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2008 Foot Locker - the 30th
11/29/08 at UW Parkside, Kenosha WI

Thode, Sulkin, Flanagan lead Illinois Contenders

 FLMW Website
by: Bob Geiger

This year marks the 30th year of the Foot Locker (formerly Kinney) Cross Country Nationals.  The Midwest has fared well at the National meet, with Connie Robinson of Cincinatti winning the meet for the midwest in 1981, three years into the meet, and enjoying four other national champions including two time champion Melody Fairchild of Boulder, Colorado.  
The last national champion to come out of the Midwest was in 2003 when Katelyn Kaltenbach of Aurora, Colorado won at Balboa Park with a time of 17:24.  
Ashley Brasonovan
 2007 Foot Locker National Champion Ashley Brasovan
Picture by Cassandra Geiger

The 2008 national meet should have three past champions in this years meet.  Jordan Hasay of Arroyo, California won the meet as a freshman in 17:05.  2006 saw Franklin Tennessee native Kathy Kroeger win in 17:29, while Ashley Brasovan of West Palm Beach topped both Hasay and Krorger in 2007, touring Balboa Park in 17 minutes, 20 seconds.  Hasay is coming off a record setting track season, beating the high school record for 1500 meters, running 4:14.50 in the semi-finals of the Olympic Trials.
Brasovan and Kroeger squared off this year at the Great American Cross Country Festival in Hoover Alabama, with Brasovan coming out on top.

 Hinsdale Central's Elaine Kuckertz
Illinois entries will definitely be in the hunt for qualifying for this years national meet.
Class AAA State Champion Lindsay Flanagan of Lake Park HS in Roselle has already qualified for the Nike Cross Nationals, and has stated all season that she wants to compete in both National meets. Flanagan has established herself as one of the all-time best runners from Illinois by her sound victory at the IHSA State Championships where she opened up a big lead in the first mile and never looked back, winning by 13 seconds over fellow Nike National qualifier Kelly Whitley of Geneva High School. 
Not to be overlooked is Palatine Senior Sarah McIntosh.  McIntosh finished 4th at this years Illinois State Championships.  She consistently lead her team throughout the season, and figures to be in the mix at FLMW Saturday. 
Elizabeth Hynes (St. Charles East), Christina Gastfield (Rolling Meadows), Katherin Rhen (Lyons), Elaine Kuckertz (Hinsdale Central), and Margo Richardson (Mt. Vernon) could suprise the field by qualifying, but they certainly have the ability to do so provided they have been training since their November 8th State Championships.
Kuckertz, Hynes, and Gastfield finished 6th, 7th, and 8th respectively at the IHSA Class AAA meet.  Richardson was the Class AA Champion, while Rhen finished 16th in AAA.  
Kuckertz ran 18:37 to finish 7th at Nike Cross Nationals Midwest region, just missing out on qualifying. 
Some unsung heroes from Illinois that could finish in the top 25 include Mallory Abel of St. Charles East, Kayla Beattie of Woodstock, Molly Dahlquist of Peoria Notre Dame, Monica Hahn of Lincoln Way Central, Danielle Dickman of Vernon Hills, Olivia Jones of Buffalo Grove, and Jana Mitsos of Mokena.
Mitsos, a former Illinois All-Stater, left her team before the IHSA series.  She will be joined at FLMW by her sister, 12 year old Jamie Mitsos.  Jamie has run near 5:00 for 1500 meters this past summer.

The favorites for this years FLMW girls race will be Colorado’s Allie McLaughlin (Air Academy), Emily Sisson of Parkway Central, Missouri, and
Two Time Foot Locker National Qualifier Emily Sisson of Missouri
Photo by Cassandra Geiger
Ashley Decker of Dowling Catholic Iowa.  
Both McLaughlin and Decker were their states champions.  Sisson was a two time state champion in Nebraska before moving to Missouri this year, where she garnished her third state championship in cross country.  Sisson finished 5th in the 2006 Foot Locker national meet, and finished 23rd in 2007.  The Junior will be looking for her third trip to Balboa Park.
McLaughlin, the 4'10" Senior, is renowned for her excellent hill running skills.  She holds a Cross Country best of 17:04 for 5 kilometers, and has run 10:49 for 3200 Meters on the track.         
Iowa Junior Katie Flood, a Dowling Catholic teammate of Ashlie Decker, should be in the mix for a top ten spot.  Decker recently won the Nike Cross National Heartland Qualifier, followed by Flood in 2nd place.  

Not far behind them will be Rochester, Michigan State Champion, Junior Megan Goethals.  Gothals appears to be leading a contingent from Michigan that could potentially have five qualifiers including Goethals, Sophomore Shannon Osika of Waterford, Senior Rebecca Addison of Grand Haven, and Junior Jordan Tomecek of Milan.   

FLMW will also see a rematch of the Mid East Meet of Champions Winner and Runner Up, Chelsea Oswald of Walsh Jesuit HS, Ohio and Cally Macumber of Rochester Adams, Michigan.  At the Mid East Meet, Oswald pulled away from Macumber in the last half mile to win by five seconds.  

The top ten finishers at the FLMW meet will qualify for the National meet, being held December 13 at Morley Field, Balboa Park in San Diego, California.   

Top Illinois Entries:

Abel, Mallory         Saint Charles         (St. Charles East)    
Beattie, Kayla         Woodstock            (Woodstock HS)
Brown, Stephanie     Bloomington         (Tri-Valley HS)
Dahlquist, Molly     Peoria             (Peoria Notre Dame)
Dickman, Danielle     Vernon Hills         (Vernon Hills HS)
Elizabeth, Hynes     St. Charles         (St. Charles East HS)
Flanagan, Lindsay     Roselle         (Lake Park)
Gastfield, Christina     Arlington Heights    (Rolling Meadows HS)
Hahn, Monica         New Lenox         (Lincoln Way Central)
Jones, Olivia         Buffalo Grove         (Buffalo Grove HS)    
Kortze, Sarah         Rockford         (Rockford Lutheran)
Mcintosh, Sarah     Palatine         (Palatine HS)
Mitsos, Janna         Mokena             (Lockport)
Pfaff, Holly         East Peoria         (East Peoria)    
Rehn, Katherin         Western Springs     (Lyons)
Richardson, Margo     Mt. Vernon         (Mt. Vernon High School)
Schierer, Maria     Metamora         (Metamora)
Whowell, Amanda     Arlington Heights    (Rolling Meadows)
Kuckertz, Elaine     Clarendon Hills     (Hinsdale Central)
Sprague, Katie         Marengo         (Marengo)
Vrshek, Colleen     Rolling Meadows     (Rolling Meadows)

Dyestat IL Top 30 to watch:
 Mid East Champion Chelsea Oswald of Ohio

State    Athletes Name        Yr.     School/Hometown            Place at Respective State Meet
Co        Allie McLaughlin    12    Air Academy                          1st    5A
IOWA   Ashlie Decker        11    Dowling Catholic, WDM       1st  4A
Mo        Emily Sisson        11    Parkway Central                     1st 4A
Mich     Megan Goethals        11    Rochester                         1st    D1
Mich     Shannon Osika        10    Waterford Mott                    2nd   D1
Mich     Rebecca Addison        12    Grand Haven                  3rd   D1
IL          Lindsay Flanagan    12    Roselle (Lake Park)         1st  AAA
Mich     Gabrielle Anzalone    10    Grand Blanc                     5th   D1
Mich     Jordan Tomecek        11    Milan                                 1st   D2
IOWA    Katie Flood        11    Dowling Catholic, WDM          2nd 4A
OHIO    Chelsea Oswald        12     Walsh Jesuit                  5th    Div. II
IL          Sarah McIntosh        10    Palatine (H.S.)                   4th  AAA
Mich     Cally Macumber        12    Rochester Adams           6th   D1
Mich     Sara Kroll        11    Livonia Churchill                         7th   D1
OHIO   Jessica Zangmeister    12    Fairview Par                4th  Div. II
Mich     Courtney Calka        12    Livonia Stevenson           8th   D1
IL          Elaine Kuckertz        12    Hinsdale                            6th AAA
Mich     Meggan Freeland        12    Western                         12th D2
IN         Emily Mossler          12    North Central                     2nd  
OHIO    Erin Mercer        12    Peninsula Woodridge           3rd  Div. II
Mich     Kristen Smith        12    Clarkston                              9th   D1
IOWA    Morgan Casey        11    Northeast, Goose Lake   1st  2A
IL          Elizabeth Hynes        12    St. Charles (East)           7th  AAA
OHIO    Katie Gillespie        12    Cuy. Valley Ch                   1st   Div. II
IL         Christina Gastfield    10    Rolling Meadows           8th  AAA
Co        Claire Gallagher    11    Cherry Creek                      2nd   5A
MINN    Claire Guidinger    11    Winona                               2nd  Class AA
Mich    Devan John        11    Allendale                                  1st    D3
IL         Katherin Rehn        11    LaGrange (Lyons)             16th AAA
IL         Jana Mitsos        12    Mokena                                    DNR

By: Tony Jones

This post-season has been very fruitful for the Illini so far.  Illinois teams and individuals have cleaned up in all arenas.  Two weekends ago, Team Illinois won their first Meet of Champions race in 12 years.  It always helps to have a fleet of top notch all-state talent, including 3A champion Jeff Thode (left, in orange).  At the Nike team Midwest Regional championship in Terre Haute, Indiana, on the same day, Illinois had perhaps the best ever post-season.  Going into the high stakes meet besides a team trophy was regional bragging and rights and… a trip to Portland, Oregon.  The MW Nike Cross Nationals team rankings treated Illinois kind during the regular season as the Illini state did a Rambo 1-4 sweep, and the young men didn’t disappoint with Elmhurst York and Naperville North going 1-2 in the sweepstakes.  For depth measures, Geneva and Naperville Neuqua Valley placed 4th and 5th to validate their rightful status as elite teams in the region.

The Midwest Footlocker Regional looks to be another invasion by Illinois- the most entrants of any state competing (over 100).  Illinois will look to dominant the pseudo team scoring with top entrants coming from all three classes.  Class AAA will send its top seven state championship scorers and AA mobilizing its 1st and 3rd placers.

The race to San Diego, California for the national final on December 13 will be an intriguing on to say the least.  Regionally speaking Joseph Manilafasha (Colorado) is the #1 ranked prep harrier in the country and his state mate Evan Appel is 9th.  Drew Shields (Indiana) assumes the role of the top Hoosier along with freshman sensation Futsum Zeinasellassie.  Ohio will bring its top runner in Zach Willis, as does Michigan in Stephan Walker.  Not to be outdone is the host Wisconsin: they add Derek Storkel for overall depth.

For Illinois, Danny Pawola (at right, Naperville Neuqua Valley) is the state’s top returnee as he placed 33rd in 15:52.  He, though, will have to share the spotlight with fellow Illinois runners Thode (Hoffman Estates Conant), Steve Sulkin (Elmhurst York), Jordan Herbert (Elmhurst York), and Kyle Gibson (Naperville North).  These four young men have had the focus and attention on since day one. It is not inconceivable that Illinois could have possibly three qualifiers or maybe four on a great day.  Two weeks ago Sulkin and Herbert finished 1,3 at the MW NXN Midwest championship, thus setting themselves up for a great showing.  Both Sulkin and Herbert have recently ran 4:16 one mile time trials to prove they sound and quality sustainable finishes in the tank.  Thode appears to be on peak mode after returning late in the season from which he suffered a punctured lung in late September.  He went on to win the 3A state title in dramatic style, powering the last quarter mile to hold off Sulkin.  Thode followed up his state prowess by defeating a fleet of Midwest studs in the Mid-East championships a week later in Kettering, Ohio.

Illinois Leading entries:
Jeff Thode Sr. Hoffman Estates (Conant) 1st AAA – 14:18
Steven Sulkin Sr. Elmhurst (York) 2nd AAA – 14:19
Jordan Hebert Sr. Elmhurst (York) 3rd AAA – 14:21
Kyle Gibson Sr. Naperville (North) 4th AAA – 14:23
Danny Pawola Sr. Naperville (Neuqua Valley) 5th AAA – 14:32
Nico Composto Jr. Wilmette (Loyola Academy) 6th   AAA – 14:32
Zach Dahleen Sr. Orland Park (Sandburg) 7th   AAA – 14:33
Andrew Nelson Sr. Geneva 11th AAA – 14:42
Tyler Jermann Jr. Naperville (North) 16th AAA – 14:49
Tim Hird Sr. Rock Island (Alleman) 1st AA- 14:56
Ryan Todd Jr. Jerseyville (Jersey) 3rd AA – 15:05
Mark Donohue Jr. Wilmette (Loyola Academy) 26th AAA- 15:03
Phil Farleigh Jr. Cary-Grove 7th AAA- 15:17 (3.04m) @ St. Charles East Sectional