Quick 15 as of 10/20/06
1. Jordan Hasay, CA (1)
2. Mel Lawrence, NV (2)
3. Danielle Tauro, NJ (3)
4. Allison Eckert, SD (4)
5. Katie Vanatta, CO (5)
6. Kathy Kroger, TN (13)
7. Christine Babcock, CA (16)
8. Shannon Murakami, CA (12)
9. Hannah Davidson, NY (21)
10. Aurora Scott, VA (NR)
11. Ashley Brasovan, FL (23)
12. Ashley Higginson, NJ (17)
13. Emily Reese, GA (9)
14. Caitlin Lane, NY (14)
15. Betsy Bies, SD (11)
Jordan Hasay and Marie Lawrence ended last season as the top two prep harriers in the nation. Having done nothing in the spring but enhance that status, they began this fall the same way. Being as they’re fairly close geographically, one would hope to see them race during the regular season and, in fact, this Saturday they will compete in the same meet for the second time in three weeks.
But not against each other. Fans of the Mission Prep CA soph and the Reno NV senior will have to wait until December to see that.
Hasay raced little before the Clovis meet two weeks ago, while Lawrence ventured to the Stanford meet for a solid victory in 17:06 for 3.05M. At Clovis, Jordan won the D4 race in 17:17, while Mel countered with 17:29 in the championship event.
A similar scenario unfolds this weekend at Mt. SAC, with Hasay racing in the Individual Sweepstakes, and Lawrence racing in the Team Sweepstakes. It’s hard to imagine that anything will happen to change the notion that these two are – still – the nation’s best two.
While Hasay was well-rested for the commencement of the fall campaign, Lawrence and third-ranked Danielle Tauro each extended their track season all the way through the August World Junior Championships. While Lawrence has started her season in seemingly close to normal fashion, Tauro and her coach are reportedly waiting until regional competition the first weekend of November. It won’t be until then that we’ll begin see how America’s best prep miler and #4 Foot Locker returnee will do this fall.
Hard to separate lots of runners after big 3 of Hasay, Lawrence and Tauro
Beyond that trio, there are plenty of candidates for the honor of being the nation’s best, or at least in the top ten, and, as usual, they run the gamut between solid upperclassmen hanging strong, sophs and juniors making a big jump, and precocious freshmen exploding on the scene as Hasay did a year ago. Others with outstanding seasons behind them are either experiencing a downward trend or up-and-down results.
In fact, if you were to rate spots 4-30, you’d see that it would be just as easy to imagine, say, 4-17 in the 17-30 slots, or any mix. It’s that close, it’s that volatile.
California girls rising
Some of the most intriguing movement has taken place in California. Woodbridge jr Christine Babcock, Saugus sr. Shannon Murakami, and Buchanan sr. Lauren Saylor have definitely been on the rise. Babcock has won a handful of big meets with sizzling times – including the 16:31 at Woodbridge – following on her dramatic 4:41 to win the CIF 1600 last spring. Saylor, after a somewhat disappointing jr. year, has bounced back with fine runner-up finishes at Woodbridge and Stanford. Murakami has been very solid all fall, with a nice win at Jim Danner a most recent highlight.
On the other hand, West Serrano jr Kauren Tarver is struggling back from injury, Oak Ridge sr Alex Kosinski hasn’t gotten started yet, and Glendora sr. Christy Adamyk has been up (3rd Woodbridge) and not-so-up (9th Stanford). All three made it to San Diego last fall, Tarver for the 2nd time, and Kosinski and Adamyk both ran stupendous times in track. But a lot can change, both pro and con, in a few months.
Other regions -- Kathy Kroeger TN makes big jump
Yes, those California girls have made some nice jumps, but perhaps no one in the country has made a bigger jump than Independence TN soph Kathy Kroeger. After a preseason ranking (13th) that reflected her San Diego finish last year (16th) and a good but not eye-popping track season (4:51/10:33), a reader warned that she was ready for bigger things. Was he ever right – she destroyed the Great American field with a very-good-for-the-course 17:30 and recently won her metro meet in 17:06.
In the Northeast, past Foot Locker qualifiers Hannah Davidson (Saratoga Springs NY jr.) and Caitlin Lane (Greenwich NY jr) have both rebounded from not-the-best track seasons to run very well this fall, with Davidson running fastest at Manhattan. Saratoga runners, current and former, have not recently run well at Foot Locker (usually after NTN appearances), but things could be different this year.
South Dakota state meet has two of the best -- Betsy Bies and Allison Eckert
Two of the most solid seniors will be battling this weekend in South Dakota. Yes, the state meet in Huron, above all, is a battle between Yankton and Sioux Falls Roosevelt, the #3 and #4 teams in the country. But SFR sr. Allison Eckert, #4 in the preseason rankings, and Yankton sr Betsy Bies (11th) have plenty at stake individually, too. In the wake of her departed teammate Ramsey Kavan, Bies had a phenomenal jr. campaign, dominating all season long in SD, taking 2nd in FL Midwest, winning NTN, and finishing 10th in San Diego.
But the spring belonged to Eckert, who blazed a 10:19 3200 in SD and a 10:25 at NON (top non-senior). This fall, she has won Griak and Rim Rock with very solid times, but Bies has been running well in SD, save for a loss to Nebraska freshman Emily Sisson. It will be epic.
On the other end of the career spectrum, the national scene will again have no shortage of freshmen contending for Balboa bids. For more on Katie Flood (IA), Emily Sisson (NE), and Cory McGee (MS), see the Breaking Out section.
Holding Serve – Jordan Hasay CA, Mel Lawrence NV, Allison Eckert SD, Ashley Higginson NJ
Moving Up – Katie Vanatta CO, Kathy Kroeger TN, Christine Babcock CA, Shannon Murakami CA, Hannah Davidson NY, Emily Infeld OH, Neely Spence PA, Nichole Cochran WA
Coming back strong – Ashley Brasovan FL, Lauren Saylor CA
Trying to come back from injury - Kauren Tarver CA, Bri Jackucewicz NJ, Alex Kosinski CA
Need more information – Danielle Tauro NJ (Yet to toe the line), Aurora Scott VA
Up and down or slipping - Jackie Drouin GA, Christy Adamyk CA, Catherine White VA
7 Who Are Breaking Out and may be Breaking in way up the list:
Katie Flood IA – The national freshman of the moment from Dowling Catholic has been destroying records across the state, including victories over 9:50 3k runner Stephanie Mundt and the best 4k time in Iowa history this fall. Fascinating to see what happens when she finally faces strong out-of-state competition
Emily Sisson NE – Great things were expected from Omaha Marion frosh after 9:44 3k in college race last spring – and she’s delivered. She’s beaten SD’s Betsy Bies and finished 2nd only to another SD star, Allison Eckert, at Griak.
Jennifer Dunn AL – Decatur Austin sr. cemented rep as one of South’s top runners with 17:55 win at Jesse Owens Classic.
Alexandra Gits MN – Lots of speculation of who would step up in MN after Elizabeth Yetzer and Bria Wetsch graduated, but the Edina senior wasn’t in many of the conversations. With wins in several major invites, she sure is now; she’s ranked #1 in AA in her state.
Nadya Bishton AZ – Mountain Ridge jr. stepped into national spotlight with 3rd at Stanford behind Marie Lawrence and Lauren Saylor.
Jillian Rosen TX – Star miler from Richardson is making her senior campaign the best, with a Marcus II win over Samantha Means a big highlight.
Cory McGee MS – Pass Christian freshman made name for herself in CC last fall (would have made San Diego if eligible) and track this winter/spring (NSIC mile champ in 4:49). Great American didn’t go as well as hoped (10th), but has burned up MS courses since and will go for a real FL berth at McAlpine next month.
Jordan Hasay-Marie Lawrence - Mt. SAC 10/21 (on the watch only)
Allison Eckert-Betsy Bies - SD State Meet 10/21