Foot Locker Cross Country
Nov 25 - Dec 9, 2006

a DyeStat featured meet

Foot Locker finals index -

Gallery of Finalists - West boys

text by Steve Underwood, photos by PhotoRun

(Explanation of Win/Place/Show section:  As an extra feature, the “Win/Place/Show” section predicts where each finalist can reasonably aspire to finish, with “Win” meaning going for victory, “Place” meaning top 5 or 10, and “Show” meaning top 15-20.  Although only half of the runners will finish in the top 20, it is reasonable to say that’s what each athlete hopes to do, at the very least (no one “wants” to finish in the bottom half), and can do if they have a great day.

1. Matt Tebo
2007, Albuquerque NM - Eldorado HS

Overview:  Some time off from severe shin splints, and getting back from that, have kept Matt from building on that 8:47 2M he rolled on last spring.  He’s been good, but something short of dominating.  The low point was coming back from that missed training when Mt. SAC fell and he was 3rd to Chad Hall and Mike Cybulski.  But after completing another unbeaten season in NM, he kicked in to victory at FL West.  He probably wouldn’t mind another few weeks of training, but here he goes.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  1st FL West 15:46, 1st Border War 16:07, 1st 5A state 15:25, 3rd Mt. SAC Super Sweeps14:54,
2006 Track:  2nd NON 8:47.29y, 2nd Arcadia 8:52.23, 4:17.95 17th NON (7th Sect. 2), 1st GSW 1500 4:01.33(A), 5A State(A) 9:07.38-1st/4.18.29-1st, 3rd NIN 9:10.02y
2005 CC:  16th FL Finals 15:32, 3rd FL West 15:42, 15:40(A) 1st 5A State, 15:21(A) 1st Albu. City, 15:37(A) 1st Albu. Acad.
2005 Track:  4th GWI 9:04.93
2004 CC:  16th FLW 16:21

Win/Place/Show:  WIN – Tebo came into the year as at least the co-favorite.  Despite a less than perfect season, he’s certainly in the mix for the win, probably with Craig Forys, Chad Hall, and at least 2-3 others.  There’s not a clear-cut favorite, save maybe for Forys.  Tebo probably doesn’t need to plan any big race-breaking moves.  He’s better off if it comes down to a kick.  He’s not a great miler, but he has that sneaky quick last 100 that has served him well in every major track race.

2. Chad Hall
2007, Big Bear Lake CA - Big Bear HS

Overview:  With Tebo and Michael Cybulski not consistently living up to their preseason billing, a maturing Chad Hall has stepped in and looked like the Best in the West most of the fall.  After something of a breakout track season, he quickly showed he was a championship contender when he blew away the Woodbridge course record and beat Cybulski by 24 seconds.  Then he backed it up by beating Tebo and Cybulski at Mt. SAC.  As far as his state-winning time (3rd overall in winning D4) and FL West performance (2nd), it’s hard to read too much into those considering the former was a solo effort and the latter a run to qualify.  Chad has proven he’s at least as talented as his big bro and will be fascinating to watch Saturday.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  2nd FL West 15:47, 1st D4 state 15:06 (3rd overall), 1st Woodbridge 14:00 (3M), 1st Mt. SAC 14:35,
2006 Track:  8:58.42 1st SouSectD4 Pre, 1st Golden West 4:11.67y, 8th NON 4:13.18y (7th Sect. 3), 12th State 9:23.71, 4:10.78 1st SouSectMasters, 4:11.19 1st SouSectD4, 9:08.77 1st SouSectD4, 9:10.49 7th SouSectMasters, 4:12.27, 1st SouSectD4 Pre, 4:15.91y 1st Mt SAC
2005 CC:  DNC FL West, 2nd D4 State 15:51

Win/Place/Show:  WIN – Chad is ready to win and planning to go for it Saturday.  He could be in the best position to challenge Craig Forys for the victory.  Chad hasn’t established himself as having a particular special strength in this early stage of his ultra elite career, while Forys has shown that he can hammer mid-race, as well as outkick opponents in the last 200 or so.  Chad might be best off seeing if he can make a move early in the final mile or counter a mid-race Forys move with one of his own – of course, that’s’ assuming someone else doesn’t really step up big.  But these two are the most successful harriers this fall.

3. Jake Riley
2007, Bellingham WA - Sehome HS

Overview:  Jake was just beginning to become a notable regional name when FL West rolled around and he stunned many with his 3rd-place finish.  He dominated the 3A race in WA, but hadn’t beaten the likes of, say, Max O’D-M.  But despite falling at BorderClash, he was 4th and just a tick out of 2nd.  He also had a solid win at Sunfair and is just an example of someone who reaches the right peak at the right time.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  3rd FL West 15:48, 4th BorderClash 14:08 (4.4k), 1st 2A state 15:51, 1st Sunfair 15:26,

Win/Place/Show:  PLACE/SHOW – It would be asking a lot of Riley to come back after last week and go for, say, a top ten finish.  But he’s got a lot of grit and a good finish.  He hardly could have run a better race than he did last weekend.  If he doesn’t get carried away and go after the leaders, but runs smart and saves a good push for the last mile, top ten isn’t out of the question.

4. Mikel Thomas
2007, Clovis CA - Clovis HS

Overview:  Last year Mikel was all raced out by the time he reached Mt. SAC in December.  This time he had plenty in the tank as he easily made 4th.  Thomas didn’t overdo it in some of the races where he was clearly the best, and he also got a chance to matchup with the best in the NE at Manhattan.  He’s been very consistent all year, despite the fact that he spends too much time on the DyeStat message boards.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  4th FL West 15:48, 1st D2 state 15:08 (4th overall), 2nd Clovis 15:10,
2006 Track:  8:59.81 8th Arcadia Inv, 4th CIF 9:04.56, 9:08.66 1st Sacramento MOC, Central Section 9:14.25-1st/4:16.39-1st,
2005 CC:  31st FL West 16:27, 2nd D2 State 15:29, 2nd Clovis 15:22
2005 Track:  11th CIF 9:21.64, 9th Arcadia (seeded) 9:20.99y
2004 CC:  10th FLW 16:07

Win/Place/Show:  PLACE – Of the West runners outside of Tebo-Hall, Thomas has the best chance to make the top 10 or maybe a bit better.  California boys always have a bit of an edge and Mikel is riding the crest of a wave of success.  As long as he doesn’t get too carried away early, he should run with the second pack or so and gather himself for a strong finish.

5. Taylor Farnsworth
2007, Pocatello ID - Highland HS

Overview:  In his best races this year, Taylor certainly looked like a FL Finalist, with dominant wins at Firman and his state meet.  The Rocky Mountain Champs, right in his backyard, seemed the perfect place to make a statement, but he couldn’t do it.  He bounced back nicely, however, running very strongly to qualify with ease at FL West.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  5th FL West 15:49, 1st 5A state 15:30, 1st Firman 15:16, 5th Rocky Mtn. Champs 16:14,

Win/Place/Show:  PLACE/SHOW – Taylor might not quite be ready to duke it out with the leaders, but should be a solid contender for 10th-20th.

6. Max O'Donaghue-McDonald
2007, Seattle WA - Seattle Prep HS

Overview:  By resolving health and injury issues, Max O’D-M has been able to dominate Washington as he dreamed he could.  He won 3A state with the day’s best time, then enjoyed a victory at BorderClash to cap it off.  Earlier, he got good regional experience at Stanford, where he was nipped by Brenden Gregg’s career effort, but beat Cybulski.  That was his only loss before FL West.  He did probably expend a little too much energy trying to control that race, but still was ok at the end.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  6th FL West 15:51, 1st BorderClash 14:00 (4.4k), 1st 3A state 15:32, 1st Danner 15:08, 2nd Stanford 14:48,
2006 Track:  9:13.18 17th Arcadia, 1st District 9:12.66, 3A State 6th-4:20.81/4th-9:19.39,
2005 CC:  36th FL West 16:31, 1st 3A State 15:54, 5th Border Clash 14:13 (4.45k),

Win/Place/Show:  PLACE/SHOW – Max will probably want to give victory a shot Saturday, but if he spends too much energy in the front, he might give a lot of people a chance to pass him in the end.  He might be better off dwelling in the top 10-15, then closing hard in the last mile to try and get inside the top 10.

7. Kent Morikawa
2007, Torrance CA - Torrance HS

Overview:  Ken has been a consistent force in the Golden State, percolating just below the Halls, Cybulskis, and Thomases.  He knew, based on last year, that he had a chance to qualify at FL West and ran a strong, smart race to make the most of it.  Others at his level might have settled for less, but Kent beat plenty of guys who have had his number at one time or another.  He just wanted it worse last Saturday.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  7th FL West 15:56, 3rd D2 state 15:18 (8th overall), 1st Mt. SAC Team Sweeps 15:02 (7th overall), 7th Clovis 15:28,
2006 Track:  9:11.16 14th Arcadia, 9:13.37 9th SouSectMasters,
2005 CC:  19th FL West 16:12, 4th D2 State 15:39

Win/Place/Show:  SHOW – Ken is committed to trying to help the West team win.  He is not the type to blow it by going out too hard.  If he runs and finishes strong again, top 15-20 is a solid bet.

8. Jared Ward
2007, Kaysville UT - Davis HS

Overview:  Jared was not as highly touted as a few of his Utah teammates, but like Riley, came through when it counted most.  His progress at the Rocky Mountain race was a good indicator that he had more to give, and sure enough, FL West bore that out.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  8th FL West 16:01, 3rd Rocky Mtn Champs 16:04, 3rd Firman 15:36, 2nd 5A state 15:54 (3rd overall), 3rd BYU 16:06,

Win/Place/Show:  SHOW – As the last qualifier, it probably would not be prudent for Jared to go out with or near the leaders.  His best chance for top 20 is to go out reasonably and finish strong.


9. Ben Johnson
2008, Albuquerque NM - Albuquerque Academy HS

Overview:  It would have been easy for some runners to think, after last year, to just sit back and let Matt Tebo dominate New Mexico.  But Albuquerque Academy’s duo of Ben Johnson and Dustin Martin gave him all he wanted on occasions when they faced him this year.  Pushing himself to greater heights paid off for Ben as he was a breakout star at NTN and got the first FL West bid from that race.

Leading Performances
2006 CC:  2nd NTN 16:37, 1st 4A state 15:30 (2nd overall), 1st Los Alamos 16:19, 1st Highland 15:49, 2nd Liberty Bell 15:33 D1 (4th overall),

Win/Place/Show:  PLACE – It would be foolish to put much past Ben after he finished ahead of Cybulski and just 11 seconds behind Murdock last week.  If he has one more super effort in him, a top 10 finish or better could be in the offing.


10. Michael Cybulski
2007, Simi Valley CA - Royal HS

Overview:  Cybulski’s been a little hard to figure this fall.  He set a high standard last spring with four 3200/2M’s of 8:55 or better, a rare accomplishment.  He was beaten solidly by Hall at Woodbridge and Mt. SAC, and lost to Gregg and Max O’D-M at Standford.  On the other hand, he had a great run at Clovis, the best time of all divisions at CA state, and made up for a poor run at NTN last year with a solid 3rd.

Leading Performances
2006 CC:  3rd NTN 16:41, 1st D1 state 15:04 (1st overall), 1st Clovis 15:03, 2nd Woodbridge 14:24 (3M), 3rd Stanford 15:03,
2006 Track:  6th NON 8:53.85y, 1st CIF 8:53.77, 8:52.24 1st SouSectMasters, 8:55.35 1st SouSectD1, 4:10.47 1st Marmonte League, 7th Arcadia 4:16.88y
2005 CC:  41st NTN 17:27, DNC FLW, 3rd D1 State 15:22, 4th MtSAC D1 SS 14:53 (3M), 1st Clovis 15:20, 5th Stanford (3rd American) 15:31
2005 Track:  1st CIF 9:02.57, 2nd Arcadia (seeded) 9:13.44y
2004 CC:  DNC FLW

Win/Place/Show:  WIN/PLACE – So the big question is, can Cybulski challenge Forys, Hall, Tebo or anyone else for the win?  He certainly has the talent, but it’s a matter of mentally and physically putting it together.  He has a good kick, so that will help if he can hang to the end.  He’s the only “win-place” guy on the list, so that should tell you something.


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