Foot Locker Cross Country
Nov 25 - Dec 9, 2006

a DyeStat featured meet

Foot Locker finals index -

Gallery of Finalists - Midwest girls

text by Steve Underwood, photos by PhotoRun

(Explanation of Win/Place/Show section:  As an extra feature, the “Win/Place/Show” section predicts where each finalist can reasonably aspire to finish, with “Win” meaning going for victory, “Place” meaning top 5 or 10, and “Show” meaning top 15-20.  Although only half of the runners will finish in the top 20, it is reasonable to say that’s what each athlete hopes to do, at the very least (no one “wants” to finish in the bottom half), and can do if they have a great day.

1. Emily Sisson
2010, Omaha NE - Marian HS

Overview:  Emily’s middle-school running exploits captured national attention when she ripped a 9:46 3k in the college/open division of the Kansas Relays.  That she would dominate Nebraska XC as a freshman seemed a given, but she showed she was ready to battle the region’s best when she beat Betsy Bies SD at the Norfolk Invite and was 2nd only to Allison Eckert SD at Griak.  After she won her state meet easily, a Foot Locker Finals berth seemed a good bet.  But no one except perhaps she and her coaches were prepared for her to run away from the field with Katie Vanatta, then kick to victory in near course-record time.  Emily is now a serious national championship contender.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  1st FL MW 17:13, 1st Class A state 14:35, 1st Norfolk Inv 15:02, 2nd Griak 18:25,
2006 Track:  1st Kansas Relays College 3k 9:46.64

Win/Place/Show:  WIN – After the way she ran down Vanatta and buried the rest of the FL MW field, Emily has got to go for it in San Diego, no matter how tough the field is.  Scott and Kroeger will probably set a pace that’s beyond anything she’s done, but it won’t be crazy (and it won’t let up, either).  To talk with Emily is to speak with someone as unassuming and innocuous as can be for a competitive distance runner.  But to have seen the determination in her eyes as she scorched the Parkside course with Vanatta was something else.

2. Kaitie Vanatta
2009, Arvada CO - Ralston Valley HS

Overview:  After a kind-of-quiet freshman year, nationally speaking, this extremely talented young runner capped it off with that 10:16 at Golden West.  That set the stage for this fall, where she trounced everyone in Colorado, all season, and won the 4A title.  At FL Midwest, she ran a hard, smart, controlled race – she just unexpectedly ran into a dynamo with a better kick.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  2nd FL MW 17:16, 1st 4A state 18:14, 1st Pat Patten 17:33, 1st Cherry Creek 17:32, 1st John Martin 17:28
2006 Track:  1st Golden West 10:16.18, 4A State 4:56.08-1st/10:40.66-1st
2005 CC:  DNC FL Midwest, 1st 4A State 18:08, 1st Martin Inv. 17:49

Win/Place/Show:  WIN – Kaitie’s passed her first two really tough tests – Golden West and FL Midwest – but this one will be infinitely tougher as the stars have literally and figuratively aligned to produce one of the toughest top-heavy fields in meet history.  To go for the win, Kaitie will probably have to run harder and faster than ever, venturing outside of her comfort zone.  Her strength seems to be running within herself, but in this race she may have to go outside the box.  Another option, though IS to run within herself, the pace of others be damned, and be there to pass those who get burned off late.  That could be a recipe for a high-place and room to improve next year.

3. Emily Infeld
2008, University Heights OH - Cleveland Heights Beaumont HS

Overview:  Watching Emily last spring, it was easy to think of her as a middle-distance runner who also runs cross-country.  But after going through Ohio with just one loss all year (to Cassandra Schenck in an invite??), and running a hard, smart race for 3rd at FL MW, cross-country is hardly second fiddle for her.  While she didn’t face Amanda Burger (D1 champ), she avenged the loss to Schenck at D2 state.  While she may not yet be at the ultra elite level, Emily seems like the type of runner who will keep improving.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  3rd FL MW 17:43, 1st D2 state 17:42 (2nd overall), 1st Tiffin 18:00, 2nd Boardman Spartan 18:28,
2006 Track:  D1 State 2:10.28-1st/4:51.82-2nd, 2nd NIN 2:11.48, 6th NON 2:09.73
2005 CC:  14th FL Midwest 18:10, 2nd D2 State 18:10

Win/Place/Show:  PLACE – Emily is not yet in the stratosphere of the meteors at the front, but she’ll likely run smart and use that 2:09 speed at the end to mow down some fatigued opponents.  If she’s in peak form and executes that plan, a top ten is certainly possible.

4. Alex Gits
2007, Edina MN - Edina HS

Overview:  Alex wasn’t really on the MW radar, or even considered the best by the MN masterminds at season’s start.  And no wonder, she’d never run cross-country before, devoting her time to soccer instead.  But she turned out to be an even better harrier than trackster and went unbeaten during the MN season, finishing it off with the AA title.  When she moved up to the 5k at FL Midwest, she was just as good, running an exceptionally smart race to qualify high on the list.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  4th FL MW 17:44, 1st AA state 14:15 (4k), 1st Lakeville 13:59 (4k), 1st Classic Lake 14:42 (4k), 1st Victoria Lions 14:17 (4k), 1st Jaguar Challenge 14:04 (4k), 2nd Shakopee Inv 14:28 (4k), 1st Eagle Invite 14:23 (4k).
2006 Track:  4th AA state 10:53.97, 1st Classic Lakes 10:51.14,

Win/Place/Show:  PLACE/SHOW – Alex hasn’t competed on the national level before and this is a whole ‘nother world, despite her success two weeks ago.  If she runs a smart race, keeps focused on those she ran with in Kenosha, and finishes strong, 10th-15th might be possible.  Anything 15-20 would be pretty good.

5. Kristen McGlynn
2007, Bailey CO - Platte Canyon HS

Overview:  Kristen’s season-long focus on this event has paid off.  She wasn’t super fast at a few early meets, but picked up steam with her 4th at Griak and continued on to the 3A title with the 2nd best time of the day behind Vanatta.  She had a great lead-in to FL MW when she went to Pocatello and claimed the Rocky Mountain championship.  In Kenosha, she ran wisely, joining Gits in the 3-4 spots later in the race and cruising in 5th.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  5th FL MW 17:50, 1st Rocky Mtn Champs 18:20, 1st 3A state 18:39, 4th Griak 18:43, 1st Liberty Bell D4 18:33 (7th overall),
2006 Track:  3A State 1st 5:05.3/1st-11:17.95, Great SW 1st-1500 4:45.33/1st-3k 11:04.17 (altitude)
2005 CC:  15th FL Midwest 18:11, 1st 3A State 18:32

Win/Place/Show:  SHOW – After the super six or seven, it’s still going to require major wheels and a good finish to get in the top ten, or even 15.  Kristen is probably somewhere in that group.  Kicking isn’t her strong suit, so she will want to use her strength to get some room for a top 15 or so finish at the end.

6. Allison Eckert
2007, Sioux Falls SD - Roosevelt HS

Overview:  Allison had a stellar regular season in South Dakota and the Heartlands – including huge wins at Griak (over Sisson and McGlynn) and Rim Rock, plus the win over Betsy Bies at state.  At FL MW, she had in mind trying to save something for NTN, but didn’t feel that great anyway.  At NTN, however, she wasn’t able to contend for the win as she would have normally tried to do.  This is her third trip to San Diego.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  7th NTN 19:38, 6th FL MW 17:56, 1st 2A state 14:22, 1st Griak 18:16, 1st Rim Rock 14:13 (4k),
2006 Track:  10:19.74 1st Wood Relays, 6th NON 10:25.90y, 2A State 10:45.10-1st/4:58.56-1st/2:11.24-1st
2005 CC:  32nd FL Finals 18:29, 6th FL Midwest 17:42, 2nd 2A state 15:05 (4k), 15th Griak 19:17, 2nd Conference 14:33
2005 Track:  4:54.98 1st Yankton LC, 2nd Golden West 10:27.13
2004 CC:  22nd FLN 18:35, 7th FLMW 18:17, 13th NTN 19:07

Win/Place/Show:  PLACE/SHOW – Allison would like to put her less successful runs of the last two years here behind her and close things out with a great finish.  Besides knowing the course, she has beaten Sisson and Bies during the season and knows what it’s like to battle with the ultra elites (NON last spring).  If she can gut it out for one more big effort, top ten or better isn’t out of reach.  A good memory to draw on would be what it felt like to run 10:19 last spring.

7. Katelyn Bastert
2007, Carthage IL - Carthage HS

Overview:  Katelyn has ruled Illinois her entire career, both in XC and on the track, but this fall the rest of the country is finally seeing who she is.  A big step was competing at Great American, where she was a solid 6th.  After she finished unbeaten in-state, taking her fourth title, she accepted an invite for the IL team for Mideast Meet of Champs.  There she beat OH champ Amanda Burger and a good field from several states.  So she was ready this year at FL MW, where she gave a shot to the leaders, then hung on well for 7th.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  7th FL MW 17:59, 1st Mideast MOC 18:39, 1st 1A state 16:49, 6th Great American ROC 19:00
2006 Track:  1A State 1st-10:56.78/2nd-5:03.45
2005 CC:  75th FL Midwest 19:17, 1st 1A State 16:51

Win/Place/Show:  PLACE/SHOW – Like most of those from this region, save the top two, Katelyn’s best bet is to go for top 10-15.  It would probably help her to start a little more conservatively than she did at FL MW and be able to hold position better late in the race.

8. Betsy Bies
2007, Yankton SD - Yankton HS

Overview:  Betsy hasn’t had quite the dominant season she did for most of her junior year, where she was SD champ, FL MW runner-up, NTN champ, and 10th in the Finals.  Part of that, though, was at home. Allison Eckert was improved and at FL MW she was saving something for NTN.  She nearly grabbed her 2nd title there, but Ashley Higginson was just a bit better that day.  She has had one of the great careers in her state’s history.  Now the last difficult leg of the “triple.”

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  2nd NTN 19:23, 8th FL MW 18:01, 2nd 2A state 14:27, 1st Eastern Conf. 14:16, 1st X, 1st X, 2nd Norfolk Inv 15:28
2006 Track:  2A State 5:03.03-4th/11:05.24-3rd (also 10:47/4:59)
2005 CC:  10th FL Finals 17:50, 2nd FL Midwest 17:29, 1st NTN 19:24, 1st USATF Dakotas 16:59, 1st State 14:36, 1st Yankton Tri-Meet 13:31, 1st Yankton 13:44, 1st Kobernick 14:12
2005 Track:  2nd State 10:45.59, 2nd Sioux City 10:10.73 (3k), 2nd Acola Relays 4:58.5
2004 CC:  15th FLMW 18:38, 15th NTN 19:08

Win/Place/Show:  PLACE/SHOW – Betsy will need to run very hard and smart, and use every bit of gas she has in the tank if she wants to duplicate or improve on last year’s top 10.  Between 10th-15th would be very solid.

9. Marissa Treece
2007, Maple City MI - Glen Lake HS

Overview:  The two big things this fall for Marissa were getting to move up to the bigger classes with her D4 team at some major invitationals, and qualifying for FL Finals.  Both aspirations worked out pretty well.  She moved up to D1 at the huge Spartan meet and won there, but also ran D4 at the Portage Invite and ran a fast time to roll there.  She finished unbeaten in Mich. with her D4 state win by nearly a minute, but was chaffed that she went out too fast and wound up without the best time of the day.  Marissa then put that energy and resolve into a great, measured effort at FL MW for 9th and the dream invite to FL Finals.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  9th FL MW 18:03, 1st D4 state 17:54, 1st Portage 17:59 D4 (2nd overall), 1st Spartan Inv 18:28
2006 Track:  D4 state 4:55.94-1st/10:56.72-2nd, 8th USATF Jrs 4:35.29 (1500)
2005 CC:  33rd FL MW 18:33, 1st D4 state 17:57,

Win/Place/Show:  SHOW – Going out with the leaders in this race would be suicidal for the latter qualifiers, Marissa included.  She will get the best results, like a potential top 15-20, by staying back with those closer to the middle and trying for a strong finish.

10. Alexander Banfich
2008, Plymouth IN - Culver Academy

Overview:  Alex proved herself a solid, steady consistent performer again in 2006 as she go herself back to San Diego.  She faced little competition in Indiana, easily running to her 2nd straight title in 14:20.  Her only loss came at the Centerville (OH) Stampede, where she was beaten by OH champ Amanda Burger.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  10th FL MW 18:04, 1st State 14:20, 2nd Centerville (OH) Stampede 17:59
2006 Track:  16th (3rd Sect. 2) NON 10:49.76y, USATF 4:35.96 1500-10th/18:27.75 5k-5th, State 10:47.20-1st/4:58.03-2nd,
2005 CC:  35th FL Finals 18:38, 8th FL Midwest 17:47, 1st State 14:05 (4k), 1st Centerville (OH) Stampede 18:10, 1st Region 14:17 (4k), 1st Semi-state 14:29 (4k)
2005 Track:  4th State 5:02.52, 3rd State 10:56.99
2004 CC:  30th FLMW 19:08

Win/Place/Show:  SHOW – Banfich can probably run better than she did at Kenosha as she was bothered by cramps.  If she can put together a career-best effort, she could make a bid for the top 15-20.


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