Eli 26th in US

SAN DIEGO – Eli Moskowitz was happy with Friday’s heavy Southern California rain. Leaving New Hampshire on Thursday for the warmer climate, he expected a dry and fast course for Saturday’s Foot Locker Cross Country Nationals at Balboa Park’s Morley Field.

Instead, it set things up to feel a little more like home.

When the Souhegan High School senior and the other Foot Locker finalists went over the course after breakfast Friday, it was inundated with water. Every step was on the green lawn was squishy. The bare patches were muddy.

Despite drying out a little overnight, it was still slick and wet in spots. Moskowitz believes the weather, along with a hilly course – the same conditions he deals with daily in the Granite State – helped him to a 26th-place finish out of 40 runners Saturday.

“It was pretty tough,” the Amherst resident said in a post-race phone interview regarding his 15 minute, 59 second run on the 5K course. “It rained pretty hard Friday and it totally changed the course from what I think we were all expecting heading to San Diego. We kind of expected it to be drier and faster.

“I think the weather in New England, and the different climate changes we face up there really helped prepare me for this race.”

Michigan’s Grant Fisher, a senior at Grand Blanc High School, won the boys race in 15:03 to repeat as champion. It was four seconds better than his 2013 winning time.

The Stanford University recruit was followed across the line by Madison (Wisc.) West High School senior Olin Hacker (15:12) and Pocatello (Idaho) High School senior Elijah Armstrong (15:13). Hacker’s runner-up spot through eighth were separated by eight seconds in a tightly contested race.

“I came in a little slow,” he said. “I didn’t really move up much during the race. I just kept steady and held my ground.”

Saturday’s girls race was won by Mishawaka (Indiana) High School senior Ann Rohrer (17:13).

Moskowitz qualified for the national event with a seventh-place finish (15:41) at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships Northeast Regional, held at Van Cortlandt Park in Bronx, N.Y., on Nov. 29.

Saturday’s race was the culmination of a successful fall for Moskowitz, who was the boys Division II and Meet of Champions race winner, while finishing fifth in the New Englands.

“Just qualifying for the nationals was exciting for me,” Moskowitz said. “Just the entire experience I had coming out here, and getting to know, and competing against the best runners in the country.”