It was a week for Northwest runners to regroup & recharge their batteries prior to this weekend’s events, which include the Foot Locker West regional and of course that relatively new affair in Portland. The closest action was in California, which held its State championships on Saturday. Of course the action, which towered over everything else, was at the three regional sights for Foot Locker. Those events, which were held in the Northeast, the Midwest and the South and qualify young harriers for the national championships in San Diego, were the main event and everything else just a sideline, as anyone, who has attended both will tell you. At any rate we will look at Super Saturday first and then a few other events of note. In some way it is almost hard to believe that the season is almost over and sadly that is the case for some after some stunning surprises.
Summit Boys Earn At-Large Berth
The biggest news out of the Northwest was that the guys from Summit were given an at-large bid to race this weekend at Portland Meadows. Summit, the Oregon 5A champion will run as the Central Oregon Cross Country team on Saturday. That means that two-time 5A individual champion Travis Neuman will travel across the Cascades to race there this weekend. Eric Aldritt and Matthew Maton, who both placed well at State, will add support, while Luke Hintz, Tyler Jones & James Bowlin will aid the cause. Good luck Saturday fellows!
Foot Locker Midwest Regional
We attended the Foot Locker Midwest Regional in Kenosha, which offered very strong fields in both seeded races. We had not been in attendance since 1990 and then it was as a coach, so the return was very much of a homecoming and just seeing the wonderful course at Wisconsin-Parkside and the Foot Locker people were most accommodating but it was the competition, which was so special. It is the wonderful thing about Foot Locker, that the best runners test themselves against the best, which is really what the sport should be all about. It is also done in the American way in that you compete for your berth at nationals: one does not get in on his team mate’s coat tails nor does one qualify because some bozo on a secret committee selected you. One either qualifies by being in the top ten or it is the end of the line. Competition is the essence of the sport but it can be brutal as well and, although I dearly love the sight of the joyous qualifiers, there is always a part of me, which is so saddened by what appears to the uninitiated as failure. As Grant Nykaza of Illinois aptly put it qualifying is difficult and the fact that one has qualified before does not necessarily give them and inside tract. The one give in this sport is that everyone will lose sooner or later no matter how good they are and, as much as one can prepare, sometimes things, just as life, do not work out and that certainly was one of the underlying themes in Kenosha last weekend. I will happily have much more times to deal with that, when the next edition of Harrier Heaven comes out in March or December but suffice it to say that our hearts go out to those runners, who did not qualify this year. Julia Bos of Michigan was on hand at Kenosha but was forced to watch due to injury, while Erin Finn, who was a likely to compete once again for the national title as she had the previous two years, was saddled with stomach flu on race day and was compromised just enough so that she just missed qualifying in twelfth place. Ashley Erba of Indiana was yet another, who seemed to be ready to board a flight to San Diego but she had an off-day and faded to 65th. Others, who qualified last year and failed to make it this year were Nicole Mello, who placed 41st, and Addison DeHaven of South Dakota, who came in 23rd. It has to be so tough to take, yet at least a number of them at least will always have the memories of attending the world’s foremost prep event and hopefully they will be able to use this negative in their sporting career. Two runners, who had off days but have Portland to fall back on are Illinois runners Alex Riba, who placed 43rd & Jack Keelin, who was 84th. For now that is all I will say for the event, which as noted was already covered for northwest fans no thanks to MileSplit. There will be much more depth down the road. For those, who want a bit more detail here is the link to the story:
Foot Locker Northeast Regional
The event returned to storied VanCortlandt Park in the Bronx and Edward Cheserek of Jew jersey claimed his second regional title. His time of 15:21 gave him a fifteen second margin over Massachusetts champion Jonathan Green. There were a number of surprises and two of them were authored by Shawn Wilson of New Jersey (15:42) & Brendan Shearn of Pennsylvania (15:45). Kyle Kroon of Toms River, who placed second in the New Jersey Meet of Champions, earned fifth with 15:46 and Rhode Island champion Trevor Crawley followed a second later. Max Norris of Pennsylvania garnered seventh in 15:48 and Chris Alvarado of Connecticut took 8th with 15:49. The final two qualifying positions were annexed by Quaker runners Brent Kennedy (15:50) & Austin Pondel (15:51), while Michael O’ Donnell of Massachusetts just missed with his eleventh place finish in 15:54. Maryland State champion William Bertrand clocked 15:55 which was good for twelfth.
Catarina Rocha will return to Southern California as the Northeast Champion after negotiating VanCortlandt 17:49.5. Megan Curham, who placed fourth in the New Jersey Meet of Championships, claimed second in 18:08 and was followed in turn by Katie Lembo, who earlier won the historic McQuaid Invite. The New Yorker ran 18:11, which topped Pennsylvanian Regan Rome by two seconds. Anoush Shehadeh of Phillips Academy continued her solid season with her fifth place finish in 18:15 and MacKenzie Barry of New Jersey took sixth in 17:23. Marissa Saegner of Clarence, which is outside of Buffalo, earned 7th with 18:31 edging Marisa Ruskan of New Jersey by five-tenths of a second. Megan Reilly, the New York champion & record-holder, ran 18:35 to take ninth and Kennedy Weisner of Pennsylvania followed with tenth. Maine champion Bethanie Brown finished sixth seconds later to earn the first-alternate status. Sadly Laura Leff, who had qualified last fall but was hindered by an injury, placed only sixteenth in 18:57.
Foot Locker South Regional
The annual race was held once again at McAlpine Greenway in Charlotte, which always produces electric times and this year was no exception. Sophie Chase, who placed second here last year, claimed the title with a swift 17:05. Texan Karis Jochen also earned a return trip with her second place effort of 17:07, while Margaret Drazha of West Virginia improved upon her thirteenth place finish from last year by crossing the line third in 17:10. She finished a second ahead of Oklahoma’s Alex Davis, who placed fourth. Alabama‘s Carmen Carlos took fifth with 17:12 edging Bridget Blake of Florida, who became another successful returnee, and Sandie Raines of Texas, who all shared the same time. Improvements from last year were recorded by Virginians Caroline Alcorta and Allie Klimkiewicz, who came in 8th & 9th after previous efforts of 23rd & 16th respectively in 2011. Amelia Paladino of West Virginia secured the last berth on the plane to San Diego with her tenth place finish in 17:32. Sadly Alana Hadley, who had been a finalist last fall, was the unlucky eleventh place alternate.
If there was one area where the favorites found their way it was the right here, Three of the top four placers were even return finalists as well. Virginian Sean McGorty remained undefeated and he did so in impressive fashion with brisk 14:28. Joshua Brickell of Georgia also returned thanks to his second place effort of 14:49. Aaron Templeton of Knoxville saw his unblemished victory streak of the season snapped but the Tennessee champion grabbed third with 14:54 finishing four seconds of Kentucky State champion Jacob Thomson, who will return to the Morley Field course in San Diego. Texas 5A title-holder Robert Dominic was another, who was expected to qualify and he spec safely home in fifth in 14:58. Despite the swift time he was only a second faster than Brad Hort of Georgia. Quintin McKinnish, who had placed second in his State meet to Templeton, secured a trip with his seventh place time of 15:00 and Noah Gade garnered eighth in 15:03. Georgian Simon Holden took ninth with 15:04 and Robert Demarest of South Carolina secured tenth with 15:06. Somewhat surprising was the eleventh place finish of North Carolina Bakri Abushouk, who finished in 15:07. He, of course, was hardly the only surprise as far as qualification went but that, as they say, is why we hold races and an off day at this level is difficult to overcome.
California State Meet
Sarah Baxter had the time of the day at Woodward Park with her course record of 16:40 (3.1 miles). Her mark took three seconds off the course standard set by Julia Stamps in 1996. From here the Simi Valley runner moves to the mud of Portland Meadows. Finishing second in D1 was Hagen Reedy of Buchanan, who ran 17:10. Jena Pianin took third in 17L48 & Kiara McIntosh came in fourth in 17:45. Megan Huebner (17:48) & Fiona O’ Keefe (17:49) earned 5th & 6th respectively. Division II went to Maggie Bell in 17:29, who had a five second margin over Samantha Ortega of Saugus. Daniel Katz ran 17:46 for third & Paige Tennison of Newport harbor placed fourth in 17:52. Kelly Lawson & Emma Abrahamson of La Costa Canyon garnered 8th & 11th respectively. Sydney Segal of Beverly Hills topped D3 with 17:40 & Bethan Knights was second in 17:49. Vanessa Fraser went 18:00 to take D4 and Julia Maxwell scored in D5 with 17:26.
Juan Gonzalez had the best time of the day with his 15:04 yet only edged Estevan De La Rosa of Arcadia by a tenth of a second. Michael Pratt ran 15:06 to take third and Porter Reddish followed in 4th with 15:14. Kyle Warrick ran 15:20 for 5th & Yohanness Estifanos of Milpitas took 6th in 15:21. Bryan Fernandez won D2 with 15:09 with A J Yarnall of Saugus a second behind him. Forrest Riley of Ramona came in third with 15:12. D3 came down to the wire as each shared 15:18 with Aidan Goltra edging Myles Smith. Daniel De la Torre topped John Lawson by four seconds in D4 with 15:30. D5 went to Trevor Reinhart in 15:34, who defeated John Whelan by two seconds.
New Jersey Meet of Champions
Most of the best runners in the state met on the venerable Holmdel course and Thomas O’Neill of Middleton North earned the honor as the top prep male in the state save the obvious exception of Edward Cheserek, who kept his eye on the prize of a repeat national title at Foot Locker. O’Neill won with a time of 15:31, which gave him a sixteen second margin over Kyle Kroon of Toms River, who will join Cheserek in San Diego. Dylan Tarpey of Freehold Township finished third with 15:50 and Liam Mullett of Pingry followed in fourth in 15:52. Robert Stone of Millburn earned fifth in 15:56 & Kyle Kirk of Camden Catholic followed a second later in sixth. Rob Napolitano & Dan Riff were also credited with 15:57 and Jack Baisley of Holmdel rounded out the top ten.
Sarah Disanza of High Point won, as expected, with a fine time of 17:47 and Kelly Jankowicz of Hillsborough was the only other runner to break eighteen minutes with her 17:59. Third went to Mackenzie Barry of West Morris Mendham with 18:14 and Megan Curham of Villa Walsh ran 18:21 for fourth. Curham will soon head to sunny San Diego. Colette Richter of Mountain Lakes placed fifth in 18:21 and Marisa Ruskan of Bridgewater-Raritan claimed sixth in 18:23. Seventh place went to Nisa Cicitta of Voorhees, who also ran 18:23. Gracie Dwyer of Hamilton North followed in eighth with 18:27 and Courtney Thompson of St. John Vianney & Josette Norris of Tenafly rounded out the top ten. Eleventh was claimed by Tara Connelly, also from Vianney, who ran 18:35.
Mary Cain, who no longer represents her high school, won at Wappingers Falls with 17:42 and Bella Burda of N Y placed second in 17:55. Taylor Driscoll of Saratoga Springs earned third with 18:06 and in so doing led the Blue Streaks to a second place finish behind FM. Nick Ryan of Fayetteville-Manlius topped the guys with 15:27. Mickey Burke of Rush-Henrietta (near Rochester) ran 15:52 for second. He edged Eric Holt of Carmel by three-tenths of a second and will head to the MudBowl.