the NTN regional editors preview their teams
| Northeast - These seven teams are strong. It's a good year in the Northeast... and it may get even better at NTN. The four boys teams are all better than last year's runner-up, Manlius NY, and that includes this year's Manlius squad. The mighty Saratoga NY girls, defending NTN champion and US#1 since before DyeStat, could lose.
| Southeast - No where to go but up after last year's dismal showing, this year's teams are determined to represent the region well.
| South - Dream seasons for Corpus Christi TX (King) boys and Carroll Southlake TX girls ended with state championships. Carroll put two girls and a boy into Foot Locker national finals.
| Midwest - Defending NTN champ Elmhurst IL (York) boys plus three less known but hungry teams represent the Midwest..
| Heartland - Yankton SD boys and girls teams are both rankede #1 in region. North Lakeville MN girls boast national 2-mile champion Elizabeth Yetzer. Willmar MN boys met all three season goals -- win state meet, rank in top 25 nationally, and go to NTN.
| Southwest - Plain City girls and Mountain View boys return from Utah. Rock Springs boys are first Wyoming representative at NTN. Fort Collins solves the mystery of the rankings process. Teri Cady juggles having a baby with coaching the Colorado Lady Knights (Fairview) girls.
| Northwest - Like the Northeast, this region has seven teams -- and all are contenders.
California - Newport XC Club (Corona del Mar) steamrolled all opposition en route to US#1 ranking, the California D3 championship and course records at venerable Woodward Park and Mt. SAC. Oak Park closed strong to finish only 5 points behind CdM at the state meet. Like Newport, Simi Valley (Royal) set records at Woodward Park and Mt. SAC en route to the California state championship and a return visit to Portland. Master coach Walt Lange brings Carmichael (Jesuit) to the big show.
by Don Rich, Northeast region editor
WE ARE WORTHY
Seven Northeast teams will be competing at the 2nd Nike Team Nationals (NTN) on Saturday. Each of them has earned their spot. Each of them has overcome bad races, injuries, the SAT schedule, parents, coaches, friends, each other, weather, and both personal and team doubts for the privilege to toe the line in Portland. For that matter, every other team invited has overcome obstacles as well – but this Northeast group has something to prove. The region is deep this year. Now they just have to show it.
In MY opinion (No coach or runner on any of the teams has said any such thing), the four boys teams from the Northeast are each better than the 2004 runner-up Fayetteville-Manlius NY team.
One of those teams just happens to be US#2 Fayetteville-Manlius (FM). The other three, US#3 Christian Brothers Academy, NJ (CBA), US#7 Saratoga Springs NY, and US#17 Morris Hills NJ, have battled each other all season. Each has wins, whether by team points or team averages, to lay claim to their place in Portland.
The first indication that the 2005 FM team may be even better came during the summer when the individuals from the team talked back and forth during much of a half-marathon, posting some pretty good times. When the season started, they followed a similar plan to 2004, heading to their sectional course for an easy win, cruising through the McQuaid NY invite, and heading for the Big Apple to face-off against the two New Jersey powers of 2005, CBA and Morris Hills. What FM accomplished in 2004 by sweeping the first five places in a race against fellow-NTN qualifier CBA may never be seen again at Manhattan. And it wasn't this year. The remnants of a hurricane hovered over Van Cortlandt Park and dumped rain and hurled winds of up to 30 mph at the runners. This year, CBA coach Tom Heath did not challenge FM as he did in 2004. He felt he had his best team in his tenure as CBA coach, and knew the times would speak for him.
After running the week before at the NJ state course at Holmdel in a team time that was a minute slower than Morris Hills in a separate race on the same day, Heath acknowledged that he may have started his team too slowly in September. They quickly rebounded, beginning at Manhattan, by taking 2nd to FM and beating Morris Hills by eight. FM simply was amazing though, running a team average 12:57 for the 2.5 mile course in horrid conditions, the 2nd best all-time. On a dry course, they may have beaten their 2004, and all-time mark of 12:48. CBA also edged Morris Hills by a second in the team average that day. In winning a separate race, Saratoga Springs had the 6th best team average of the day at 13:25. Their best races were yet to come.
For FM, it was back to training for a few weeks. They had made their trek to New York and accomplished their goal. The challenge coming into 2005 had been to replace Jared Burdick, and in Luke Fitzgibbons, they found their guy. Coach Bill Aris said he thought it would be later in the season when a clear #5 would emerge, but that Fitzgibbons' early and continuing success "is a credit to Luke in every way."
For CBA and Saratoga Springs, it was up to Rhode Island for the Brown Invitational the following week. Saratoga Springs was a bit off, but CBA was just getting into gear, winning by 62 over their New York rivals.
Morris Hills resurfaced the following week at the IHC Championships, and including this meet and the following two weeks, they set five-man averages records on three well-traveled courses. The anticipation for a showdown vs. CBA at the NJ Meet of Champs was growing. Meanwhile, FM and Saratoga were taking care of business and the competition in state qualifying races. FM was running faster individual times than in 2004, and Saratoga was showing signs of some late-season greatness.
The blip in the FM dominance in the Northeast came on November 12th at the New York public schools championships on the fast, flat Queensbury course, the sectional home this year for Saratoga Springs, located 22 miles to the south. With a slightly off race (for FM) and great races by the entire Saratoga team, FM fell for the first time in two years in a meet in the Northeast. Those four points weren't a lot, but they had a big impact. FM dropped to #2. Saratoga was in the driver's seat. In recognizing the accomplishment of Saratoga, FM coach Bill Aris says the meet helped to get his team refocused on training well, racing hard and having fun. That day's top FM runner, Owen Kimple, called it a "wake-up call." And Aris noted they had run better in 2005 than in 2004, and still lost. The next week, FM answered the call at the NY Federation meet, beating Saratoga by 17.
Meanwhile, back in New Jersey, CBA and Morris Hills cruised through the Group Championships in which they race in separate events, CBA in the Parochial A and Morris Hills in Group 3 (there are four public school groups.) Their ultimate showdown on November 19th was a letdown for Morris Hills. CBA, which had been aiming for the meet all season, simply obliterated the 23-year-old course team average record – a record held by the 1982 CBA team. Morris Hills had one of their top three runners lose a shoe 1000 meters into the race, and another top three runner suffer from asthma. The only saving grace for the team was the big PRs by their 4th and 5th runners, which did match the plan of coach Sean Robinson. Plug those usual top three team runners in with their times from the previous week's Groups, and it's an entirely different race. As it was, even with those two off races, Morris Hills matched their team average 16:34 of a week earlier. This was a good team.
Of the four Northeast NTN teams, only Saratoga Springs may feel the effects of the Northeast Foot Locker regional. First man Steve Murdock was in the top group at 2000 meters, fell during the race and did not finish. Second man Greg Kelsey moved up during the race and secured himself a spot at Foot Locker Nationals. The rest of the top seven did not race. FM, CBA and Morris Hills will have spent the two weeks recovering from the past month and training for December 3rd.
So what will happen for these four teams in Portland? FM coach Bill Aris puts it in perspective... "Being ranked 2nd or lower (every team at NTN is a powerhouse) and making it to NTN for the 2nd year in a row is in itself quite an accomplishment. Rather than 'expectation', I would say that it is our desire to put together an NTN race whereas each of our guys run their very best race at the same time. We have yet to do that this season and we believe we are capable of doing so at NTN."
For repeat visitors CBA, and first-timers Saratoga Springs and Morris Hills, their best race of the season is most likely coming this Saturday.
Two teams are veterans of the NTN wars, and the other has been fighting a war of its own in a very talented New York state to get to this meet. US#2 Saratoga Springs validated over a decade of being ranked as the top girls team in the US with their NTN title in 2004. This year though, with former #1 and #2 runners Nicole Blood and Caitlin Lane training and racing the non-school circuit, Saratoga has shown itself to be vulnerable, if not yet beaten. US#6 Roxbury NJ finished 9th in 2004 at NTN, and with the top five girls back, decided it would be a pretty cool thing to do again... which, as everyone might guess, is easier said than done. And US#3 Hilton NY played a balancing act with their top runner all season, and successfully turned that into a narrow one point loss to then US#1 Saratoga at the NY public schools meet on November 19th. They would skip the NY Fed meet a week later to get healthy, but then decided to race their top six at the Northeast Foot Locker Regional, and in the process, may have affected their chances of winning NTN.
Saratoga Springs does not avoid anyone. They don't race hard through most of September, but that's because it's a long season and with November as the month that matters, they don't get cranking until Great American. This year they dominated again, scoring just 68 points. The next closest team was at 220. That should be enough, but they would take on all--comers in two more meets that were not required.
Hilton was impressive at the 9/17 Wildcat Inv, and again a week later at the Queensbury Inv. On 9/24, Hilton crushed the competition at the McQuaid Inv behind a course record by Amanda Griggs, finally healthy for the first time in a season.
The first time any team in the Northeast started thinking upset against Saragota Springs was at the October 8th Manhattan Invitational in the Manhattan Monsoon. In fact, early reports while waiting for official scoring had Hilton pulling off the win. But the guess was only that, a guess, and Saratoga had their narrow 14-point win over their closest pursuer, Hilton. The guess had been made because after Saratoga's 1st three finished, it was a long time before their 4th and 5th were spotted. Hilton decided that they were on the right course. They just had to wait for the right opportunity.
As for Saratoga, a little normalcy returned the following weekend when they dominated the Brown Invitational, scoring just 43 points. Meanwhile, Hilton decided not to race to begin preparations for the post-season, with a brief and easy win in between at their county meet Oct 18th.
Saratoga cruised through the Suburban Council Champs on 10/29, while Hilton was winning and Griggs was setting her third course record of the season. A week later, Griggs sets another course record (which had been owned by Nicole Blood), and Hilton dominates with just 17 points at their Section meet. Saratoga is nearly as dominant in their sectional. Next was the narrow one-point escape by Saratoga at the 11/12 state meet. With Hilton sitting out the NY Federation meet 11/19, the rest of the state folded by 85 points, as Saratoga tallied just 53 in a meet that is easy to score a lot quickly.
Roxbury used a different strategy than Saratoga and Hilton. Hosting the Roxbury Inv, a class race on 9/17, they only started four of their top five, and three finished, with #1 Jenn Ennis stopping to prevent an injury. A week later, missing another top five runner and accommodating a college visit, they lost a meet to NJ rival Morris Knolls. A repeat performance against Morris Knolls a week later at the Shore Coaches meet at Holmdel Park dropped them out of the top 10 in the Northeast rankings. But not to worry, coach Sherry Sikora had a plan. Get healthy! And if you can't beat Morris Knolls the first two times, then beat them the next five. And that's what they did, first at their conference meet, then county's, then sectionals, then groups and finally at the Meet of Champs, where they set a new team average record by a ton - 19:08.40, beating a record they had set just the week before at Groups. It was a big time performance.
But while most of the boys teams competing (or potentially competing) at NTN were resting by sitting out the Northeast Foot Locker Regional on 11/26, most girls on NTN or soon-to-be-invited NTN teams were running. Saratoga wasn't entirely a surprise. Both senior Lindsey Ferguson and sophomore Hannah Davidson had qualified for the Foot Locker Finals in 2004, along with then-teammates Nicole Blood and Caitlin Lane. Last year, the Saratoga girls were successful at NTN because they had both Blood and Lane. This year, they don't have that margin for error. Both Blood and Lane are going to the Foot Locker Finals again. And so are Ferguson and Davidson. But the current #1 and #2 Saratoga runners have NTN in between, and have raced, as they did in 2004, at Sectionals, States, Federations and Foot Locker Regionals on consecutive weeks.
With that said, you'd be inclined to give the advantage to Hilton, which opted out of the Federation meet to get healthy and ready themselves for NTN. But Hilton Coach Mike Szczepanik, believing his team needed a race to stay sharp for NTN after the two week layoff, raced Amanda Griggs at Regionals, along with the rest of his top five in the Seeded Race and #6 runner in the Senior Race. Griggs was clearly having some problems, and finished the race in the #3 spot for Hilton, just as she had at States. This time it wasn't illness or the persistent shin problems, but her foot. So in the real race at Van Cortlandt, Saratoga vs. Hilton went SS: 1-2-5-6-9 (24), H: 3-4-7-8-10 (32). If Griggs is healthy, it's close. Roxbury may be ready to pass both. Only #1 Jenn Ennis raced at Regionals, where she finished 18th.
These seven teams are strong. It's a good year in the Northeast... and it may get even better at NTN.
by Ben Ackerly, Southeast Region Editor
SOUTHEAST BOYS (w/ preseason ranking)
1. Chapel Hill XC Club NC (#7)
For a region with nowhere to go but up after last year’s dismal showing at NTN, Jack Bolas and Ryan Workman should give the Southeast a strong presence up front in Saturday’s first championship race. Bolas, fresh off a comfortable 3 rd-place finish in the Foot Locker South regional at 14:54, and Workman, 12 th at 15:23 in the same race, appear to be in top form heading to Portland. Still, as has been the case all season, how well Chapel Hill fares will depend largely on the performances of Duncan Hoge, Miles Rampel and Taylor Muir, all of whom will have to show more than they did this past weekend at McAlpine Park for Chapel Hill to fare well at NTN.
Chapel Hill’s 3 rd place finish at Great American in late September, behind NTN-bound Saratoga Springs NY and NE#9 Warwick Valley, put the Tigers atop the regional rankings to stay. But Hoge, who finished 3 seconds behind Workman at Great American in late September, has not been the same runner since due to illness, and, on November 5 th, Chapel Hill won its state meet by just 1 point over SE#4 Pinecrest NC. Since then, said Tigers Coach Ron Olsen, “Training has been fine and everyone seems to be ready as far as health goes.”
Of course, Olsen added, how that translates on race-day remains to be seen: “They’re pretty frisky right now – they ‘know’ what they’re up against. Though I don’t think they do know – you can’t until you get there and actually run the race.”
Chapel Hill NTN roster (w/ results from Foot Locker South, if applicable):
Jack Bolas, 12 th (14:54 – 3 rd in seeded race)
Ryan Workman, 12 th (15:23 – 14 th in seeded race)
Duncan Hoge, 12 th (16:01 – 65 th in seeded race)
Miles Rampel, 11 th (16:50 – 169 th in seeded race)
Taylor Muir, 11 th (16:38 – 150 th in seeded race)
Jack Marshall, 10 th (17:21 – 58 th in sophomore race)
Peter Anderson, 10 th
Jor dan Gottschalk, 12 th (17:11 – 62 nd in senior race)
2. St. X XC Club, Louisville KY (---)
Unranked and off the radar at the start of the season, St. Xavier used a strong showing at Great American – 5 th overall and 2 nd from the region – to move into position for a possible NTN bid. Xavier’s front three of Scott McClain, Thomas Davis and Brian Long, though not as formidable as Chapel Hill’s, are among the region’s best, and the depth on the back end is unmatched in the Southeast.
Those going to Portland all raced this past weekend to sharpen up, including a few at Foot Locker South in Charlotte. McClain, with an eye on San Diego, went with the leaders at McAlpine and blew up in the second half, coming home 89 th at 16:11. “When top 10 is what matters, you might as well go for it,” Xavier Coach Check Medley said later. Xavier #3 Long finished 29 th at 15:36.
“Everyone is at 100%,” Medley said, assessing the team as it makes final preparations for NTN.
“All we can do now is line up and run.”
St. X NTN roster (w/ results from Foot Locker South, if applicable):
Scott McClain, 12 th (16:11 – 89 th in seeded race)
Thomas Davis, 12 th
Brian Long, 11 th (15:36 – 29 th in seeded race)
Sean Brotzge, 12 th
Justin Bowling, 11 th (16:35 – 29 th in junior race)
Daniel Schneider, 12 th
Dallas Stoller, 11 th
Paul Schlich, 12th
SOUTHEAST GIRLS (w/ preseason ranking)
1. Greenbelt XC Club MD (#10)
Entering this past weekend, Greenbelt Coach Desmond Dunham said training had been “great” and that his team is “the healthiest that we have ever been from 1 though 8.” Greenbelt (a.k.a. Eleanor Roosevelt) tuned up for its trip to Portland by competing in the Foot Locker Northeast regional in Van Cortlandt Park this past Saturday, though, to keep his athletes from overextending themselves, Dunham held his girls out of the seeded race.
Greenbelt has been focused on NTN since the end of the track season, and Dunham has structured all of the team’s workouts and races with December 3 in mind, so this is one team that should be in top form when the gun goes off at 11:30 a.m. “The girls set out to make it to NTN and have not veered off that mission. Their eyes are on the prize, and they have been very impressive in their preparations.”
Addressing the low opinion many have of the region’s cross-country talent – and Roosevelt in particular has been a target of skeptics – Dunham had this to say: “I am confident that Episcopal and [Greenbelt] will surprise some and change the opinions of many. And of course, we love being the underdogs.”
“We will be great ambassadors for Maryland as well as for our region.”
Greenbelt NTN roster (w/ results from Foot Locker Northeast, if applicable):
Marika Walker, 11 th (19:16 – 1 st in junior race)
Dominique Lockhart, 10 th (19:35 – 1 st in sophomore race)
Teshika Rivers, 9 th (19:14 – 2 nd in freshman race)
Jennifer Redman, 11 th (20:18 – 14 th in junior race)
Tunisia Milner, 12 th (21:46 – 37 th in senior race)
Tyreka Arrington, 9 th (20:46 – 10 th in freshman race)
Angelita Yarborough 9 th (22:24 – 43 rd in freshman race)
Christine Danielson 11 th
2. Episcopal XC Club, Jacksonville FL (#4)
Maggie Traylor’s strong showing at the Foot Locker South regional on Saturday – she finished 22 nd at 17:57 – bodes well for a team that has competed without a true #1 all season. Laura Steel, whose 18:28 at Foot Locker was hardly a sub-par effort, finished first for Episcopal at Great American, where the team finished 2 nd overall behind NTN-bound Saratoga Springs NY. But all season Episcopal Coach Michelle Krueger has been happy to let the girls take turns at point as the Eagles overwhelmed all comers in Florida. If this deep and very young group can draft off Traylor on Saturday – all season they’ve run as a pack – Episcopal could surprise some of the bigger names this weekend.
“These girls are so motivated,” Krueger said of her precociously talented bunch, which includes three 8 th graders.
“They want to do their best to represent Florida and the Southeast.”
Episcopal NTN roster (w/ results from Foot Locker South, if applicable):
Maggie Traylor, 10 th (17:57 – 22 nd in seeded race)
Katie Traylor, 8 th (10:50 3K – 1 st in 13-14 race)
Laura Steel, 10 th (18:28 – 45 th in seeded race)
Leslie Blackshear, 8 th (11:09 3K – 2 nd in 13-14 race)
Emily Ingham, 11 th
Brooke Hardington, 9 th (19:44 – 31 st in freshman/sophomore race)
Mary Catherine Ingham, 8 th
Hadley Ferguson, 11 th
by John Sullivan, South Region Editor
CORPUS CHRISTI KING TX
Corpus Christi King won it’s first state title this year as Texas enjoyed a season of traditional powers vs the up & coming programs. A Houston-area boys team had captured every 5A cross country title since 1984. This 21-year streak, which included 10 victories for The Woodlands, 9 for Kingwood and 2 for MacArthur, ended with King’s victory for “south Texas.” The state meet was even at 71-71 through 5 with King’s 6th man jr Ryan Quezada breaking the tie. “I’m up in the clouds,” said King Coach Tom Castillo after the win. “We knew it would be close, but not that close!”
The team is primarily made up of seniors who’ve run together since junior high. Years of hard work paid off with a 5th place at state last year and now the championship. But they had their sights set higher. “Great American was a great experience last year. I told the team if you want to travel this year you’ve got to earn it (Nike Team Nationals),” said Castillo. And earn it they did. An undefeated season up until a minor setback at Regional (4 point loss) and then the state title to wrap up the NTN invitation. This steady veteran team will be ready to run.
FLOWER MOUND TX
Flower Mound was picked to be very good with all 7 back from the #5 South team. They performed well all season including a 107-116 loss to Corpus Christi King at the McNeil Invite held on the state meet course on October 1 st. That set up the state meet rematch which was even closer with Flower Mound just missing on the 6 th man tiebreaker. Great season indeed for a school that’s only existed for 6 years!
The team has been training on it’s own for the last 3 weeks. Team leader sr J B Lagos, a recent U of Oklahoma signee, was 38 th at Foot Locker South. Coach Herbert Perez reports, “Everyone is healthy and ready to go at NTN. I wouldn’t miss it and am excited to be going to watch. I’ve only been out of Texas once in my life to visit my son at school in Pittsburgh.”
SOUTHLAKE CARROLL TX
It’s been a dream season for Southlake Carroll. Expectations were high with 6 back from last year’s #2 South team that was 8th at NTN. This group was joined by a terrific freshman and the state 3A champ moved into town.
The Dragon’s squad met those high expectations with a 47-56 state meet win over tough rival Kingwood. Seniors Brooke Upshaw (NTN 11th, Foot Locker finalist, 4:53/10:38 PRs) and sr Miranda Walker (NTN 14th, Foot Locker finalist, 4:53/10:32 PRs) finished 1-3. Coach Robert Ondrasek said, “The girls had a big race at the right time. Tara Upshaw (Brooke’s freshman sister) and Christina Ferber both had 15 second PRs.” At this past weekend’s Foot Locker South meet both Walker and Upshaw qualified for a return trip to San Diego with Tara Upshaw recording a fine 19 th place finish. And they’ll be joined by sophomore teammate Colby Lowe who qualified on the boy’s side.
Kingwood welcomed 4 back from last’s year state winner and NTN 7 th. Add in the formidable depth at the younger levels for this perennially strong program and the ingredients were in place for another superb season.
Finishing 2nd at state to a loaded Southlake Carroll team was a fine performance to cap off a great campaign overall. However Kingwood is still looking for that perfect race in part because their leader sr Danielle Selner fell in the 1st mile at state and soph Lauren Brady suffered a concussion after falling on the initial start which was recalled.
Coach John Barr says, “The team is healthy and has been training well including a slight bump in mileage after state.” Last year the team felt a bit “distracted” by all the excitement of the NTN experience. The returners sat down with the rest of the team to discuss ways to have fun, but still get the job done on Saturday. And with a fully recovered Selner and Brady they’ll be looking for that perfect race this week.
by Scott Bush, Midwest Region Editor
Elmhurst XC Club, Elmhurst, Illinois (York)
Key Contributors: Matt Dettman (Sr.), Eric Dettman (Sr.), David Montgomery (Sr.), Michael Fry (Jr.), Nick Kuczwara (Jr.), Tom Achtein (So.), Tim Jung (Jr.), Lionel Montenegro (Sr.), Ron Stefani (Sr.).
Season Summary: Last year Elmhurst won the first ever Nike Team Nationals. This year, Elmhurst is primed and ready once again to travel to Portland and show their strength. A season which started with some controversy ended with one of the most dominating performances in Illinois cross country history, as Elmhurst won their state meet with a mere 49 points and had five all-state finishers (top twenty-five) and the twenty-sixth place finisher.
All season long the focus for Elmhurst was state and NTN. Led by the Dettman Brothers, Elmhurst dominated every meet they ran at. The last weekend of September is the annual coming out party for Elmhurst, where they open up their season at the Palatine Invitational. Not only did Elmhurst beat a slew of top ranked teams, but also scored 57 points. As any cross-country enthusiast can see, York improved leaps and bounds by the end of the season, scoring a lower point total at the state meet than they did at the Palatine Invitational. They finished their regular season undefeated and running their best.
With two frontrunners in Matt Dettman and Eric Dettman (who are the only two runners in the history of Illinois to have four state team titles to their name), and a rash of superior talent behind them, Elmhurst will once again be the team to beat at Nike Team Nationals.
NTN Thoughts: The defending champions return four of their key guys off of last year?s squad and have a bunch of new faces. Elmhurst has been gearing up for this meet all season long, and if they run as well as they did last year, they will be tough to beat. Elmhurst is one of the favorites, the pressure is on, and this crew is looking forward to finally getting a chance to prove they are the best once again.
Warren XC Club, Indianapolis, Indiana
Key Contributors: De'Sean Turner (Jr.), Ondraius Richardson (Jr.), Tim Armstrong (Sr.), Cody Smith (Jr.), James Hodges (Sr.), Micah Aldridge (So.), Caleb Pack (Fr.).
Season Summary: An undefeated season, capped off with a state championship, was all part of the sweetest season in Warren's history. Week after week it seemed that Warren took on the best in Indiana and beat them all each time. Warren won the prestigious Culver Invitational and the Carmel Invitational, with the latter race hosting three other top eight regionally ranked squads. All season long Warren showed no vulnerabilities. With De'Sean Turner running as one of the top two runners in the state, and with a great 2-3 combination of Ondraius Richardson and Tim Armstrong, Warren was set up front. The question marks came after that however. As the weeks progressed key contributors like Cody Smith and James Hodge became valuable assets in the last two scoring spots. Warren started off the season very young, with only two seniors in their top seven, as they dominated early. Many teams with such youth would collapse as the season carried on, getting tired and fatigued, but not Warren. They ran strong all the way through state and even this past weekend, they ran fairly well at the Footlocker Midwest Regional meet. An undefeated and championship season sets this squad up perfectly for a strong showing at nationals.
NTN Thoughts: This team is young and inexperienced when it comes to these big time races. Warren ran in the biggest meets in Indiana all season long, which will help, but their only other big time meet was the Footlocker Midwest Regional meet, where they ran fairly well, with De'Sean Turner qualifying for Footlocker Nationals. Many people are predicting Warren to finish near the bottom. This team has been training hard since they won their state meet and should be running with a chip on their shoulder, proving to everyone that they belong in Portland.
Westfield XC Club, Westfield, Indiana
Key Contributors: Maggie Bingham (So.), Kristina Krasich (Jr.), Breanne Ehrman (So.), Kaitlyn Love (Fr.), Katlin Luter (Sr.), Annie Monardo (Fr.) and Heather Beard (Jr.).
Season Summary: Despite losing a few key races throughout the year, Westfield raced their best at the end of the season when it mattered most and came away with a decisive state championship, catapulting them to a NTN birth. Led by the fantastic duo of frontrunners in Maggie Bingham and Kristina Krasich and the magnetic 3-4 combination of Breanne Ehrman and Kaitlyn Love, Westfield had one of the best 1-4 tandems throughout the season. They lacked a solid fifth runner most of the year though, due to injury and various other reasons, hence why they lost a few meets. However, once they got their fifth runner going they really turned it around. The meet where things started going their way was the Culver Invitational, where they tied, then MW #3 Carmel IN, only losing the meet on the sixth person tiebreaker. Everything came together at the end of the season however, as Westfield ran away with the Indiana State Championship, beating runner-up Carmel by nearly forty points. Teams peak for the state meet and Westfield did a perfect job of doing so.
NTN Thoughts: Over half of their top five runners are currently playing basketball, which brings into question, just how good will this team be? A lack of conditioning since the state meet may hurt this team, or it may not. Westfield peaked at the proper time during the course of the year and if they reach that peak once again they will be vying for a top ten finish. One big plus is that their number five at the state meet was still getting in shape after coming back from an injury, with an extra five weeks of training, she could very well move up in the standings.
Naperville XC Club, Naperville, Illinois
Key Contributors: Shannon Phelan (Sr.), Maggie DeBerge (Jr.), Michelle Stratton (Fr.), Elle Metz (So.), Marissa Speckman (Fr.), Bekah Regenfuss (Sr.), Cindy Wu (Jr.) and Daphne Tice (Jr.).
Season Summary: After starting the season ranked in the top four in the Midwest, an early season loss to Palatine (who would go on to also be ranked in the top four), pushed this team out of the rankings. A key injury to senior leader Bekah Regenfuss also hurt the momentum of this squad. Luckily for Naperville, they had two outstanding freshmen step up at the right time. Senior Shannon Phelan led this team all season long. Phelan ran some mighty performances and towards the end of the year seemingly got stronger. As Phelan got stronger, her team became stronger. Regenfuss returned the last month of the season and added an extra spark of excitement. After roaring through their county meet, conference meet and regional meet, Naperville showed up to their sectional meet and performed huge! Scoring only 63 points and beating a handful of very highly ranked Illinois teams (four of the top six teams at state), Naperville headed to their state meet riding a wave of momentum. Racing with guts and shooting for glory, Naperville decimated the competition, racking up only 105 points, and easily beating runner-up Lockport Twp. by 83 points. Phelan led the way with a very impressive third place finish, while Maggie DeBerge, Michelle Stratton and Elle Metz all finished in the top forty.
Naperville finished their regular season stronger than any other team in the Midwest and showed that they were very worthy of an invitation to Nike Team Nationals. Carrying with them their last race, Naperville should be poised to travel to Portland and run the race of their lives.
NTN Thoughts: Naperville peaked at the right time of year, running their best race at the state meet. Frontrunner Shannon Phelan, who signed with the University of Illinois, will be looking for a top twelve finish, while the depth of the rest of the team will keep Naperville in the mix. Using a combination of youth and experience, this squad will more than likely pack it up at the beginning of the race and try to run with other teams? packs. A top ten team finish is not out of the question.
by Anthony Bozarth, Heartland Region Editor
Yankton (Heartlands #1 in both boys and girls)
Boys Roster -- Jon Williams - 12, Sean Fitzsimmons - 12, Sam Dannenbring - 12, Bryce Somer - 12, Aaron Steward - 12, Ty Dannenbring - 12, Brad Anderson - 10, Nate Hicks - 12
Girls Roster -- Betsy Bies - 12, Amanda Kuchta - 12, Ashley Storm - 12, Tiffany Leader - 11, Emily Smith - 11, Kristin Sternhagen - 10, Mariah Hofer - 8, Jade Steinberg - 10.
Both teams went undefeated on the season, with the girls capturing their third state title in as many years and the boys won their first state title since 1991, defeating Rapid City Stevens who had won 10 state titles in a row. For the second year in a row the Bucks & Gazelles captured the combined state championship. The Gazelles won their 4th straight conference title with a sweep of the top 7 places. The Bucks won their 7th conference title in the past 8 years.
5 Bucks and 7 Gazelles earned All-State and All-Class Elite 25 honors. Betsy Bies kept the AA individual title in Yankton for the fourth year in a row. 9 seniors made the Academic All-State team given to seniors who have earned a GPA of higher than 3.5 for their academic careers. Betsy Bies punched her ticket to the Foot Locker Finals with her runner-up finish at the Midwest Regionals in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The Bucks had seven runners run under 16:21 for 5,000 meters on the season. The Gazelles had seven runners run under 15:10 for 4,000 meters on the season.
The Bucks 8th and 9th runners, the frosh duo of Ben Pratt and Jens Lillevold, have decided to turn the 8th runner spot over to senior Nate Hicks, the 10th runner during the season. Pratt has run 16:41 and Lillevold has run 16:56 on the season. Nate Hicks has toyed with the 17:00 barrier a few times on the year. Senior Ty Dannenbring missed most of the early part of the season, while playing golf and helping the Bucks to a third place finish at the state golf touirnament, while he himself earned individual runner-up honors for the second year in a row. Last year Ty led the team to a state championship. Senior Ashley Storm, a converted 200-400 runner, is finishing her first season of cross country while splitting time as a starter on our volleyball team which won it's first state championship in VB this fall.
Girls - North Lakeville XC Club Lakeville MN (Lakeville North)
Probable roster at NTN and year in school: Elizabeth Yetzer, Sr., Solange Miller, Fr. , Marje Fergusun, Fr. , Laura Roach, Sr. , Brenna Carda, Fr. , Lindsay Broughten, Sr. , Brooke Campbell, Fr.
Team highlights this season: Lakeville North peaked perfectly to win the Minnesota AA title, scoring an 87-92 win over Roseville. Lakeville North was a close second to the Southwest #2 Rocky Mountain, Ft. Collins at the Griak meet in October, and won it's conference and district meets in Minnesota
Individual highlights and runners to watch for: Elizabeth Yetzer blazed to a 13:59 4k to easily win the Minnesota Class AA state title, and is the defending Nike Outdoor National two mile champion. She also qualified for the Footlocker Championships, placing ninth at the Midwest Regional last Saturday. Behind Yetzer's front-running win, the team featured a tight 60 second split between it's 2-6 runners over 4k at the Minnesota state meet, so Lakeville North has depth behind it's front running. Yetzer has proven she knows how to run well in big national class meets. The key will be how close the Lakeville North pack can stay to her, and how far up Yetzer can be in the front pack.
Boys - Willmar MN
Roster -- Abdi Awale 11 , Kaafi Adeys 11 , Mustafa Yusuf 11 , Mike Switzer 12 , Mohamed Bedel 11 , Dustin Geselius 12 , Paul Kimpling 12 , 8 th man: Jeff Sawatzky 12
Undefeated against all Minnesota competition. Ranked #1 in state all year. Only loss was a 1 point loss to Yankton at Augustana early in the season even though top 2 beat all of Yankton’s runners and 4 th man was right with their 2 nd’. Won sectional meet going 1-2-3 and 5 in top 9 averaging 16:16 on a fairly tough challenging course. First state championship for Willmar in XC.
Adeys and Awale are both sub 2 min 800 runners and like to run together keying off lead runners. The rest of the pack typically runs 40-45 seconds range from 1-5. The key to their finish will be how close Yusuf, Bedel, and Switzer can stay to our two top guys.
The Willmar boys had not won a meet of any kind for several years until last fall when they started coming on and finished 2 nd in state to Marshall, a team that finished in the top 10 in NTN’s inaugural year. Twice Willmar was within 10 pts or less of that Marshall team. They set 3 goals at last year’s state meet: To win state, to ranked top 25 in the nation, and to hopefully qualify for NTN. They did it.
by Steve Lurie, Southwest Region Editor
Fairview CO coach juggles baby and team
Mountain View UT principal paying own way
Rock Springs (pop. 12,000) is excited to be Wyoming's first NTN rep
Fort Collins solves mystery of the rankings process
Plain City has more time to prepare this year
Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...
National honor society, choir, and college visits....
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens...
Science projects, a basketball player, and artists...
These are a few of my -- and cross country runners' -- favorite things. There also is the baby girl Morgan born Thanksgiving Saturday. Morgan's mom, a first-time parent, is Teri Cady, coach of the Colorado 5A State champion Fairview girls who are running the Nike Team Nationals this Saturday in Portland, OR, as the Colorado Lady Knights. They are the cross country runners with some of those favorite things. Assistant coach David Liebowitz explained, "These are busy kids, and they've really had to juggle a lot of stuff to get away for this meet." And he named some of the above activities in which the girls are involved. "There's so much excitement between the baby and the trip."
The Lady Knights had difficulty putting everything together earlier in the season due to injury and illness, and the coaches were at least a little bit surprised -- happily -- at winning states. They are peaking at the right time.
Timing is important as well to the Plain City XC Club, making its second trip to the Portland Meadows race course, having run as the Kamatae XC Club in last year's inaugural NTN. "We were the 20th (and last) team invited last year," says Amber Tingey, coach of the Utah girls 5A state championship Fremont team. "So we were limited in our preparation and still managed a fifth place finish. We'll be better prepared this time."
There is considerable excitement in Plain City. "All of the parents are coming to the race this year," Tingey says. "On such short notice last year, none of them were able to attend. It will be good to have all that support out there.
"The girls are usually good at blocking out nerves and tension," she believes. That will be an important factor in the success of the Plain City XC Club.
The Rocky Mountain XC Club has been thinking about NTN since the end of the spring track season. "We knew we had three really good runners," remembers Rocky Mountain HS assistant coach Mike Maher. "And during outdoors we discovered a fourth."
Wins at Liberty Bell and Roy Griak helped show that an NTN invitation was possible. "Both were very competitive meets and we won by significant margins," Maher says. One runner not finishing at States was an unplanned bump on the course. "We're looking forward to the opportunity to show that our being ranked fifth nationally prior to states was accurate."
But Maher is looking way beyond NTN when he says, "I think the true impact that this meet to our program will be shown on our younger athletes for years to come," he says. One suspects this would please the sponsors.
This is a return engagement as well for the Mountain View XC Club following a fifth place last year. Where the Plain City XC Club returns six of last year's seven girls, the Mountain View boys have five new scorers in the top seven, including State 5A champion Adam McDonald who moved to Utah from California.
"We're thrilled to be back,"says Mountain View assistant coach James Robinson, speaking due to Utah's winningest coach ever Dave Houle's temporary unavailability. "There is an assembly Tuesday," he notes, "to honor these kids. There is a lot of excitement at school."
A rarity at NTN will be the presence, for a second year, of Richard Clark, principal of Orem's Mountain View High School. "State law," Robinson notes, "doesn't allow the school to pay for Principal Clark's trip. He is very supportive of all of the activities at Mountain View." It is likely Clark will be the lone principal in attendance.
The Fort Collins XC Club will be making its initial appearance in the national championships. And Fort Collins boys coach Chris Suppes is happy to have at least temporarily solved the mystery of the ranking/selection process. "Last year," he remembers, "our team had an incredible season, winning the state (Colorado 5A) championship by over 80 points. In the end, we actually dropped in the regional rankings. We were very surprised to have such a great season and such a great state meet and actually move down," he says without rancor.
And despite the loss of four seniors from that team, Fort Collins won the 5A crown and topped the regional rankings this year. "We focused a bit more on early season meets like Liberty Bell," Suppes says, "because we knew that it could be used in the final decision making process.
"Our kids are very excited about running this race," Suppes says. "It's their first race in four weeks. I think we're running well and we look forward to representing the state of Colorado."
The Rock Springs XC Club is Wyoming's first representative at NTN. According to coach Brad DeKrey, "There's a lot of excitement on the part of the faculty and parents." This is to be expected in a town of 12,000-plus.
"The kids are a little harder to read," he says. "I believe they want to go after this race. But they tend to low key most things, so I don't know for sure. I think they have a quiet confidence."
They've earned that confidence. There were fifth-man difficulties at some of the early invitationals, but by regionals and states, the 1-5 gap was reduced to well under a minute -- and that was with the first two runners breaking the Wyoming State cross country course record.
All of these teams have climbed every mountain -- and a few hay bales -- and forded every stream. They are ready and eager for the sound of the starter's pistol.
by John Gillespie, Northwest Region Editor
CENTRAL CATHOLIC XC Club OR
Central Catholic had a great state meet with Kenny Klotz winning again in an outstanding time of 15:35 (and by 21 seconds) on a rain soaked course that had five prior races. Central's 5th runner was 16th overall and ninth among team scorers. Additionally the frosh Turina was only 1:09 behind the winner (his teammate Klotz. However, the Key to an even better race at NTN will be Junior Kevin O’Malley’s 56th at 17:20 and Jr Co-Captain Sam Wopitka’s 135 (16th from last) in 18:42 was caused by a sore foot that ended with limping at the end. Both races were season low’s. All times by Central Catholic were slow and will be much improved on a faster course. To understand the significance of this team. They set an all-time State meet scoring record, besting South Eugene’s 1975 team led by Billy McChesney. I think the rest of the nation will undervalue Central Catholic and (Oregon Girl’s Champion Jesuit)
SPOKANE XC Club WA (Ferris)
Ferris had an excellent State meet. Sr Robert Cosby had a good meet with a fifth place finish although Steven Olsen is usually next to Cosby and he was 14 sec back. David Hickerson continued his end of season improvement, as did Cam Quackenbush and Pat Maloney. The key for Ferris will be continued improvement or finding a sixth runner.
MEAD XC Club WA
Although Mead is an At large Selection, they are still in the middle of the title chase. Mead had a great season but only an average State meet. And Mead is six deep with Kevin Daratha (former #4 at District) finishing 39th at state in 16:34
Boys Summary- All three teams could be in the hunt and represent the NW very well although not in any particular order
PORTLAND HARRIERS (JESUIT) OR
Jesuit had a great state meet to win with 60 points to 155 for second. However, their state meet was not unusual. They had a split of 19:28 for Katie Sullivan in 16th to Adrienne McGuirk in 27th at 19:37 with sixth runner at 30th in 19:57. Coach Rothenberger is deep with runners and will have a tough time deciding who will be his seventh runner. Look for Jesuit’s #8 to be a favorite for the Eighth runner race. This is a much better team than last season’s that was 16th. This team is underrated because of their lack of a front-runner and their relatively slow times on the Oregon State meet course slowed by a week of rain.
GIG XC CLUB WA (GIG HARBOR)
Gig Harbor started the Season ranked number 1 in the NW and maintained that ranking until the final week despite going undefeated including State. This team does not think they are #2. Gig wins with a strong front five, and they have been doing it all season. Unlike Jesuit, Gig Harbor has not met any of the other 3 NW teams
BOISE STRIDERS ID
The Idaho State Champions were only number 3 in the Northwest and needed an at large bid to make the NTN field. But in their one foray into the big time they defeated much of Oregon (including Jesuit) and Washington to easily win the Jim Danner Invitational in Portland in early October. Although they have a gap after their #4, Boise does have a couple of #5’s to choose from. And they do have legit front pack runner in Dana Morgan.
FAIRBANKS XC Club AK (West Valley)
The Alaskan State Champions (West Valley HS) were one of the last two at large teams selected but this is an outstanding team that just needs a chance. In their only venture outside of Alaskan they dominated the Adidas Classic in Portland defeating Jesuit with an 18:44 average. They even have a lead runner in Crystal Pitney who won the Alaskan State title by 26 seconds and was 2nd at The Adidas Classic.
Summary - The four girls teams are very different and could also finish in any order. Am not sure if a top three finish is possible but all of these four NW teams could be top ten and even higher.
by Mike Kennedy, California Region Girls Editor
Newport XC Club (Corona del Mar)
From the first meet of the season in September until the State championships last weekend, undefeated Corona del Mar has shown amazing consistency. The Sea Queens have impressive wins at Woodbridge, Stanford, Clovis, Orange County, Mt. San Antonio, Southern Section and finally the State Division III final. During that run they set all-time course records on the well traveled Clovis (the permanent State Site and once the home of the Kinney/Foot Locker West Regional) and Mt. San Antonio College circuits. Those two records are the main reason that Corona del Mar is considered by most observers to be the best California girls team of all time.
Annie St. Geme is the leader of the pack. The senior superstar, who has signed at Stanford, is following in the footsteps of her mother, Ceci Hopp, who had bests of 9:21.0 for 3,000 and 4:23.3 for 1,500 as a Connecticut prep in 1981, before heading off to Stanford, where she was an all-american and then on to a successful international career. The remaining six runners include three sophomores and three juniors. Sophomore Shelby Buckley, who was the defending Division III State champion at Rosary (Fullerton) before transferring to Corona del Mar during the summer, and fast improving junior Sarah Cummings, sophomore Alison Damon and junior Nicole Skykhous have given the Sea Queens a very potent top five. Sophomore Allison Gushue and junior Christie St. Geme round out the squad.
In contrast to Corona del Mar, Oak Park has spent almost the entire season just below the radar screen. After opening the season with the best team time in a grade level race at the Seaside Invitational and a win (no official scores but best time) at their own invitational, the Eagles avoided the sweepstakes at Stanford and split their squads at Clovis and the Mt. San Antonio invitationals. By the time of the Southern Section preliminaries the top five was fairly well set but the 1-5 gaps was still too wide at 1:34 to make the Eagles a challenger to Corona del Mar in the Southern Section Division III. However, over the next two weeks Oak Park finished second to Corona del Mar in the Southern Section final by 25 points with at 1:21 gap and finally in the State Division III final the Eagles closed the margin to just five points, 47-52 with a gap of just 43 seconds.
The Eagles started the season with sophomore Courtney Lightfoot as the team leader—a position she has never relinquished. Throughout the season junior Breeann Strenkowski, sophomore Marissa Diehl and senior Kelsey Connor all showed the ability to run as a fairly close group and within shouting distance of Lightfoot. The final piece of the grouping puzzle for Oak Park was fifth place. In the Southern Section prelims and finals sophomore Kristen Jackson was that fifth-place runner. In the prelims the gap was 1:03 between the Eagles’ 4 and 5, in the finals the margin dropped to 53 seconds. However, in the most important race of her regular season, Jackson must have exceed even her most ambitious goals by finishing just behind 16 second behind the No. 4 Eagle runner and as a result their 1-5 gap was a heart-stopping 43 seconds that resulted a close five point loss to Corona del Mar, the No. 1 ranked NTN team in the nation.
by Rich Gonzalez, California region boys editor
Simi Valley XC Club (Royal)
California Region Boys #1 The defending California State Division I champions and 4th-place finishers at the inaugural Nike Team Nationals, Simi Valley has thus far met the challenge in 2005 via establishing all-time course performances on two storied layouts -- the hilly, 2.91-mile Mt. SAC trek and the moderately challenging 5,000-meter Woodward Park state meet challenge. The group broke the Mt. SAC renovated course (since 1999) record with a 76:22 (15:16 average) clocking, then capped its high school season with a second successive California state meet crown in the second-fastest team time in state history, just 15 seconds off the all-time standard despite competing amid moderate winds.
Competing as Royal HS during the prep season, the crew posted brilliant winning results at the early-season Woodbridge Invitational, the interstate Stanford Invitational extravaganza, the gargantuan Mt. SAC Invitational affair, the CIF-Southern Section Finals and the state championships. The team is led into NTN by junior Michael Cybulski, the California state champion at 3200 meters (9:02.57 to pin a rare loss on eventual two-mile national champion Mark Matusak) and top sophomore finisher at the 2004 NTN meet. Simi West XC Club, hailing from the Ventura County region situated approximately an hour's drive from downtown Los Angeles, relies on sensational strength, with seniors Kevin Sullivan and Jason Pedersen leading a cast of five others that often interchange at the remaining four scoring positions. Simi Valley appears to be arriving in Portland relatively healthy, although Cybulski is set to have mid-September foot surgery to correct a bone spur ailment in one of his toes. Their chances of returning to the podium are excellent so long as they can duplicate their depth-impressive performances of thus far in 2005.
Carmichael XC Club (Jesuit)
California Region Boys #2 Carmichael XC is comprised of runners competing for Jesuit HS during the prep season, with the program boasting the most impressive resume in the state over the last two decades, including eight state titles and 14 consecutive CIF-Sac Joaquin Section titles. The program has a knack for peaking masterfully in postseason, despite occasionally succumbing to setback against powerful rivals each September. Sacramento XC performed well when it counted in 2005, winning the Clovis Invitational (handing a shorthanded Royal team its only defeat of the season) and placing third among California teams at the Stanford Invitational.
Under the tutelage of longtime master coach Walt Lange, has produced a number of excellent talents over the years, including eventual Olympian Michael Stember and the Mastalir twins. This pecking order for this year's crew has interchanged with regularity, although junior Evan Watchempino is perhaps the team's most consistent frontrunner. All seven top runners competed in last weekend's CIF-State Championships Division II win, this signaling the group is healthy as it arrives in Portland. This is Sacramento XC's first appearance at NTN.
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