Snyder, Criscione run at nationals |

Snyder, Criscione run at nationals

Maddie Criscione makes her way across a large mud puddle at the Foot Locker Cross Country West Regional in Walnut, Calif., on Dec. 7. Photo courtesy of Steve Cuttitta

Park City cross-country runner Ben Saarel, who now runs at the University of Colorado as a freshman, became, during his storied career, the first runner in Park City High School history to qualify for nationals.

Now, PCHS can boast its first female nationals qualifiers, as senior Maddie Criscione and junior Alyssa Snyder qualified for the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships and the Nike Cross Nationals, respectively.

Criscione, who will race at the Foot Locker Championships on Dec. 14 in San Diego, Calif., qualified for the event with a ninth-place finish at the West Regional in Walnut, Calif., on Dec. 7.

Slogging across a trail soaked with rain and caked in mud, Criscione turned in a time of 19 minutes, 14 seconds, to advance from the region that featured runners from Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and from overseas military installations.

"It was super muddy, extremely muddy," she said. "But it was really fun. I went in there thinking I could do it, and I did it."

Though the mud caught her off guard, she said it didn’t change her approach to the race very much.

"We didn’t know it was going to be muddy," she said. "It was actually only really muddy for the girls’ race. There’s not much you can do, though. You just race how you do if it’s not muddy. Everyone struggled."

Now that she’s qualified for nationals, she plans to give it her all when she runs in San Diego on Saturday.

"In the regional race, I was just running to qualify," she said. "I could have run faster, but I’m glad I didn’t. I’m hoping I can do better at nationals. It’ll be a good end to my senior cross-country season."

For Snyder, who ran in the Nike Cross Nationals on Dec. 7 after qualifying on Nov. 23 in Mesa, Ariz., her 26th-place finish was better than she anticipated.

"My plan going out there was just to make the top 50," she said. "But as the race went on, I decided to try for top 30."

Snyder’s qualifying time of 17:48.68 in Mesa placed her fifth in the Nike Southwest Regional, a race in which only the top five qualified for nationals. Against runners from Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada, Snyder also faced tough, muddy trail conditions.

"It was an interesting experience," she said. "It was a tough race to qualify in."

After finishing the Nike Cross Nationals race in 18:06.9, Snyder said her goal is to make it to the event Criscione ran.

"Next year, I’m planning on going to the Foot Locker Nationals if I can qualify," she said. "My coaches are probably going to have me go back up to high-mileage training over the winter."

For a live feed of Criscione’s title race, which begins at 10:15 a.m. Mountain Time, go to

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