus of leading her Air Academy squad, ranked No. 2, to the team win, avenging their 14-point loss to Niwot at the Southwest Regional. Emily Wisniewski (Crecent Valley, Corvallis, Oregon) edged Isabel Allori (Liberty, Fort Collins, Colorado) for 3rd as both clocked 17:37.4, and early leader Forsyth was able to grab 5th in 17:38.6.

Said Michalak, “Going out there today, we knew that Niwot was a really tough team to compete against. We raced against them in the NXR and we knew we had to give our all. We just all went out there and ran well.”


Teams: 1. Air Academy 61; 2. Niwot 72; 3. Denver 163; 4. Lone Peak 201; 5. Wexford 218; 6. Kinetic 242; 7. Louisville 264; 8. Clovis 274; 9. Wilmington 281; 10. Union County 282; 11. Delmar 286; 12. Elmhurst 314; 13. San Juan Capistrano 328; 14. Mount Prospect 333; 15. Portland 334; 16. Downers North 345; 17. Flower Mound 363; 18. Carroll 396; 19. Corona 448; 20. Forest Park 455; 21. Wayzata 456; 22. West Olathe 534.

Individuals (5K): 1. **Addy Ritzenhein (Niwot) 17:10.4; 2. Bethany Michalak (Academy) 17:16.4; 3. *Emily Wisniewski (NW5) 17:37.4; 4. Isabel Allori (SW2) 17:37.4; 5. Rachel Forsyth (MW3) 17:38.6; 6. ****Gianna Rahmer (SW6) 17:38.9; 7. **Jaelyn Williams (Cal6) 17:39.9; 8. Isabella Keller (MW4) 17:43.4; 9. Logan Hofstee (NW2) 17:45.0; 10. *Ella Hagen (SW3) 17:47.6;

11. Anna Callahan (NW1) 17:48.6; 12. *Holly Barker (Cal1) 17:49.0; 13. Allie Zealand (SE5) 17:49.7; 14. Maddie Gardiner (SE2) 17:52.6; 15. **Elizabeth Leachman (South1) 17:53.6; 16. Nelah Roberts (NW4) 17:56.1; 17. **Libby Dowty (MW2) 17:56.9; 18. **Macy Wingard (South5) 17:59.5; 19. Addison Knoblauch (MW5) 18:00.2; 20. **Lily Alder (SW1) 18:02.0;

21. Emily Bush (Kinetic) 18:03.6; 22. *Norah Hushagen (Heart4) 18:03.7; 23. Selma Anderson (MW1) 18:07.8; 24. *Hanne Thomsen (Cal5) 18:11.1; 25. Avalon Mecham (SW4) 18:11.8; 26. *Sadie Engelhardt (Cal2) 18:14.0; 27. Reese Dalton (SE1) 18:15.0; 28. *Katelyn Rupe (Heart5) 18:17.8; 29. *Tessa Walter (Academy) 18:20.5; 30. Reagan Gilmore (Louisv) 18:21.8;

31. *Peyton Adams (Denver) 18:23.1; 32. *Chloe Huyler (NW3) 18:25.1; 33. Alycia Hart (Kinetic) 18:26.2; 34. *Juliet Frum (Denver) 18:26.6; 35. Staucie Lees (South3) 18:28.1; 36. ***Mariah Hook (Academy) 18:28.2; 37. **Payton Meineke (SW5) 18:28.9; 38. *Wren Kucler (Wexford) 18:29.7; 39. Gioana Lopizzo (Cal3) 18:29.9; 40. **Jazleen Malherek-Osorio (Wayzata) 18:30.3. (204 finished)