SAN DIEGO — Running in the Foot Locker High School Cross Country National championships is not how Sara Musselman planned to end her prep career.
The American Fork senior hoped to be running with her teammates in the Nike cross-country race — which her male teammates did as a team last weekend.
“My teammates and I had a disappointing result at regionals, and we didn’t qualify,” she said. She did, however, have the option of running in the Foot Locker Regional, which she did.
“I ended up qualifying for this race, which was really awesome,” the BYU-bound runner said. “I ended up taking 19th place, which really helps my confidence. … It’s definitely been so exciting, so beautiful, a great way to end the season.”
Musselman wasn’t the only Utah runner to end her prep career at the prestigious race. Weber’s Talon Hull, who won the regional qualifier, finished fourth with a time of 15:07.1. The winner of the national championship was Reed Brown from Texas, who finished seconds ahead of Hull in 15:01.8.
“My goal was just to get into the top 10,” Hull said. “It’s hard to have a time in mind because you have no idea what you’re doing until you step on the line.” Hull said the course is a scenic double loop with a massive hill that runners must conquer twice.
“There is a lot of different terrain, but that one hill you have to run up twice, it makes it more mental,” said Hull, who is still deciding where he will run in college next year. “Everyone comes here prepared to run fast on this course. Not everyone has it mentally.” Senior Travis Feeny, Ogden, finished 20th with a time of 15:37.3. The future Southern Utah Thunderbird said he just missed his goal of being an All American (top 15), but he still felt good about his performance.
“Last year I ran in the regional, but I missed qualifying by six spots,” he said. “This was awesome. They treat you like kings. … It’s so fun to meet all the other athletes, make friends and compete at the national meet. It’s amazing.”
Orem High’s Jiraa Riding, who like Hull is still deciding where he’ll run next year, earned 37th place with a time of 15:55.7.
“I didn’t do as well as I thought I would,” he said. “I was shooting for Top 20. … It was really hard. The hills really killed me. The first hill, going at it once was pretty fun, but the second time was … hard. Other than that, the course was really fun.”
Musselman got the chance to run with a future collegiate teammate in Provo senior Kate Hunter. The two former competitors enjoyed racing together, and even ended up finishing together, with Hunter 18th (17:58.9) and Musselman 19th (18:00.7).
“It makes me really excited for college,” Hunter said. “Excited for what we are going to be able to do.”