Feb. 15, 2003
HOUSTON, Texas - University of Washington freshman Laura Hodgson placed second Saturday at the U.S. Junior National Cross-Country Championships at Houston's Buffalo Bayou Park, earning one of six spots on the U.S. junior national team that will compete in March at the World Junior Cross-Country Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Hodgson cruised through the 6,113-meter course despite extremely wet and muddy conditions, finishing in a time of 24 minutes, 10 seconds that was second only to Duke University's Clara Horowitz, who placed first in 23:34.
"I got here late yesterday, so I didn't get a chance to preview the course," said Hodgson after the race. "I figured I needed to get out with the pack early, because it would be hard to make up the distance on women trying to make the team for Switzerland."
Hodgson was part of a lead group of nine athletes that asserted themselves early, despite the slippery conditions. After Duke University's Clara Horowitz opened a lead upon the conclusion of the first lap, Hodgson gave chase and simultaneously separated herself from the rest of the field, essentially running solo the rest of the way.
"Everyone went out a little slower, before Clara decided to go out and make a charge and go for it," Hodgson said. "Everyone was a little bit hesitant because of the way it was pouring earlier this morning."
Hodgson, a graduate of Spokane's North Central High School, was one of two Husky freshmen competing in the race. Fellow first-year runner Noelani Kaneko of Bishop Blanchet High School placed 15th overall in 26:38.
Sunday's competition will feature four more Huskies, with freshmen Travis Boyd, John Hickey and Mike Sayenko competing in the U.S. Junior National boys' race, and UW assistant coach Kelly MacDonald racing in the U.S. Senior Women's National Championships.