Marlee Starliper went for it.
The Northern sophomore and Foot Locker Northeast champion ran an aggressive race and ultimately ended up 13th at Foot Locker Nationals at Balboa Park in San Diego, California. Starliper took it upon herself to head up a chase pack behind the reigning national champ, Claudia Lane of California.
Starliper took her spot in second place and opened up a gap on the Midwest duo of Katelynne Hart and Olivia Theis. But those two caught Starliper around the two mile, and then she was swallowed up by the rest of the field. An exhausted Starliper came across the line in 18:04 for 13th place.
Lane ran away with the win in 17:03 to capture the national title for a second straight season.
Savannah Shaw of Upper Saint Clair ran a terrific race to take 16th place in 18:16. That finishes off a great career for the NC State recruit, who placed third at the state meet. Greencastle-Antrim's Taryn Parks took 36th place in 19:07, in her second consecutive trip to San Diego for the meet.
While her quick early pace may have cost Starliper a spot in the top five, there's no doubting that she put herself out in the mix for a big race. Saturday's race caps off what has been a remarkable sophomore campaign for Starliper.
It's a season that saw her come into Foot Locker Nationals undefeated, earning convincing wins at the Carlisle Invitational, the PIAA District 3 Championships, and the PIAA State Championships in AA. She ran away with the win at Foot Locker Northeast Regional two weeks ago at Van Cortlandt Park in New York.
Starliper is the fastest and highest placed Pennsylvania runner at Foot Locker Nationals since Tessa Barrett's win in 2013. Saturday was Starliper's first trip to the national meet, but it likely won't be her last.
For the seniors---Shaw and Kujdych---it's a end to XC careers that saw each turn into some of the best distance runners in the state. Each gradually improved throughout the season. Kujdych had a fantastic senior season, winning the Pennsylvania state title in AAA. Parks will look to make an historic third Foot Locker Nationals meet next season.
Hear from Starliper after the race below: