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.
"It was exciting running in this race," Hall said. "The level of competition was so much different than any other cross-country race I've been in, and it was great to be a part of it. I've really enjoyed the experience."