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South Girls - Update 2

November 22, 2006
Southern Showdown is Set
Aurora Scott VA re-emerges to challenge Kathy Kroeger TN

by Steve Underwood


Kathy Kroeger (left) and Aurora Scott

South Girls Rankings
(preseason rank in parentheses)

1. Kathy Kroeger, TN (4)
2. Aurora Scott, VA (1)
3. Ashley Brasovan, FL (7)
4. Catherine White, VA (2)
5. Emily Reese, GA (3)
6. Emilie Amaro, FL (15)
7. Kayla Hale, FL (12)
8. Jackie Drouin, GA (6)
9. Jillian Rosen TX (HM)
10. Cory McGee, MS (8)
11. Rachel Rose VA (13)
12. Amber Riley WV (HM)
13. Kaylyn Christopher, WV (9)
14. Samantha Means, TX (10)
15. Kim Spano NC (HM)

High Honorable Mention:  Jennifer Barbi GA, Emily Borsare GA, Kate Borowicz SC, Rachel Buser WV, Jennifer Dunn AL, Callan Fike NC, Erin Guglielmo GA, Katie Huston AL, Rita Jorgensen TN, Elizabeth Molen AL, Lauren Smith TX, Tara Upshaw TX, Katlyn Will MS

Honorable Mention:  Elizabeth Barclay VA, Heather Beichner NC, Anna Bostrom KY, Caitlin Chitwood AL, Kaylan Comer VA, Andie Cozzarelli NC, Stephanie Gammon SC, Sarrah Hadiji VA Margaux Isaksen AR, Virginia Hine TN, Sarah Hammes MS, Amber Harper OK, Emily Houston FL, Mary Carleton Johnston AL, Malia Cali LA, Alyssa Kulik SC, Courtlin LaReau VA, Kathleen Lautzenhe VA, Catherine Loden TX, M.C. Miller VA, Bridgit Moreno FL, Madeline Morgan AL, Hailey Neal FL, Brittany Robertson TX, Kerry Seaver TX, Erika Setzler AR, Laura Steinmetz KY, Becky Stewart VA, Sara Sutherland TX, Kristy Tobin VA, Sarah Vaughn OK, Lacey Wright AL

Kroeger's improvement was dramatic

At the beginning of the season, it was hard to imagine anyone upsetting what seemed to be the pecking order in the Foot Locker South region.  There were four outstanding returning Foot Locker Finalists in Virginians Aurora Scott and Catherine White, Georgian Emily Reese, and Tennessean Kathy Kroeger.  Although Scott is homeschooled and races less frequently, the steadiness of those performers suggested there would be little likelihood of much changing from last fall in terms of how they were ranked.  It was quickly clear that you had to add Florida’s Ashley Brasovan to the mix – after all, she was favored at FL South last year before having a bad day and when the season began she was obviously at least as good as her freshman year.  But otherwise the top 5 looked pretty static.

But someone made a big, big off-season improvement.

That the balance of power was going to shift became clear at Great American.  Notice was submitted after the preseason rankings that Franklin TN (Independence HS) soph Kathy Kroeger was going to be a different runner this fall.  Different than the 16th place finisher from FL Finals last fall.  Different than the 4:51/10:33 runner from last spring.  Even different than the No. 4 finisher at FL South, where she beat Reese and Northside VA’s Catherine White before losing to them in San Diego.

At first glance, the outstanding 17:29 with which she dominated the Great American ROC seems like a great time, but the tendency is to think, “Oh, it was a fast course.”  Then you look at the times the likes of Ben Hubers GA (15:38) and Steve Murdock NY (15:49) put down and you say, “Well, those are good, but not blazing.”

Then you do the math and say, “Oh.”

One normally expects to see more than two minutes, often 2:15-2:30 between the best girls and boys times between comparable runners on the same course.  The 1:51 gap began to suggest that Kroeger had gotten really, really good (not to mention her margin over Brasovan – 20 seconds – and the rest of the field).  But Kathy has gotten even better since then.  She twice ran between 17:00 and 17:10 in the TN championship season, then capped it off with a blistering 16:59 at the state meet.

Again, look at the boys times.  There may not be someone of Rob Sorrell’s caliber in TN this year, but Clay Adams, the fastest boy in the state, is a solid runner and has an outside shot at a Foot Locker spot.  He ran 16:04.

That’s just 55 seconds!!!

Kroeger is clearly the favorite to win FL South, and if Jordan Hasay and Mel Lawrence out west haven’t already taken notice, they should.

Or is Kroeger the favorite?

But here comes Scott again

Off the racing circuit until the last few weeks, results from Aurora Scott’s latest efforts have surfaced and the two-time Foot Locker Finalist (8th last year) may be in the best shape of her life.  As reported by NTN SE Regional editor Brandon Miles of, the elusive homeschooled star from Chesapeake clocked a personal best 5K of 16:37 last Saturday on a certified course at the Governor's Land 5K held in Williamsburg VA. She was actually 18 seconds faster than the first finishing male individual.

It was Scott’s second impressive race in a six day span. She won her AAU state meet Nov. 12 at Sportsplex Park in Virginia Beach, clocking a 17:14 in heavy rains and strong winds.  Her time was only 12 seconds slower than the top boys time.  

Little was known about Scott, even in her home state, going into the fall.  She had done little since the previous fall.  But in late August she ran 17:08 and in early September a 1:18:15 half-marathon and had to be considered a favorite again.  Scott’s coach and family say little about her training and racing, leaving fans to wonder …

But now an assault on Erin Keogh’s two-decade-old mark of 16:45 at McAlpine this weekend by Scott and Kroeger seems inevitable if the weather’s decent.

Brasovan, White make up formidable challengers

And what about Ashley Brasovan?  In the conversation about small margins between boys and girls champions, how about what the Wellington soph did at the Florida State Meet?  She ripped a 17:01, 13 sec. up on Emily Amaro.  Ah, the Florida course is fast, you say.  Well, top boy Michael Anderson was 15:42.  He may not be Justin Harbor, but still a solid runner in a big state.  Like Kroeger, Brasovan was good but not great in track.  But all season long she has proven to be as good or better than she was all last year when she was the South #1 going into McAlpine.  Her only loss – Great American, where being 20 seconds behind Kroeger doesn’t look too bad.  She repeated as the Invite champ in her biggest invite besides GA.

Expect her to be in San Diego, and expect her way up there.

The other Virginian who started the season near the top here, Northside sr Catherine White is still very high up on the ladder.  She has been a winner all year, repeating as Class AA champ, but her times have been up and down.  She started the fall with a big record run in an August 5k, but had a few meets that weren’t as eye-popping, including a DNF at Great American with a leg cramp.  Then she came up with course records at her last invitational of the fall and her district meet.

At states, however, her winning 19:18 trailed five runners from the AAA race, as warm, windy weather, a too-fast start and low blood sugar resulted in a narrow win.  Still, White finished undefeated against actual competition in VA.  She rarely lets down in the biggest meets, and she’s as much a big meet veteran as anyone in the country.

The middle of the top ten could look like a GA-FL dual meet as the best from each of those states duke it out.  Two other standouts besides Brasovan have been huge in Florida this year, Emilie Amaro and Kayla Hale.

Cypress Bay jr Amaro had the better time at FL state, though she was in 4A chasing Brasovan, while Holy Trinity Episcopal soph Hale was in 1A running by herself.  They split their true head-to-head meetings, with Hale’s 2nd in 17:15 to Amaro’s 3rd in 17:40 at meet, and Amaro’s 3rd in 18:24 to Hale’s 4th in 18:38 at Great American. 

Both have to be rated above GA’s top duo, Chamblee jr Emily Reese and Collins Hill sr Jackie Drouin, based on results.  The only head-to-heads between the GA/FL runners were Hale beating Drouin twice, at the Carrollton Invite in GA and Great American.  Reese beat Drouin in their only matchup, at the Coach Wood meet, but Drouin posted an 18:07 to win the 5A race at Georgia state meet, while Reese’s 3A winning time was just 18:31.

Reese was unbeaten this season, winning Mobile MOC and some other big GA meets, but didn’t face any really tough regional runners.  She is, however, the only FL qualifier out of the group.  Drouin appears to be running much better than early in the season, but Hale and Amaro have been strong all year.

Jillian Rosen, off the charts in August, has backed up her fine mile credentials on the track with a stellar campaign in Texas, her first full harrier season.  The Richardson TX sr finished it out with a 10:48 to win TX 5A, the best time of the day.  She also beat 4A champ Samantha Means at Marcus II Invite.

Last fall at FL South, Pass Christian MS 8th-grader Cory McGee got into the seeded race, not knowing she was doing anything wrong or that she couldn’t qualify.  She ran a great 7th in 17:19, just nine seconds behind the winner, but couldn’t make San Diego.  After some outstanding track performances, she went into this fall as a freshman planning to make it legitimately.  She ran well at her biggest race, Great American, but after starting with the leaders ultimately took 10th in 19:14 – not quite ready for that level on that day.

But she dominated the rest of the season in MS, winning state with a fast 14:13 4k, and is ready for a top-notch run at McAlpine.

As for the rest of the top 15, Rachel Rose has made a nice recovery from a stress fracture to take the 3A state meet in VA with the best time of the day.  The Albemarle sr was clearly the 2nd best public school runner in VA behind White last year, but has missed most of the fall in 2006.  She doesn’t have the national creds that White has, but is clearly in a position now to finish out her senior season in superb fashion.

After a superb track season, where she ran 10:33 for 3200, Preston WV sr Kaylyn Christopher looked primed to be the best in West Virginia and a strong FL contender.  She still is the latter, but talented Preston sr Amber Riley has taken the top spot.  At AAA state, she ran 19:41.  Both could qualify and give that state two in San Diego for the first time ever.

Samantha Means was 14th at FL South last year, and the #6 returnee coming in, and has pretty well lived up to the billing.  The McKinley North sr won 4A in Texas with the #2 time of the day behind Rosen and was unbeaten except for the Marcus II loss to the 5A champ.  Clearly the best runner in North Carolina at season’s end was Kim Spano.  The North Mecklenburg soph won the 4A state meet in 18:20, 30 seconds ahead of the next runner.

Who are some of the other runners right at the edge of the rankings?  You can check out the lists, but a few of those with the most impressive talking points include South Forsyth GA sr Jennifer Barbi (2nd in GA 5A to Drouin, 10th overall at Great American), Decatur Austin AL soph Jennifer Dunn (Jesse Owens Champ), Sparkman AL fr Katie Huston (6A state champ in best AL time of day, 18:06), Clute Brazoswood TX soph Lauren Smith (2nd in 5A to Rosen), and Southlake Carroll soph Tara Upshaw (3rd in 5A, and younger sis of two-time FL Finalist Brooke, who’s now SEC champ as a frosh at Arkansas).


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