California sophomore Claudia Lane has been known this season for her front-running strategy. The question for her coming into today’s Foot Locker championship was not whether she would attempt to run from the front, but how it would play out for her against this group of talent.
Lane took the lead from the gun, which, historically, has not been a great strategy on the Balboa Park course as the hill that the runners face twice in the race tends to take its toll by the second time around. Still, Lane tried to gap the field even before the mile and the first time up the hill. She had opened up a significant gap on the field at the mile mark, which she came through in around 5:17 or 5:18.
She maintained her lead on the hill, but that part of the race set up the race for what it would become over the final two miles with Anne Forsythe and Nevada Mareno—two other regional champions—gaining separation from the other 37 girls in the race.
Rounding off the downhill coming up on the halfway point of the race, Mareno had gained a lead on Forsythe and looked like she would eventually overtake Lane.
Just after two miles, heading up the hill the second time, Mareno puled up onto Lane’s shoulder. We’ve seen this story before; Mareno was going to hang there until the downhill and then put the entire thing away. Only, that didn’t happen. Mareno did stick with Lane on the uphill and on the brief flat section at the top, but instead of blowing by Lane on the downhill section, Lane actually opened up a commanding lead.
Mareno stayed within striking distance to potentially win it with another gear or Lane falling off, but instead of that strategy playing out, Lane found another gear with 200m to go and opened up a four-second lead on last year’s third-place finisher to lock up the wire-to-wire win as a sophomore in 17:05.
Mareno finished strong for second in 17:09, with a 27-second gap over Rebecca Story in third place. With juniors Story and Forsythe taking third and fifth, respectively, more than half of the top five finishers were non-seniors. Seven of the 15 All-Americans in the race were non-seniors.