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Exeter's Jackie Gaughan completes the 3.1-mile race Saturday at the Foot Locker Cross Country Nationals in San Diego. (Courtesy of Joe Scascitelli)

All-America day for Exeter's Gaughan, finishing 11th in cross country championships


Exeter High School junior Jackie Gaughan earned All-America status Saturday by finishing 11th in a field of 40 at the Foot Locker Cross Country National Championships in San Diego.

Gaughan completed the 3.1-mile Balboa Park course in 17 minutes, 50.6 seconds. The top 15 finishers in both the boys' and girls' races became All-Americans.

"I definitely wanted to get top 15," Gaughan said. "It's something really special in the running world. It's a really cool honor. I'm excited about it."

Durham's Patrick O'Brien, a senior at Oyster River High School, finished 38th in the boys' race, which also had a field of 40 runners. O'Brien completed the race in 16:00.0.

"It went pretty poorly for me," O'Brien said. "I didn't have the race I wanted at all. I wasn't feeling like myself. My legs just didn't have it."

Reed Brown of Carroll, Texas, won the boys' race in 15:01.8; and Claudia Lane of Malibu, Calif., won the girls' race in 17:04.8.

Ten runners from each of four regional events qualified for the Foot Locker National Championships. Gaughan qualified by running second (17:55.2) at the Foot Locker Cross Country Northeast Regional Championships at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y. O'Brien finished third at the Northeast Regional event (15:38).

O'Brien, who will continue his running career at Dartmouth next season, dominated New Hampshire cross country this year. He won the NHIAA Division II state title at Derryfield Park in record time (15:24). His winning time was 53 seconds faster than the No. 2 finisher and three seconds shy of the overall course record held by former Portsmouth High School standout Cory Thorne.

He followed up that performance by winning the Meet of Champions at Mine Falls Park in Nashua. His time of 15:03 set a course record, and was 43 seconds faster that Pelham's Cameron Starr, the race's runner-up. O'Brien also ran second at the New England championship in Rhode Island.

"Just an off day for me today," O'Brien said. "Still really excited about the season I had."

After breaking the course record at Derryfield Park in the Division I meet this year, Gaughan set the course record in the Meet of Champions at Mine Falls Park by winning that race in 17:14.6. Hanover's Georgia Griffin held the previous record (17:28).

Gaughan called Saturday's race a "great experience" that will help her in future events.

"I went out really fast," she said. "I got in a good pack and felt like I got pushed. I just didn't have the kick at the end. The last 200 (yards) was tough.

"Overall it was a good race. I just wanted to race the hardest I could and feel like I was going to collapse when it was over. I knew if it was a good race I could be top 10 or top 15. When I found out I was 11th I was pretty pleased with that."

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O'Brien's mother, Cathy Schiro O'Brien, won the 1984 Foot Locker girls Northeast Regional and national titles as a senior at Dover High School. Her winning time of 16:48 in the Northeast Regional is still the course record at Van Cortlandt Park. ... New Hampshire is one of 16 states that had more than one runner advance to the national championships. California and Pennsylvania each had seven runners in the field, the most of any state.

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