With the 2011 Cross Country season drawing close to its magnificent finish next week in San Diego the eyes of harrier fans were focused on the West, where there were two important races. We had the pleasure of once again heading to Walnut, California for the Foot Locker West meet. With the Los Angeles area having sunny skies & temperatures in the sixties it was a pleasant respite from the northwest’s unpleasant weather of late but there was, of course, much more at stake, for the seeded races offered a trip to San Diego and the thirty-third running of the prestigious Foot Locker national championships.
Although the elite races were the highlight of the day there were plenty of races to choose from on Saturday and all of them offered rather nice medals to the top twenty-four finishers to go with the running shirt all entrants received. There were so many runners & races to choose from that I was remiss earlier, when I reported on the day’s events, because Presli Hutchinson of Pocatello placed second in the girls’ Freshman/Sophomore race. It was a good day for Idaho runners, as Cheryn Trapp finished third in the Junior race for girls & Morgan Choate earned a medal with his 22nd place finish in the boys’ senior race out of a field that had 266 contestants. The Spokane area, which always fares well in the races, had Molly Cole holding its banner in the girls’ Senior race, where she placed eighth out of a field of 188 runners. Brooklin Young of Washington took twelfth in the Junior Girls’ race but the Northwest star in that race was Cheryn Trapp of Nampa, Idaho, who earned third with her time of 19:57.
For those, who have not seen the feared Mt, SAC course, the times do not relate to courses, which most area runners see. This course is yet another example of Einstein’s theory of relativity in that Cheryn ’s mark of 19:27 would come out a good minute faster on almost all familiar courses. To fare well here one has to be a true cross country runner, who can handle the three famous hills, which really are four separate grades. No sprint specialists need apply here. Anyone, who can handle this course, is a true harrier even, if they prefer competing in the mile.
Naturally the main events were the races for elite runners, who would claim the right to face the nation’s best at Balboa Park in San Diego. The race for young ladies saw a dominating front-running performance by Karlie Garcia, who had qualified for Foot Locker in 2009. Her time of 17:46 gave her a nine second margin over Kelsey Braithwaite of Utah, who ran a surprisingly strong race. Makena Morley of Montana, who finished alone in a time of 18:07. Fourth place went to Sarah Robinson of California, who is a soccer player and in that role passed up her room at the Hotel Del Coronado to compete with her team on the soccer field this weekend.
Jordan McPhee was hardly intimidated by the hills and actually led everyone one up the intimidating “Poop Out” hill. The sophomore, who is a first year harrier, earned fifth and will represent Washington and the West in San Diego. Californians Nikki Hiltz, Sydney Segal, Clare Carroll, Cami Chapus & Anna Maxwell all claimed trips to Southern California this weekend and then Emily Nist of Bishop Kelly etched her name in the Idaho record books by becoming only the third girl from the state to qualify for the finals. Emily joins Mary Lyons, who won the race in its initial year, and Nicole Nielsen of Borah, who qualified in 2007.
Emily Nist on poop Out
Kendra Weitz of Shadle Park ran a valiant race but just missed her second berth in the finals with her thirteenth place effort. Idaho freshman Mikayla Malaspina had a very solid race placing sixteenth and will be one of the top returnees next fall after her time of 18:49. Four-time Washington State 1A champion and two-time Foot Locker finalist had an off day placing 22nd and Chandler Olsen of Woodinville was right behind her in 23rd. Other area runners, who ran quite well, included Marina Roberts (28th) & Brittany Gappa (36th). A cursory look at the results shows Marina & Brittany well ahead of at least one state champion, which gives you the idea of the overall quality of the field.
Darren Fahy, a 2010 Foot Locker finalist, went into the race undefeated and he maintained his perfect record with a solid victory in a credited time of 15:29, although my camera shot clearly shows him finishing in 15:28. The record is only a bit faster at 15:21, so Darren and second place finisher Nathan Weitz ran very impressive times. Nathan, also a 2010 national qualifier, came from well off the pace to claim his second trip to finals. Dallin Farnsworth challenged the hills and the field to become only the seventh male runner from Idaho to qualify for nationals and it should be noted that his brother Taylor was one of them in 2006. If anyone is the master of the come-room-behind finish it is Andrew Gardner of Mead, who was way back in the pack early, yet was able to join Weitz in the climb up reservoir hill. Andrew qualified for this race in 2010 as a sophomore before placing fourth in the nation and realized that the main goal Saturday was to qualify. When Nathan began to move on the final downhill, Andrew told him to “go for it” and was more than content with his fourth place finish. From what we could tell all of the afore-mentioned finishers had a reserve of energy, when they crossed the line, which bodes well for the coming race. Californians garnered the rest of the qualifying berths with State champion Billy Gaudreau placing fifth in 15:42. Mike Cameron, Luis Luna, C J Albertson, Myles Smith & Kevin Durham were the other qualifiers. Utah State champion Ben Saarel finished eleventh & will be the first alternate, should another runner be unable to attend this weekend.
Northwest runners acquitted themselves well with Joshua Collins (13th – 16:04) & Patrick Gibson (14th – 16:06) of Washington leading the way. Gibson is only a junior as is 15th place finisher Ryan Silva of Arizona. Hunter Johnson of Spokane came in 16th and Erik Harris of Twin Falls secured twentieth in 16:16. Other Northwest runners included Alex Bowns (30th), Sumner Goodwin (33rd) and Daniel Schofield (41st) of Washington, while Jackson Baker of Portland was the top finisher from Oregon with his 46th place time of 16:34. Hudson Eustace of Medford finished 52nd. Both Kyle Thompson of Central Catholic & Travis Neuman of Summit went out quickly and ran brave races. Happily the two State champions are both underclassmen and have another year. Oregon 4A champion Paul Adams had an off day.
Summit girls thanks to Dave Clark
It was cold and foggy in Portland for NXN but California’s Sarah Baxter took the measure of Delaware’s Haley Pierce to win that race. Katie Knight of North Central ran a fine race to earn third and was, of course, the Northwest’s top runner. Amy-Eloise Neale of Glacier Peak finished nine seconds behind Katie to claim fifth overall. Both Alexa Efraimson of Camas & Sara Tsai of South Eugene have had break-out seasons, as freshmen and they both ran well at Portland Meadows. Alexa ran 18:16 to top Tsai by a second, as both ran fine races placing 14th & 15th respectively. Katie Bianchini of Glacier Peak crossed the line in 50th just ahead of Paige Rice of St. Mary’s Academy, who was Oregon’s second finisher at 55th. Erin Clark of South Eugene finished sixtieth, while Oregon 5A champion Megan Fristoe had an off day coming home 83rd, which was two places in front of freshman Piper McDonald.
Katie Knight & Amy-Eloise Neale by Dave Clark
The other team members of Summit included Ashley Maton, who placed 114th, Kira Kelly (126), Sara Fristoe (166), Tess nelson (169) & Keelin Moehl (196). Megan Davis came in 151st for Glacier Peak, while other team finishers included Marren Haneberg (161) Katherine Dittmann (183) & Samantha Northrop (187).
Megan Fristoe, Piper McDonald & Ashley Maton by Dave Clark
Futsum Zeinasellassie of Indiana surprised nobody, when he ran away from the boys’ field to top Daniel Vertiz & Craig Nowak of the South. Izaic Yorks of Lakes ran a strong race to secure fourth in 15:30 and with that fine effort he was the northwest regional leader. His goal had been to beat Anthony Armstrong of Kamiakin and Izaic, who put his rival’s picture on the wall, achieved his goal. Still Anthony ran a fine race as well, as evidenced by his seventh place finish of 15:32. There certainly were numerous national-caliber runners behind him including Jake Leingang of North Dakota (8th) and Tony Smoragiewicz (11th) of South Dakota, who will both compete at Foot Locker this weekend. Joseph Hardy crossed the finish line 43rd with a time of 15:59. The boys’ team race saw North Central finish seventh with a total of 259 points. North Central was led by Taylor Wilmot, who placed 49th in a time of 16:01. The girls’ team race went to Fayetteville-Manlius, which topped its New York rival Saratoga Springs, while Summit led the northwest with fifteenth place. Glacier Peak was only eight points back in total points and finished sixteenth.
Glacier peak girls by Dave Clark
Wolfgang Beck had a fine day, as he led the way for Gig Harbor. The young sophomore star ran 15:53 on Saturday and placed 31st. Korey Krotzer of Auburn Riverside placed 66th with 16:10 & Idaho’s Thomas Rigby came in 91st with a time of 16:25. Other team members for North Central included Keith Williams (79 – 16:11), Austin Frostad (94 – 16:26), Sam Holland (101 -16:29), Nikolas Taylor (101 - 16:44), Tanner Anderson (135 – 16:47) and Isaac Kitzan (156 – 16:55). The Gig Harbor team, which placed fifteenth included Logan Carroll (78 – 16:17), Casey Peloquin (126 – 16:41), Joseph Gagliano (138 – 16:47), Tristan Peloquin (143 – 16:49, as a freshman), Will Drinkwater (175 – 17:20) and Luke Hoffman (178 – 17:23).
Guys race by Dave Clark
Sara Tsai by Dave Clark
Megan Fristoe - Thanks again to Dave Clark