|SteveU's DyeStat XC Top 25|
2008 Preseason Individual XC Rankings
By Steve Underwood
The annual DyeStat XC Top 25 series (formerly Foot Locker Favorites and renamed given additional options available now) are national and regional rankings of cross-country runners based on distance-running accomplishments to date, with an emphasis on XC and 3200/2M track results, rather than a projection of how the Foot Locker Finals or NXN Finals will turn out (predictions run later in the season).
Three Champions, One Crown
The Girls Preseason National Rankings
The Top 25
While the girls national individual cross-country lineup is loaded with talented returnees and eager newcomers, for a season with two options for top individuals instead of one, the spotlight is firmly on the three former Foot Locker Finals winners who are dialed into winning again in San Diego
Story and rankings by SteveU
Hasay, Brasovan and Kroeger have all hoisted and figuratively drunk from the glass trophy. Whose turn will it be this year?
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Photos by John and Donna Dye, John Nepolitan, Pat Davey
Don’t look now, but even as the mid-summer Junior Olympic meets and the late August Olympic Games would have you believe that the track season is lingering on, the 2008 cross-country campaign is upon us. Meets are already starting in many states and athletes who are just 3-7 weeks removed from national track competitions have done the figurative quick change in the phone booth and are wearing their harrier capes, ready to fight for dominance over hill and dale.
Of course, many of the top athletes won’t run anything serious until late September or October, and the Nike Cross Nationals and Foot Locker meets are still almost four months away, with weeks of revelations and drama ahead. And speaking of revelation and drama, well, there’s no bigger question on national cross-country fans’ minds than what will be the effect of the decision for the NXN meets to allow individuals to compete. Regardless of whether or not you run for a quality team, you can now compete for a spot on the line in Portland at the new NXN. The top individual XC stars in the country will all have to decide if they want to go for that, or compete at one of four Foot Locker regionals to try and land a berth in San Diego.
With the number of younger high school girls who do well at the national level in distance running, there’s always a question as to whether those who excel as freshmen and sophomores can hang on or even improve in the years beyond that. It’s a testament to three that have done just that, that we enter this fall with not one, not two, but three former Foot Locker champions that will all be trying to win their second title in December. Jordan Hasay, Kathy Kroeger, and Ashley Brasovan are not simply former champions still in the mix, but the favorites to finish in the top three – in some order. It would be a surprise to see anyone but one of these three seniors cross the line first in the Finals, or for either of them to miss out on the top 3-5 places. There’s always a chance for someone to improve dramatically or come from nowhere to surpass the favorites, but Hasay, Kroeger, Brasovan all finished this past track season at the top of their game, or close to it with reasonable expectations of a best-ever season this fall.
The Big Three is a cliché, but is there any question they deserve it?
And, by the way, references to Foot Locker above are not simply there as the default assumption of the destination of these top runners. When asked, the three distance queens all expressed a preference to compete in the Foot Locker series again as opposed to the NXN series. None of the three have teams around them that could compete for an NXN bid, and the fact that they have competed in a combined 14 regional and national FL events to date surely plays a part in that role. That’s what these girls are used to and where they have built their harrier legacy. No doubt, much could change as the season progresses and NXN personnel set their sights on promoting the event and its considerable attributes. There’s also no question that plenty of other girls (and boys) in the pre-season top 25s could choose NXN (or both). But the line right now is that Hasay, Kroeger and Brasovan are zeroed in on San Diego success.
It’s hard to say anything about Hasay that hasn’t already been said. Few athletes have been in the spotlight, from middle school until their senior year, like the Mission Prep CA standout. She began her national prep career with her unforgettable freshman-year title in San Diego in 2005. Based on history of others in the past, the prognosis was not good for Jordan maintaining or improving each year and, indeed, she has been 10th and 3rd in succeeding Foot Locker Finals.
But, of course, Jordan has improved each year; her track times, which this spring won her the DyeStat Athlete of the Year award, dramatically testify to that. In the fall of 2006, she was undertrained, holding off the intensity for a bid to make the World Junior team for Kenya later in the winter. Last fall, a too-fast start left her unable to withstand the efforts of Brasovan and Kroeger later in the race. After both races, she would go on a few months later to win the USATF XC trials and then have her super soph and junior track seasons.
|Last Year: Finals/Reg.|| Returning Finals/Region||Comments|
1. Ashley Brasovan, 2009
Wellington HS, FL
1st / 6th S
1st / 4th S
|Brasovan might have been close to 10-flat in the 3200 if she'd been healthy all winter/spring, but still won NON 5k in 16:18. Could use more strength and speed. The harrier to beat until proven otherwise.|
2. Jordan Hasay, 2009
Mission Prep HS, CA
3rd / 1st W
3rd / 1st W
|With her new 4:14.50 1500 HSR and 9:52.13 3200, Hasay is no doubt the best track distance runner. She has the talent to be the best harrier again, but needs to get a tad stronger and run smart. |
3. Kathy Kroeger, 2009
Independence HS, TN
2nd / 1st S
2nd / 1st S
|Great comeback last fall from time off and injury to get 2nd in San Diego. Nice track PRs of 4:51y / 10:24y. If the "new" Kroeger can replicate or improve on what the old Kroeger did in 06, watch out.|
4. Emily Lipari, 2010
Roslyn HS, NY
6th / 6th NE
4th / 2nd NE
|When she's on, as she was at 07 FL Finals, or at NY State in track (9:37 3k), Lipari is tough to beat and can run "over her head" in a big race successfully. Needs to keep well-balanced training and racing.|
5. Emily Jones, 2009
Bromfield HS, MA
|Foot Locker 11th / 2nd NE||Foot Locker|
5th / 1st
|One of nation's most consistent elites, Jones worked her way down to 10:22y on track for 2nd at NON. Just a notch (so far) below what's needed to win a major national race.|
6. Madeline Morgan, 2009
Mountain Brook HS, AL
1st / 1st SE
1st / 1st SE
|One of biggest surprises last fall with brilliant NTN individual title, Morgan then shone indoors at NIN w/2 golds (relays) and silver (mile). Ended outdoor season early, so should be fresh to start fall.|
7. Katie Flood, 2010
Dowling Catholic HS, IA
2nd / 1st HL
8th / 2nd MW
2nd / 1st HL
5th / 1st MW
|After getting a bit worn down by her valient NTN/Foot Locker double, Flood kept it in-state during track, hitting 9:46 for 3k. At her best last fall, probably a top-4 runner, nationally; we'll see if she can improve.|
8. Melanie Thompson, 2009
Voorhees HS, NJ
13th / 2nd NE
10th / 1st NE
|Won tough NJ MOC last fall, then was disappointing 13th at NTN Finals. In track, though, Thompson improved down to 10:17 3200. Only Hasay, Brasovan faster in that event among returnees.|
9. Jessica Tonn, 2010
Xavier Prep HS, AZ
|Foot Locker 20th / 3rd W||Foot Locker 11th / 2nd W||In each of her two FL Finals appearances, Tonn hasn't raced quite as well as she did in FL West. Last year she was 20th in SD, but if her NON 10:24y PR is a good sign, she should be ready to move way up.|
10. Emily Sisson, 2010
Parkway Central HS, MO
|Foot Locker 23rd / 4th MW||Foot Locker 12th / 2nd MW||Sisson will run for her 3rd school in 3 years, transfering to Parkway Central MO. Last fall, she slipped from 3rd as a frosh to 23rd at FL Finals, but 10:21 3200 PR in track indicates possible rebound.|
11. Samantha Roecker, 2009
Burnt Hills HS, NY
3rd / 1st NY
3rd / 1st NY
|Roecker led her team to 5th at NTN with her 3rd-place finish and will try and take them a few steps higher this fall. A strong spring capped with 9:42 3k PR (2nd to Lipari at NY State) bodes well.|
12. Chelsey Sveinsson, 2011
Greenhill HS, TX
|Foot Locker 15th / 7th S||Foot Locker 7th / 5th S||While her Foot Locker performances last fall were a revelation, it was her 4:49 mile at NIN that really opened eyes nationally. Injuries shortened her year after 2:08/4:43y PRs.|
13. Kaylin Mahoney, 2011
Saugus HS, CA
7th / **
4th / **
|Mahoney stepped up huge for 7th at NTN last fall to help lead Newhall XC/Saugus to 2nd. The freshman continued progressing in track, taking 3rd (10:25) behind Hasay and Chetelat in the CIF 3200.|
14. Kayla Hale, 2009
Holy Trinity Episcopal HS, FL
| Foot Locker 19th / 2nd S||Foot Locker 10th / 2nd S||Hale showed her potential by finishing within an eyelash of Kroeger at FL South in 07 ... but then she was 19th at FL Finals and ran 10:37 3200 in track. Could improve if she can maintain that McAlpine form.|
15. Chelsea Ley, 2009
Kingsway Regional HS, NJ
|Foot Locker 18th / 10th NE||Foot Locker 9th / 4th NE||Since bursting on the scene last fall, Ley has shown an aggressive style that usually serves her well and is fun to watch. Was the NON 5k runner-up after Brasovan and earlier ran 10:27 3200.|
16. Courtney Chapman, 2011
Fayetteville-Manlius HS, NY
8th / 5th NY
5th / 3rd NY
|Led the Stotan charge at NTN last fall, filling her role as the F-M girls grabbed another title. Chapman acquitted herself well in track with 9:48 3k PR, so expect more good things this autumn. |
17. Shelby Greany, 2009
Suffern HS, NY
|Foot Locker 24th / 9th NE||Foot Locker 13th / 3rd NE ||Greany will likely try this fall to add her name to the short list of 4-time Foot Locker qualifiers. She was a few spots further back as a jr. vs. soph year, but won the NON steeple last spring in US#1 6:42.|
18. Cory McGee, 2010
Pass Christian HS, MS
|Foot Locker 27th / 8th S||Foot Locker 14th / 6th S||As a soph last fall, McGee didn't finish as well at FL South or Finals as she did in 9th grade. The miler had another good track season, though, and will try and improve with most of FL South cast returning.|
18. Brittany Koziara, 2009
Boone HS, FL
|Foot Locker 29th / 4th S||Foot Locker 15th / 3rd S ||A real revelation at FL South last fall, Koziara didn't fare as well in San Diego, but made solid progress to 10:36 and 4:53y in the spring. Should be ready for another good campaign in tough Florida.|
20. Stephanie Morgan, 2009
Barnesville HS, OH
|Foot Locker 35th / 5th MW ||Foot Locker 19th / 3rd MW||After very strong FL MW run, Morgan had disappointing day in Finals. But the miler improved to 4:41y (Penn win) and was 3rd at USATF Jrs. 1500, and should make it back to nationals and improve.|
21. Lauren Smith, 2009
Brazoswood HS, TX
|Foot Locker 17th / 9th S ||Foot Locker 8th / 7th S||Smith surprised with her 17th at FL Finals after a 9th at FL South. Her track times, though (5:11/10:57) suggested she's either a pure XC runner or had injury or health issues last spring.|
22. Jillian Smith, 2009
Southern Regional HS, NJ
|Foot Locker |
|Just missed FL Finals berth after taking 11th in FL NE, running her 1st XC season as a junior. Now a 4:46/2:05 runner and NIN/NON champ, she will no doubt strive to be a national XC contender.|
23. Malia Cali, 2010
St. Thomas Aquinas HS, LA
|Though she 16th in her first FL South race last fall, Cali's true talent was revealed in her 10:29y victory at NSIC. Can probably move to national XC elite, even with so many returnees.|
24. Taylor Wallace, 2009
Henley HS, OR
|Foot Locker 33rd / 7th W ||Foot Locker 18th / 4th W ||After a very strong FL West race, Wallace was a bit off form in FL Finals. But after a solid spring, she looks to lead the Northwest's top contenders and move up this fall.|
25. Alex Dunne, 2009
San Clemente HS, CA
|Foot Locker |
DNC / 28th W
DNC / 15th W
|While her returning status as a harrier wouldn't put her this high, Dunne's 10:25 3200 last spring suggests she has improved significantly and is ready to join national elite.|
** - California did not have NTN regional; national participants were chosen after state meet
(continued from above chart)Is it fair to say she would have won Foot Locker in 06 and 07 if she’d executed her season- and race-plans differently? Well, not really, because Kroeger and Brasovan were very good in each of their wins. But Hasay certainly had the capacity to have won either year, and was not a victim of some of the other factors that have befallen youthful prodigies.
So what is Hasay doing to try and win that second title?
|Moment of truth: Brasovan prepares to move ahead of Hasay once they crest the hill at Foot Locker 2007. |
“This year, we are trying to really focus on my long run,” she said. “We'll also up the volume just a little. We want to make sure I have a lot of strength for the first third of the race, so that I can use my finish in the last 800-mile.”
Hasay’s coach, Armando Siqueiros, said that long run would be up to 75 minutes and that they are bumping up her mile about 10 percent, to 50 miles a week or so.
“Since it is my senior year, it would be nice to win (Foot Locker) again,” Hasay added. “But this is certainly not going to be easy, as Ashley and Kathy I am sure are also going to be coming in strong and then it seems every year there are others who we see improvement from. But we'll certainly do our best to be ready as in years past."
Hasay understands as well as anyone that cross-country and track success are two different animals. At that same time, how could her perspective not be buoyed by performances like 4:14.50 (1500) and 9:52.13 (3200)? “I think this past spring/summer gives me a lot of confidence for fall,” she said. “I have even more confidence in my finish than ever before. But at the same time, I also ran a good 3200m time, so I have confidence in my strength. So I think that just helps me relax, knowing that I can run any type of race if needed.”
Don’t expect to see Hasay in many big races before her state meet, other than Mt. SAC. And expect to see her at Mt. SAC for FL West and then San Diego again.
“Our goal, like every year, is to do well at Foot Locker. We decided that I should still support Foot Locker for my final year. I've had a really great experience at Footlocker for my past three years.
“I also think that for the next couple of years runners will probably still come to Foot Locker, especially the ones that have been there before and know how great we are treated. But in the end, I wish they didn't have two choices! I'd like to do both, but it's not possible; one, because of scheduling, and two, physically, its a lot of racing.”
What a difference a year makes.
Twelve months ago, Kathy Kroeger was entering the XC season as the defending Foot Locker champ, but few champions’ prospects looked more uncertain. She had not only taken the entire winter and spring off from competition, after a doctor said she should do so to raise her weight to a healthier level, but developed a stress fracture during summer training as she tried to come back.
|Kroeger rolled in as the runner-up last fall in San Diego, following Brasovan in passing Hasay.|
But when she got going again, it did not take long for Kroeger’s talent to again manifest itself, even without a great base and in a new, improved body. When seen at Great American in October, she was not only more solid, but also had begun to gain some of her father’s height. She was not able to defend her title – her 2006 Great American race had established Kroeger as a true national force – but the runner-up finish she netted behind Ashley Brasovan made it clear that she was most of the way back.
Even though Kroeger didn’t reach her amazing 2006 times at her state meet or Foot Locker South, she kept progressing and when she finally raced in San Diego again, she outran everyone in the country except Brasovan, finishing just eight seconds back of the new champ.
Now the Independence HS senior from Franklin TN is coming off a track season where she kept things low-key for much of the year before coming to NON and running a PR 10:24.53y for 4th and a 4:51y to boot. She has had a healthy summer of training …
There’s no doubt that Kroeger brings some different things to the table than her top rivals. Hasay and Brasovan basically inhabit the same bodies they been racing and winning with all of their careers. Kroeger does not, but there’s no way she would want to go back in time and trade what she has now – her health. And after what the “new” Kroeger achieved as a junior, she can add several more months of healthy training to building the potential for what she could do as a senior.
“I am honored to be considered in the running with Jordan and Ashley,” she said. “They are such amazing athletes and great individuals. I am thankful to be healthy and training injury-free, and very excited about cross country. I'm really enjoying training with my team, because they are such a fun and close-knit group.
“My goals are to help my team qualify for the state championships, to run a PR at state, to qualify for Foot Locker Nationals and race well there on December 13,” she added, “and help the South team avenge their tie-breaker loss at FLN last year!
“It has been such a great experience in San Diego the past three years. I would love to have the opportunity to get back and race against all the top girls. My senior year will be a success if I just keep improving and having fun running.”
Kroeger’s coach at Independence is Kristen Reames, but she is also still advised by former Olympian Jim Spivey. Both Spivey and Kroeger were pleased with a first race effort last week – an 18:09 – which reminded both that in her initial race last September, she barely broke 20:00.
“With a healthy cross and track season now behind her, and good training this summer, we are ahead of where we were last year,” said Spivey. “She ran a great 5-mile tempo run this past week in 6:30 pace - great for her.
Regarding Kroeger’s races at NON in June, Spivey added, “I was happy to see her run PRs in both, and run the last lap with focus … I think that she believes in the training more than she even did last fall. … We ran slow intervals this spring, over distance, in the pool - and yet, she ran 67 seconds for the last lap at state and the Nike Nationals. That is the type of confidence that one cannot teach. And now she knows it's there and what she has to do to get to that form again, to run that pace. It's more a feeling, a visualization of pace, that now will let her get to that level again and again.”
“Working with her and Dr. Todd Calahan to get her healthy was great. Helping her go from 19:55 to FL runner-up last year was amazing.”
And then there’s the defending champ. Unlike the other two, she needed three tries to make her first Foot Locker Finals, with the FL South course at McAlpine Greenway and her mentality about it standing in the way. When she broke through last fall, that was all she needed. In San Diego, she ran without pressure and as naturally as a runner can, and was unmatchable when she took over in the third mile.
The Wellington senior has been outstanding since she debuted as a freshman harrier. Her first failed attempt to qualify for Foot Locker Finals could be overlooked due to inexperience, but her breakdown in Charlotte as a soph made it clear she needed to make some changes. An NIN 2-mile title followed in March and then it was last fall that she really made the jump to a serious national championship contender in XC. Her overwhelming triumph at Great American made her the girl to beat in San Diego, even if her “just-qualify” 6th-place finish at FL South made it appear she had lost form.
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|Big triumphs: While Brasovan (left) and Kroeger (right) would likely count Great American wins in 2007 and 2006 as two of their biggest non-Foot Locker wins, Hasay would probably opt for her USATF Jr. titles.|
Brasovan appears quiet and shy on the surface in her diminutive frame, but get to know her a bit and the independent free spirit comes out. While she competes for Wellington, she has coached herself most of her career. After getting to know rival Kayla Hale and her coach, Doug Butler, at Holy Trinity, she has spent time training there and under his guidance. That helped her bridge the gap between her sophomore debacle at FL South and her success the following spring and fall of 2007. But ultimately, Ashley feels she knows what’s best for Ashley and so far it’s worked pretty well!
Brasovan did struggle with a back injury last spring which conspired to keep her home instead of racing Hasay and Christine Babcock at Arcadia. But by season’s end, she was within two seconds of her 10:13 3200 PR and had claimed the NON 5,000 with a solo, meet-record 16:18.93, making her #6 all-time.
As for this summer and fall, the senior is relying on what’s worked, and just trying to get a little stronger, faster, and better. “I have been putting in about 50-60 miles per week, with weights a few times a week also,” she said. “I have just added more miles this year, but am basically following a similar schedule to what I was doing last cross country season.
“I am still getting a few hints from Coach Butler, as far as training goes, but mostly making my own workout regimen,” she added. “I made my own workout plan leading up to Nike Outdoor, and it seemed to work out fine. I also plan on going back to Great American and probably a few meets in Florida.
“I hope to run the whole season injury-free and, hopefully, defend a few titles. Most importantly I want to have fun and make it back to Nationals! I am planning on doing Foot Locker and hope all the competition will remain there, too.”
While it’s clear that “all” of the competition won’t be at Foot Locker, it will certainly be fascinating to see what path the elites will follow and how they’ll play off each other. With this Big Three appearing to have made their choice, some of the other contenders can either decide they will challenge the trio or let them have their battle and give NXN a try.
If Hasay, Kroeger, and Brasovan all make it to the line at Balboa in December, fit and healthy, fans there may get to witness a historic showdown the likes of which has never been seen.
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