While most Mainers were both shivering amid cold temperatures Saturday and awaiting a predicted major snowstorm, Bethel’s Josef Holt-Andrews was running his way to All-American honors amid near-perfect conditions on the other side of the country.
The Telstar Regional High School senior finished 10th Saturday afternoon in the boys division of the 35th Annual Foot Locker Cross Country Championships held at Balboa Park in San Diego.
Holt-Andrews completed the challenging 5-kilometer course in 15 minutes, 30 seconds to earn second-team All-American honors. The top 15 finishers in the Foot Locker races are accorded All-American status, divided among first, second and third teams.
“There’s not a lot of Mainers who have made [All-American],” said Holt-Andrews, the reigning Class C state champion, “so that definitely feels good.”
Two other Maine distance standouts also earned top-20 finishes in the elite 40-runner fields, with two-time Class B state champion Dan Curts of Ellsworth placing 19th in the boys field and Class B state champion Kirstin Sandreuter of Greely of Cumberland Center finishing 20th in the girls race.
Holt-Andrews went out with the leaders in the boys race, which was held on a windless day with the temperature around 65 degrees.
He maintained a top-five position for much of the race, then held on at the end to secure his 10th-place finish.
“I was fifth up to two miles,” said Holt-Andrews. “Then the lead guys left me a little bit but I managed to hold on. A realistic goal for me was top 10, which I barely managed to do. I would have liked to run a little stronger than I did, but I’m pretty happy.”
Curts, believed to be the first Ellsworth runner to compete at the Foot Locker nationals since Louie Luchini — now an assistant coach with the Eagles — finished second in 1998, used a late surge to secure his top-20 finish.
“I’m not disappointed, but I don’t think I ran a great race,” said Curts, a senior. “I was pretty far back at the start. I looked back at one point pretty far into the race and there were only about six guys behind me.
“At that point I started to move up, and I ran pretty well the second part of the race.”
Garrett Fisher, a junior from Grand Blanc, Mich., won the boys race in 15:07, edging Johnathan Dressel, a junior from Colbert, Wash., by three seconds. That battle was undecided until the last 100 meters when Fisher unleashed the last of a series of surges to take the narrow victory.
Northeast runners finished 1-2 in the girls race, with senior Tessa Barrett of Waverly, Penn., taking control after a swift opening mile and never looking back in taking the national title with a time of 17:16, 10 seconds faster than runner-up Hannah DiBalsi, a sophomore from Westport, Conn.
Sandreuter, a senior who finished 10th at the Northeast race to earn the final ticket to San Diego from that regional, placed sixth among Northeast qualifiers and 20th overall at the nationals with a time of 18:18 despite deviating from her original game plan.
“I had hoped to go out conservatively and improve my position in the last couple of miles,” she said. “It didn’t work out as well as I hoped, because I ended up getting sucked up by the pace and went out a little faster than I wanted.
“But I was happy to be part of this, just to be able to compete with girls who are at the top of their games and have the same types of aspirations and dreams that I do.”