Foot Locker Cross Country
Nov 25 - Dec 9, 2006

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Midwest Girls - Update 2

November 9, 2006
Blazing Freshmen Work Way into Veteran Group
Katie Flood IA and Emily Sisson NE may challenge Eckert, Vanatta and Bies

by Steve Underwood

The Big 15
1. Allison Eckert, SD (1)
2. Katie Vanatta, CO (2)
3. Betsy Bies, SD (3)
4. Katie Flood IA (NR)
5. Emily Sisson NE (NR)
6. Lindsay Anderson ND (6)
7. Kristen McGlynn CO (9)
8. Amanda Burger OH (NR)
9. Emily Infeld OH (8)
10. Cassandra Schenck OH (4)
11. Alex Banfich IN (7)
12. Alex Gits MN (NR)
13. Katelyn Bastert IL (13)
14. Nikki Swenson MN (11)
15. Caitlin Comfort IL (NR)

High Honorable Mention:  Ashley Beutler WI, Kelly Bogard WI, Krista Eckert SD, Jessica Engel SD, Heather Garcia KS, Carlie Green MI, Laura Hughes MN, Brittani Johnson MO, Stephanie Mundt IA, Ellie Rastall CO, Brooklyne Ridder OH, Laura Roxberg KS, Bekah Smeltzer MI, Marissa Treece MI

Honorable Mention:  Danielle Berndt MN, Margaret Bingham IN, Dacia Bushman IA, Sarah Cocco CO, Leah Coyle WI, Brooke Dinsdale IA, Blaire Dinsdale IA, Claire Durkin OH, Meggan Freeland MI, Melanie Funke ND, Leigh Ann Ganzer CO, Brandi Gervais, Brittany Graff KS, Katie Haines MI, Amanda Hardesty IN, Lauren Hardesty IN, Stephanie King KS, Lauren Kleppin WI, Erin LaFave MI, Kristina Krasich IN, Kailyn Kusmak IL, MacKenzie Melander MN, Charity Miles NE, Janna Mitsos IL, Stephanie Morgan OH, Hilary Orf MO, Rachel Patterson MI, Emily Pritt OH, Kelsey Regan IA, Laura Roesler ND, Emma Spoon WI, Rebeka Stowe KS, Kristin Sutherland IL, Sara Terashima IN, Laura Thweatt, Michelle Volz MN, Katelyn White NE, Sarah Wickman IA

Blazing Freshmen Work Way Into Veteran Group

The biggest question as the season in the Midwest Region turns over from the regular season to the post-season is how the young guns will do against the wily veterans.  Rarely have two freshman brought as much intrigue into this meet as Dowling Catholic IA’s Katie Flood and Omaha Marion NE’s Emily Sisson.  The latter has begun to prove herself against her older rivals, but the former has not been tested outside her state off the track.

Generally, in this form of rankings (not predictions and not based just on this season), weight is given to experience, big meet performances, and head-to-head victories.  But so bright is the talent that is “flooding” in from Iowa that it seems impossible to rank this girl any lower, despite the credentials of, say, Lindsay Anderson ND or Cassandra Schenck OH.  We’ll know in a few weeks if such lofty recognition was a flight of fancy or hard reality.

Meanwhile, there’s the big three at the top to deal with and while the gal in the middle is still short on big-meet experience off the track, there’s little question she belongs.

But first, Sioux Falls Roosevelt sr Allison Eckert began the season at the top of this list.  It was a move that could have been questioned, given state rival Betsy Bies’ 2005 XC creds, or Katie Vanatta’s undeniable young talent, but Eckert was so impressive in the spring with a 10:19 3200 and 10:25 2M, that she started at the head of the class.

Eckert has lived up to the billing.  She handed Sisson her first loss and beat Kristen McGlynn CO and a great field at the Roy Griak in MN.  She hammered a solid field at Rim Rock KS in course-record fashion.  Finally, she gained her first harrier state title by reversing the 2005 results on Bies at the SD State Meet.

When it come down to making predictions, however, many will like Vanatta.  The Ralston Valley CO soph did not appear here last year after a conservative season-ending decision to not overexpose her as a freshman.  Her first national splash came at Golden West last spring and the result was a frightfully impressive 10:16 3200.  This fall, she has dominated everything she’s run in Colorado, including a state meet solo run that was 25 seconds better than the next best effort in any class.

Still, Vanatta has not raced truly top competition over hill and dale yet.  It will be fascinating to see how she handles it.

Then there’s Bies, the Yankton SD sr and leader of the nation’s #1 team.  What a wonderful 2005 she had – sweeping through SD, 2nd in FL MW (top returnee), a glorious victory in the mud at NTN, and a gritty 10th at FL Finals.  But a winter injury kept her from ever reaching top form last spring.  This fall, she has run some outstanding times again, but she was surprised by Sisson in her only race against an out-of-state standout, and outkicked by the improved Eckert at state.

Like Eckert, she will be leading a squad to NTNs in-between the Foot Locker races.  She has a lot of pride and there’s no question the road to a FL MW title goes through her.

Then comes that decision between the freshmen and the veterans.  Sisson is not as hard to rate, since she has beaten Bies once and at Griak finished second only to Eckert.  She is also unbeaten in Nebraska.  Finally, Flood is given the benefit of the doubt because although none of her Iowa rivals have really done something nationally in XC, Stephanie Mundt has run 9:50 3k and the Dinsdale twins have lofty track creds as well.  None has come close to Flood this fall.  The freshman has been tearing up some well-known courses and has run an all-time state record 13:48 in one effort.  No one in Iowa would be surprised if she not only won in Kenosha, but also in San Diego.

So then we get to the rest of the veterans.  In 6th, keeping her preseason spot, is Leeds ND jr Lindsay Anderson.  Though she didn’t run a big race outside of ND this fall – she was 3rd at Griak in 2005 – she was undefeated in ND with a strong state meet time of 14:26.  Like Eckert, Bies, and Indiana’s Alex Banfich, she is a returning FL Finalist.

Platte Canyon CO sr Kristen McGlynn is next, moving up two spots.  Fourth at Griak, she was clearly the #2 runner in CO this fall and added a big, big notch to her belt last weekend when she won the Rocky Mountain Championship against most of the top runners from ID, MT, WY, and UT.

Top runners from OH, MN, IL, plus Banfich, make the next several spots tough to call.  West Chester Lakota OH sr Amanda Burger was rather unknown outside of OH until recent weeks, but she has blazed through D1 comp in her state the last several weeks, and her 17:36 at state was superior to the times in the D2 battle between nationally heralded Ohioans Emily Infeld and Cassandra Schenck.  Unfortunately, the OH stars did not meet this year, but Burger’s run of success puts her just ahead.

In that D2 state clash, Infeld (Cleveland Hts. Beaumont jr) beat Schenck (Mantua Crestwood sr), 17:40-17:52, reversing the results of the Spartan Boardman meet where Schenck nipped Infeld by less than a second several weeks earlier.  After excellent track seasons, Schenck and Infeld were 4th and 8th to start the year.  Either could certainly finish in the top 5 on a good day.

Banfich is rated next, partly due to a less impressive track season, a loss to Burger in the Centerville Stampede Invite in OH, and an unpressed run through Indiana.  The Culver Academy sr. impressed in Kenosha last year, however, and no one in the Hoosier State will be stunned if she makes it again.  She rarely runs poorly in a big race.

Minnesota standouts Alex Gits and Nikki Swenson have a tough act to follow after their state qualified three last fall (Elizabeth Yetzer, Bria Wetsch, and Hanna Grinnaker).  To top off the school year, Wetsch and Yetzer then went 1-2 at NON 2-mile.  That Lac qui Parle Valley sr Swenson dominated Class A in the Gopher state all year was no surprise, but Edina sr Gits wasn’t on everyone’s top 3 list for AA.  But she won several invites and had the best time at state.

The Illinois girls are hard to rank.  Carthage sr Katelyn Bastert has dominated Class A competition for her whole career, including the 16:49 win at state (3M) last weekend.  But with similar creds last year, in her first FL appearance, she was 75th.  This fall, she went outside of IL to race Great American, where she was a solid 6th – which suggests she could certainly make it to San Diego. 

And if Bastert can make it, why not Caitlin Comfort, the Peoria Notre Dame IL jr who won AA two seconds faster than Bastert ran.  Comfort hasn’t competed in Kenosha her first two years, but has continued to burn it up in IL.

All of the high honorable mentions have been close to making it to Kenosha before and/or have had outstanding seasons and high finishes in quality state meets.




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