By Steve Breazeale
The San Clemente girls cross country team’s season may have come to an end after racing in the state championships on November 24, but junior Melissa Eisele still had another race left in her.
On December 8 Eisele traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico to compete in the 2012 USTAF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships and placed first overall in the Young Women’s division.
Eisele’s time of 19:15 was a full 11 seconds ahead of her next closest competitor and she finished the 5K race with a mile pace of 6:11.
The race was held at Balloon Fiesta Park, which features unpaved dirt trails and hills at an elevation of over 5,800 feet.
The win capped a successful season for Eisele, who helped lead the way for the Tritons throughout their season. She was the top finisher for San Clemente at the South Coast League finals, when the Tritons narrowly edged rival Dana Hills by the score of 48-49, and she played an integral role in the Tritons postseason efforts.
At the CIF-SS Finals on November 17 Eisele broke the 17-minute mark with a 16:59 time and was the top finisher for the Tritons, who finished fourth overall in the Division 1 race. The Tritons finished eighth at the state championships.