Three repeat as champions in DODDS-Europe cross country
Click here for a photo gallery from the meet.
See the Europe high school scoreboard for complete race results.
SCHWETZINGEN, Germany — Four wire-to-wire victories produced three repeat champions Saturday in the DODDS-Europe high school cross country championships.
Greg Billington of Lakenheath, setting his second straight course record in this 5,000-meter event, and Colleen Smith of Kaiserslautern successfully defended their Big Schools titles in the races for runners from Division I and II schools, while Erika Anderson of Sigonella repeated as Small Schools (Div III-IV) champion.
Brussels senior Nathan Malinski grabbed the boys Small Schools crown, while leading the Brigands to their second straight Small Schools boys team title.
“I trained hard for this race,” said Billington, who left the field far back with a record run of 15 minutes, 48.97 seconds. “I wanted to break the course record.”
The record Billington broke was his own. He ran 15:52 here last year.
“I was nervous before the race,” said Billington, who went for a jog in the wooded sand hills that form this course after setting his record. “That guy from Naples (fourth-place finisher John Markman) did a good job of keeping up with me. He’s just a sophomore, so he’ll only get better.”
Second among the Big Schools runners was Ramstein senior Kyle Southard, who finished nearly a minute behind at 16:47. However, his finish helped the Royals claim the team title, 62-71 over runner-up Patch.
“I tried to keep an eye on Greg for the first mile,” said Southard, the reigning European 800-meter champion, “but he’s too fast. He’s one of the top 50 runners in the nation.”
Malinski, pushed most of the way by Colin Chapman of Milan, opened a gap on the fourth and final loop of the cloverleaf layout in running a 17:36 to win by 15 seconds.
“It helped a lot to have him pushing me,” Malinski said.
Malinski said he’d gladly trade his Small Schools gold medal for the chance to run against the Billingtons of the world.
“Definitely,” he said. “There would always be people ahead of you. It would help improve your time.”
Small Schools champion Anderson, a senior who crossed the finish line with no one else in view on the 400-yard straightway that ends the course, agreed.
“I don’t think I’d beat a couple of those girls,” she said after clocking 21:18, “but they’d push me really hard. I might get a better time.”
Anderson, whose defending champion Jaguars finished second to Milan this year in the team race, 26-33, said she missed the competition she had in last year's race.
“I didn’t have anyone pushing me,” the senior said. “I had to push myself harder to go out physically.”
Smith, the only non-senior to grab gold Saturday, also had no one pushing her. She finished the course in 19:51 to beat runner-up Maggie Redmond of Patch by 43 seconds. Redmond took second by edging Sandra Davidson of Bitburg in a sprint finish.
Even without last year’s 1-2-3 finish, Kaiserslautern defended its Big Schools girls title, 67-71 over second-place Ramstein.
“It was kind of the same as last year,” said Smith, whose family will be leaving Europe before next season, “but I was nervous anyway.”