Natalie Cook Wins Eastbay Cross Country to Become Undisputed 2021 High School National Champion

Completes RunningLane/Eastbay Sweep

December 11, 2021

For the second week in a row, Natalie Cook of Flower Mound, Tex., used a hard mid-race move to break away from the field and run her way to a national title. A week after claiming victory at the RunningLane Cross Country Championships in Alabama, Cook crossed the line in 17:15.0 to win the Eastbay Cross Country National Championship in San Diego.

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After a 5:19 first mile, the knock-kneed Cook made a strong move to the front as the field hit Balboa Park’s biggest hill for the first time. As she reached the summit, she had opened a five-meter gap over RunningLane third-placer Riley Stewart and that gap would continue to grow until Cook hit two miles in 10:55, 30 meters clear of Jenna Mulhern (West Chester, Pa.) and Northeast Regional champ Angelina Perez (Ringwood, N.J.).

Natalie Coo looked to have it wrapped up early

Cook seemed to be cruising to the title, but as she hit the hill for the second time, the gap began to narrow, and then narrow some more. By the top of the hill, it was a three girl race as Mulhern had closed the gap to five meters, with Perez a couple meters farther back. Cook, however, had something in reserve and she started extending her lead on the downhill.

Just before the three-mile mark, Perez drew level with Mulhern and would eventually pass her, but she did not have a kick to match Cook, who had found her second wind and removed all drama over the final 200 meters by blasting away from her rivals to win by 4.7 seconds over Perez (17:19.7), with Mulhern another 1.1 seconds back in third (17:20.8).

Cook had enough to pull away for the win

Quick Take: Natalie Cook is the undisputed national champion, a serious talent, and the first national champ from Texas

No girl has ever won NXN and Foot Locker/Eastbay in the same year, and while that didn’t happen this year either, what Cook did today was essentially the same thing. Plus she became the first girl from Texas to win Eastbay Nationals. Between the two races, Cook, who will run at Oklahoma State next year, faced all of the top girls in the United States and beat them all.

While Cook dominated last weekend winning by 18 seconds, she faced a challenge at the top of the hill the final time, and responded like a champion. 

Cook didn’t annihilate her competition this fall to the degree of Katelyn Tuohy a few years ago – she was actually beaten at the Woodbridge Classic back in September – but her last two months have been absolutely sensational.


1Natalie CookSouth17:15.0
2Angelina PerezNortheast17:19.7
3Jenna MulhernNortheast17:20.8
4Karrie BalogaNortheast17:29.1
5Riley StewartMidwest17:30.3
6Kate PetersWest17:34.0
7Sophia KennedyMidwest17:34.7
8Mia CochranNortheast17:35.2
9Sophia NordenholzWest17:36.7
10Caroline WellsSouth17:38.4
11Ali WeimerMidwest17:39.1
12Zariel MacchiaNortheast17:43.3
13Arianne OlsonMidwest17:43.4
14Irene RiggsSouth17:48.5
15Sadie EngelhardtWest17:51.5
16Kaiya RobertsonWest17:51.9
17Olivia WilliamsWest17:55.1
18Ava ParekhMidwest17:57.6
19Lilly ShapiroNortheast17:58.0
20Gretchen FarleyMidwest17:59.8
21Lauren PansegrauMidwest18:07.5
22Lauren PingWest18:08.9
23Karina JamesMidwest18:12.7
24Julia FlynnMidwest18:13.5
25Nelah RobertsWest18:14.2
26Ciara O’SheaSouth18:17.0
27Anna McNattWest18:18.8
28Juliette WhittakerNortheast18:19.8
29Emily Toth-RatazziNortheast18:21.1
30Taylor RohatinskyWest18:22.1
31Abby Faith CheesemanSouth18:22.7
32Aishling CallananWest18:25.7
33Rachel ForsythMidwest18:41.2
34Thais RollySouth18:41.3
35Ava GordonSouth18:41.7
36Allie ZealandSouth18:41.8
37Daphne BaninoNortheast19:29.4
38Maddie GardinerSouth19:58.5
DNFEllie SheaNortheast
DNFCrawford WestSouth
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