Foot Locker Cross Country
Nov 25 - Dec 9, 2006

a DyeStat featured meet

2006 Foot Locker Favorites
National Boys - Mid-Season

Forys and Gruenewald Last Week, and Tebo-Cybulski-Hall This Week Impact the “Big Four”

by Steve Underwood
Senior Editor

Quick 15 as of 10/20/06
1. Matthew Tebo, NM (1)
2. Evan Jager, IL (2)
3. Craig Forys, NJ (4)
4. Michael Cybulski, CA (3)
5. Ben Hubers, GA (5)
6. Tommy Gruenewald, NY (6)
7. Chad Hall CA (12)
8. De’Sean Turner, IN (7)
9. Colby Lowe TX (10)
10. Steve Murdock NY (17)
11. Adam Lenz CO (NR)
12. Mark Amirault, MA (8)
13. Brian Rhodes-Devey NY (9)
14. Paul Springer PA (13)
15. Joel Bywater WA (21)

Looking at the top of the boys list, at what last month was called the Big Four, does it still look like a Matt Tebo-Evan Jager showdown at Balboa in December? Or will Craig Forys or Michael Cybulski wear a favorite’s role?

It’s hard to tell with Tebo and Jager. Neither has faced significant competition outside of his state, or really had any nationally notable performances. For the Eldorado Albuquerque NM senior, however, that will change this weekend. As a matter of fact, the original West region rankings story that stated there wouldn’t be a Tebo-Cybulski showdown at Mt. SAC was wrong. It will happen, just several weeks sooner, at the biggest invitational on earth, and at a slightly different distance.

Tebo-Cybulski-Hall showdown looms at Mt. SAC

Tebo-Cybulski. Round I. Mt. SAC Super Sweepstakes Race, 9:55 a.m. PST Saturday. Be there.

At Mt. SAC, though, there is going to be at least one other runner to worry about at the very top … like that certain younger brother of a certain runner who six years ago was part of a so-called “Big Three” and is now the new 20k American Record Holder? Yes, Big Bear CA sr. Chad Hall, carving out his own identity vis a vis brother Ryan, has beaten Cybulski this season and is vying for a spot with the nation’s ultra-elite. Hall ripped apart the Woodridge Course last month with a 14:00 3-mile, beating Cybulski by 24 seconds.

Of course, that leads into the whole train of thought of what’s up with Cybulski?  Losing to the talented Hall at Woodbridge had to be tough, but then there was the 3rd-place finish at Stanford. He ran 16 and 15 seconds in arrears of Max O’Donahue-McDonald, one of Washington’s top runners but not yet with national credentials, and Brendan Gregg, a rising Cali. performer unknown outside his state.

Well, the word is that the Royal CA sr. – the leader of the US#2 team with more on his mind than individual glory – has eased his way into the fall after a long spring. Cybulski took the first step toward reasserting himself with a blazing 15:03 at Clovis, with Gregg well behind him, and can completely right the ship this weekend if he’s really on.

While Cybulski gets plenty of comp and exposure just racing in Cali., Saturday is Tebo’s only real shot at a top battle before Foot Locker West. His times and margins of victory in New Mexico invitationals haven’t really set the world on fire, though some of his rivals there have probably been underrated. But Tebo is smart and knows the time to peak is in December.

and in Illinois, Jager is warming up

It’s been a relatively quiet season for Jager, too, though he has set some impressive course records and has run relatively unpressed. His slate has been a lot like Tebo’s. Of course, this is the norm for Illinois runners and it hasn’t exactly hurt them before. Look at how Ryan Craven (3rd) and Jager himself (a surprise 9th) did in San Diego last year. The Algonquin Jacobs’ senior’s state meet will be a good measuring stick and if he opts for the Mideast Meet of Champs, he’ll face some studs from surrounding states before FL Midwest rolls around.

Craig Forys and Tom Gruenewald had a record duel at Manhattan

No, we didn’t forget about Forys, who really has the best record this fall of any of the “Big Four,” and moves up in the rankings because of it. What Forys (and Tommy Greuenwald) did last weekend at the Manhattan Invite, as unrelated as it may seem, sort of sets the stage or issues a challenge to the elites at Mt. SAC. Can you top this? This week has been the bridge between two of the three biggest invites of the year (Great American being the other).

Despite losing his new course and meet record minutes later, Forys still ran a monumental race to highlight what has been a great season. He has also impressed with his wins at the Cougar Invite (14:58), Spiked Shoe, and had a very consistent year. And with the way he waited until the last few hundred meters to sprint past Steve Murdock, is it reasonable to think he has more in the tank? It is, and the Colts Neck sr has more than lived up to his billing so far this fall.

While Gruenewald and Hall will make two of the biggest climbs in the rankings, no one will pass McEachern GA sr Ben Hubers on the list. Hubers’ biggest opportunity this fall has been at Great American – and he passed it with flying colors. He blazed away from Murdock to hit 15:38 and win by 11 seconds on the tough, new course in Alabama. He also ripped a 14:58 at the Owens meet two weeks ago.

Then there’s the new Van Cortlandt Park prep record holder. With all of his appearances on relays and as part of the Stotan juggernaut the past two years in XC, it’s easy to forget that Gruenewald hadn’t really had a huge individual performance on a national stage. After his 12:10 at Manhattan, and a solo effort at that, he has to be considered very seriously for the top of the podium at Balboa. And given that his team isn’t one of the top two NE teams right now for NTN, he may well have the chance to focus on individual accomplishments in the post-season.

The rest of the top 15 includes Gruenewald, Hall, and …

  • Warren Central IN sr De’Sean Turner – FL/NTN vet has dominated IN again heading into this weekend’s semi-states.
  • Southlake Carroll TX jr Colby Lowe – Dominated TX races, including Nike South.
  • Shenendehowa NY sr Steve Murdock – Impressive even in losses
  • Crested Butte CO sr Adam Lenz (see Breaking In sidebar) – Ditto
  • Xaverian MA sr Mark Amirault – Missed Manhattan; hasn’t had a huge race yet.
  • Guilderland NY sr Brian Rhodes-Devey – Great race at Manhattan, not great at Great American
  • Unionville PA sr Paul Springer – Strong at both Manhattan and Cougar Invite.
  • Lake Stevens WA jr Joey Bywater – Blazing sub-15s in WA.

Holding Serve – Matt Tebo NM, Evan Jager IL, Ben Hubers GA, De'Sean Turner IN, Mark Amirault MA, Colby Lowe TX, Paul Springer PA

Moving Up – Craig Forys NJ, Tommy Greuenwald NY, Chad Hal CAl, Steve Murdock NY, Joey Bywater WA

Possible Slippage - Duncan Phillips TX, Brian Rhodes-Devey NY, Rob Finnerty MN, Dan Jackson MI

Down and back up (early losses, running better now) – Michael Cybulski CA, Steven Weeks CO, Brian Rhodes-Devey NY

Information needed: Sintayehu Taye MA


12 Who Are Breaking Out and may be Breaking In to the Top 15-30:

Adam Lenz CO – Like Dan Roberts did last year from Michigan, Lenz has gone from Indiana to attend Crested Butte Academy CO and ridden a crest of improvement that has included a 3rd at Great American ROC and an 4th in the Manhattan ‘E’ race (and 4th overall, behind Forys, Murdock, and Mikel Thomas CA).

Hassan Mead MN – The Minneapolis South senior (transfer from WA) has won several major races, including the Griak, and beaten all of the state's key players.

Bobby Aprill MI - Yes, that's right, two "L's." Nationally-ranked Dexter's #1 man is one of the nation’s best juniors, with his best effort being a 15:16 to win the huge Portage Invitational.

Stephen Dak IA – The Marshalltown senior as completely dominated Iowa with a long string of fast times in the 15:10s-15:30s.

Brandon Jarrett NJ – Another junior and a fast-rising talent at St. Benedict’s in NJ. 3rd to Forys and Paul Springer at the Cougar Invite and 8th overall at Manhattan

Girma Mecdheso GA – From Ethiopia to Berkmar HS in Gwinnett Co., GA, the jr. (probably sr. eligibility-wise) is unbeaten in GA and last week won the big Furman meet. He won’t meet defending state champ Ben Hubers until state, though.

Potosi's Joshes - Rolling through Heartland competition, Potosi MO’s star seniors Josh Mathis and Josh Thebeau may be the nation’s best 1-2 duo. Their last conquest was a 1-2 at Chile Pepper over Lane Boyer KS and Duncan Phillips GA

Brendan Gregg CA/Max O'Donahue-McDonald WA - Top two at Stanford. Seattle Prep sr O'Donahue has backed it up with some other big wins, including the Jim Danner meet. Davis CA sr. Gregg had a letdown at Clovis, but hopes to rise back up.

Ryan Hill NC – Another great junior, the Hickory NC standout blazed the Foot Locker South course (McAlpine Greenway) in 14:55 to win Wendy's this month, beating Griff Graves VA.

Taylor Farnsworth ID – The Highland ID sr made his big mark with a 15:17 win at Firman.
(stay tuned for more next week)

Three Real Showdowns Ahead:
Matt Tebo-Michael Cybulski-Chad Hall - Mt. SAC (10/21)
Ben Hubers-Girma Mecdheso - GA State (11/4)
Evan Jager vs. the clock - How fast will he run at Dettwiler on 11/4?

Five Intriguing state meets with multiple contenders:
CO (Steven Weeks, Richard Medina, Evan Appel, Joseph Mahilafasha, Kevin Williams, Anguel Tolev, etc.)
WA (Joey Bywater, Max O’Donahue-McDonald, Michael Chinchar, Matt Frerker, Abdi Hassan, etc.)
IN (De’Sean Turner, Bobby Moldovan, Adam Green, Cole Hardacre, Tito Medrano, etc.)
MN (Hassan Mead, Elliott Heath, Rob Finnerty, T.C. Lumbar, Ben Blankenship, etc.)



Foot Locker Favorites