|Early patience pays off for Brasovan and Fout|
by Dave Devine
On a day when pre-dawn rains sullied the rolling cross country course at San Diego’s Balboa Park, two unlikely candidates emerged from behind a pair of ambitious early paces to win the boys and girls Foot Locker National Championship races.
Flitting across a slick, mud-spattered course, Florida junior Ashley Brasovan broke from a five-runner chase pack to catch early leader and pre-race favorite Jordan Hasay as the two ascended a steep climb for the second time. Brasovan then blistered the downhill to gap Hasay and pull clear for an 8-second win (17:20) over defending Foot Locker champion Kathy Kroeger, who rallied past Hasay for second. Hasay (17:31) hung on gamely for third, fronting NE champ Neely Spence (4th -17:35) and MW champ Claire Durkin (5th- 17:44).
Boys’ champion Mike Fout of Indiana followed a similar tack for his victory, dogging Luke Puskedra UT and Kevin Williams CO through blazing opening splits of 2:10 and 4:28, to come from off the pace for a 14:50 win. Despite his status as the Midwest regional champion, Fout’s triumph nonetheless upended pre-race formcharts which installed California’s German Fernandez and Illinois’ Chris Derrick as co-favorites entering the weekend. Derrick, seemingly out of the race at the two-mile point, surged powerfully from sixth to snag the runner-up slot (14:57) and complete a 1-2 Midwest sweep which mirrored that region’s qualifying race. Fernandez pushed in for third (15:09), with South champ Colby Lowe fourth (15:12) and the never-fully-faded Puskedra claiming fifth (15:15).
In the battle for regional bragging rights, the Northeast girls barely edged the South girls, with both squads locked at 42 points through five runners, and the Northeast claiming the win on the tie-breaker. The Midwest boys, behind the 1-2 showing of Fout and Derrick, doused the hopes of any other region with their stingy 29 points, well clear of runner-up Northeast with 59.