Saturday’s FL South Boys Top Ten Picks
(last “ranking” in parentheses)
1. Girma Mecdheso GA (2)
2. Ben Hubers, GA (3)
3. Colby Lowe, TX (1)
4. Mike Spooner, VA (5)
5. Ryan Hill, NC (7)
6. Duncan Phillips, TX (4)
7. Griff Graves, VA (9)
8. Kevin Schwab, OK (6)
9. Travis Fort TX (10)
10. C.J. Brown TX (11)
Five darkhorses most likely to sneak in: Michael Anderson FL, Drew Bean TX, Jay Heller GA, Thomas Porter VA, Jason Witt VA
Contenders reportedly not running: Taylor Gilland NC, Alex Neff TX,
The race: While the way the rankings are done dictated the Lowe-Mecdheso-Hubers order you saw yesterday, Girma Mecdheso GA has to be picked for the win. His 15:01 on the tough GA state meet course is just too good to be ignored. Ben Hubers GA was reported dealing with illness at state and Saturday he’ll get within 10-20 sec, at least halving that gap, but the win will be Girma’s.
Colby Lowe TX will be running NTN with his teammates and while he had last weekend off from racing, the FL Region-NTN-FL Finals triple is daunting. He is one of those guys who loves to race and loves to lead, though he’s toned it down since he led Finals early last December. It’s hard to imagine him conserving more than 3rd place, which is where he’d be expected to finish anyway.
Expect the Virginia guys and NC’s Ryan Hill to have good races. Mike Spooner VA has waited as hard as anyone for this day to come and Griff Graves VA is really a better runner than he’s shown in some races. Hill is better than he showed at state and he will want to do well in the home state. Duncan Phillips TX has struggled with injury, but he will still return to San Diego.
Kevin Schwab OK is a solid, consistent performer who should live up close to his billing. Then Texans and Virginians will be battling for those final two spots. Travis Fort TX has come close twice and this time he finally gets in, nosing out C.J. Brown, who will follow teammate Lowe as a soph qualifier. Of the darkhorses, expect Thomas Porter VA and Jason Witt VA to make the toughest bids.
Saturday’s FL South Girls Top Ten Picks
(last “ranking” in parentheses)
1. Kathy Kroeger, TN (1)
2. Aurora Scott, VA (2)
3. Ashley Brasovan, FL (3)
4. Catherine White, VA (4)
5. Cory McGee, MS (10)
6. Emilie Amaro, FL (6)
7. Emily Reese, GA (5)
8. Kayla Hale, FL (7)
9. Jillian Rosen TX (9)
10. Jennifer Barbi GA (HHM)
Five darkhorses most likely to sneak in: Kaylyn Christopher WV, Samantha Means TX, Amber Riley WV, Rachel Rose VA, Kim Spano NC
Contenders reportedly not running: Jackie Drouin GA (inj), Midlothian VA girls (NTN).
The race: This could be the best FL region race, boys or girls, of the eight that will be contested the next two Saturdays. Any true fan would pay “foldin money” to see this one as, with any kind of decent weather, the all-time McAlpine record of 16:45 by Erin Keogh could be crushed by the top two or three, with the winner dropping a time that will make eyeballs pop out around the country.
It should also go to rankings form with the top four. Last year’s favorite, Ashley Brasovan FL, got lost in the pack and never got out, but don’t expect that to happen again. Expect her to get out fast, but reasonable, with favorites Kathy Kroeger TN, and Aurora Scott VA. Seven of the top 10 raced together at Great American, so expect Floridians Emilie Amaro and Kayla Hale to get out hard, too, as well as Cory McGee MS.
As big as Kroeger’s win at Great Am was, she didn’t hammer it from the start, so don’t expect that here, either. But when she reaches full flight, don’t expect the pack to hang on, either. Scott clearly has the best shot to stay with her, so it will be fascinating to watch those two in the 2nd half of the race. Neither is a big kicker, so don’t expect that kind of drama at the finish.
McGee will have to really be ready and run somewhat more conservatively to run to her potential here – and it says here that she will. Catherine White VA will also have to run like she did in the two races leading up to state, and not like she did in the 3A race where she had to really hang on to win. But she’s one of the savviest racers in the country and she’ll come through.
With Jackie Drouin not running, Georgia’s hopes are led by Emily Reese, who along with Kroeger and Scott has been here and done that. She’s been a bit up and down with injury, but will still get in with Florida’s 2-3.
It’s always interesting to see how the best Texas runners will do, moving up from 2M to 5K, and 5A champ Jillian Rosen should qualify.
The final qualifier could be a darkhorse (you gotta pick a few here and there) and the pick here is Jennifer Barbi GA to have a breakout day and get in ahead of girls ranked ahead of her.