Kingsway's Chelsea Ley and Haddonfield's Marielle Hall closed out their high school cross-country careers Saturday at the 31st Foot Locker National Cross-Country Championships in San Diego.
Ley finished the 3.1-mile course at Morley Field in Balboa Park in 17 minutes, 37 seconds to finish seventh, earning all-American honors. Hall, who made her first trip to the Nationals, was 18th with a time of 18:05.
Ley, 18th in 2007 (18:04) and eighth last year (17:49), took an early lead at the half-mile mark and was even with eventual winner Megan Goethals of Minnesota after the first mile as the pair went up a major hill.
"Initially I wasn't planning to take the lead," said Ley, who finished third at the Northeast Regionals. "When the gun went off, the pace was a lot slower than I anticipated, so I thought I'd go out and see what happens."
Ley ran with a group of four girls - all regional champions - until the final 1,000 yards, when Goethals (17:06) and runner-up Chelsey Sveinsson of Texas (17:08) sprinted away from the pack.
"I'd rather go out and hold my place than to stay too far back and try to catch up," said the University of Virginia-bound Ley. "Coming off the second hill, I was in seventh place, and I didn't want anyone else to pass me.
"I ran my race, not anyone else's, and I'm satisfied with my time. It was my last high school cross-country meet, and I felt I proved myself today."
Hall, who will run at the University of Texas in the fall, enjoyed the challenge of running at the Nationals.