SAN DIEGO — Jake Leingang closed out his final high school cross country season in style, placing third at the Foot Locker National High School Cross Country Championships on Saturday.
The Bismarck High senior completed the 5,000-meter race at Balboa Park in 15 minutes and 7 seconds.
That was 14 seconds faster than he ran on the same course at last year’s nationals, when he placed fourth.
“I’m really happy,” Leingang said. “It’s a really tough course, and the competition was great. To do that much better than last year was exciting.
“… I couldn’t ask for any better coaches. With their help, doing all the workouts, they’ve made me better.”
Edward Cheserek of Newark, N.J., won the race for the second straight year, finishing in a time of 14:59.
Sean McGorty of Fairfax, Va., was second in 15:05, two seconds ahead of Leingang.
Leingang said the conditions for the race were perfect, with temperatures near 60 degrees and no wind.
That stood in stark contrast to last week, when Leingang and his Bismarck teammates competed in a mudbath at the Nike nationals.
Leingang placed 59th in that race, which he said was a motivator.
“I knew that wasn’t my best race,” he said. “I wanted to come out and do a lot better.”
Now Leingang said he will turn his attention to picking a college.
He said he has narrowed his list to three schools — Oregon, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin.
“I’m going to take two weeks off from running and try to decide,” Leingang said. “… But I just want to thank everybody for all their support.”