Winters Mill's Oneda finishes 33rd at Foot Locker nationals


Running in Saturday's Foot Locker National Cross Country Championship in San Diego was an eye-opening experience for Hannah Oneda.

It wasn't just that the Winters Mill senior was competing in her first national-level event. Oneda actually had to get used to chasing down the lead pack rather than separating herself from it.

The freshly minted All-Metro Runner of the Year -- who won the Class 2A state title in record time last month -- finished 33rd out of 40 at the Foot Locker meet, completing the 5K course in 18 minutes, 21 seconds.

Molly Seidel of University Lake School in Wisconsin won in 17:22.

"I tried to just treat it like just another meet, but you really can't when you're running against 40 of the top runners in the nation," Oneda said when reached by phone after the race.

Oneda qualified for nationals by finishing sixth in the Northeast regional meet Nov. 26 on Long Island, N.Y. (She was the only runner from the state to qualify.)

She said she and her fellow Northeast qualifiers planned to start Saturday's race slow, which put her in an odd spot after a season in which she was almost always out in front of her competition.

Oneda -- who noted that she never even expected to qualify -- said the race was still a positive experience, because it will help her prepare for nationals in indoor and outdoor track.

She'll begin working toward that shortly after she gets back home.

"I think I might take a couple weeks off," she said with a laugh, "because my cross country season extended longer than I thought."

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