Nike Team Nationals
Dec. 4, 2004 at Portland Meadows, Portland OR.

the Meet

Televised on Fox SportsNet Dec. 8 at 3 pm local time

on-site coverage by John & Donna Dye, Rich Gonzalez, Steve Underwood, and the NTN regional editors.

they said it at NTN . . .

by Don Rich, publisher of and NTN Northeast regional editor

Bill Aris, Head Coach, Fayetteville-Manlius NY
(runner-up to NTN champion York IL)

Were you happy with the race?
I'm happy with the entire season. Looking at today's race in retrospect, I think my boys ran well, but they did not run great. They ran great at Feds a few weeks ago. Today, they ran very well. Two of my top five, I thought ran great. The rest ran very well. I think that would be their assessment. That's not a put-down. I think they gave it everything they had, and I am very happy with the outcome overall. Were we a little disappointed about not winning? Of course, but that's only human nature. In retrospect, looking at the way York ran - to differentiate between us, and I think collectively we ran very well - York ran great. Outstanding. That young man they have that finished 4th today (Matt Dettman) was one of the deal-breakers of the meet for us.
Certainly, McNamara winning it. That's a lot to overcome. This isn't all about winning, it's about trying your best, and that's what the Stotan creed is all about. I reminded them of that today, and you can see them here. They bounced back.

Is it a nice consolation having two guys going to Foot Lockers?
It certainly is. As I think you know, our five first men were indistinguishable all season. Tommy sort of emerged as the season was progressing with several firsts, but it really was up in the air. I would have guessed that Tommy would have been one of the guys to make it, and then McCann, like at Feds, went from 5th at 2.5 miles to 2nd man. Today, he was well back going over the hills the second time, and then just hammered the middle and ran a beautiful race putting himself into Foot Lockers and helping us to 2nd place. The other three did a great job as well... it was a challenging day and they gave it everything they had and in typical Stotan fashion, they came in 3-4-5, bang-bang-bang, and that's what we wanted. If we had gone 15 seconds further ahead, it may have been a different outcome.

Would it be nice if NTN came east and tried some hills?
I would love to have that happen. It would be wonderful. We thrive on hills. Hills build strength. They don't necessarily build speed, they build strength, and we have been a strength team all season. No excuses, none whatsoever. The meet went the way it did based on the way the teams ran today. I believe York would be an outstanding team on any type of course. We would have been a better team on a hillier course, but I'm not complaining. I was happy it was muddy.

[The following questions were asked before the meet.]

How did you prepare for NTN?
We have just stuck to the plan we have been on all year long. What we did at Feds was - without being arrogant - something we have been planning for and aiming for. With all respect to the schools in our state meets, we didn't rip right through it like it wasn't a meet that week, but we worked through it a little harder than we did for Federations, where we backed off appropriately. The kids were rested. They felt better, and I felt they were going to run better than they had at Manhattan, and they did. Quite honestly, I felt they had more in them. I felt good about their performance. They felt good about their performance. And I certainly believe they have a bit more in the gas tank.

Running out-of-state for the first time this season, is there any danger this takes them out of their comfort zone?
Each meet of the season was a heightened level of expectation. McQuaid was a step up from our local competition, Manhattan was another step or two above. And certainly sectionals and states was another rung up the ladder. This meet is another step up from that. I don't think that we are softened by the regional competition. Actually, this meet is another two or three rungs up the ladder. We have no delusions of thinking this is a piece of cake. We are one of a half a dozen #1 teams here at NTN.

Is this the highest quality cross country race ever?
For our purposes it is. It's unprecendented. Will it be the most intense competition ever run? We're going to have to see. If every team runs to their strengths and to the best of their capabilities, I think you may very well see the best meet that has ever been run, competitively.

What about the Foot Locker angle?
It will not be a diversion for us. We're a totally selfless team. We'll let the chips fall where they may on that subject. One of our kids is
thinking about that, quite honestly, but whatever happens, happens.

Has this team met your expectations this year?
I anticipated and certainly planned this type of a season. To say that we were going to have the results we have had meet, by meet, by meet in such a forward, shocking fashion, I certainly didn't predict that. What I was hoping for was for them to run the way they ran. But we can't control the way the other teams run. Our objective has never been winning, and it still isn't. Certainly, we'd love to win this meet, just like all the other teams here, but our goal is to run as close to a perfect team race, pursuant to our objectives, as possible. If that gets us a victory, great. If that gets us somewhere else, and we've run the very best we can, we can live with that. I will be pleased with a 100%, maximal level performance. Whatever the outcome, we'll let that be decided by how all the other teams run.

This [NTN] is the best thing to happen to high school cross country, and maybe to high school athletics. It shows vision.


Fayetteville-Manlius NY jr Andrew McCann,
NE Foot Locker qualifier from NTN

Did you think about the possibility of qualifying for Foot Lockers at NTN?
It was kind of in the back of my head. But with everything focused on the team, none of us were really thinking about Foot Lockers at all. It was more to run the Stotan race and to run to our potential as a team. I was worried a bit at the end, but by then it was pretty exciting, but we didn't have that as a goal, whatsoever.

How did the team race?
I don't want to say that it was unexpected, but it was pretty crazy. You have to expect that with that many runners, there are going to be a lot of guys right around where you are. The beginning was insane. The first lap around right before the hills on that loop, you couldn't move. I was on the inside, and I couldn't really do anything. On the hills, it kind of opened up, and that's where I moved out. I used that as a point to surge both times. As far as the race itself, there were so many great runners, it was just totally dense.

Could you hear the progress of the race from a team standpoint as you were running?
I could hear bits and pieces. I thought we were running pretty well as a team through 3k. I think we were all together. I'm pretty sure we were still up at 3, and then I remember hearing...maybe it was 3k, I remember hearing we were down by six. I don't think as a team we had our best day. I think we ran like Stotans. I think we ran selfless. And that's all you can ask.

But it was an incredible year for your team
If someone told me at the beginning of the year that we would be placing 2nd in the nation... the training that our coach has given us is second to none. With every day we've gotten stronger and our work ethic has gotten better. It's finally paying off. I'm never going to forget it. This is one of best years of my life. It's probably going to be the best year of my life, I can tell you that right now.

You only lose one. You find one other guy and you could be back here again.
We've got the other guy. We all train together, and I'm confident that by next year we're going to have a new group of Stotans, and that group of Stotans is going to be another great team, and you'll be seeing the five-pack again, I promise you.

Would you like to invite York east for some New York hills?
I was telling coach we should have NTN at Green Lakes next year to show them what Stotan hills are all about. They ran a great race. We ran a great race. My coach has said all year all these teams have been so close to each other. The teams behind us were right on us. There were so many great teams in the race. It wasn't an upset. I think on any given day, a lot of those teams could have won. At the end of the day, we have to be satisfied.

How about Foot Lockers and Balboa Park?
Our coach told me that Balboa has some hills in it, and that's what our team benefits from. I am loving the opportunity for me and Tommy to be able to race Foot Lockers for our team. We knew that two of us would probably be going, and I think it's a great opportunity for Tommy and I to represent the Stotans. I think it's going to be a looser environment with the fact that we don't have everyone else around us. I think I'll be able to relax a little bit, which is a good thing.


Robert Weems, Father of NTN 5th place
finisher Tucker Weems of Kansas

"We had an experience, and it worked out well. We're glad our association had the flexibility and the wisdom to allow us to come as a club team. They had been relying on information which wasn't correct. We respected their decision, but there had been a miscommunication. Our executive director did not believe they would invite us as a club team, and there was a misunderstanding about the data being used to base the invitations on. They thought it was solely high school performances, and as we all know, that's not true. They were using the AAU races, Foot Locker, summer road races, and things online that everybody looks at. In the hearing, we were able to converse about that and clarify that, and they were kind enough to get A.J. Holtzer and Josh Rowe on a conference call, and things were clarified. They did not reverse the ruling, but they allowed us to come as a club team. We're happy that the kids had a great experience here.

"Our state championship is held at Rim Rock, just north of Lawrence, Kansas. That piece of property is a great cross country venue. It has hosted the Division I cross country championships and the national junior college championships. It happens to be owned by Bob TImmons, a long-time coach at Kansas University, a great name in track and field history who coached Jim Ryun, and others. Coach Simmons owns that piece of property, and our state championship was there October 30th. One of our runners, in the excitement of winning states for the 11th year in a row, lost his shoes. He called coach Timmons, and coach Timmons was kind enough to send him the shoes which had been found. Our runner didn't look into his bag until the night before NTN when we were in our hotel room putting in the correct spikes, and when he opened his shoe bag, stuck in side was a handwritten note from Coach Timmons wishing Team Swanson best of luck. A pretty special note."


The following interviews occurred prior to the meet:


Jared Burdick, the only senior on Fayetteville-Manlius

What does NTN mean to you?
This is definitely the cherry on top of the sundae.

Is there another level to this team?
I believe there is. Our goal is just to reach excellence. I really don't think you can put a limit on that. Every week we just try to perform at our best, and whatever the results are, we are just concerned about excellence. Every time we have raced this year we have learned something.

Linda Kranick, coach, Saratoga Springs NY (Kinetiic Running Club)

Thoughts on NTN:
What this meet has done for cross country running is unbelievable. It's amazing. Nike got its start with running - they started off as a running shoe company - and they're right back to where they started, back to their roots. And we're very appreciative. This is such an exciting experience. and I cannot believe how much Nike as done to support this sport. It's amazing. For Saratoga, this is a great experience. Our kids travel all around the country - we've never been here to Oregon before - so we're very excited.

On qualifying four girls for Foot Lockers and its effect on planning for NTN:
We tried to view the regional Foot Locker race as just another team race. We're very team oriented. That's why we think it's very important that Nike recognizes cross country is a team sport, and this shows that they understand it is a team sport. It's not just one runner or two.

What is something people don't know about Saratoga, a team they see on race day as this efficient winning machine?
People tend to judge our kids, our program, by what they see at meets and they don't understand that they're just regular kids like the kids on every other team. And at meets, we're focused. It's business at meets. But the kids really do have a great sense of humor and they're just typical kids. We relax when we're not at the meets, but it's unfortunate that people can't understand that.


Sherry Sikara, coach of Roxbury NJ
(Ran for Roxbury in late 1990's)

Was this in your sights all year?
I don't think we even considered it until a week before the selection process because we had been in 7th, and the week before Meet of Champs, we moved up to 4th. It just kind of fell into place. It wasn't until the week before selections that we even realized we had a chance. It was a whirlwind between MOC and being selected the next day.

What made the difference this year?
It was the team dynamic. They all get along so well. They don't want to let each other down, and week after week went out there and just outdid themselves. I set what I thought were pretty ambitious goals and they would go out and annihilate them, and then we'd set our sites a little higher the next week. Beating Jackson, a great team, by 90 points at the Groups meet gave them a lot of confidence.

Did their 19:20 average at MOC surprise you?
It was funny, because they went out very conservately. After the first mile, our top runner was in about 30th, and they were all back from there. The race went out really hard, and they had enough confidence to go out and run their own race and pick people off. I was shocked to see the times were that fast. I thought the week before had been the performance of the season, but again, they just went out and outdid themselves.

About NTN:
I know they'll run well. At this point, this is icing on the cake. If you look at the top 25 rankings and take the teams that are here, we'd be ranked fifth.


Ken Roseberry, coach, Cedar Cliff PA (Harrisburg Harriers)

Was it difficult keeping everyone motivated and focused since the state meet 11/6?
We fought tooth and nail. I had told them, win states, and we'll enjoy working, because I thought we had to win states. But I didn't think they'd take me literally. But they did. We had five goals and a dream, and NTN was the dream. And they said, 'yeah coach, it's a dream. You work toward goals and achieve them, but a dream, you just go and enjoy it. The dream was to just make it.' They had to realize we weren't going to Portland on vacation, we're going to go out and run.

Did you learn something about coaching this year?
I learned you can set the goals, but I took them beyond that. I had to convince them that they didn't want to go out like this, and that they had worked hard for years to get to this point and were better than this. When they lined up these past weeks, the workouts were great. They did everything we asked them to do. But they're back on track. There was so much pressure for them this year, they just thought they were going to shut down and enjoy this, and not prepare for this. But as distance runners, you can't take three or four weeks easy, and then line up and expect to run well. Now they realize that and they didn't go through all that work for nothing. When they finally heard they were going, the mood changed. Even staying at 8th in the national rankings gave them a better attitude.


Pat Caulfield, Cedar Cliff PA

What has it been like waiting for a bid and staying sharp weeks after your state meet?
It was tough to refocus, because, one, we didn't know if we were coming here, and secondly, because the state meet was supposed to be our last meet and Oregon was the dream. But I think we're going to be fine. It's not going to be a high pressure situation. We never set an really lofty goals for this meet. We're just going to run like we know we can. Just have fun.

Have you guys run your best race this year?
No, I don't think so. We're the kind of team that can run our best race anytime because we're really consistent. We weren't even on at the state meet, so we could have our best race at this meet. We'll see what happens.

What does this mean for cross country?
This is epic for cross country. High school doesn't get the spotlight, and now Nike is putting the spotlight right on high school cross
country. And you have to love that. This puts us on a new level.

How about for PA?
It's an honor to be the Pennsylvania team. Other teams have boosted us, and this is our chance to give back to them. Not only our state team from 2001, but also other teams that were competitive with us like Council Rock and Coatesville; all those kinds of teams have helped us. Everybody has helped us, so we want to help them, and give them a chance to come out too.

What about your individual shot at a Foot Locker qualifier?
(the top two boys from the Northeast teams qualify for the 12/11 Foot Locker finals)
We'll see what happens. Why not?


NTN Regional Editors check out Nike's track in the woods

from left
Scott Bush (Midwest), Adam Kedge (Southwest), John Sullivan (South), Rich Gonzalez (California), and Ricky Quintana (Southeast).

Editors were thrilled by a sighting of the great Alberto Salazar, former marathon champion
and now director of Nike's Oregon Project to train US distance runners


Nike Team Nationals index page

is published by
John Dye

Baltimore MD