Results - Race Video: Pt 1 - Pt 2 - Pt 3 - Webcast Replay
Interviews - Solomon Haile - Trevor Dunbar - Chris Schwartz - Zach Torres - Dan Reeks (Haile's coach)
Donna on the Side with the boys Action pix: Race Flow Page - Race Flow album (44 pix) - Race Finish (all runners)
|No challenge again|
Solomon Haile of Maryland finishes
unbeaten season with a dominating win
By Rich Gonzalez, DyeStat/ESPN RISE
(SAN DIEGO, Ca.) – For months, Solomon Haile was a youngster without peer, a runner without a challenge. On Saturday, nothing changed.
In a commanding performance seemingly with energy stores still in reserve, the Maryland prep distance phenom dominated the middle stages of Saturday’s 5,000-meter challenge, then pranced home to convincingly win the 30th Annual Foot Locker Cross Country Championships boys race at Balboa Park’s Morley Field.
The subject of message board chatter of age controversies in midseason – only to have the Maryland state association deem him of proper age and eligible to compete in high school athletics – the Ethiopian native proved too smooth and too strong for the competition to win without pressing in the final stages.
Haile capped an unblemished senior season by touring the hilly, double-loop challenge in 15 minutes, 15 seconds – far from the course record or even the all-time Top 20 list – but seven full ticks ahead of runner-up Trevor Dunbar of Alaska, who continually battled Haile over the middle mile to remain in the title hunt but had no answer for Haile’s surge just past 3000 meters.
By the latter stages, Haile was unpressed while thoroughly impressing.
“I was pleased and satisfied just to win,” said Haile. “I felt good and strong in the end, but there were many good runners I had to be prepared for. It feels amazing to win this meet because it brings together thebest of the best and it is an honor to win.”
photo by John Dye
| Colorado’s Evan Appel established a brisk tempo right from the sound of the cannon, gapping his chief early rivals – Haile and Minnesota’s Jakub Zivec – by two strides while reaching the 800-meter mark in 2:14. By the first kilometer, however, the pack reeled in Appel, with Californian Chris Schwartz briefly setting the pace for a group that swelled to eight runners by that point, with Haile appearing to be most relaxed within the group. |
Soon after, Appel’s dogged determination saw him reclaim a scant lead with Schwartz also contending for the pacesetting role. It was Schwartz and Appel continuing to set the pace at the mile, crossing in a 4:47 clip. While the pace was far from breakneck with as many as 25 individuals within four seconds of the lead, the first climb of the course’s steep hill still awaited. Along the descent of Upas Hill, Dunbar forged to the front, catching Haile with a snappier turnover to counter his rival’s galloping prod.
Re-crossing the heart of Spectator Alley, Haile began to seize control for good as the leaders – now including Zivec and Virginia surprise Thomas Porter along with Dunbar – began to gap the masses. By the two-mile mark, reached by Haile in 9:47 – all chief pursuers began to weary, with the Alaskan clearly the most stubborn and most determined to keep Haile in sight.
recrossing Spectator Alley
photos by John Dye
“I always felt I had a chance,” said Dunbar afterward, also admitting he set no lofty goals nor mapped out a detailed race plan coming in, allowing him to race freely and instinctively. “He made a big move before two miles, but even then I always felt I could go with him and have a shot at the end.”
However, Haile truly appeared well within himself over the final mile, content to find a steady new tempo and throwing an occasional rearward glance to size up any threats. Essentially unchallenged down the stretch, Haile cruised to the win while several times appearing content with the inevitable outcome, rather than pressing ahead for the all-time list.
“There was no real time goal,” said Haile, the Manhattan Invitational course record holder in New York in October, who later admitted he did consider sub-15:00 as a realistic outcome and was surprised at the 15:15. “I was more concerned with winning the race, wanting to be sure I was ready because there were many excellent runners here. I was happy just to win because I had not lost all year, so there was some pressure there.”
Dunbar was especially impressive once the race opened up, authoritatively shifting gears on the downhill segments and surging well on certain flat portions to position himself for a high finish.
Porter is biggest surprise
The biggest surprise performance was turned in by Virginia’s Thomas Porter, who rolled into the lead pack just before two miles and then out-dueled Indiana’s Drew Shields (15:27) and Minnesotan Zivec to snag third in 15:26, an outstanding feat considering he placed 40th – dead last – here a year ago. (right, Porter and Zivec climb the hill in the third mile - photo by John Nepolitan)
Zivec, who placed second at last weekend’s Nike Cross Nationals in Portland but suffered an ankle injury as a result, battled through pain here to take fifth in 15:29. Zivec’s sole goals minutes before the race were “to start” and “to finish.” His right ankle heavily bandaged, the powerfully striding native of the Czech Republic – he returns to his country next month – lumbered home with a gutty showing. Appel, the early leader, persisted to remain among the top half dozen runners, eventually securing sixth in 15:36.
Chris Schwartz, (left, photo by John Dye) the West Region champion who headlined five California male qualifiers here, was the top Golden Stater, taking 8th in 15:41, a vast improvement from his 37th-place showing of a year ago.
“My goal was Top 10, top Californian, and to go after it and take some chances,” said Schwartz, who led briefly on three occasions in the first half of the race.
Another big surprise among the top 10 finishers was New York senior Joe Whelan, who took ninth in 15:44, leading a swath of eight finishers crossing the line within five seconds.
``I knew that I was capable of finishing in the top 10,’’ said Whelan, third in the Northeast Regional. ``I think a lot of guys peaked at the regional where I just ran to qualify. I peaked for today and ran just the way I was planning.’’
Whelan (right, photo by John Nepolitan) was in 18th place before he went up the huge hill the second time with a little more than six-tenths of a mile remaining.
``Going up hills is one of my biggest strengths and I knew I could pass a lot of guys,’’ he said. ``I just kept hammering by guys and brought it as strong as I could. This is the perfect way to end my season.”
Seniors dominate again
In keeping with the pattern from last year’s race, 20 of the first 23 male finishers were seniors. The only exceptions were Indiana frosh Zeinaselassie from the Midwest (left, photo by John Dye) and juniors Brian Shrader of Arizona (11th in 15:45) and Shane Moskowitz of Washington (14th in 15:47) from the West. Zeinaselassie’s seventh-place finish was the best ever by a male frosh in the 30-year history of the meet.
In fact, four of the top five non-seniors hailed from the West Region, including Arizona’s Steve Magnuson and Idaho’s Cody Helbling.
Magnuson took 24th in 15:59 and Helbling was 25th in 16:00. The top five finishers earned Foot Locker First-Team All-American status, the next five secured Second-Team accolades, while the next five garnered Third-Team honors.
For the second consecutive year, a Neuqua Valley HS (IL) athlete earned All-America honors, with senior Danny Pawola capturing the distinction via a 13th-place showing in 15:46. Pawola, who agreed his two best showings came in the final two races on the calendar, topped Steve Sulkin (York HS, Elmhurst, IL) for top honors from the talent rich state. In 2007, Neuqua Valley’s Chris Derrick (now an All-American frosh at Stanford), placed second at this meet.
Several elite runners arrived here with considerable momentum and lofty aspirations, but – as is common at pressure chamber meets of this caliber – a few scenarios failed to follow script.
New Jersey’s Tyler Udland harbored high hopes of being in the top 15 and earning an All-American spot, but the NJ state champion and runner-up at the Northeast Regional instead struggled to a 34th place finish in the 40-runner field in 16:18.
``I kind of knew right off the line that it wasn’t going to a good day,’’ said Udland, a junior. ``About 400 meters into the race my arms were so sore and I just felt tired. It’s disappointing and frustrating, but you can’t be at your best in every race you run. I don’t think running so hard at the state meet and then at the regional took anything out of me. I just didn’t have a good day. But the good thing is that I’m a junior and I’ll be very motivated to come back here next year and finish much higher.’’
Race Recap by Mike Kennedy
800—Evan Appel of Dakota Ridge (Littleton, Co.) took the early lead, passing the half-mile in 2:14, with Solomon Haile of Shorewood (Silver Spring, Md.), Chris Schwartz of Foothill (Bakersfield, Ca.) and Trevor Dunbar of Kodiak (Ak.) close behind.
Mile and Up the Hill (first time)—Appel continued to lead at 4:45, but Jakub Zivec of Grand Rapids (Mn.) and the Czech Republic, Thomas Porter of Mountain View (Fredericksburg, Va.), Haile, Schwartz and Dunbar were not far behind.
Downhill to Mile and One-Half—Haile effortlessly took over from Dunbar with Porter and Zivec trailing the top two.
Two Miles—Haile opened up a 15 meter lead, passing in 9:47, with Porter and Zivec second and third.
Two Miles to Three Miles—Haile continued to open up a lead to 60 meters with Dunbar comfortably in second, Porter in third and Zivec in fourth. Drew Shield of Fishers (In.) was fifth and Appel was sixth.
The Finish—Haile won as he pleased in 15:15, with Dunbar an easy second in 15:22. With less than 150 meters remaining, it was Zivec, Porter and Shields, but Porter got up for third in 15:26. Shields was fourth in 15:27 and Zivec in fifth in 15:29.
Scoring Teams and Points:
1. Midwest 32 (4 5 6 7 10 13 15)
2. West 51 (2 8 11 14 16 22 23)
3. South 71 (3 12 17 19 20 21 26)
4. Northeast 77 (1 9 18 24 25 27 28)
1 Solomon Haile (12) Northeast Sherwood H.S. Silver Spring MD 15:15
2 Trevor Dunbar (12) West Kodiak H.S. Kodiak AK 15:22
3 Thomas Porter (12) South Mountain View H.S. Fredericksburg VA 15:26
4 Drew Shields (12) Midwest Fishers H.S. Fishers IN 15:27
5 Jakub Zivec (12) Midwest Grand Rapids H.S. Grand Rapids MN 15:29
6 Evan Appel (12) Midwest Dakota Ridge H.S. Littleton CO 15:36
7 Futsum Zeinasellassie (9) Midwest North Central H.S. Indianapolis IN 15:40
8 Chris Schwartz (12) West Foothill H.S. Bakersfield CA 15:41
9 Joe Whelan (12) Northeast Hamburg H.S. Hamburg NY 15:44
10 Joseph DeMoor (12) Midwest Buena Vista H.S. Buena Vista CO 15:44
11 Brian Shrader (11) West Sinagua H.S. Flagstaff AZ 15:45
12 Leoule Degfae (12) South Thomas Edison H.S. Alexandria VA 15:46
13 Danny Pawola (12) Midwest Neuqua Valley H.S. Naperville IL 15:46
14 Shane Moskowitz (11) West Central Kitsap H.S. Bremerton WA 15:47
15 Dylan Sorensen (12) Midwest Zionsville H.S. Zionsville IN 15:48
Zachary Torres (12) West Crescenta Valley H.S. La Crescenta CA 15:48
17 Andrew Berberick (12) Midwest J.K. Mullen H.S. Littleton CO 15:54
18 CJ Brown (12) South Carroll Senior H.S. Southlake TX 15:54
19 Michael Moverman (12) Northeast Oliver Ames H.S. North Easton MA 15:54
20 Kyle Satterwhite (12) South Western Albemarle H.S. Charlottesville VA 15:55
21 Matt Sonnenfeldt (12) South Knoxville West H.S. Knoxville TN 15:56
22 Bill Matthews (12) South Baylor School Birmingham AL 15:56
23 Steve Sulkin (12) Midwest York H.S. Elmhurst IL 15:58
24 Steve Magnuson (11) West Ironwood Ridge H.S. Oro Valley AZ 15:59
25 Cody Helbling (11) West Lake City H.S. Coeur d'Alene ID 16:00
26 James Cameron (12) West Mission Viejo H.S. Rancho Santa Margarita CA 16:00
27 George Galasso (12) Northeast Holmdel H.S. Holmdel NJ 16:01
28 Andrew Springer (12) Northeast Westerly H.S. Westerly RI 16:01
29 Clint McKelvey (11) South Maryville H.S. Maryville TN 16:04
30 Philip Wood (12) Northeast The Pennington School Yardley PA 16:04
31 Ben Furcht (12) Northeast Lower Merion H.S. Haverford PA 16:07
32 Phil Galebach (12) Northeast Medford H.S. Medford MA 16:11
33 Chase Rathke (12) South Seven Lakes H.S. Katy TX 16:17
34 Tyler Udland (11) Northeast Millburn H.S. Short Hills NJ 16:18
35 Joseph Manilafasha (12) Midwest Denver North H.S. Denver CO 16:19
36 Evan Hibbs (12) South Georgetown H.S. Georgetown TX 16:25
37 Wyatt Landrum (12) West Liberty Union H.S. Oakley CA 16:27
38 Karreem Tyre Johnson (12) West Palma H.S. Gonzales CA 16:44
39 Alex Ott (12) South Turner Ashby H.S. Weyers Cave VA 17:30
40 Brett Johnson (12) Northeast Ocean City H.S. Ocean City NJ 18:41