Leonard leads the way at H-DNL cross country championships

File photo – Eureka’s Stasha Leonard and Fortuna’s Ella Owsley took the top two spots in the H-DNL girls cross country championships on Saturday.

Eureka’s Charlotte Leonard saved her best for last.

The junior standout set a new PR in the H-DNL Girls Cross Country Championships at the Arcata Marsh on Saturday, placing first in a time of 20 minutes, 21.21 seconds.

It was her second league win of the season after placing second in each of the previous three H-DNL events she has competed in.

“She ran a great race. It was a great PR for her,” Eureka head coach Matt Messner said. “I was really proud of her and her effort.”

The girls team competition went down to the wire, with Arcata scoring 28 points and barely edging a competitive Eureka team by just one point.

“It was very close,” Arcata head coach James Washington said. “A lot of my kids were hurt (shin splints and knee injuries) and they ran well regardless. They gave it their best shot and they won by one, and I’m proud of them for stepping up and working hard.”

Fortuna’s Ella Owsley capped an outstanding individual season with a second-place finish in a time of 20:24.98, less than four seconds behind Leonard.

Arcata’s Ai-Lan McGoldrick placed third in a time of 20:54.09 despite battling an injury, and her finish was key in helping the Tigers clinch a team win.

“She managed to fight through even though she was having a hard time,” Messner said of the Arcata star. “All respect to Arcata. They ran a really good race.”

Arcata and Eureka were the only two schools to field complete teams and took eight of the top-10 spots between them.

Eureka’s Miriam Mende (21:01.75) and Stasha Leonard (21:04.24) placed fourth and fifth, giving the Loggers three of the top five spots.

“Five of our top six runners had significant PRs,” Messner said. “I feel as if our girls peaked really well, which is always our goal. I’m really proud of them.”

The Tigers won the team competition on the strength of their depth and had five of the top-10 finishers, including Alauna Thompson (sixth), Gabrielle Ducate (seventh), Lillian Cunningham (eighth) and Sydney Trieu (ninth).

Fortuna’s Gabby Crosswhite was 10th, with Raven Alvarez (Arcata), Sequoia Ashby (Eureka), Maggie Odell (Eureka), Sasha Love (Arcata), Anna Grimmett (Eureka), Julia Jackson (Hoopa), Emma Soberhand (McKinleyville), Zoe Osborn (Northcoast Prep), Marie Lescouet (Northcoast Prep) and Tasha Tripp (Hoopa) rounding out the 20-runner field.

In the girls JV race, Arcata’s Josie Maguire took first, with teammates Frida King and Madison Trieu rounding out the top three.

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