Grand­view stand­out Oakley wins na­tional ti­tle

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By John Meyer John Meyer: jmeyer@ den­ver­ or @john­meyer

Colorado high school girls stood out at the Nike Cross Coun­try na­tional cham­pi­onships Satur­day in Port­land, Ore.

Grand­view’s Brie Oakley, who spent most of the sea­son ranked No. 1 in the na­tion and won the state’s Class 5A cross coun­try ti­tle, won the 5-kilo­me­ter girls race at the na­tional meet in 17 minutes, 10 sec­onds, nearly half a minute ahead of Em­ber Strat­ton of Port­land. Three-time Colorado 5A cham­pion Lauren Gre­gory of Fort Collins High School fin­ished third in 17:40.

“This was my main goal all sea­son, af­ter state,” Oakley said. “I wanted to end my sea­son on a re­ally good note. It was a dream of mine to win na­tion­als. Be­ing able to do it was like the ic­ing on the cake.”

Oakley was a soc­cer player un­til fall 2015, when she tried out for cross coun­try and dis­cov­ered she had ex­cep­tional tal­ent for run­ning. She fin­ished se­cond at the state cross coun­try meet in 2015 and won two state ti­tles on the track last spring. She will run for the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia next year.

De­spite her dom­i­nat­ing sea­son in 2016, Oakley ac­knowl­edged she felt pres­sure go­ing into the meet ranked No. 1.

“I thought the race would be a lot closer than it was,” Oakley said. “I was a lit­tle shocked by that. I just tried to keep my lead and do what­ever it took to come out on top. I knew it was my last race (as a high school cross coun­try run­ner) and, no mat­ter what, I was go­ing to be happy, just work­ing hard.”

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