Louis Corgliano earned his first trip to California with a dash to the finish line Saturday afternoon.

The Hammonton High School senior finished ninth in the Foot Locker Cross Country Northeast Regional at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. The top 10 finishers advanced to the National Championships in San Diego, Calif., on Dec. 14.

Corgliano is just the second Cape-Atlantic League boy to qualify for the national championships since the Foot Locker race started in 1979, according to South Jersey track and field historian Reuben Frank. Brett Johnson of Ocean City qualified in 2008. Corgliano has never been to California.

"It's hard to believe," Corgliano said. "I got sick earlier in the week, and I didn't know how I was going to do. But to be going to San Diego is just unbelievable."

With 1,000 meters left in Saturday's 5,00-meter race, Corgliano found himself with four other runners, competing for the final three spots in the top 10.

Tai Dinger of Washington, D.C., grabbed eighth place in 15:40.4. Corgliano was next in 15:40.7 seconds. Ross Wilson of Wycombe, Pa., ran 15:41 to finish 10th. Chase Weaverling of Darnestown, Md., finished 11th in 15:41.3.

"We all took it in together," Corgliano said. "It was an unbelievable finish. Luckily, I was able to find something. I was able to lean at the finish."

Corgliano qualified despite not feeling well early last week.

"I had a chest cold, and I had trouble breathing," he said. "But I kind of forgot about during the race, and I was able to get the job done."

Contact Michael McGarry:

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