SAN DIEGO, Calif. — Abbey Leonardi of Kennebunkport and Matt McClintock of Athens earned top-15 finishes Saturday at the 2011 Foot Locker Cross Country Championships National Finals at Morley Field in Balboa Park.
Leonardi, a senior at Kennebunk High School, finished fourth in the girls’ race, covering the 3.1-mile distance in 17:36, 14 seconds behind race winner Molly Seidel of Hartland, Wis. McClintock, a senior at Madison High School, placed 15th in the boys race in a time of 15:32. Edward Cheserek of Newark, N.J., won the race in 14:52.
Both McClintock and Leonardi earned All-American status, accorded to the top 15 finishers in each race. McClintock became the first male runner from Maine to become an All-American in the race since former Greely of Cumberland Center standout Ben True placed fifth in 2003.
Leonardi’s finish was the best ever for a Maine schoolgirl runner at the meet, surpassing Susannah Beck of Waynflete of Portland’s fifth-place finish in 1985.
Louis Luchini of Ellsworth has the best-ever Foot Locker Nationals finish for a Maine runner with his second-place effort in 1998.
Erin Finn of West Bloomfield, Mich. dominated the start of Saturday’s girls race, powering through the field and hitting the first mile in 5:20. Finn continued to push the pace, maintaining her lead for the first half of the race before Seidel started to close the gap approaching the two-mile mark and separated herself from a chase group of runners.
Finn and Seidel then ran together until the home stretch, when Seidel was able to inch away to a two-second victory. Finn was second in 17:24, and Laura Leff of Syracuse, N.Y., finished third in 17:34.
The boys’ race was virtually a two-man show between Cheserek and Futsum Zeinasellassie of Indianapolis, Ind., with Cheserek surging ahead at the end to win, with Zeinasellassie just one second behind. Nathan Weitz of Spokane, Wash., placed third in 15:21.