Foot Locker Cross Country
Nov 25 - Dec 9, 2006

a DyeStat featured meet

2006 Foot Locker Favorites
Midwest Boys - Update 2

November 9, 2006
Steady at the Top, But Lots of Changes Below
too many great runners and not enough spots in the top 10

by Steve Underwood

The Big 15
1. Evan Jager, IL (1)
2. De’Sean Turner, IN (2)
3. Kevin Havel IL (5)
4. Adam Lenz CO (NR)
5. Hassan Mead MN (NR)
6. Emil Heineking OH (10)
7. Richard Medina CO (8)
8. Bobby Aprill MI (NR)
9. Joseph Mahilafasha CO (NR)
10. Dan Jackson MI (4)
11. Josh Mathis MO (14)
12. Josh Thebeau MO (NR)
13. Stephen Dak IA (NR)
14. Jonathan Stublaski MN (NR)
15. Elliott Heath MN (9)

High Honorable Mention:  Evan Appel CO, Lane Boyer KS, Curtis Carr IN, Dan Chenowith IL, Chris Derrick IL, Todd Gulizia NE, Bill Kogel SD, Scott Larson ND, Aaron Melhorn OH, Matt Mroczynski WI, Steve Weeks CO,

Honorable Mention:  Brad Anderson SD, Andy Arnio OH, Mark Battista IL, Sam Borchers OH, Matt Conahan NB, Maverick Darling MI, Tad Eisenhauer KS, Rob Finnerty MN, Dave Grange IL, Adam Green IN, Addis Habtewold MI, Cole Hardacre IN, Scott Hilditch OH, Ryan Little MN, Josh Lund WI, T.C. Lumbar MN, Joe Miller OH, Bobby Moldovan IN, Sean Olson WI, Joash Osoro ND, Andrew Perkins WI, Michael Perry OH, Dan Quigley MO, Tom Robbins IL, Kyle Rood MO, Jacob Swearingen MO, Andy Weatherford IN

Steady at the Top, But Lots of Changes Below

When one tries to put together a top ten list for the Foot Locker Midwest region, after a long, intriguing campaign with plenty of new talent emerging, one quickly comes to the grim conclusion:  There are too many great runners and not enough spots in the top 10 … or 15, for that matter.

It may seem like a cliché, but at least 20 names come seriously to mind as people who “should” expect to qualify in the top ten.  Sadly, only half of those will.  There will be those who don’t make it to San Diego this fall from the MW that will be knocking on the sub-9 door this spring, no doubt about it.

The top three returnees, however, definitely come into the post-season looking good … despite the fact that their schedules didn’t make much impact outside of their states.  That’s actually true for runners in IN, MI, OH, and others, too.  Algonquin Jacobs IL sr Evan Jager, for instance, is the top national returnee from San Diego and didn’t race outside of IL.

But at Detweiller last weekend, he raced the legends of that state, including the likes of Craig Virgin, Tom Graves, and Don Sage.  He stopped the watch at 14:07, which given the adjustment from the old course to the new one, is considered the #3 performance ever there.  Evan is ready for the postseason.

Incidentally, Illinois was the star state at last year’s FL Midwest, with four qualifiers.  Jager was the lone junior in that group and maybe it could be said that Kevin Havel is the new Jager.  The Arlington Heights Hersey HS jr is the #3 returnee from Kenosha and, after an early-season 4th in the Palatine meet to great competition, he was dominant the rest of the way.  In the AA state race he was 2nd only to Jager, and just five seconds back.

In between, however, is Warren Central IN sr warrior De’Sean Turner.  He is the #2 returnee from San Diego after his FL MW/NTN/FL Finals triple.  Though he didn’t race non-Indiana comp, he was unbeaten in the tough Hoosier state and gave no reason to drop him in the rankings.  He gets it done when it counts.

After that is where it gets tough, with a mix of newcomers and strong returnees from last year’s list.

Adam Lenz was a solid harrier from IN who, like Dan Roberts MI the year before, decided to venture to Crested Butte Academy CO to further his racing fortunes and education.  So far, it seems to have paid off as Lenz has pushed himself into the national mix with a 3rd at Great American ROC and 4th in the top Manhattan race.  Since Crested Butte is not part of the state assn. in CO, he couldn’t run at state, but last weekend competed at the Rocky Mountain Championships.  There he was a somewhat disappointed 4th, reportedly having fallen on the course at some point.  But he remains certainly no worse than a top-5 contender at FL MW.

After dominating Minnesota and going unbeaten this fall, Minneapolis South sr Hassan Mead, in his first harrier campaign since moving from WA state, is plugged in next.  He won the big Roy Griak meet and has MN’s other Foot Locker contenders all fall.  At the AA state meet, he had to come from behind late to nip surprising Jonathan Stublaski, a Henry Sibley sr that was rated just 7th in his class before the race.  Third in that race was Winona sr Elliott Heath, who remains a strong FL contender.  Hence, those two are 14th-15th on the list.

Next is Chardon OH sr Emil Heineking, the #4 returnee.  Following a disappointing track season that was limited by injury, all Heineking has done is blaze through the state of Ohio unbeaten this year.  He has consistently run in the 15:10s and given no reason to think he won’t be battling for the top 5.

Grand Junction CO sr Richard Medina is the best of several Colorado runners who battled in state and Rocky Mountain area competition all year, none of them coming out unscathed.  But Medina, who was coming off an outstanding track season, won the 5A state meet with the best time of the day and has backed it up in all but one of his invitational showings.

Denver North soph and newcomer Joseph Mahilifasha is the next best of the CO runners and, while ranked 9th, could scare the rest of the unknowing contenders with a higher finish.  His state meet time in winning 4A was 30 seconds slower than Medina’s, but he was a relatively easy winner.  He was only beaten once, by Medina, but had a faster time than him at Liberty Bell in a different race.  The honorable mention lists indicate others that could make CO a 3- or 4-qualifier state.

Michigan’s best should also be in the mix.  Dan Jackson was expected to lead national power Dexter all year and was the #5 returnee here.  Viral problems were followed by hip problems, however, and jr Bobby Aprill emerged as not only the best runner on the team, but the best in the state, winning every race that mattered.

At last weekend’s state meet, however, Jackson showed he’s back in form as he and Aprill finished in a virtual dead heat at D-1 state, with Aprill getting the win by 0.6 with both at 15:15.  Now the Dreadnaughts have two San Diego contenders, currently ranked 8th and 10th.

Now this is where it gets really tough.

How, fans of Missouri and Iowa running may scream, can Potosi MO srs Josh Mathis and Josh Thebeau, and Marshalltown IA sr Stephen Dak, not be ranked in the top 10???  The Joshes and their team destroyed MO competition all year and went to meets like Chile Pepper in AR, where they went 1-2, for good measure.  Dak dominated all comers in Iowa and ran times as fast as the 15:05 he marked at state.

The fact is, they could easily make the top 10 and don’t say “I told you so” if they do, because it won’t be a bit surprising.  But compared to their other rivals in the MW, they don’t quite have the career distance credentials that they do.  Mathis is the #10 returnee and Thebeau #24.  They pass a lot of runners ahead of them, but not Jackson, Heineking, etc.  Some of the newcomers, like Lenz and Mead, have faced better competition it is argued.  Dak didn’t run at Kenosha last year (and, it is reported, may not this year) and hasn’t beaten anyone outside of Iowa.  Neither has Katie Flood, however, and she is ranked 4th on the girls side.  As good as Dak’s times have been, though, Flood’s are judged even better.

Again, don’t be surprised if the Joshes and Dak are all in the top 7 or 8, though.  And that goes for some of the high honorable mentions, too.




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