PTXC 6 Feature: Hutton holds off Zack in close finish for 1st win!

There were many great races at PTXC6 on Saturday, but the girls' Blue race had the closest finish. The Girls Varsity Blue race was very competitive as ninth-grader Brooke Hutton of Coatesville narrowly edged 12th-grader Kierra Zack of Northern by only three seconds.

The previous varsity races on Saturday had the first-place finishers winning their respective races by at least five seconds. The girls' Blue race was different than most of those races because of how competitive it was early on.

It became apparent that the Blue race was going to be a very good one when Hutton was barely leading the pack at the one-mile mark. There were six girls within five seconds of her by the time she reached that point; including Zack, who was in sixth-place. After that point, Hutton and Zack took over the race.

By the time they reached the two-mile mark, they were neck and neck. They were about to enter the toughest part of the course, going uphill, and they described what they were thinking as they were running stride for stride.

"I didn't know if I was going to be able to keep going because it was so hot...

"I was trying to stay up because I knew if you passed me, then I wouldn't have a chance," Hutton said.

"My biggest fear is finishing too early, so I didn't want to give it my all at the very end. That uphill at the end was tough (Hutton agreed). It was a struggle definitely...

"I always like hanging on to the first runner because they always push me to do better. Whenever I am in first, I always slow down and go my pace." Zack said.

Both of them managed to hold on to a good pace as they entered the homestretch. Unlike in most of the races on Saturday, the spectators were able to see two runners competing near the finish for first place. Hutton barely edged Zack, by three seconds, but the result did not stop both of them from viewing the finish in a positive light.

"I actually thought it was a really good outcome," Zack said.

"It was. It was a really good race at the end," Hutton said.

It was Hutton's first victory of the season as she had finished in second-place at the Big Valley Invitational last week. Her victory was not only her first of the season, but it also denied Zack a victory in her first race of the season. Zack competed at states last year and she is hoping to finish in the top-25 this year.

"I am really excited and I'm just hoping I can make it to states this year and medal this year. Last year, I came three places short."

Hutton will probably join Zack at the state meet as she now has two sub-20 minute 5k times to start the season. Her ultimate goal is to get to the state meet and Zack is confident that will happen.