Saenger places seventh

Clarence High School junior Marissa Saenger finished seventh at the Northeast Regional of the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships. She covered the 5K course at Van Cortlandt Park in New York in 18:31. The top 10 qualified to compete in the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships National Finals, on Dec. 8 in San Diego, Calif.

“I was seeded 11th so it kind of made me nervous knowing the top 10 go to nationals,” said Saenger. “I tried to keep the leaders in sight the entire time; going into the woods I was 15th and I picked off a lot of people on the hills. I ended up passing one other girl at the finish.”

Section VI also made its presence felt at the Nike Regional at Bowdain Park in Wappinger Falls as Lake Shore junior TJ Hornberger placed an impressive fourth in 15:56.3.

The East Aurora boys were ninth, led by Sean Phillips, who finished 20th in 16:40.5.

Other scoring runners for EA were Brendan Keany (32), Gene Baritot (35), Matt McLaughlin (77) and Kenny Vasbinder (84).

The East Aurora girls placed third beating rival Holy Names along the way as senior Madeline Murray was the top finisher in ninth place in 18:55.6. Junior Marta McLaughlin was 12th in 19:04.9 followed by Mackenzie Donahue (18th), Megan Baritot (33) and Fiona Danieu (51).

East Aurora is hoping for a bid to the nationals next week in Portland. Ore.

Bolt named top athlete

Usain Bolt has won the IAAF World Athlete of the Year award for the fourth time over United States hurdler Aries Merritt and Kenyan runner David Rudisha.

The Jamaican sprinter, who defended his 100 and 200 meter gold medals at this summer’s Olympic Games, also won the award in 2008, 2009, and 2011.

United States sprinter Allyson Felix won the women’s World Athlete of the Year award, defeating Valerie Adams and Jessica Ennis.

Vonn struggles in return

In Aspen, Col., Tina Maze of Slovenia won her second straight World Cup giant slalom race, while an exhausted Lindsey Vonn finished 21st in her return after missing time with an intestinal illness.

Maze had a combined two-run time of 1 minute, 59.39 seconds Saturday to hold off Kathrin Zettel of Austria by nearly a second. Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany was third.

The 29-year-old Maze also won the season-opening GS race in Austria last month, with Zettel taking second there, too.

Vonn was 10th after the first run, but didn’t have anything left for the second pass through the challenging course. The four-time overall champion wasn’t sure if she was even going to compete in Aspen this weekend because of a stomach bug that landed her in the hospital.

Compiled from wire service reports