Liv Phillps and Ben Crane punch their tickets for San Diego
It was quality over quantity once again north of the border at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside on the National Cross Country course. There were just over 140 competitors in the girls race, and just over 100 in the boys race. Coming into the fray, we identified several key figures that would have an opportunity to finish among the top 10 and advance to San Diego for the National Championship presented by HOKA.
The girls championship race kicked things amid an overcast skyline and cold temperatures that struggled to get over 30 degrees.
Rachel Forsyth (Sr., Ann Arbor MI) once again got ahead of the field and was in the clear after the first mile in 5:27. Forsyth would go on to win the race in 16:57, just missing the course record, which will remain in the possession of Anna Rohrer of Indiana who clocked 16:54 in 2012.
Liv Phillips has enjoyed a fantastic senior season representing Naperville Central. She redeemed a tough 2022 postseason that rendered her ill. Not this year. She took second in the 3A state title, which was great. But the ultimate goal was making a national team.
Right away, Phillips aligned herself with the lead pack and stuck there. In the most economical but effective race in a strong field, Phillips even splitted the first two miles with 5:44 miles (11:25 at 2m). She would come in 10th and nearly 18 seconds ahead of the next finisher.
Ben Crane was in emerging elite as far as Illinois at the start of the cross country season. The junior from New Trier has undoubtedly bumped himself into a different category as the season went on. He took third in the 3A state title bout and, a weekend later, placed ninth at the NXR Midwest Championship.
Crane indicated that he wanted to make a national team because the experience would be great for him in the future.
With a small field, getting into position and working with the top pack was not hard. Thomas Westphal of Michigan led a conglomerate through the first mile in 4:54 and 9:46. He would take control of the race and pull away inside the final half-mile with a time of 14:59.
Crane maintained with his group in the 9:50 timeline at the second mile. Crane was sitting outside the top 10 with a mile to go., he made his final move in the final quarter-mile and strutted home in eighth place. The time was 15:10, with four seconds to spare if needed.