Addison Ritzenhein Follows Father As National Champion, Plus More From NXN

Addison Ritzenhein Follows Father As National Champion, Plus More From NXN

Addison Ritzenhein became a Nike Cross Nationals champion on Saturday, following her father, Dathan, who once was a prep title-winner at Foot Locker.

Dec 3, 2023 by Cory Mull
Addison Ritzenhein Follows Father As National Champion, Plus More From NXN

By Bobby Reyes - MileSplit

The Southwest came, saw and conquered the 2023 Mud Fest that was Nike Cross Nationals on Saturday. 

Not only was there mud to deal with, but there was a puddle six-inches deep -- spanning nearly 20-meters -- that athletes had to high-step through ... twice.

Despite the classic Pacific Northwest conditions, one state in particular dominated the competition in the girls race. 

It was Colorado.

The much anticipated battle between U.S. No. 1 Niwot and U.S. No. 2 Air Academy lived up to the hype, but we'll come back to that. 

Two weeks ago, Niwot took down Air Academy by 12-points at the NXR Southwest Regional.

This week, the national title came down to 11 points, only with a different outcome. It was Air Academy soaring over Niwot. 

Air Academy made history for the Centennial State, capturing Colorado's first team title, tallying 61 points to Niwot's 72.

A year ago, the Kadets finished seventh at NXN. 

Bethany Michalak led Air Academy with a runner-up finish in 17:16.

Her squad had the edge through three runners, while Niwot was a stride ahead at No. 4 and No. 5. 

Air Academy's win capped one of the best seasons of any Colorado squad. Just over a month ago, the girls dropped the No. 1 performance ever at the Colorado State Cross Country Championships. 

But Niwot was able to flip the script at NXR Southwest, leading Colorado and as three Colorado teams (including Mountain Vista) went 1-2-3 there.

Niwot continued its streak of impressive finishes at NXN, finishing second.

The Cougars have finished in the top-five in four out of the past four times at NXN. The stunner of the day, however, had to be Mountain Vista, which finished third with 163 points. 

Mountain Vista finished third at NXR Southwest and had to wait a week to get the call for an At-Large berth. Clearly, the girls made the most of the opportunity.

Prior to Saturday morning, Mountain Vista was ranked No. 12. 

By lunchtime, the girls were third at nationals, and arguably now can be considered the third-best squad in the country.

Leading the squad was Peyton Adams, who finished 31st overall. 

Mountain Vista's result was another historic moment in NXN history -- one state has never swept the top-three spots.

Oh, but we're not done. 

Colorado also won the individual race as well. 

Addison (Addy) Ritzenhein pumped her arms up the double-hill and into the final straightaway, as the Niwot sophomore captured her first national title, running 17:10 on Saturday. 

The Niwot sophomore covered her face in disbelief as her father screamed in joy from the sidelines -- the 2023 Nike Cross National Champion.

As mentioned plenty of times before, Ritzenhein is the daughter of former 5,000 American Record holder and Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein. 

"Ritz" as he is known, was a two-time Footlocker National Champion in 1999 and 2000. The two embraced, as they join a short-list of father-daughter national champions. 

Addy's performance extended the legacy and in essence solidified her own name. 

The Niwot sophomore was patient over the muddy hills, and overtook pre-race favorite Elizabeth Leachman in the final mile. Leachman set a hot early pace and finished 15th.

While Air Academy and Niwot went 1-2 in the team race, the result was flipped in the individual race, as Ritzenhein led Niwot with her first-place finish, while Air Academy's Michalak was six seconds back in second. 

Michalak's run was one place up from last year's third-place finish, while Ritzenhein went from 18th last year to first this year.

Third-through-seventh was a wild kick to the finish separated by two seconds, with Crescent Valley's Emily Wisniewski taking the final podium spot, finishing third in 17:37.4.

Colorado's third-runner to cross the line was Isabel Allori, who finished fourth in 17:37.4. Coming in fifth was Rachel Forsyth from Ann Arbor Pioneer. 

While there were plenty of scripts flipped in the girls competition, perhaps it was the boys race -- which was first on the course -- that hinted at much more.

U.S. No. 1 American Fork and U.S. No. 2 Herriman battled into the final mile, but this time it was pre-race favorite American Fork who was chasing. 

These two squads have raced several times this season and over the fall each team had their hand in the winner's circle. But Saturday, Herriman won the most important meet of the season. 

The Utah program raced to perfection in Portland, tallying 83 points to claim the NXN title. American Fork took second with 101 points, while Southlake Carroll (TX) was third with 138 points. The result gave Utah a 1-2 finish.

Individually, it was upset city, as JoJo Jourdon kicked over the final double-hill to claim the national title in 15:16. 

Jourdan finished second at NXR-Southwest to American's Fork's Daniel Simmons, who finished 13th at NXN.

A year ago Jourdan did not compete at NXR-Southwest -- he finished third at Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships

While Jourdan's kick went unmatched, the race for second went down to the line. 

Cameron Todd and Nathan Neil were separated by one-tenth-of-a-second, with Todd taking second in 15:18.5 to Neil's 15:18.6.