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AAU National Cross Country Event Recap

By Original Content from the Tallahassee Democrat, 12/16/20, 5:45PM EST


AAU National Cross Country Event Recap


Can sports happen under a COVID environment, Dec. 5, was the perfect example as the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) National Cross Country Championships went off without a hitch at the ARP (Apalachee Regional Park) under a blue sky and with chilly temperatures. I wonder if the gorgeous weather was part of the contract.

As we all know, many sporting events have been cancelled this year to avoid the nasty COVID-19.

This includes events such as Footlocker and Nike Cross Country Championships.  

When the AAU made the decision to move forward with its national championships, the meet became the biggest national meet of the 2020 year. And, in fact my rough count turned up more than 2,100 finishers.  Age group categories included 6 and under, 7-8, 8-9, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-18, for boys and girls both.

The race distances started with 5K and worked down to 1K for the youngest age group.

The primary virus protections were requirements that everyone wear a mask and maintain physical distancing.  Almost everyone I saw was wearing a mask but complying with the distancing protocols was more difficult although it had to help being outdoors and moving around a lot.

Runners and their teams came from everywhere, including a lot of fast feet from California and Colorado.

Zofia Dudek came all the way California where she is a freshman at Stanford University.

While she did a lot of training her first year, racing was not available and in fact this event was her first time racing since winning the 2019 Foot Locker Championship.  Her time, 16:16.16, was, in addition to being a personal best, a 5K course record smashing the previous best time of 16:50.

A new high school record was set when Brooke Rauber from Tully Senior High School in New York, ran the fastest high school time ever at the ARP, finishing  second overall to Dudek in 16:54.90.  

On the boys’ side, Rheinhardt Harrison, ran a time of 15:08.72 for the fastest time of the day and the 8th fastest prep time on the 5K course (according to RunnerSpace). Just a few weeks ago, Harrison ran the 5K in 15:26.9 good enough to win the Florida 4A state championship. He is a junior attending Nease High School in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. 

It was not just the 5K that had fast racers. Three boys in the 11-12 age group run under 10 minutes and 54 boys broke the 11:00 minute mark. Jonathan Kiros was the top local finisher in this group running a personal best 11:01.83.