Local runners hit national stage

Centrowitz finishes 8th, Smith 18th at Foot Locker meet

Cross country

High schools

December 10, 2006|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,Special to The Sun

Matthew Centrowitz of Broadneck and Atholton's Alison Smith have spent much of their high school cross country careers winning races and championships.

But despite the fact that neither Centrowitz nor Smith won at yesterday's Foot Locker Cross Country National Championship races at San Diego's Balboa Park, both were thrilled with their experience of running at the highest scholastic level.

Centrowitz finished in eighth place in the boys race. His time of 15 minutes, 34 seconds over the 5,000-meter course was 12 seconds behind that of winner Chad Hall of California.

Centrowitz never took the lead, but he remained close to the front of the pack throughout the race and said he loved the lessons he learned from competing at this level. He's headed to run for the University of Oregon next fall.

"I'm here for the experience," Centrowitz said from San Diego. "It really helped me compete and get experience at the national level. Finishing in the top five would have been one of my goals, but I'm not disappointed. I'm still happy."

In the girls race, Smith placed 18th in a time of 18:37, 68 seconds behind winner Kathy Kroeger of Tennessee.

Like Centrowitz, she said running at this level taught her valuable lessons for the future.

"I would have liked to have been in the top 15," Smith said from San Diego. "But I'm happy with 18th. I'm not used to having 20 girls around me all through the race, but I'm definitely happy with the experience more than the place and time."

Both Centrowitz and Smith qualified for this national race with fifth-place performances in the Northeast Regional in New York on Nov. 25. Each of yesterday's races had 40 runners.

Centrowitz and Smith each went to the Foot Locker competition after winning a state title for the third straight time this fall.

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