Jorgensen Ends Season with Girls' National Cross-Country Title

There will be no more hard Monday workouts for Kira Jorgensen, at least for a while.

As she neared the finish line in the Kinney National cross-country championship, that's all Jorgensen could think of.

"The season's over, that's all I can say," Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen, a junior from Rancho Buena Vista High School, ended her season Saturday as the nation's top girls' cross-country runner, winning in 17 minutes 8.7 seconds over the 3.1-mile course at Balboa Park's Morley Field.

Jorgensen, who had the best qualifying time (17:20), finished eight seconds ahead of Susan Bliss of St. Charles, Mo. (17:16.7). Megan Thompson of Florissant, Mo., was third in 17:27.6.

Robert Kennedy of Westerville, Ohio, won the boys' race in 14:59.0, despite falling once. Kennedy pulled well ahead after the first mile and was never seriously challenged. John Sence of Milford, Ohio, was second in 15:08.9, and Harley Hanson of Rosholt, S.D., finished third in 15:12.7.

Francis O'Neill of San Pasqual High School finished 24th in 15:51.4. He qualified for the race as an alternate and ran when Ian Alsen of Granada Hills High in Los Angeles opted for the Los Angeles City Section championships.

For Jorgensen, those dreadful Mondays of training will be set aside until the track season begins this spring.

"You go home, and you don't want to do anything else but die. That's basically what Mondays mean," Jorgensen said. "Monday workouts are really the hardest."

It was Jorgensen's tenacity on the course's one major hill that determined the race. The hill, a mile into the race, tends to catch runners by surprise after the relatively flat course leading up to it.

Jorgensen, who finished fourth here last year, had more experience on the course than any other entrant. She has raced on it twice this year, in the San Diego Section championship and the Kinney regional.

"I figured if I was going to push it anywhere (on the course), it had to be on the hills, where I know that hill," she said. "And I know it like I know my name."

Bliss said, "The only thing that bothered me was that one big hill. There was nothing really leading up to it. I felt like I was running flat, and suddenly there it was. I think that is where (Jorgensen) had her biggest advantage."

Jorgensen, had a big lead for most of the race after the first of two trips up the hill but said she constantly worried about Bliss, who was 25th last year. Bliss, a senior, is the two-time defending Missouri state champion.

"Until I hit the line, I wasn't sure I had won it," Jorgensen said.

The race was stopped after the initial start because Tracy Stevenson of Atlanta and Paige Keck of Virginia Beach, Va., tripped over each other about 35 yards into the race. On the second start, Jorgensen and Bliss slightly led the field of 32 runners.

"It was a little bit slower (the second time)," Jorgensen said. "I think it must have taken some of the jitters out, because I know my arms were lower."

A temporary end to the jitters is the main reason Jorgensen is so happy the season has finally ended.

"There was a lot of pressure this week at school," she said. "Not as much from my friends, but from people who knew what was going on. They are the people who, if you get second in the nationals, they say, 'Well, what happened?'

"I was really nervous just because it was my hometown. I knew there would be so many people out here. I felt that if this was back East, most people wouldn't figure out that I had lost until I got home. Here, it's like if I lost, it's the first thing people see. But I'm glad it's over."

The boys' race had a dramatic moment when Kennedy, holding a 40-yard lead over Sence, fell descending the hill on the last loop of the course. Kennedy rolled twice, then quickly sprung back to his feet, losing only 10 yards of the lead.

"I was getting tired, and I wasn't lifting my knees, and my spikes got caught in the dirt," said Kennedy, a senior. "I just wasn't paying attention, and it happened really quick. "

In the team standings, the Midwest was the clear champion, winning the girls' race with 27 points and the boys' with 21. The West was second in the girls' race with 44 points, followed by the Northeast (61) and the South (112). The West (46), Northeast (84) and South (97) were second, third and fourth for the boys.

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