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Champs Sports HS Girls XC — Baloga Breaks Away On Final Climb

Champs Sports HS Girls XC — Baloga Breaks Away On Final Climb

Karrie Baloga (12) crossed the country ready to win with whatever tactic was required. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA, December 10 — The race proved mere formality; the outcome as far as the winner was concerned having been decided weeks earlier.

How so?

The Karrie Baloga Family t-shirt on the day said it all. Along the front: “Karrie 3:16”, a catchy variation of the biblical verse from John 3:16, referencing unwavering faith.

Across the back: “Cause Karrie Said So”, completing their adaptation of the two-phrase takeaway from brash WWE wrestling legend Stone Cold Steve Austin’s match-day confidence and wardrobe of choice.

Riding a zen-like nirvana and with her family donning matching shirts while feverishly cheering, the highly focused Cornwall Central High star delivered her own “stone cold stunner” finishing move to storm to victory at the newly christened Champs Sports National Championships at Balboa Park’s famed Morley Field.

The Colorado-signed senior avenged her only loss of the season by dumping Northeast Region foe Ellie Shea on the final ascent to win 16:49.2, the third-fastest time at the meet in the last two decades. Shea took 2nd in 16:55.1 in one of the fastest non-winning times in decades as the recent windfall of historic clockings continued as a byproduct of breakthrough performance footwear developments.

The showing capped Baloga’s near-perfect season ledger and marked her third consecutive All-America performance at the San Diego-based meet, having placed 11th in 2019 when Foot Locker served as the title sponsor, and then fourth in 2021, when Eastbay held the naming rights; the Covid-19 pandemic wiped out the meet in 2020.

It barely outshined Cornwall Central alum Aisling Cuffe’s own résumé; she placed 12th, 4th, and 1st in her three outings at nationals, capped by her crown in 2010.

Baloga credited her two prior outings here with laying the groundwork for her title as a senior. Her frosh trip was about gaining the experience traveling to a national meet. Junior year was about dipping her toes in the water with the middle of the race pack on the first loop, then closing strong to improve her final standing.

Now, it was all about going for the win.

“I have so much confidence in myself so I knew that it was going to be my race,” she said. “We were running the course [on Friday] and I said ‘This is going to be awesome.’ I felt it seriously in my heart that it was going to be…

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