Klamath Falls OR sr Lauren Jespersen is the pivot man in the third
round of huge individual matchups with Portland OR jr Galen Rupp
and Redding CA sr Tim Nelson. All three have geared their seasons
toward the Foot Locker national finals in San Diego December 14,
and all three believe they can win it.
Jespersen faced the other two twice this season. He lost to Rupp
by inches in the greatest cross country state
final Oregon has ever seen, but he beat Rupp 2 weeks later at
the Washington-Oregon BorderClash.
Jespersen beat Nelson in two early meets with course records each
time -- September 7 at the Premier West Invitational at Yreka CA,
and September 28 at Stanford,
where it was so close that both were given the same course record
Nelson has a bit of home course advantage, although he lives 575
miles away in Redding. Mt. SAC was the site of his biggest win,
a powerful run in the Mt.
SAC Invitational October 26 in the third fastest time ever run
on that course. Nelson won California small school Division 5 last
Saturday in a leisurely 15:39.
1 a : a breeze from the west b : a gentle breeze
Just when West region girls were getting content with not having
to worry about Amber Trotter's killer pace, they have an improved
Zoe (the Zephyr) Nelson to contend with. A sensation as a freshman
last year (Montana state champion and Foot Locker finalist), Zoe
is even better the second time around. She is undefeated and untested,
she is 30-40 seconds faster than last year on the same courses,
and she broke the record on every course she set foot on. She has
the three fastest 3-mile times in the country: 16:43 on her home
course, 16:46 in the Helena Preview at 4400 feet altitude on a cold,
windy day, and 16:50 in the state
meet, where she cranked a Trotter-esque 5:17 mile and won by
78 seconds even though she developed a side ache in the third mile
and slowed down. And lest anyone think she got stale in the 7 weeks
since the Montana state meet, Zoe ran a 17:11 5k time trial November
19 at altitude in a freezing wind (see sidebar).
Sometimes Zoe Nelson is a fierce breeze, not a gentle breeze.
Mike Kennedy predicts eight Californians to qualify for national
finals, and he might be right. The trick is deciding which eight.
After the Mt. SAC champions (Tim Nelson and Laguna Creek jr Rachel
Bryan), there has been a big pack of contenders without a leader.
The state meet last week sorted things out a bit. Rio Mesa sr Phillip
Reid and Granite Bay jr Caitlin Chock were the fastest of the day
and may have joined Nelson and Bryan as likely qualifiers for the
Not to Be Overlooked
- Utah champion Amber Harper, a finalist last year, who gave Nicole
Blood a long fight at the Great American.
- Other California division winners -- San Lorenzo Valley jr Alex
Dunn, Etiwanda sr Mike Poe, Presentation jr Melissa Grelli
- California state meet runners up -- Woodbridge jr Michael Haddan,
3rd fastest of the day; Arroyo sr Yong-Sung Leal, rounding into
shape again after long injury layoff following the World Cross
Country championships last March.; and Sultana jr Kelsey Delagardelle.
- San Francisco sr Teresa McWalters, who will try to join Chantelle
Dron of New Hampshire as home schooled
runners in the finals.
- Murrieta Valley jr Liza Pasciuto, a finalist as a freshman 2
- Washington champion Carl Moe, who split Jespersen and Rupp at
BorderClash in his only loss of the season.
- The annual surprise -- a runner who wins at home and tests national
calibre competition for the first time at Foot Locker. The Jones
boys are good candidates -- Wyoming champion Andrew, unbeaten
this season, and Utah champion Tony, who also won the Las Vegas
Invitational against regional competition.
Layoff after State Meet:
Advantage or Disadvantage?
There is a big discrepancy among the West region states on the
timing of the Foot Locker regional in relation to their state meets.
California had its state meet last Saturday, whereas the mountain
states had their championships more than a month earlier (Montana
Oct 19, Utah Oct 23).
This creates arguments over which states benefit. We asked Paul
Jorgensen, head coach of Flathead High School, Kalispell MT, to
comment. Jorgensen has had huge success at the West region recently.
Two years ago, his boys ran 1-3-19 (Seth Watkins, David Vidal and
Kurt Michels), and last year freshman Zoe Nelson was 7th and qualified
for the national finals.
Here are Coach J's comments:
"When I first started going to Footlocker in the mid 80's
I felt that states that have 6-7 weeks between their state meet
and the regional footlocker race were at a disadvantage. Over the
years I have changed my mind to a certain degree. In the last four
or five years the better Flathead kids have done very well at Footlocker.
Brett Winegar qualified for Nationals in 1998 and in 2000 Watkins
placed 1st, Vidal 3rd and Michels 19th. Of course Zoe and Heidi
Lane (CMR) both qualified last year.
"I am beginning to think that not having having a lot of meets
is an advantage. We are able to train hard through each week without
having to worry about tapering for meets every weekend. I did feel
that we needed a tune up for Footlocker this year so we ran all
the kids in a time trial. We ran the time trial on November 19 on
our home course and Zoe ran a 17:11 in temperatures below 30 degrees
with windy conditions. This indicates that Zoe is in great shape
and most of my girls ran pretty well also. Some of my boys did not
run well but I concluded that they did not take the trial seriously
"My philosophy in preparing kids for XC meets is to try and
simulate race situations. In preparing for the tough Mt. SAC course
we spend quite a bit of time training for the first half of the
race. I feel the first part of the race is the most critical part.
Many runners go out too fast in the first mile, which is flat and
then die on the hills. We run mile repeats where the kids go out
fast for 800 meters and then charge up a hill that is about 800
meters long. We run a lot of fartlek, hills and tempo runs. After
the Montana State Meet we take a week of active rest and then jump
right into some very tough practices. I encourage our kids to hit
their maximum mileage several weeks before Footlocker and then begin
to taper and sharpen with speed.
"Zoe runs with the boys in all of our practices. She is usually
one of my leaders in most of the practices. If my better boys slack
off she is not shy about running ahead of them. She knows what she
needs to do and nothing stands in her way. Zoe has been running
about 50 miles a week but has dropped her mileage the last two weeks
in preparation for Western Regional.
"We are bringing 18 kids and about 18 coaches and parents
to Foot Locker."