Winnetka, Sports

New Trier junior runs with the best at national cross-country race

Ben Crane enjoyed a special view at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships on Saturday in San Diego.

And it had nothing to do with the picturesque hills of Southern California.

Usually Crane has an unobstructed view of the course from the front of the race, but on Saturday, the New Trier High School junior had a whole pack of runners in front of him as he competed with the best in the nation.

“It’s been such a cool opportunity to come out and run in a race like this,” Crane said after the race. “I’ve never been in a race where where I’m not one of the fastest runners, so it’s been cool being with people as fast as you. It was the first time I’ve ever been in the back of a race and that was such a cool experience.”

Crane ran the three-mile course in 15 minutes, 50.1 seconds, good enough for 24th out of 40 runners in the national championship race. The winner — Drew Griffith out of Butler, Pennsylvania — finished in 15:06.9.

Known as the longest running high school cross-country race in the nation, the 44th Foot Locker Championships brought together the nation’s top trotters Saturday on Morley Field at Balboa Park in San Diego.

Crane prior to the race on Saturday, Dec. 9, in San Diego. | Photo by Victor Sailer/PhotoRun

Crane qualified for the finals thanks to an eighth-place finish in the regional race on Nov. 25 at Wayne E. Dannehl Cross Country Course in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Just before then, at the IHSA state finals, Crane placed third, one of the best finishes in Trevians history (14: 20.16).

At the national finals, the course featured a 1 1/2-mile loop that runners circle twice and that covers 5,000 meters with a steep incline featured just after the mile and 2 1/2-mile marks. And temperatures climbed above 70 degrees, a bit of a shock to Midwest runners such as Crane.

“My body wasn’t quite ready for it,” he said. “The air is a lot drier, harder to breathe. (My body) was not expecting that.”

The Foot Locker race also pits regions against each other. The South region came out on top with 38 points, followed by the Northeast (38), Crane and the Midwest (54) and the West (101). Crane finished seventh among his Midwest peers, outdoing his regional finish.

“I’m pretty happy with it,” he said.

With the unique experience, Crane said he is bringing back some new knowledge, after chatting up the nation’s best over the weekend.

The junior will jump right into track training this month and said he hopes to compete again for a state cross-country championship next fall.

To do that, he’ll “run more, run higher mileage (moving from 60 to 70 miles a week), (work on) staying consistent. I think that’s what I’m going to focus on.”

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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