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Cross Country 1999

1999 Foot Locker Finals

Pearl Watts' Report

(Pearl Watts covers high school track and cross country for the Journal newspapers of northern Virginia)

Girls Race - Boys Race

 Junior Alan Webb of South Lakes and senior Erin Swain of Lake Braddock
 came up against much faster company than they have experienced all year at
 the 21st Annual Foot Locker Cross Country Championships in Orlando,
 Florida this past Saturday.

 Webb, who had not lost a race all season long, finished a disappointed
 eighth with a time of 15 minutes, 5.8 seconds with junior Dathan
 Ritzenhein of Rockford High in Rockford, Michigan the winner in a swift
 14:29.8 on the fast, mostly flat, all grass 5,000 meter (3.1 miles) layout
 on the Oak Trails Course at Shades of Green.

 Ritzenhein's time easily went under the course record of 15:16 set last
 year by Jorge Torres in the second year that the meet was held at this
 venue and all told seventeen runners ran 15:16.7 or better.


 In the girls race, Swain finished 17th with a time of 17:44.7 with
 senior Victoria Chang of Punahou High in Honolulu, Hawaii the winner in a
 course record time of 17:05.8. Chang bettered the meet mark of 17:22 set
 by Erin Sullivan of Jericho, Vermont in 1997 after seizing the lead on the
 final straightaway.

 The girls race, run at 10:00 a.m. under overcast and humid conditions
 shortly after an early morning Florida fog was lifting, was fairly quick
 from the outset with a five runner pack which included Katherine Hartmann,
 Michelle de la Vina and Beth Hoge from the Midwest along with Chang and
 Felicia Guliford from the West going through the first mile in 5:17 with
 Swain out in just 26th place but at a personal cross country best of 5:27.

 At 1.5 miles Hartmann, Chang, de la Vina and Guliford were still in the
 lead group with Hoge falling off a bit but with Alicia Craig and Laura
 Zeigle of the West along with Midwest region winner Victoria Jackson
 moving into the front running fray and Swain methodically moving up into
 23rd in the elite 32 runner field.

 The two mile mark was reached in 10:58 with the Midwest's Jackson
 enjoying a five meter lead over the West trio of Guliford, Craig and Chang
 with de la Vina, Zeigle and Amanda Pape of the Midwest another twenty
 meters behind and Swain having moved up a few more notches to 19th with
 another personal best of 11:17.

 Coming back from the outer loop after the two mile mark and with about
 400 meters to go, Guliford had the lead by a few strides over Jackson with
 Chang a few steps further behind. Then on the final straight after the
 three mile mark Guliford, who had fallen late in the West Region meet last
 week but managed to take second in that race, began to waver and fell with
 Chang putting on a late surge to overtake both Guliford and Jackson to win
 in 17:05.8 with Jackson second in 17:14.2; Craig third at 17:19.0; fourth
 place going to a fast closing Anita Siraki from Glendale, California in
 17:23.9 and Guliford gamely getting back up to grab fifth in 17:29.8.

 Swain had made a big move on the outer loop and moved all the way up to
 tenth place with 250 meters to go but did not have enough left on the
 final straight as she was passed by seven runners. Swain's final time of
 17:44.7 was another personal best and the Bruin senior finished in a
 tightly bunched middle pack that saw tenth place finisher Kalin Toedebusch
 of Rockford, Michigan just five seconds ahead of Swain in 17:39.7.

 Swain said, "the race was really fast. I was able to stick pretty much
 to my pre-race plan of not going out too fast and I was able to move up
 well from the two mile mark to the three mile mark but I didn't have
 anything left at the end. I wish I had more left for the final sprint but
 I used a lot of energy in the second half of the race moving past people.
 It's been a good year though and I'm happy with how my season went but now
 it's time to go on to track."


 The boys race lived up to its pre-race billing of having what appeared
 to be one of the better groups of talent at the top in the two decade
 history of the meet. Virtually the entire field was within striking
 distance at the one mile mark which was reached in 4:37 with the West
 Region trio of Ian Dobson (Oregon), Eric Logsdon (Oregon) and Utah's Josh
 Rohatinsky holding a slight lead and Webb sitting comfortably in fourth.

 After a series of small uphills and downhills from the 1.3 to 1.5 mile
 mark the front pack had been established with seven runners together
 including Dobson, Rohatinsky, Webb, Don Sage (Illinois), Dathan
 Ritzenhein, Tim Keller (Illinois) and Missouri's Matthew Tegenkamp. 

 At the two mile mark in approximately 9:25, those were still the top seven
 although the first six were shoulder to shoulder and Webb was breathing
 heavily and had fallen ten meters behind the lead pack.

 The back loop saw the top four runners push through in about sub 4:40
 pace or better with Ritzenhein, the eighth place finisher last year as a
 sophomore, holding a ten meter lead over Dobson and Rohatinsky with 400
 meters to go and then making a strong surge to gap those two and power to
 the win in 14:29.8. The Midwest also claimed the runnerup with Sage
 showing his 4:09 miler speed in overtaking both Dobson (3rd; 14:34.2) and
 Rohatinsky (4th; 14:36.2) with his second place showing at 14:33.8.

 Webb came out of the back loop still in seventh place with about 200
 meters to go but was struggling to maintain that position and was
 eventually overtaken by Pennsylvania's Danny Coval to result in his eighth
 place showing at 15:05.8. Although "just" eighth place, Webb still ranks
 as the third best perfomer ever from the Northern Region at the national
 meet behind Sharif Karie of West Springfield who had second place finishes
 in both 1995 and 1996 and Dwight Stephens of T.C. Williams who placed
 third in the first year of the meet in 1979.

 Webb said, "when I was warming up before the race I was thinking it was
 just another race but it really isn't, it's more than that. I was
 disappointed with my finish; I came here trying to win. The pace seemed
 fast even though the two mile time was not any faster than at the South
 Region meet. There didn't seem to be any surges thrown in, just a good,
 hard pace the whole way. When I got to the two mile mark I knew I was in
 trouble and they were able to pull away. I guess I wasn't as ready as I
 thought I might have been to go that hard from the start. Even though I
 didn't win it has been a great experience meeting everyone here who is at
 the top level."

 Virginia's other participant was the lone sophomore to make the field in
 Handley's Bobby Lockhart and the AA state champ handled himself quite
 creditably in placing 16th in 15:16.0, less than five seconds out of
 eleventh place (15:11.7 by North Carolina junior Stephen Haas). 

Lockhart, as he had done at the South Region 
meet, mixed it up in the middle of the
 pack from the outset and moved up a bit through the field in the second
 half of the race to just miss third team All American honors by three
 tenths of a second.

Lockhart said, "it was very fast through two miles and I was pretty
 tired at that point but I just tried to hang on and I guess I finished up
 pretty well."

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