Foot Locker Cross Country
Nov 25 - Dec 9, 2006

a DyeStat featured meet

Foot Locker finals index -

Gallery of Finalists - Northeast boys

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. Craig Forys
2007, Howell NJ - Colts Neck HS

Overview:  Craig has had a dream season this fall, going undefeated in major races and breaking (or just missing) course records at Holmdel and Vanny (Manhattan 2.5M and FL NE 5k).  He’s put it all together and been consistent all year, showing the ability to produce winning kicks against quality foes.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  1st FL NE 15:15, 1st MOC 15:16, 1st Grp4 15:31, 1st Manhattan ‘E’ 12:10 (2nd overall), 1st Cougar Invite 14:58,
2006 Track:  6th NON 4:11.30y, 8:56.14 1st NJ MOC, 2nd Penn 3k 8:21.82, 2nd NIN 8:59.98yi, two indoor 4:05 relay legs, Grp3 9:14.85-1st/4:15.58-1st, 4:09.77i NJ Arm Inv-O, 9:15.11i 1st NJ MOC
2005 CC:  28th FL Northeast 16:09, 1st NJ MOC 15:34, 1st Grp3 15:55, 2nd Manhattan ‘B’ (7th overall) 12:48 (2.5M)
2005 Track:  9:07.38y 10th NON, 4:11.27 1st NJ MOC, 9:11.49 1st NJ Group
2004 CC:  DNC FLNE

Win/Place/Show:  WIN – If there’s a favorite in this race, it’s Craig.  He’s had mixed championship results (good 2nd in NIN 2M, not so good in NON mile), but this is a different Forys this fall.  If he’s in position to win with 400 left, he can outsprint almost anyone, but it may be wise to make his move earlier.

2. Sintayehu Taye
2008, Ashburnham MA - Cushing Academy

Overview:  Any questions about Sintayehu’s fitness or comeback from spring/summer injury were answered in the Mayor’s Cup 8k in Boston (24:55) and his FL NE runner-up finish.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  2nd FL NE 15:18, 26th Mayor’s Cup 8k 24:55 (1st under 18),
2006 Track:  (injured outdoors) 2:29.60 1000m BU Inv., 8:44.85i 3k USATF NE
2005 CC:  23rd FL Finals 15:43, 2nd FL Northeast 15:29, 1st NEPSTA II 15:29, 2nd Canterbury 15:56, 2nd Pingree 15:32
2005 Track:  2nd NE Ch. 9:01.68, 9th NON 9:06.68y, 1st ME ‘A’ State 4:09.69
2004 CC:  24th FLNE 16:10

Win/Place/Show:  WIN – There’s no reason Taye shouldn’t go for the win here.  Some feel that if he’d sprinted all out at the end of FL NE, he could have won there.  He’s certainly as fit and talented as anyone out there.  The biggest thing he has to overcome is the memory of last year’s poor showing in San Diego.  It should be cooler than last year, so that should help.  He should look to big brother Ayalew for words of wisdom; Ayalew bounced back from a similarly bad race here to win NIN mile and get 2nd in NON mile.

3. Tommy Gruenewald
2007 Manlius NY - Fayetteville-Manlius HS

Overview:  Tommy G’s senior year has been outstanding, highlighted by his Manhattan course record – nipping Forys’ effort from minutes earlier – and winning NY Feds.  His only loss was to Murdock at NY Class AA state, which he avenged the following week.  After having his Stotan brothers to share the load at the top for two years, he has developed into the No. 1 man that he obviously had the talent to be.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  3rd FL NE 15:21, 1st Feds 15:40, 2nd Class AA state 15:20, 1st Manhattan ‘F’ 12:10 (1st overall),
2006 Track:  9:01.75 1st State, 8:59.32 1st New Hartford, 8th NIN 9:18.10yi, 9:13.56 1st Section, 9:06.27i 1st Section, (two relay legs of 4:12)
2005 CC:  4th NTN 16:48, DNC FL NE, 5th Feds 16:20, 7th AA State 15:39, 6th Manhattan ‘C’ 12:56
2004 CC:  36th FL Finals 16:33, 9th NTN 16:17, 6th Feds 16:10

Win/Place/Show:  WIN – On his best day, at least, Gruenewald probably has the ability to win this race.  He certainly was there with Forys’ effort at Manhattan, even if he wasn’t quite as fast at FL NE.  He doesn’t want it to come down to a kick at the end, so to have a chance to win, he’ll have to force the pace mid-race

4. Steve Murdock
2007, Clifton Park NY - Shenendehowa HS

Overview:  The move to Shen seems to have suited Doc quite well.  He hasn’t had a truly bad race all year, even when he’s lost.  He has two great victories this year, NTN and NY Class AA state, and has run well in getting runner-up at Great American and even on an off day at Feds (3rd).  He was a solid 4th at FL NE at probably less than all-out.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  4th FL NE 15:22, 3rd Feds 15:48, 1st Class AA state 15:12, 2nd Manhattan ‘E’ 12:15 (3rd overall), 2nd Great American ROC 15:49,
2006 Track:  (injured most of outdoor), 9:10.33i 1st State Ind, 17th NIN 9:32.73iy, 9:11.54 1st Section, 4:16.83yi 5th Hispanic Games, 4:17.20yi 3rd Yale Inv
2005 CC:  DNF FL Northeast, 16th NTN 17:08, 2nd Feds 16:10, 2nd AA State 15:26, 4th Great American ROC 15:28, 1st Sub. Council 14:42 (3M), 2nd Section 15:13, 1st Manhattan ‘E’ (22nd overall) 13:01 (2.5M)
2005 Track: 
2004 CC:  26th FLNE

Win/Place/Show:  WIN – Although Murdock may not quite be at Forys’ or Taye’s level, he’s good enough that he should believe he can win.  The biggest thing for Steve will be overcoming fatigue from all the back-to-back hard races – and that IS a big one.  Few in the past have been able to run great in San Diego after that kind of schedule.  He also wasn’t able to hold back at FL NE as much as he would have liked.  He needs to run smart enough that if he doesn’t have enough in the tank to fight for the win, he can still get a good place in the top 5-10.

5. Matt Centrowicz
2007, Arnold MD - Broadneck HS

Overview:  The big highlight last spring for Centrowitz was that Penn Relays 3k win, but he wasn’t really able to back that up at the NON 2-mile.  Since he didn’t really go out of state to face any leading NE runners this fall, it was hard to rate him high.  But he went out at Vanny and showed that he belongs with the nation’s elite.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  5th FL NE 15:23, 1st 4A State 16:02,
2006 Track:  16th NON 9:16.18 (13th Sect. 2), 1st Penn 3k 8:20.09, 9:13.68 1st 4A State, 11th NIN 9:20.38yi
2005 CC:  41st FL Northeast 16:15, 1st 4A State 16:01

Win/Place/Show:  PLACE – While he had a fine effort at FL NE, Matt still needs national-level seasoning under his belt before he’s going to be ready to talk national title.  If he runs smart and gives himself a chance to use his speed in the last half-mile, he could nab a top-10 finish or maybe a bit better.

6. Donn Cabral
2007, Glastonbury CT - Glastonbury HS

Overview:  Donn (yes, that’s with two n’s) emerged as arguably the best New England (CT, NH, VT, ME, RI) runner this fall as a junior, winning the state LL and Open meets and New Englands.  He was a strong 2nd to Brandon Jarrett in the Brown Invite (beating him later at FL NE).

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  6th FL NE 15:23, 1st New Englands 15:29, 1st CT Open 16:02, 1st Class LL state 16:04, 2nd Brown Invite 15:17,
2006 Track
2005 CC: 
2005 Track

Win/Place/Show:  SHOW – Donn is pretty green at the national level, without previous experience at a big Nike event or something similar.  This will be great for him, though, and put him in a position to really do it up next year.  A top 15-20 finish would be very solid.

7. Brian Rhodes-Devey
2007, Slingerlands NY - Guilderland HS

Overview:  BRD has had his ups and downs in trying to stay healthy and race well.  NY State and Great American were both big races that didn’t go well, but at NY Feds he was a tiger, giving Tommy G all he wanted and beating Murdock.  He ran well at Manhattan, too.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  7th FL NE 15:27, 2nd Feds 15:45, 8th State AA 15:49, 1st Manhattan ‘C’ 12:27 (6th overall), 4th Great American ROC 16:07
2006 Track:  15th NON 4:15.73y (8th Sect. 3), 4:10.66 1st Sub. Council, 4:11.40 2nd State, 4:13.22y 1st Eddy Meet, 4:16.14 1st Section, 8:31.41i 3k 1st Yale, 6th Millrose 4:19.45y, 1st Hispanic Games 4:13.19y.
2005 CC:  25th FL Finals 15:44, 6th FL Northeast 15:36, 1st Feds 15:57, 1st AA State 15:26, 1st Manhattan ‘A’ (5th overall) 12:44 (2.5M), 1st Burnt Hills 15:13, 3rd McQuaid (seeded Lg.) 15:08, 2nd Sub. Council 14:54 (3M)
2005 Track:  1st Eddy 4:13.49y, 3rd State 1:52.25, 1st Ballston Spa 9:16.93
2004 CC:  DNC FLNE

Win/Place/Show:  PLACE – BRD is one of the hardest runners to predict in this race.  He has the talent to go for at least the top 10, and he should, but he’ll have to have a great, great day to do it.  He could just as likely not make the top 20.  If he’s healthy at the line, though, and uses his senior smarts, probably better to give him the benefit of the doubt.

8. Brandon Jarrett
2008, Hillsborough NJ - St. Benedict Prep

Overview:  Jarrett has mention as the second best runner in Jersey all year with consistent performances.  His best experience was probably the venture to Rhode Island where he won the Brown Invitational over Donn Cabral, as well as a runner-up finish behind Paul Springer PA at the “G” race in Manhattans (8th best time overall).  He did not, however, get to compete in the Group or MOC meets because of his school’s lack of affiliation there.  That made what he did at Vanny all the better.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  8th FL NE 15:29, 1st Brown Invite 15:12, 2nd Manhattan ‘G’ 12:31 (8th overall), 2nd Cougar Invite 15:12 (3rd overall)
2006 Track:  
2005 CC
2005 Track

Win/Place/Show:  SHOW – Three juniors made FL Finals from the NE, and Jarrett joins Cabral as a runner who will get great experience here, but is probably a year away from contending for top 10 or better.  Getting in the top 15 or 20 would be a fine accomplishment.

9. Paul Springer
2007, Kennett Square PA - Unionville HS

Overview:  Springer has had a mostly outstanding year, befitting of someone who was down the list a bit last fall, but then broke out with a 9:01 3200 in the spring.  The state’s best were in his district, so that victory there was perhaps his best of the year.  Also won the ‘G’ race in Manhattan over Brandon Jarrett NJ, and was 2nd overall to Forys at the Cougar Invite.  Jason Weller did have his number at state, however, and then he was a little further back on the FL NE team than expected

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  9th FL NE 15:31, 2nd AAA State 15:06, 1st AAA District 14:47, 1st Manhattan ‘G’ 12:28 (7th overall), 1st Cougar Invite 15:09 (2nd overall)
2006 Track:  9:01.72 1st 3A State, 9:03.58 1st District, 5th Penn 3k 8:28.65, 4:13.33 2nd Baldwin Inv, 4:14.99y 13th NON (5th Sect. 2),
2005 CC:  10th 3AState 16:04, 3rd Dist1 15:15, 6th Steel City 16:31.

Win/Place/Show:  PLACE – Based on what he did last spring and most of this fall, Springer really should be a candidate for the top 5-10.  He said after FL NE that 2nd was as good as 10th, so if he comes out with guns blazing, he should be better than his region finish made him appear.

10. Ryan Collins
2007, Mansfield MA - Mansfield HS

Overview:  Collins has a great opportunity this fall to step into the void as the state’s top runner while Mark Amirault struggled with injuries.  He’s done that in style, first taking the MIAA Eastern meet, then winning the all-state title at Northfield with a 15:49, beating the course mark by Victor Gras.  With that kind of run, it was clear that even had Amirault been fully healthy, he would have had a handful to deal with.

Leading Stats
2006 CC:  10th FL NE 15:33, 1st All-State 15:49, 1st Eastern MA D2 15:36,  
2006 Track
2005 CC
2005 Track

Win/Place/Show:  SHOW – Collins is pretty unknown outside of MA, and this will definitely be new territory for him.  Runners from his state don’t get a lot of respect because the times are always slower due to the tough courses, so it’d be nice to see him make a statement in that regard.  Still, it will be very tough for him to finish higher than top 20.