Reflecting on Nike XC Town Twilight

by Justin Amburgy

The fastest Nike XC Town Twilight in its short history occurred last weekend at the LaVern Gibson Championship Cross Country Course in Terre Haute, IN. The meet had several records broken as well as teams from across the country traveling to make this meet one of the best in the country for the weekend. The day started off with relatively high temperatures in the mid 80s for the JV races and girls open races. Once the boys open races began the sun had set and the temperature dipped into the 60s for the remainder of the night. Huge shoutout to TimingMD for putting on an excellent event as always with live splits, results, and so much more!

JV Girls Race

The day started with the girls JV race where Alyssa Ritter, a freshman from Rock Bridge (MO), dominated the race from start to finish. She established her lead by the 1K mark and never looked back as she beat her nearest competition by nearly 15 seconds to finish with a time of 21:10.3. She would help lead her team to a 43-47 victory over Noblesville.

JV Boys Race

The sun continued to shine for the boys JV race as Caden Jackson of Noblesville and Caleb Webb of Bloomington North battled to the 2K mark in a time of 6:26. After this point Caleb began to open up a lead as he continued to pace the next 3K very consistently at 3:24, 3:26, and 3:26 to get the win and be the only finisher to break 17 minutes with a time of 16:45.3. Rock Bridge (MO) would also win the boys JV race with Noblesville also finishing as the runner-up with a team score of 32-49.

Girls Open Race #1

In the first girls open race Hannah Moore, a senior from Northwestern, got out to a similar lead as Alyssa did in the JV race. Hannah had a 6 second lead by the time she made her way down the hill to the 1K mark. She continued to grow that lead to win by over 40 seconds in a time of 18:27.6. The open races combined results to award a team winner and both teams came from the first race where the Carmel girls beat out Zionsville 93-134.

Girls Open Race #2

The second girls open race had one of the coolest racing atmospheres as the sun began to set at the beginning before completely setting by the end of the race. Lucy Wood would have a pack that included her teammate Isabel Garcia and Courtney Study of New Palestine coming through the 2K in around 7:15 before Lucy broke away. The next K Isabel would also make a move to gap Courtney. Lucy would win the race by a wide margin with a 19:20.1 with her teammate being the next finisher with a 19:55.3.

Boys Open Race #1

By the time the gun went off for the first boys open race it was already dark outside with much cooler temperatures. This race featured the closest race so far for the day with a pack of 5 runners, led by Cameron Smith of Lapel, who were all within one second of each other. Colin Strachman, a senior from Mt. Vernon, would take the lead at the 4K and hold on to win the race with a time of 16:13.6. Mt. Vernon would end up finishing runner up in the open division to a team from the second boys open race.

Boys Open Race #2

The second boys race got out to a blistering fast pace with Calvin Seitz, a freshman from Jasper, taking out the race with a 2:46.9 for the first K which is fast even considering the first kilometer being downhill. Calvin would hold on to a 3-5 second lead over the field for the entire race to lead two other runners under 16 minutes and win with a time of 15:48.2. This time puts Calvin at the top of the freshman class and the second freshman to break 16 minutes this year. Mt. Prospect (IL) had a top 5 team average of 16:29 to win the boys open division over Mt. Vernon with a score of 103-212.

Girls Championship Race

The excitement for the first championship race of the night was unparalleled with 400 girls lining up with several national championship level teams and individuals. The race was very tight going through the 1K at 3:09.9 with Nicki Southerland of Delta leading the race with Natalie Barnard, Ava Jarrell, Zariel Macchia, and Addison Knoblauch, Libby Dowty, and Julia Score all within one second of each other. The race would see a new leader by the 2K with Natalie moving up to take a slight advantage at 6:42.0 with Zariel, Libby, Addison, and Julia rounding out the top 5. Natalie would continue her lead going through the 3K at 10:10.3 with Isabella Keller taking 2nd. Zariel would make the final lead change of the race approaching the 4K at 13:37.5. She would have the fastest last K of the race closing in a time of 3:23.4 to just barely miss out on sub 17 minutes with a time of 17:01.0. Behind her Nicki Southerland would edge out Isabella Keller in the final meters of the race to finish as the runner-up with a time of 17:06.3 and pass 4 runners in the final K.

Zariel Macchia, a junior from William Floyd (NY), finished 6th at the Champs National XC Championships and 2nd at the Garmin RunningLane XC Championships last year as a sophomore and is looking to improve this year. She reflected on her race today and described the move she made with a mile left in the race to break away and build her confidence heading into the last K. Zariel looks forward to running the Manhattan College XC Invite and qualifying and placing well at Foot Locker Nationals. She would also like to make Team USA again for the World U20 Championship where she placed 19th last year.

Coming in at the runner-up position was Nicki Southerland, a senior from Delta. She is coming off a runner-up performance at the state meet last year and has dominated this season so far including a new PR of 17:01.9 set at FlashRock a few weeks ago. Her performance today was the best she has ever run at LaVern Gibson course with a time of 17:06.3. She was happy to be able to compete against top level competition and looks to continue her success into the tournament.

The team race was wild in the girls championship with significant changes occurring in the scoring at each K marker. With 1K to go it looked like it was going to be between Noblesville and Mason (OH) for the win as they were separated by only 4 points and had about a 50 point lead over third. In the last K, however, Mt. Prospect (IL) was able to close strong and take nearly 100 points off their score to secure the win with 94 points. Noblesville finished runner-up with 134 points, Mason (OH) finished 3rd with 153 points, Homestead in 4th with 192 points, and North Central (Indianapolis) in 5th with 198 points.

Boys Championship Race

The excitement certainly continued for the boys race as it got out hot with a 2:46.1 opening K with Martin Barco "leading" the race over Camyn Viger, Sam Quagliaroli, Nicholas Strayer, and Andrew Hauser who were all side by side within one tenth of a second of each other. At the 2K Sam took a slight lead by about half a second over Martin, Andrew, Nicholas, and his Fishers teammate Matthew Kim going through at 5:51.7. Andrew would take the lead at the 3K leading a pack of Cameron Todd and Riku Sugie who were about a second ahead of the rest of the field. By the time the leaders approached the 4K it was Sam who reclaimed the lead in 11:51.3 with Cameron right behind him. It was at this point where Cameron put in a surge to have the fastest closing K in the field of 2:56.5 to gap Sam and win the race in a new meet record time of 14:48.1. Sam managed to finish as the runner-up in 14:52.8 with Dylan Maloney, Evan Trapp, and Brady Mullen all dipping under the 15 minute mark. 

Cameron Todd, a senior from Brebeuf Jesuit and Notre Dame commit, is coming off a 3rd place finish at the state finals last year and 6th place finish at the Champs National XC Championships. Cameron expressed his excitement with the race and his race strategy when talking with MileSplit. He started the race in 19th and let people "go their own way" and not be anywhere near the front at the beginning. He would pass 7 runners by the 2K and passed an additional 10 runners by the 3K to set up the rest of the race. Around the 4K he knew he had a chance of winning and he could sense his competition starting to struggle so made a move to pass for the lead as hard as he could and finish out the rest of the race fast. Cameron looks to get a top 5 finish at the regional NXR meet and make NXN this year as well as returning to FootLocker Nationals. He also is excited to get to know his future Irish teammates in the next couple of weeks after the tournament.

Coming in at the runner-up position was Sam Quagliaroli, a junior from Fishers. Sam is having a breakout cross country season and is continuing to build on the success he had from last track season. This was his first loss of the season to a competitor outside his own team and was able to further lower his PR to a 14:52.8. Sam told us that he wanted to take the race out hard and keep it an honest race as he knew that the field was stacked with quality competitors. Sam looks to throw his hat in the ring as a state title contender and improve on his 18th place finish at state last year as well as finish the season well with his team. 

The boys team race, similarly to the girls team race, had several lead changes throughout the course of the race. Mason (OH) and Rock Bridge (MO) exchanged leads early before Carmel took control around the 4K mark. Carmel continued to build that lead in the final K winning the team title by 47 points with a score of 192 points. Plainfield (South) finished runner-up with 239 points. Jesuit (LA), Rock Bridge (MO), and Mason (OH) rounded out the top 5 teams with totals of 250, 274, and 298 points respectively.