Covering High School Sports in America
File photo by David Steutel

Sarah Baxter, Simi Valley

Sarah Baxter repeated her 2011 girls championship run, while Sam Wharton was a surprise boys winner during the ninth Nike Cross Nationals at rain-soaked, mud-infested Portland Meadows on Saturday in Portland, Ore.

Baxter, a junior from Simi Valley (Calif.), won the title in 19 minutes, 17 seconds, four seconds ahead of another outstanding junior, Mary Cain of Bronxville (N.Y.), who now is being coached by legendary Alberto Salazar.

The girls team championship went to Fayetteville-Manlius (Manlius, N.Y.) for the seventh straight year, this time with a shocking low total of 54 points. The Stotans had four of the top-12 finishers and six of the top 27. Carroll (Southlake, Texas) was a very distant second with 198 points.

Wharton, a senior from Tippecanoe (Tipp City, Ohio), won in 17:06, three seconds faster than junior Estevan De La Rosa of upset boys champion Arcadia (Calif.). Arcadia, the California Division I state champ which won the Nike meet two years ago, finished with 108 points. That enabled Arcadia to become the first boys team to win the Nike title twice. Defending champion Christian Brothers Academy (Lincroft, N.J.), which had been unbeaten, placed fourth with 167.

Arcadia's colorful coach, Jim O'Brien, told MileSplit, "We've never seen conditions like this (mud everywhere). But we're a strength-based team. The miles we put in, especially during the summer, are the foundation. And the way we train on hills, that gave us the strength we needed here."

To prove he also wasn't intimidated by the conditions, O'Brien then fulfilled a promise by doing a slide/dive three times into a huge pool of muddy water just past the finish line.