Photos of Friday introductions and race action from Saturday by Don Rich
(Photo by Paul Everett) National championship fever is spreading across the country. The world of prep cross country begins its ascent to the national finals. Many will seek individual honors at either the historic Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships or Nike Cross National Championships. Nike Cross Nationals will offer the Team National Championship.
Photo courtesy: John Olson, South Carolina Runner's
Photo courtesy John Olson, SCRUNNERS
Craig Lutz is one of few brave top ranked runners in the nation willing to attempt the Nike Cross Nationals/Foot Locker Nationals double this season. The Marcus High School junior from Dallas, Texas posted the nation's fastest time for 5K this cross country last week in his near course record breaking 14:34 win at Foot Locker South. Lutz will travel to the West Coast in two consecutive weekends as he'll hook horns with Joe Rosa of New Jersey and Zach Wills of Ohio this weekend at NXN and will follow up next week against Lukas Verzbicas of Illinois at Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego. Brandon Miles of MileSplit US interviewed Lutz as he makes the trip to Portland, Oregon for round one of two against the nation's best.
Friday course photos and race day action by Nicoll Knudson
Photo by PFFlyer
Photo courtesy of Tim Fulton
Winning a Foot Locker Nationals cross country title on Saturday would not be that big of a deal for Sandburg (IL) sophomore Lukas Verzbicas. After all, Verzbicas has already the title of World Champion this fall when he claimed the World Dualthon Junior title in late September. The young distance running phenom has followed a much different path to San Diego than all of the other 39 boys qualifiers, but there is no disputing the results as Verzbicas enters as the Midwest Regional champion and one of the race favorites along with NXN individual champion Craig Lutz of Texas. The only thing which kept Verzbicas from racing Lutz and the other top ranked harriers in Portland last weekend were a few nagging injuries which slowed him down from a course record attempt in the Illinois State Meet and withdrawing from competing in the NXN Midwest Regional. Healthy now, Verzbicas is ready to storm through Balboa Park (40% chance of showers on race day) similar to his jaw dropping 14:18 high school national record indoor 5K performance as a freshmen last March at Nike Indoor.
Jake Hurysz is a new face on the national scene after his third place finish at the Foot Locker South Regional. His time of 14:46 ties him the fastest ever by a North Carolina runner on the 5K course at McAlpine Greenway Park with 2006 South Region champion and Foot Locker All-American Ryan Hill. The 3A state champion from Eastern Alamance High Schoolin Mebane, North Carolina has improved great strides from last year when he ran 15:57 on the Foot Locker South regional course. Huryz also turned in a 9:08 3200 meter time trial in between winning his North Carolina state cross country title and qualifying for Foot Locker Nationals. The UNC recruit looks to continue his stellar string of races this fall with an All-American showing on Saturday at Balboa Park in San Diego.
This year’s Foot Locker Nationals will still crown the best cross country runner in the country and continue its rich 30 year tradition on Saturday as two champions will face off in Craig Lutz from Texas and Lukas Verzbicas from Illinois. Lutz is fresh off his win last weekend at Nike Cross Nationals in Oregon, while Verzbicas earlier this fall won the World Dualthon junior title. Along with battling it out with each other for the win, both Lutz and Verzbicas will be racing against history as the South region has not had a Foot Locker champion since 1985 (Lutz), while an underclassmen has never won the boys race at Foot Locker Nationals (Verzbicas).
Emily Sisson returns to San Diego this weekend for her fourth consecutive Foot Locker Nationals berth as she looks to wrap up her fantastic high school career with a strong showing in her final race at Balboa Park. After a sensational third place debut as a freshmen, Sisson had struggled in her last two trips to Foot Locker finals finishing outside of the top 20. Overcoming a diagnosis of Graves disease (overactivity of the thyroid gland) last year, Sisson has bounced back to top form as shown with her Nike Outdoor Nationals 5K victory last June and strong cross country this season fall including most recently a runner-up finish at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional. She joins an elite and small club of four-time Foot Locker Finalist, but looks to do more than just appear in a fourth straight national race. She wants to compete with the best and become an All-American once again.
Top runners at the California State meet; Div 1 winner Ammar Moussa far left; Div 2 winner Elias Gedyon center (photos by Margot Kelly) and Div 1 girls winner Molly Grabill. (photo by Dennis McClanahan)
Megan Goethals will enter next weekend's Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships as one of a few strong race favorites coming off her decisive win at the Midwest Regional in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The senior from Rochester High School in Michigan is the top returnee from last year's race with her third place run at Balboa Park in 2008 and is the #1 ranked in the country by MileSplit US with one of the fastest 5K performances in the season with her 16:54 course record breaking performance at Michigan State Meet earlier this month. One of her top competitors will be Foot Locker South regional champion Chelsey Sveinsson of Texas, who Goethals beat out for third place in last year's Foot Locker finals and then took two second place finishes in the mile and two mile at Nike Outdoor Nationals last June. Brandon Miles of MileSplit US interview Goethals as she prepares for the national race.
Rad Gunzenhauser's coach, Oscar Shutt, assistant from Mt. Lebanon HS, PA
After struggling with handling higher mileage weeks and not racing as well as he expected to, Kirubel Erassa of Grayson County High School in Georgia and his coach decided to alter their training approach this fall with less mileage and more speed work. The changes in training have produced positive results as shown with Kirubel's stellar fall of races in Georgia and most recently capped off with a Foot Locker Nationals berth. In the South regional race, Erassa garnered a runner-up finish to eventual Nike Cross Nationals champion and Foot Locker Nationals favorite Craig Lutz of Texas with one of the top 10 all-time performances ever at McAlpine and fastest ever by a runner from the state of Georgia in meet history. Erassa will attempt to be one of the highest finishers ever from Georgia at Balboa Park and follow in the footsteps of recent stars Girma Mecheso and Ben Hubers, who finished 9th and 11th respectively in the 2006 national race. His 14:43 performance at McAlpine actually ties him with two past Foot Locker National runners-up in Alan Webb (2000) and Bobby Lockhart (2001) on the course all-time list.
The first of the two national high school cross country championship races were held this past weekend in Portland, Oregon with the Nike Cross Nationals. The boys' race certainly featured many of the nation's best battling it out to the wire, while the girls' race was missing the unofficial "Big 3" in Megan Goethals (MI), Chelsey Sveinsson (TX), and Aisling Cuffe (NY) but stellar depth was found in both races as Foot Locker finalists, All-Americans, and state champions were found deep into the field.
Large numbers of North Carolina athletes competed today at one of two meets. The Footlocker South meet was held at McAlpine Park while the NXN Southeast Regional was held at WakeMed Park.
Photo by Don Rich
Colby Alexander, a senior from Strongsville, qualified for the Foot Locker Cross Country Nationals by finishing seventh at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional Cross Country Championship in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The top 10 finishers qualify to run at the Foot Locker Cross Country Nationals.
Sara Sargent Post-Meet Interview
After "choking" at the Illinois State Meet with an eighth place finish in his own words, Fenwick High School senior Martin Grady has done nothing but perform in the post-season as he became part of a select few individuals who qualified for both Nike Cross Nationals and Foot Locker Nationals. Grady gained valuable national race experience last weekend with his 20th place finish at NXN, which he will use in a quick second opportunity to race against the nation's best on Saturday in San Diego for the Foot Locker Nationals.
Megan Ferowich enters this weekend's Foot Locker Nationals as one of the top rising stars in the South region as shown by her undefeated season in her homestate of Tennessee prior to a fourth place and 17:12 5K PR finish in the regional qualifier race in Charlotte. Ferowich, a sophomore at Knoxville Catholic, has earned the trip to San Diego despite this fall being her first season of cross country. However, this is not her first national meet experience as she won the freshmen mile last June at Nike Outdoor Nationals. With a 10:26 3200 time trial under her belt from last month, Ferowich is certainly fit and ready to run with the some of best runners in the country on Saturday.
Ryan Gil Post-Meet Interview
Interview with the 2009 Foot Locker Nationals champion Lukas Verzbicas of Illinois. Verzbicas became the first underclassmen champion in a time of 15:07
Foot Locker announced today, that Saucony, Inc., has become the official sponsor for the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships (FLCCC), the nation’s premier high school championships for cross country runners.
Only one runner stands alone among all the contenders in Virginia this fall with a final race to go this weekend in San Diego for the Foot Locker Nationals. Fairfax senior Kevin Dowd rose to the "Cream of the Crop" at the Foot Locker South Regional in the Charlotte as the only Virginian to qualify and finish in the top 10 in the seeded boys race. He will be joined in San Diego by another Northern Region runner in Paige Kvartunas of West Springfield, who finished ninth in the seeded girls race at the South Regional. After being bothered by an achilles injury mid-season and failing to win regional or state crowns, Dowd is hitting his peak in the post-season as shown with his sub 15 5K run at McAlpine and feeling confident about racing at his best this weekend as well in a field of the nation's 40 best from four regions.
Brad MIles Post-Meet Interview
Molly Grabill Post-Meet Interview
Liberty Miller Post-Meet Interview
Cody Helbling Post-Meet Interview
Post-meet announcer interview with girls race champion Megan Goethals (MI).
Conner Peloquin Post-Meet Interview
Theresa Devine Post Meet Interview
Colby Alexander Pre-Meet
Pre-meet interview with the Foot Locker South and NXN champion Craig Lutz of Texas.
Chelsea Ley Pre-Meet
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