Nike Team Nationals 2005
Dec 3, 2005 at Portland OR

Regional Editors


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by Don Rich, Northeast editor

Role Reversal. Saratoga boys win NTN. Girls 2nd. 
Amanda Griggs takes inspiration from older sister and teammates to lead Hilton to title.

You could see it in his eyes and in his expression as he surveyed the course 24 hours in advance of his team's second trip to the Nike Team Nationals as a representative from the Northeast. The rain was falling. The cold was gripping. The mud was getting deeper and more unforgiving with each passing hour.  And Fayetteville-Manlius coach Bill Aris was smiling. "Mother nature is turning this into a real cross country course."

All the teams from the Northeast and Midwest had to have much the same feeling. This was becoming more like home. And they ran like they were at home on this course. Northeast teams, which had sent four boys and three girls representatives in the race, took two of the top three in the boys mudfest, and the top two in the girls.

There were three main ingredients needed for success on a course like this: patience, guts and strength. But the teams that ultimately succeeded had something else – will. No two teams demonstrated more of the latter than the Saratoga Springs NY boys and the Hilton NY girls.

Coming out of the shadow of the Saratoga Springs girls team this season, the boys had decided in June that they had the talent to take a shot at the NTN title. They didn't dodge anyone or any challenge, losing twice to today's 3rd place team - fellow NY power Fayetteville-Manlius, and also losing along the way to today's #9 team CBA NJ. But ultimately, beating the #1 team in the country twice during the season – FM at their state meet, and York IL at NTN.

As she always does, Saratoga Springs coach Linda Kranick is quick to not just share the credit, but to divert the credit for the preparation of these great teams to her husband Art, and long-time assistant Ray Harrington. And as far are she was concerned, it was their job to simply get these boys to the line in good health and good shape. "We knew they wanted to do it. We knew they had the guts to do it. They did the work, and they wanted it more today." The decision to go for the national championship had been made in June, according to senior Greg Kelsey, who was the team's first finisher at 9th. "We knew if we all did the best we could, we'd win it." Both Kelsey; who qualified for Foot Lockers last week in NY; and Greg Kiley picked it up for the season-long #1 runner, Steve Murdock, who would finish 16th.

Fayetteville-Manlius found themselves in first after 1K, and that was not part of the plan. Last year, they had led York until the final K, and were caught. This year, they were the ones who wanted to do the catching. Aris wasn't worried, though, because his front-runner was Tom Gruenewald, "...a runner who never blows up." Plus, Aris figured, maybe others were going out even more conservatively. The vets from the 2004 race ran well. Season-long #5 Luke FitzGibbons would run 79th for FM this day, with Geoff King stepping in to take 69th. The tie-breaker would go to York, but Aris would give credit to FitzGibbons for contributing a lot to the team's 2005 success. "Without Luke, we don't have a Federation title and we don't have NTN." 

The second FM man today was Andrew McCann, who came back from some mid-season injuries to have his best race of the season, finishing 14th. McCann said that Aris had  told him the night before that "if I were to design a course for you, it would be this course." And for McCann, that was the confidence boost he needed. "The only thing I'd ask is for more hills."

Both Aris and Gruenewald were quick to give credit to Saratoga for their win. Aris says they were his pre-season pick to take the New York state title. And Gruenewald says he was extremely happy for Saratoga, and for New York. "We both deserved to place well. The strongest teams came out on top  today. None of us let it faze us. We just ran our races."

The other two Northeast teams placed well, with Christian Brothers NJ finishing 8th, a three place improvement on 2004, and Morris Hills taking 13th, after finishing 4th in the Northeast Region.

Proof that 'every teammate counts' is much more than a slogan.

Proving that every teammate counts is more than just a slogan, Hilton delivered on their own early-season goals and potential, becoming the first team to beat perennial US#1 Saratoga Springs in years. And they did it with their #1 girl running one of the most courageous races you'll ever see.

Hilton had narrowly lost to Saratoga at Manhattan in October. They were one-point short at their state meet in mid-November. But while they were getting close, they had a problem. #1 runner Amanda Griggs was beginning to experience more of the shin splint symptoms that had completely sidelined her in 2004. Coach Mike Szczepanik pocketed the one-point win and worked to get Griggs and the rest of his team totally healthy. They decided to race the Foot Locker Northeast last week as a tune-up, and while juniors Allison Sawyer and Caroline Schultz ran well, placing in the top 15, Griggs apparently overcompensated for the shin injury, and sustained a soft tissue injury on the bottom of her foot. When she arrived in Portland Thursday, she was on crutches. Official word was that she had received treatment, and was simply being smart and staying off the foot. But seeing one of your most important runners on crutches, no matter what the reason, has to be of concern.

Griggs had a secret weapon – the inspiration she has received from her older sister, Shannon, who had been unable to run for two years prior to this season because of injuries. Shannon now runs for Geneseo, a division III power. In November, Shannon and her team won the NCAA Division III cross country championship. Amanda simply figured that it was not only her turn, but that she owed her sister for her support.

Just off her crutches, Amanda raced. "I was very nervous. I knew if I stayed with Caroline and Allison, we would definitely win. But I had doubts because they took it out so fast. I didn't feel like it was fast, so I just told myself I could do this. The first time over the hills I gained some confidence." But the second time over, she heard a Hilton fan tell her that Schultz was having some trouble. "That got me going." 

She was already in pain, but at at that point it got worse "*I felt a tearing in the bottom of my foot, and my shin was hurting."

None of it stopped her. Griggs caught Schultz. Schultz passed her back. Griggs was thinking, "I'm slowing down." But Schultz was thinking, "I couldn't move and Amanda came up and encouraged me. I decided to hold my position, no matter how hard it would be. I just dug in." Griggs recovered, passed Schultz again, and led her to the finish as the two ran 12th and 13th. Sawyer had finished in 8th, after spending the race chasing Foot Locker finalist Hannah Davidson of Saratoga Springs. "And  when I heard that Caroline and Amanda were just behind me, I just pushed. It's phenominal. I knew she (Griggs) had it in her. She won it for us." As Griggs crossed the line she said her first thought was that they really were national champions.

While there are varying theories about the source of the dream to win NTN, Schultz says she first broached the subject in June. Amanda picked up on the idea. And as they got closer and closer to Saratoga Springs in races, the entire team decided it wasn't just an impossible dream. It should become a goal.

Readying themselves for NTN, as with any big race, Hilton practices what they will race. Szczepanik says when the Earth Science department at their school wanted to do topographic map work, they put in hills that looked a lot like the NTN hills. "We did intervals off of those. We bought hay bales. And with the snow and cold and rain, it was muddy. It is something we do, gearing workouts for race conditions."

Coming in as defending national champions, Saratoga Springs was coming back over the final kilometer, but finished 27 points shy. The 3rd Northeast representative, Roxbury NJ, finished in 9th place, the same as in 2004.

"This is why Nike created this thing."

Both Szczepanik and Aris had some great support from their home school districts.  So much so that their athletic directors made the trip west to offer their support. Hilton AD Denny Wilcox described the team in identical terms as Griggs had after her race, as "family."  The school and community did a big sendoff, and Wilcox says he often hears other coaches saying that if their teams were as dedicated to a purpose like the cross country team, they could do great things.

Hilton AD Rich Roy was a cross runner and coach before assuming his current duties. His appreciation extended to the event itself, "all the other sports' championships are mythical. Today it's all settled out here."\=]--[[\\\\\\=
Both AD's know that they have great coaches, and remarkable kids on their teams. Traveling from New York to Portland for a cross country meet on a cold and muddy course tells you they plan to keep the quality coming.

But Aris probably put it best when he looked out over the course for a second year after coming close to winning the NTN title and after making the rounds to congratulate the other New York teams. "This is why Nike created this thing. It's the way it should be. Tough. Nasty. Muddy. And no excuses. I'm already thinking about next year." 



by Ben Ackerly, Southeast editor

Region on the rise? Southeast exceeds expectations at NTN II

PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 3 – “Hey, we didn’t finish last.”

So said a shivering St. Xavier KY Coach Chuck Medley, moments after watching his Louisville XC Club finish 17 th at the 2005 Nike Team Nationals. No, it wasn’t a top-10 finish, something Medley thought might not be out of reach if everything fell into place. Chapel Hill NC XC Club, which finished 12 th behind runner-up Jack Bolas, and girls championship qualifiers Greenbelt MD (11 th) and Jacksonville FL (14 th) also failed to crack the top 10.

But in a region accustomed lately to bringing up the rear, the performances turned in by the Southeast’s four representatives count as something of a win.


Chapel Hill’s Bolas, fresh off a 3 rd-place finish in the Foot Locker South regional, was expected to contend for the individual title, though conditions at Portland Meadows on Saturday could not have been less like those at McAlpine Park in Charlotte, NC, a week earlier. On a cold and wet weekend in Portland, when it seemed like the sun was the only star not in attendance, conditions did not necessarily suit the lanky Chapel Hill senior and his dangerous kick. “My strength is my speed,” Bolas said. “I really rely on my kick, and in these conditions it’s hard to get it going.”

At the start of the boys race, the temperature was 39 degrees, it was drizzling, and much of the course was ankle deep in mud or under water altogether.

Bolas, who like many competitors had taped his shoes to his ankles, moved to the front early and for the first half of the race seemed content to bide his time just off the lead. “I didn’t want to lead, but I wanted to be in the lead pack,” Bolas said. By midway, Bolas, Kenny Klotz of Central Catholic OR and Noah Shannon of Fort Collins CO had gapped the rest of the field, with Shannon pressing the pace. “I was right where I wanted to be,” Bolas said. “I felt strong.”

Coming off the mogul section for the final time – the four artificial humps were the only dry portion of the course – Bolas surged to the lead. Then, approaching the 4K mark, Bolas tripped on one of the hay bale obstacles and hit the turf, sliding in the mud as Klotz and Shannon shot by. “With all the mud, it was a little hard to get up,” said Bolas, who had lost about 5 seconds by the time he regained his feet.

Still, Bolas quickly caught the lead pair, and soon Shannon was dropped. Klotz was driving, though, powering through the muck, and when Bolas, on Klotz’s shoulder with about 250 meters to go, turned to his kick it wasn’t there. “I felt like one of those cartoon characters,” Bolas said, “with my wheels spinning.”

Bolas, who hit the chute 4 seconds back of Klotz at 16:29, was soon back on the course to cheer for his teammates. Ryan Workman was next in at 17:22 (34 th), followed by Duncan Hoge at 17:43 (60 th). Taylor Muir, 106 th at 18:28, and Miles Rampel (115 th at 18:42) rounded out a top 5 that, projected to finish 16 th by the thorough pre-race analysis, finished 12 th with 317 points.

“It was definitely a new experience,” Workman said. “Every step of the way you’re really working hard.”

Scott McClain paced Louisville with a 29 th-place finish at 17:19. Said McClain, in what had to be the understatement of the day, “It was a little sloppy.”

“It was pretty tough,” he added. “With about 2K left, I felt like I was going to just sink into the mud.”

Thomas Davis, 46 th at 17:33, and Brian Long, 1 second back in 48 th, quickly filled in. An off-day by #4 Sean Brotzge (121 st at 18:48), cost the team in the final standings, though #5 Justin Bowling (122 nd at 18:49) came through with a big race to secure an improvement on the team’s 18 th-place projection.

“We’re somewhere in the top 15 if everyone runs well, but everyone can say that,” said Medley, who, thanks to a superstition that dates to 1993, followed the race wearing shorts and seemed almost as miserable as his mud-splattered charges by the end of the race. “I’m real proud of these boys.”


By the time the girls toed the line, 90 minutes after the boys start, the mercury had climbed to 40 and the rain had temporarily abated. Neither Greenbelt MD (whose athletes compete for Eleanor Roosevelt) nor Jacksonville FL (Episcopal) was projected to crack the top 12 – Jacksonville, in fact, was expected to finish dead last – but that didn’t stop Greenbelt’s top three of Marika Walker, Dominique Lockhart and Teshika Rivers from mixing it up near the front.

“For us, the harder the course the better,” Walker had said on the eve of the race.

Through 3K, Greenbelt was holding tough at 10 th place in the team standings, but Lockhart, who was laid low by dehydration in the Maryland state meet and nearly collapsed in the final 400 meters, faded over the final mile. “She was the one runner we were worried about coming in,” Roosevelt Coach Desmond Dunham said of his star sophomore.

Walker would finish 20 th at 20:55, followed closely by Rivers in 26 th at 21:01. Lockhart held on for 51 st at 21:35, and Jennifer Redman (67 th at 21:58) and Tyreka Arrington (112 th at 23:01) rounded at a top 5 that finished with 276 points, 24 points shy of Fremont UT in 10 th.

Jacksonville, wearing matching white headbands and black long-sleeved shirts underneath their maroon singlets, and hoping for a top-15 finish, was led up front by Maggie Traylor, who lost one of her spikes in the mud somewhere around the 1K mark. “I wanted to lose the other one to make it even,” Traylor said. “Then I was thinking the rest of the race that, well, I’ll probably have to get it amputated.”

Shoeless Traylor hung tough and finished 35 th overall at 21:13 – “I got the feeling back in my foot pretty quickly,” she would say later. Laura Steel, 52 nd at 21:36 and Brooke Hardington, 64 th at 21:51, were next, followed by 8 th-graders Leslie Blackshear (76 th at 22:05) and Katie Traylor (86 th at 22:21).

“Delicious,” Blackshear described the mud in her mouth after learning of the team’s top-15 finish.


Last year at NTN, no team from the region finished higher than 15 th – and two finished 20 th. And despite some big names – Andrew Bumbalough (TN), the 2004 Foot Locker runner-up; Jenny Barringer, a top-10 finisher in 2003 and 2004; Bobby Curtis (KY); Bobby Lockhart (VA); Laura Stanley (NC) and, of course Alan Webb (VA) – the South Region has faired poorly as a group at Foot Locker Nationals as well: the boys were last the past two years and the girls were last the past four.

“We feel like this is a start for the Southeast,” Roosevelt’s Dunham said after Saturday’s race, noting that the top 5 for both his team and for Episcopal are expected to return for the 2006 season.

“We’re already thinking about next year.”

The Wisconsin-bound Bolas, for his part, was not looking so far ahead. “NTN was an ideal way to end the season,” he said, “[but] I don’t feel like I can walk off after this one.”

Looking ahead to next weekend’s Foot Locker race in San Diego, Bolas added, “I need this one more race. I want to leave it all out there.”


by John Sullivan, South editor


CARROLL XC CLUB (3rd place)

The dream season continued for the girls from Southlake TX. An undefeated school season followed by a 9-10-19 finish at Foot Locker South gave the team a lot of confidence. Yet even with 6 back from last year’s NTN 8th place team this squad was often overlooked and underrated in pre-race predictions and national rankings.

In a tell-tale sign of good things to come Carroll fr Caitlin Gilbert took 2nd in the 8th man race earlier in the day coming up just short in a spirited battle with a Saratoga girl.

In the main event the team was out quickly with 2-time Foot Locker finalists seniors Miranda Walker and Brooke Upshaw (state champ) running 7-8 at the 1000m split followed by fr Tara Upshaw (Brooke’s sister) in 14th. By 2K Miranda and Brooke had joined the lead breakaway pack of 5, which also ended up as the final top five, and both finished well to capture 3rd and 4th. Tara held on for 23rd place - the top freshman in the field. Another fine effort saw sr Christina Ferber working her way up from 70th at 1K to finish 28th. With jr Kirsten Brown in 65th to round out the scoring, along with Morgan Kuykendall in 84th and jr Emily Denny in 93rd (only one other team had 7 in before Carroll), it all added up to 123 points, the 3rd place trophy and the fastest average time of any team.

“The race went out fast which is good because that’s what we train for, said Miranda Walker. “It was good to have last year’s experience. We knew what the course was like. The scene was kind of intimidating last year with the introductions and the big screens. This year we knew what to expect. We had no idea what place we’d finish. We were ranked 8th coming in so we’re pumped to get 3rd. And we’re excited about having the fastest average time.”

Brooke Upshaw commented, “We knew we had to get out fast. It helped to run Foot Locker South last week because we hadn’t run a 5k in a while ( Texas girls run 3200). My toes felt like they had frost bite, but they warmed up once the race started. It definitely helped to have the South boys yelling for us during the race.”

Tara Upshaw said, “I came with my family to watch (older sister Brooke) last year. It was fun running through the mud. This was coldest and muddiest race I’ve ever been in. The hills were the easiest part since they weren’t muddy.”

Regular season coach Robert Ondrasek stated, “With the course the way it was today it was anyone’s race. You knew going in that whoever overcame the cold and the rain had a good chance to place high.”


Kingwood TX was looking for a top 10 finish after a close 2nd to Southlake Carroll in the Texas state meet and last year’s NTN 7 th. It was not to be today as Kingwood ended up 16th. The team didn’t seem to get out well and it was difficult to move up in the race conditions.

Kingwood was led all season and today by sr Danielle Selner (53rd) who commented, “I’m disappointed, thought I’d do better. I think I got a little down about the race conditions. It was tough to get into my race rhythm while worrying about my footing each step. Though we’re disappointed today we had a great season and progressed all year. I’m really proud of our team and to be on it. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

Soph Jessie Porter added, “We were hoping to be in the top 10. I had a pretty good race today, maybe my best of the season. The mud was tough, but it was a great experience and the race was fun. I missed last year’s meet with a stress fracture.”



Corpus Christi King TX won it’s first state title this year, but met some stiffer competition today. Sr Ben Haby had a standout performance in 31st which bettered his 32nd at the state meet.

“It was incredibly muddy,” said Haby. “We talked about going out hard. I actually started in the 2nd row, but moved up quickly (9th at the 1K). We were ranked 18th or 19th, and got 16th, so we aren’t too upset. The atmosphere here was great. I had family members from Portland watching today that I haven’t seen since I was 8 years old and that was motivating.”

Sr Ari Perez said, “It was a soggy, soggy race. I wore the wrong spikes (too short) so it was tough. Thursday was like a dream (when they arrived). Last year we were in Corpus watching NTN on TV and never thought we’d be on the starting line now. It’s like a dream, but we didn’t even dream we’d be here. Glad I ended my high school cross country career in a race like this. I had the time of my life.”

Former Olympian and current American steeplechase record holder Henry Marsh spoke at Friday’s dinner.

Perez added, “We were surprised when Marsh mentioned last night that he had attended our high school. (King) Coach Tom Castillo had mentioned Henry Marsh before, one of those ‘way back when stories’, but we had forgotten. That was exciting”


Flower Mound TX had a great school season which concluded with a best-ever State meet 2nd. The team then trained on it’s own for the last 3 weeks to prepare for NTN.

Flower Mound sr J B Lagos commented, “The race was interesting. I tried to have fun, but it was challenging. My feet were frozen before the race even started. Wish I would have run and practiced in muddy conditions. He added, “We were ranked about 20th coming in. It would have been nice to finish higher of course, but 20th place in the nation is still good and we’ll accept that.


by Scott Bush, Midwest editor

Naperville Girls Are the Surprise of the Day!
  Coming into the day, Naperville, Illinois was not considered a top ten team by most people.  Fans from Illinois and the team itself thought they could finish top ten, maybe even top seven, but most everyone else discounted them.  However, while the day may have been sub-par, the Naperville team did outstanding, surprising even themselves as they finished a fantastic fourth place overall in the girls race, scoring 133 points, only 21 points out of second place.
  Team chaperon Rick Regenfuss stated, "we didn't talk about where we would finish at all, we were hoping for the top ten, but we certainly didn't expect the top five."  Coming into Saturday's race, Naperville was ranked twentieth in the current Harrier rankings. 
  At the first kilometer, it was apparent that Naperville was running very well.  They were top five at the early thousand meter mark and using their trademark racing tactic of starting off rather conservatively and moving up, the Illinois people in attendance were quite excited for the rest of the race and the potential outcome. 
  Shannon Phelan (a senior, who has signed with the University of Illinois) ran a phenomenal race and finished up in sixth place.  The other six girls in the top seven all have qualified for Footlocker Nationals. After the race Phelan commented, "we tried not to go out too hard, and just wanted to get into the race at the mile."  That plan was executed perfectly, as the Naperville 2-5 runners packed it up nicely much of the way, helping each other pick off other teams' runners.  Elle Metz had a huge race, finishing second for her team in 21st place, while junior Maggie DeBerge was 25th.  Freshmen sensations Michelle Stratton and Marissa Speckmann closed out scoring in 38th and 43rd place. 
  Stratton remarked, "Coming into the race people didn't respect us.  Well, we wanted to come out here and prove them wrong and have fun.  We knew we were going to be in it."  Well they were in it, ran a tough race and did an amazing job, all the while having fun.  At the end of the race all the girls sat in a giant mud puddle, laughing and slinging mud at each other.  Oh the fun of cross country.  The surprise of the meet was Naperville, and it was a great way to finish up on an excellent season. 
Westfield Produces Despite Absence of Top Runner!
  Any time a team is without one of their top two runners, you may expect that they would not run up to par.  With two other girls playing basketball and not running as much as they did in season, you may think that would hurt the team as well.  Westfield, Indiana had just that working against them Saturday, but it didn't effect them as much as some people thought.  Westfield placed thirteenth overall, with a score of 302 points. 
  "We've had people injured and people moving in and out of our varsity all season," coach Scott Lidskin said after the race.  With their 1/2 girl sitting at home playing basketball, Westfield had to overcome quite a bit.  Their other 1/2 runner, Maggie Bingham (So.), stepped up and ran an outstanding race, finishing 14th overall and really leading her team.  Bingham commented, "I loved the course, having the obstacles and mud.  I knew we didn't have to go out fast, so I just ran the best I could."
  Other scorers for Westfield were sophomore Breanne Ehrman in 48th place, freshman Kaitlyn Love in 54th place, junior Heather Beard in 80th place and junior Kimberly Robertson in 106th place.  Robertson was the story of the day for Westfield.  Lidskin stated, "Our number five girl today had not been on varsity since August."  Each year NTN has a handful of kids who really come through and are great surprises and this year Robertson was one of those.  Being your team's fifth runner at the national championship race, after not being in the top seven of your team since August is a great achievement. 
  Westfield put their stamp on a great season.  Finishing in thirteenth place, without one of your top runner, is fantastic.  Lidskin said, "We came into the meet like we have all season with the philosophy of just running gutsy and focused as we can.  We wanted to leave it out there and the kids did a great job."  That is the proper summary of the Westfield season and the team should be very proud.
Elmhurst Runs Well in Taking Second!
  A lot of pressure is placed on teams that are favored to finish in the top three at Nike Team Nationals, especially if they are the defending champions.  All fall, Elmhurst, Illinois had been one of the favorites to take home the top spot at NTN and on Saturday they did not disappoint.  Finishing second in the star-studded race was not exactly what the team had in mind, but a second place finish in the national championships is quite an accomplishment. 
  All weekend long the Elmhurst team did the right things.  They practiced early Friday morning together instead of going to the course, since it was warmer earlier and they wouldn't have to spend time of the course, zapping their energy jogging through the incredible mud and puddles on the course.  They went to bed early and ate perfectly and worked the weekend like a business trip, knowing full well that they could have their fun after the racing completed.  This team did it right and at the end of the day they finished a fantastic second.
  The teams chaperone Dr. Mike Calcagno said, "The guys came out to run and they did.  I am proud of them and they did all they could do today."  Leading the way for Elmhurst was senior Eric Dettman, who finished in eighth place.  "I just wanted to get out and run a good race and I did that," Dettman commented afterwards.  Meanwhile, the squads second runner was Matt Dettman, who finished twelfth, while sophomore Tom Achtein finished 22nd and junior Mike Fry finished 45th.  Junior Nick Kuczwara was their fifth runner, closing out the scoring in 47th place. 
  Elmhurst took second to Saratoga, New York, scoring 134 points to Saratoga's 111 points.  Elmhurst originally tied Manlius for second, but because their sxith runner finished better, Elmhurst won the meet.  The team also had their entire top seven in before any other team's number six, which showed off their depth quite well.  Elmhurst's number six runner senior David Montgomery summed up the race, "We came here to get first but it didn't work out, but everyone ran their hardest and that is all we can ask for." 
  In attendance at NTN this year was Elmhurst legend Donald Sage.  Sage watched his old squad run to the best of their ability at the national race and was beaming with pride afterward.  "To be able to see these guys doing their best and giving it all they had today was great.  These guys work so hard and even though they didn't win they should be proud."  From a past legend to the current legends, Elmhurst should heed Sage's advice, finishing second against the best of the best is something to be proud of.
Underlooked Warren Finishes Fifteenth!
  Warren (Indianapolis, Indiana) finished fifteenth on the muddy course at Nike Team Nationals this year.  After running a tough schedule, finishing the regular season undefeated and having one of their runners qualify for the Footlocker National meet, Warren had high expectations of themseleves coming into Saturday's race.  Head coach Joe Brooks stated after the meet, "Our goal was top ten and we nearly accomplished that today."  Warren scored 338 points, only 34 points out of 11th place. 
  Warren ran a smart race, going out conservatively and working their way up throughout the race.  At the mile mark, junior leader De'Sean Turner (who qualified for Footlocker last weekend) was their main man up front in the top ten, while junior Ondraius Richardson was not too far back around 20th place.  However, the rest of their key contributors were a little further back, but working their way up. 
  At the two mile mark Turner had moved up to sixth place, a position he would stay in the rest of the way.  "I couldn't really get my step right," Turner remarked when asked about his race.  However, Richardson had dropped back quite a bit, but got picked up by junior teammate Cody Smith and senior Tim Armstrong.  Smith, Armstrong and Richardson ran together until the final stages of the race, with Smith pulling away for 70th place, Armstrong finishing 77th place and Richardson in 90th place, all about twelve seconds apart.  Sophomore Micah Aldrich stepped up big for his team, placing 95th. 
  Coach Brooks said about his team, "We had great attitudes coming into this weekend.  Turner ran awesome, Smith was our second guy and ran great and Aldrich was our biggest surprise."  He carried on, "Timmy and Ondraius are both track guys, so the course hurt them a bit, but they still ran well."  Assistant coach Dennis McNulty said, "Our kids were hoping for top ten, but the pack got seperated from De'Sean.  They all ran tough though, and it has been a great weekend for us."
  Despite not earning a top ten finish, Warren ran a great race.  They came to Portland with high hopes and had a great time.  Leader Turner summed up the weekend nicely, "I am happy and we are glad to be here."  Great job Warren on a great season.



by Anthony Bozarth, Heartland editor

Notes and Quotes


For the Yankton ladies, the repeat trip to NTN Nationals was in many ways an experience in Deja Vu. Once again the 3-D club ran well as a team (5th this year, 6th in 2004) and the team had the individual champion: Betsy Bies this year, Ramsay Kavan in 2004.

With the course an absolute mud-pit, Bies traded strides, surges and occasionaly elbows with Annie St. Geme to find the optimal path through the slop. Bies surged down the backstretch, on one of the few sections of the course with relatively good footing, to gap St. Geme, then gave the Yankton fans (and herself!) a heart-stopping moment when she fell headlong over the last hay-bail to face plant in the mud. Bies quickly got up to finish and protect her margin.
Whisked into the meet headquarters after her race, Bies appeared to recover quickly to answer some questions.

HOW DID YOU FEEL COMING INTO THE RACE? We were running it all for the team. We are such a close team. We wrote the word "trust" on all the tape [used to hold on shoes] we used.

YOU AND ST. GEME APPEARED TO TRADE SURGES THROUGHOUT THE RACE: Yes, I didn't think I could let her get away from me, she's so tough. I'm afraid we ran into each other, and I hope she's not mad at me, but we were both trying to get the best way through the mud, and in most places there was only one path.

WAS YOUR MOVE AT 4K THAT BROKE OPEN THE RACE PLANNED? No, I was really just feeling it, and trusted to my training. It seemed the place to break away.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR FALL OVER THE LAST SET OF HAY BAILS? Oh my gosh! I couldn't believe I did that! I just got up and thought "OK, that's just one more reason to win"!


WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE COURSE? The hills were better than last year, since they spread them out. But there really isn't any way to prepare for conditions like this. I don't think anyone has ever had to run a race like this in conditions like that. We had girls picking mud out of their teeth in the finish chute!

SO HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE? This is such a great thing for our team. It is all about the team. I'm running Footlocker next week, and it will be such a different experience for me because I don't have the team there. We have such a great team and a great group.

The Yankton boys place 18th at the NTN meet. For Yankton, the regular season had been a dream, with an undefeated season, a state title, and a victory over #2 Heartland Willmar. However, Willmar avenged that defeat today. The month since the South Dakota State Meet had provided Yankton with some challenges.
In a quick post-race interview, Sean Fitzsimmons described the race as "Crazy! Extremely muddy!!" whle team mate Aaron Steward explained "We actually thought it would be worse today, though, after jogging it yesterday and getting more run last night.

Also granting a quick interview was Yankton boy's and girl's Coach Dan Fitzsimmons:


HOW DOES THIS YEAR'S MEET COMPARE TO LAST YEARS? The are both special, but this year with the coaches having kids running on the team in the meet, it was something very special. It's a memory to share.

HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT THE BOY'S RACE? We were a little disappointed but Jon Williams (15th in 17:04) had an outstanding race!! We had been fighting injuries. Sean Fitzsimmons sprained his ankle this week, and had to sit and that certainly affected his race. It's been a tough two weeks for the boys.

ANY PLANS FOR NEXT YEAR? We work hard and hope to be back! Our girls team is still very young.


For Willmar, the team mascot might have been Cinderalla. Four years ago Willmar finished dead last in their league meet, and had only five runners compete in their sectional championship. This year Willmar won the Minnesota 2A state meet, and placed fourteenth at the Nike Team National meet. Quite a story of finding your passion, and pursuing it!!
After the race, a mud-splattered Willmar team took a few moments for an interview:

Kaafi Adeys: Oh it was fun, but cold!!!

Paul Kimpling actually, I'm the conference hurdle champ, so the hay bails were the best part of the race for me!

Micheal Switzer I don't think we ran our best race, but we wern't at all used to the mud!

Mustafa Yusuf : Sometimes you just don't have your best day, but we did our best. We were hoping to be in the top ten. But we were ranked 15th and finished 14th, so that's good.

We did? Oh that is so good! They are so tough! That was one of our goals.

Switzer: Actually we owed them payback!! Not for beating us in the first meet, but for beating us in the skit competition Thursday night! Ours was much better!

Kimpling: You know, we are all muddy and cold. But it's so good to be muddy and cold HERE than to be warm and comfortable someplace else. This experience is.........the ULTIMATE for a cross country runner. The teams, the competition, the course, just the way you are treated. The Ultimate.


After the race I found the Lakeville girls with wall-to-wall smiles on their faces, and all of them sitting in a mud puddle with parents taking pictures. Lakeville was without usual #1 Elizabeth Yetzer, absent due to a wedding, but had taken keynote speaker Henry Marsh's Friday talk to heart, seeming to find the true challenge of the race within themselves.

Solange Miller: It's the weirdest feeling. I can't find my feet! They were so cold in the race I kept looking to make sure they were there!

Laura Roach: Yes, we taked about the fact that a lot of teams might go out too hard for the conditions, so we hung back the first loop through the hills and then began to move up.

WAS THE RACE WHAT YOU EXPECTED? (Generally shakes of heads and no's!)
Roach: Not at all! We had heard it was a FAST course, with a chance for PR's and things because of the field. But when we saw the course yesterday, we knew that wasn't going to happen.

HOW WAS THE EXPERIENCE? It was great. It has been a great year, and it's a great reward for a year of hard work. We really had to step up today, and we did.

THANK YOU LADIES? Miller: You're welcome. But would you like some mud to take with you?



by Steve Lurie, Southwest editor

The theme for the weekend of the Nike Team Nationals Cross Country Championships has been "Every Teammate Counts." The sponsors would be extremely proud of Fort Collins XC Club's Noah Shannon.

Shannon was battling for the lead with Jack Bolas of the Chapel Hill XC club when the North Carolina runner stumbled going over one of the hay bales a third of the way through the rain-soaked Portland Meadows 5,000-meter course.

"I couldn't take advantage and just leave him," Shannon, from Colorado, said afterward, "as we are both going to (University of) Wisconsin next year. We're both Badgers."

Ken Klotz of Portland's Central Catholic XC Club subsequently made it a lead trio. "We never quite got into any rhythm. I tried to break them at the hills (about 3,000-meters into the race), but I couldn't," Shannon said.

Shannon eventually dropped off and took third in 16:34.3. Klotz broke away from Bolas to win in 16:25.8, while Bolas stopped the clock at 16:29.4, good times on the quagmire of a couse.

The two future Badgers and University of Oregon-bound Klotz will battle it out again Saturday at San Diego's Balboa Park in the Footlocker National Championships.

Ten spots behind Shannon was Adam McDonald who led Utah's Mountain View XC Club to fifth place with a score of 189, the highest finish of any Southwest Region team.

Mountain View placed its four other scorers within 42.8 seconds of McDonald, a tight pack but just a little too far back. "That was the best we could do today" McDonald philosophized. "We gave it all we had."

Fort Collins' other four scorers were within 87.4 seconds of Shannon en route to a score of 207 and ninth place.

It just didn't happen for the region's other boys team, Rock Springs (WY) XC Club. "We were out of it early," coach Brad DeKrey said, "and we never got into it." The Tigers ended up 19th with a score of 423.

The Rocky Mountain XC Club of Fort Collins, CO, was the top Southwest team in the girls race. Danielle Parry was 11th in 20:30.51 to help bring about a team score of 218. Rocky Mountain assistant coach Mike Maher was hoping his team would justify the #5 US ranking accorded it most of the season. This did it.

The Fremont XC Club suffered from the conditions, as did everybody else. "Jessie Chugg lost a shoe in the mud at the very beginning" said coach Amber Tingey, "and we never put it together." Cassie Ricks led Fremont, of Plain City, UT, to 10th, her finish duplicating that of the team which scored 252 points. Ricks ran 20:27.45.

The Colorado Lady Knights XC Club of Fairview also matched its top scorer with its place, Meredith MacGregor and the team both being 17th. MacGregor ran 20:50.88. The Lady Knights finished with a score of 398



by John Gillespie, Northwest editor

NW Boys

Not a good day for NW boys teams. However, Kenny Klotz (Cent Cath) and Taylor Nepon earned Foot Locker finals spots. Klotz started on outside closest to track so did not have to go through river in front of stands. Got out about 17th continually looking to left to make sure he was not ahead or too far behind field. Moved up to about ninth for early part of race and then settled in to 3rd and 2nd before making move in last 1k. .Kenny said he knew Bolas has a good kick so was not sure he had it won until just before finish when he looked over shoulder. Klotz is a contender for the National FootLocker title and signed with Univ of Oregon. Galen Rupp was at meet to see his future teammate win.

Junior Taylor Nepon of Mead moved up to about 15-16 through out race and then moved up again in last 1k to claim West regional Footlocker spot over Robert Cosby of cross town rival Ferris. Brian Palmer (17th) had great race to key Mead's 4th place finish,

Spokane Xc obviously led by Robert Cosby with Cam Quackenbush in 25th (#2 man today but normally #4) however, usual #2 Steven Olsen did not fare well in the mud with 76 th place running #5.

Central Catholic was not able to get out and run as a pack as they were able to do at the Oregon State Meet. Sam Wopitka ended season with a stress fracture at State and was replaced by Taylor Bergmann hurting their possible upside. . A Central Catholic students death the previous week at least affected the team's preparations

NW Girls

Gig XC was only team to run well in 7th. Too many teams in blue to follow during race. Amanda Andrews led in 18th with normal #1 Kesslee Payne (#3 runner in 40th. Normally only 5 elite runners deep, Kate Stuart was again #5 but this time 41 seconds and 37 places behind #4 when she was only 15 second back at State. Four of top five return next year

Last year Portland harriers (Jesuit) race stategy was to get out fast and they thought they went out too fast. So this year they tried to go out slower, but found it impossible for their packl to get together and move up in the mud.

Fairbanks was one of last two at large's with less than a weeks notice. However, they were planning on running at FootLocker west so that didn't affect race plans. Crystal Pitney was expected to be a front runner but did not run well, finishing in 29th. Boise's Dana Morgan is also usually at the font of the pack and finished only 61st. . Boise is normally 5 runners deep. This time 2 5 runners faded back near 6th and 7th

Team race standings are not a true indication of strength of other 3 NW teams. Although this waas NW weather. NW courses are dry during Sept and October so these teams were no more use to these conditions than any others



by Mike Kennedy, California girls editor


It was a New York kind of day at Portland Meadows, which was not the kind of news that the California girls had been hoping for at the Second Annual Nike Team Nationals cross country championship.

After four days of steady light to moderate rains, temperatures in the mid 30’s to low 40’s and winds between 10 and 20 miles per hour, the course, located entirely on the infield of a local race track, resembled a muddy swamp.

Corona del Mar ( Newport Harbor) had earned the No. 1 ranking in the nation by Harrier Magazine after setting all-time records on well traveled courses at Mt. San Antonio College and the state meet course at Woodward Park in Fresno. However, those efforts came under ideal conditions and that was far from the case on this day.

Senior Annie St. Geme, who is headed to Stanford following in the footsteps of her mother, Ceci Hopp St. Geme, did not let the race conditions effect her performance, as she got out quickly and found herself in a three-person battle with junior Betsy Bies of Yankton, S.D. and senior Lindsay Ferguson of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. after three kilometers.

The three remained in close contact before first, Bies and St. Geme broke away, and then finally, just past the four-kilometer mark, Bies powered away for a four-second win 19:23.4 to 19:27.3.

In the past, the Corona del Mar’s gap between its first and second runner has been a little over a minute and the gap between the Sea Queen’s No. 1 and No. 5, has been about 1:40.

Today, the gap between St. Geme and sophomore Sarah Cumming at No. 2 was 1:30 and between St. Geme and junior Nicole Slykhous, the Sea Queen’s No. 5, was 2:40.

By comparison, team champion Hilton (N.Y.), with its No. 1 runner Allison Sawyer finishing in sixth in 20:20 had a gap of just 50 seconds between its No. 1 and No. 5 runner. Hilton’s winning total was 85 points. Corona del Mar finished in sixth with 203 points.

For the record Corona del Mar scorers behind St. Geme, were Cummings in 24 th at 20:57.6, sophomore Shelby Buckley in 42 nd in 21:26.4, Allison Damon in 58 th at 21:43.5 and Slykhous, in 77 th at 22:05.7. Annie St. Geme’s sister, Christie, was 92 nd f sixth in 22:26.9 and Alison Gushue was 128nd in 22:23.4.

Ceci St. Geme, who is a volunteer assistant coach, said, “I could not be more proud of the girls and the way they ran. They have never faced anything close to these conditions.”

Oak Park, which finished a close second to Corona del Mar in the State Division III race, was 12 th here with 284 points. That performance was the result of a close one through five pack gap of just 43 seconds.

The Eagle were, as usual, led by sophomore Courtney Lightfoot, who finished 37 th in 21:17.4. Scoring behind Lightfoot were Breanne Strenkowski in 41 st at 21:25.7, Kelsey Connor in 59 th at 21:45.5, Marissa Diehl in 68 th at 21:58.5 and Kirsten Jackson in 79 th at 22:06.8. The 1 through 5 gaps was just 49 seconds. Finishing sixth was Ashley Stalzer in 132 nd at 24:01.4 and seventh was Ashley Gonzalez in 133 rd at 24:03.8.


by Rich Gonzalez, California boys editor

PORTLAND -- Club teams representing Simi West and Sacramento were a study in stark contrasts at the second edition of the Nike Team Natinonals on Saturday morning, leaving one half of the equation a bit shell-shocked and the other half pleasantly surprised.
Simi West XC arrived at Portland Meadows with visions of claiming a national club championship. Instead, it left the mud-slopped course in utter disbelief. New owners of the Mt. SAC course record (along the renovated course layout, which dates back to 1999) and the second-fastest California team ever on the Woodward Park state meet course, the group found itself uncharacteristically out of sync en route to a sixth-place team finish, 19 points away from affirming its pre-meet #4 national ranking.
"We need to move this thing to somewhere like Mt. SAC," Simi West #7 man Dustin Patterson mumbled afterward, remnants of dried mud still splotched on various parts of his frame, adding that the elements here were "not something we're used to."
That was the view from the back end of the team's finish order. The usual front end -- junior Michael Cybulski -- wasn't exactly glowing during post-race interactions either. Usually upbeat and positive, the Division I all-state selection was uncharacteristically somber after this outing. Rather than the hamstring problem or bone spur issue which limited him during part of the season, the culprit here might have been a strong early pace along a strength-focused course where early aggression is a tiring trap.
Royal HS coach Ryan Luce, who coached the team members during the CIF season, was in attendance (although not allowed to interact with team members under the CIF-Southern Section's 'association rule' until AFTER the race) and watched from the grandstands. Afterward, he said Simi West team members "should have no excuses", as they "tried hard and fought well". Luce said the weather conditions posed an interesting problem for all teams, with those that adjusted best earning the most favorable results.
Hudson Andrews, who often works off Cybulski's pace when both run well, found himself as the team's sixth man as Cybulski placed fourth, triggering an unwanted domino effect within the order. By comparison, eventual team winner Saratoga had frontrunner Steven Murdock place third for the team after started out too hastily along the first two kilometers, but the other four scoring team members rose to the occasion. The end result: the championship trophy.
Making the outing a tad more hard for Simi West to accept might have been the fact that California power Sacramento XC almost beat a full-strength Simi West/Royal squad, when it needed three Royal runners out of the lineup to barely pull off the feat at the Clovis Invitational two weeks earlier.
Sacramento, which entered this race ranked 10th nationally and its runners bolstered by the confidence centered from a string of big-meet clutch performances this season, turned the trick one final time as Michael Salvatierra's 19th-place finish (just on spot behind Simi West #1 finisher Jun Reichl) kick-started the crew's superb meet-best 29-second scoring gap. Sacramento actually beat Simi West head-on at three of the five scoring positions in a showdown between California's top prep team of the last two years (with Royal HS winning state Division I crowns in 2004 and 2005) against the state's most gleaming tradition (including eight state titles) over the last two decades.
Sacramento came here to compete and find where it stood against the nation's best and found itself quite pleased.
"It was a good day for us, we enjoyed how things turned out," said Sacramento coach Walt Lange, whose mellow low-key approach seemed to serve well in offsetting any year-end big-race hype.
Additionally, Sacramento XC's team members had a fun time all around. Said veteran James Laville in echoing teammates' views as he trudged back to the team tent with patterns of dried mud-splash whisked across his face: "This course was fun -- the mud was awesome!"
I guess it all depends on perspective.

NTN races index page


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