The cross country courses out west are really starting to heat up! Newly minted 1-2 ranked boys, German Fernandez and Luke Puskerda, opened their seasons with blazing course records, while on the girl's side Christine Babcock broke her own meet record this past weekend impressively. The West looks great, but there is a long way to go.
MileSplit's Foot Locker Power Rankings - West Region
1. German Fernandez (Sr., Riverbank, CA) - Fernandez' past is one filled with great times and heartbreaking injuries. This year, Fernandez' health is yet to be a concern. He kicked off his season with a very impressive 14:07 2.98 mile win. No one is running faster right now that Mr. Fernandez.
2. Luke Puskerda (Sr., Judge Memorial, UT) - While you can't fully judge an athlete based of a two-mile cross country race, you can compare times to past winners. Puskerda ran 9:41 on a two-mile relay leg at the American Fork Grass Relays. While this time does not seem significant on the surface, the old record holder, Josh Rohatinsky (top five at Foot Locker his senior year), ran 9:59.
3. Ben Johnson (Sr., Albuquerque Academy, NM) - Some super star runners start their season with little competition. Johnson's season started with two big invitationals for his team, both of which he won, both of which were against top notch competition. Johnson beat a few Foot Locker worthy guys at the Liberty Bell Invitational, and destroyed the field at the UNM Lobo Invitational.
4. Mac Fleet (Jr., Varsity City, CA) - Going from not ranked to FLW #4 certainly is no easy task. Fleet, however, earned this position by beating previously ranked #8 Scott Blair, plus a slew of other top state ranked individuals, at the Woodridge Invitational. At Woodridge, Fleet ran an all-time junior best of 14:17, winning by nine seconds.
5. Miles Unterreiner (Sr., Gig Harbor, WA) - A big win over FLW #6 Yonaton Yilma and a 16 second course record at the Whidby Invitational kicks off Unterreiner's season the right way. That type of win gives an athlete confidence they can carry with them the rest of the season.
6. Yonaton Yilma (Sr., Edmonds Woodway, WA) - Yilma scored a huge victory over previously FLW #2 Joey Baywater. Yilma beat Baywater by four seconds at the Edmonds Invitational.
7. Scott Blair (Sr., Trabuco Hills, CA) - Blair, running without training partner and teammate Riley Sullivan, seems to find his own rhythm in races these days. An impressive mark of 14:26 at the Woodridge Invitational, only losing to FLW #4 Mac Fleet, shows Blair is on the right path.
8. Trevor Dunbar (Jr., Kodiak, AK) - With the Alaskan season winding down, Dunbar is clearly the favorite to win the state title. All of his victories come unchallenged, as Dunbar continues to show why he is one of Alaska's all-time greats.
9. Joey Bywater (Jr., Lake Stevens, WA) - A key lose at the Edmonds Invitational to FLW #6 Yilma bumps him down to #9. Baywater tends to peak perfectly, so expect much the same later this fall.
10. Mohamed Abdalla (Sr., Willow Glen, CA) - Yet to be let loose, Abdalla is biding his time until he can test out his fitness 100%. While the season's length often wears runners down, Abdalla is playing it smart.
11. Ryan Prentice (Sr., Mt. Rainer, WA) - Expectations were high for Prentice entering the season. The slow start easily disappears once Prentice starts speeding up his races.
12. Taylor Morgan (Sr., Central Catholic, OR) - Despite not running all out yet for the most part, Morgan seems excited that the season is underway. With larger goals than winning early season invitationals, look for a strong finish from the Oregon state champion.
1. Jorday Hasay (Jr., Mission Prep, CA) - With such a long track season behind her, Hasay slowly works her way back into the grind of cross country now. Hasay easily won her first meet of the year, and should dominate for much of the season.
2. Christine Babcock (Sr., Woodridge, CA) - Babcock's 16:05 is easily labeled as one of the top performances in California state history. That type of time at the Woodridge Invitational puts Babcock in very select company. Babcock will challenge anyone in the country this fall for the top spot.
3. Jessica Tonn (So. Xavier, AZ) - An early season match up between Tonn and FLW #6 Lindsay Prescott resulted in an impressive win for Tonn. At the Scottsdale Running Company Cross Country Festival, Tonn sped away from Prescott over the final mile of the race, beating Prescott by 16 seconds.
4. Nayda Bishton (Sr., Mountain Ridge, AZ) - Yet to be challenged, Bishton's sister really is the only competition she has. Look for some late season matchups versus a few of the other top girls in the state.
5. Nastia Bishton (Sr., Moutain Ridge, AZ) - Nastia's two second place efforts this season should not bump her down simply because she lost to her sister, and not by that much. Nastia will have her time to shine as the bigger meets start to pick up.
6. Lindsay Prescott (Sr., O'Connor, AZ) - While Prescott lost to FLW #3 Tonn at the Scottsdale RC CC Invitational, her performance still inspired. Prescott, whose focus is on late season races, has plenty of chances to keep moving up in the rankings.
7. Katy Daly (Jr., St. Ignatius, CA) - Daly moves up the list from #11 to #7 based off of a few other ladies losing, and her impressive 18:32 5K win at the Early Bird Invitational two weeks back.
8. Kauren Tarver (Sr., Serrano, CA) - Few results are reported on Tarver this season. Her coach believes she needs to rest early since her season is so long. This is a great move, especially if Tarver struggles from late season breakdown.
9. Claire Collison (Sr., Crescenta Valley, CA) - Despite losing by quite a bit to #2 ranked Christine Babcock, Collinson proved her worth, running a very impressive 16:40 at the Woodridge Invitational this past weekend. Collison beat many of the top girls in the state and is now a state favorite.
10. Bronwyn Crossman (Sr., Squalicom, WA) - While not yet facing the best competition, Crossman ran a course record 18:21 at the South Whidbey Invitational. The record displaces that of previously ranked star Nicole Cochran of Washington.
11. Rachel Velarde (Sr., Eldarado, NM) - The clear front runner on her ranked team, Velarde wins for herself and for her team. Being such a great leader comes in handy this time of year, and Velarde doesn't seem to lose.
12. Andrea Nelson (So., Shadle Park, WA) - Hovering on the border of making the Power Rankings earlier this season, Nelson won over previously ranked Nicole Cochran at the Bellarmine Invitational.