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Nike Pre-Nationals
Presented by Aloha High School

Saturday September 29, 2007

Portland Meadows Golf Course, Portland OR

NEW! John Nepolitan's Race Winners and Action Shots - Photos

 Nicole Hood leads US#9 Carondelet CA; Jonathan Lafler (Tahoma WA) takes the boys' race, Seattle Prep WA snags team title
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Meet Information


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Portland, Oregon - Despite a day of hard rain preceding Saturday’s Nike Pre-National meet at Portland Meadows racetrack, the winding course bore little resemblance to the puddle-riddled mudbath it tends to become each year for December’s Nike Team Nationals. Hundreds of runners in sixteen races took advantage of the firm footing and European-style infield course to post PRs and big wins. Jonathan Lafler of Tahoma WA bolted away from Charles White of Cherry Creek CO for a 15:27 win in the elite Jim Danner Championship race, while Seattle Prep’s boys carted off the team title. In the girls’ Danner Championship race, Nicole Hood of Carondelet CA withstood a “Battle of Nicoles” over Nicole Cochran of Bellarmine Prep WA, and led her US#9 team to the girls’ title.

John Nepolitan's race winners and action shots


Jim Danner Champs

Division 1
Division 2
Division 3

  Nicole Hood's 17:56.45 won the "Battle of Nicoles" over Nicole Cochran (Bellarmine Prep WA), while Jonathan Lafler's 15:26.55 turned back Charles White of Cherry Creek CO. (Photos by John Nepolitan)
Boys Jim Danner Race Story

Jonathan “Jono” Lafler and his Tahoma WA teammates had an incentive to keep their grades up this fall: their coaches promised that if the boys’ team took care of their academics they’d get to travel to Portland Meadows for the Nike Pre-Nationals and race some of the top teams in the region.

“Our coach made a deal,” Lafler says. “If we all got good grades we’d get to come down and race some pretty good guys.”

The Tahoma boys kept their end of the bargain, and then Lafler aced the final, sprinting away from Cherry Creek’s Charles White and a loaded field in the boys’ Jim Danner Championship race at the Nike Pre-Nationals.

The wind swirling across the racetrack infield was a factor throughout the race, especially the gust blistering the runner’s faces on the long straightaway past the grandstand. It meant a conservative first mile as racers like Mac Fleet of University City CA, Spenser Lynass of North Bend OR, Shane Geiger of Camas WA and Elliot Jantzer of Phoenix OR felt out the competition.

“Nobody wanted to lead it,” Lafler said after the race. “Everyone was waiting for someone else to take the lead and pace off them. That wind was killer. Whoever was going to lead that race was going to die.”

Among the early leaders were the top two from Cherry Creek—White and his teammate Walter Schafer. While neither died, both succumbed to the push Lafler put on after the final set of rolling hills.

“Once we hit the hills,” Lafler said, “I was like, ‘I have to take it now or else White is going to get me, because he has a major kick. I watched Arcadia last year and saw him almost get [Michael] Chinchar in the last hundred and I thought, ‘I’ve gotta break this open or he’s got me.’”

White, a miler with a sub-4:10 PR, had the same point of reference for Lafler.

“I’d heard of him,” White said. “I knew he was Chinchar’s top competition last year, from when I raced [Chinchar] at Arcadia. And I knew he was good. The first two and half miles felt pretty easy, then he took off after the hills, and the last half mile was pretty quick.”

Fearing White’s monster kick, Lafler took it off the table by surging with a half mile to go and pulling away for the 15:27 win. White charged home second in 15:30, like Lafler, carrying hopes for a team title on his shoulders. Mac Fleet, expected to be in the mix after a series of fast runs in his home state of California, had to rally from outside the top five in the final mile to place third in 15:33

After his victory, Lafler was exuberant about the quick Portland Meadows course and his team’s promising future. “I really want our team to make Nationals so we can come down here again. I love that course.”

If the Tahoma boys hope to make a return trip to Portland Meadows, they’ll have to pass more than Algebra and English. They’ll also have to pass the Seattle Prep “Blue Train” that roared to the Danner Championship team title.

“The Train is running!” Seattle Prep coach John Robertson beamed as his boys accepted their first place trophy. A team primarily known last year as the squad surrounding Washington stud Max O’Donoghue- McDonald, Seattle Prep has emerged as a rebuilt pack threat with no identifiable superstars. “We’re not Gladys Knight and the Pips this year,” a pleased Robertson said after the awards ceremony. “We’re the Temptations. It’s a fun group to work with and we’ve got a pretty tight pack. We run about 8 or 9 deep.”

Temptations...Blue Train...whatever the nickname, there’s no doubt they’re talented. They turned back the Charles White-led Cherry Creek CO team, 100-119, as well as Lafler’s Tahoma WA squad (136) and NW#9 Lake City ID (5th with 187), NW#4 Snohomish WA (7th with 199) and NW#10 Mt. Spokane WA (10th with 215).

“We don’t have that many races this year where we are racing against top-level folks,” Robertson reflected, “so we kind of pointed to this a little bit. It was a bit disappointing that the real weight of the region was at Bob Firman last week, and we wish we could’ve gone there to participate, but we’re really pleased. The kids have worked so hard.”

A little more of that hard work, and the Blue Train could find itself pulling back into the station at Portland Meadows come December.

Girls Jim Danner Race Story

Last year, in the Jim Danner Invitational at Blue Lake Park, Oregon, a Nicole Hood-led Carondelet CA girls’ team took third in the Northwest Championship race behind Saugus CA and West Valley AK. Hood was second in that race, and her team went on to secure a Nike Team Nationals bid for the December race at Portland Meadows racetrack.

This year, the Jim Danner Invite is the Nike Pre-National meet, the Blue Lake Park site has been shifted to Portland Meadows, and the Northwest Championship race is the Jim Danner Championship race. Amidst all the changes, the Carondelet girls were back for more, riding the same lineup and Hood’s dominating front-end performance to a victory this time around.

The diminutive Hood, who won the girls’ title in 17:57 over Bellarmine Prep WA’s Nicole Cochran (18:04), had fond memories of the racetrack from December 2006, but appreciated the lack of mud and the quicker surface this September.

“Last December we came here for Nike Team Nationals, so it was nice to be back here on a slightly different course and try it again. This is much drier. The course is altered a little, but it’s pretty much the same. The hay bales are gone and it’s a much faster course...it felt really good.”

Hood hung close with Cochran through a lap and half of the twisting course, but started to exert herself after the pair turned out of the blustery wind and cut back across the center of the infield.

“It was hard to be in the wind,” she noted, “but I was just trying to run my own race and not really worry about anyone else out there.”

Behind her, Hood’s US# 9-ranked team was doing much of the same, packing in nicely behind their leader to stave off CA#5 Esperanza, another talented Golden State team.

Esperanza ended up second, with 91 points behind Carondelet’s winning 69, and well-clear of Cherry Creek CO’s 181. NW#7 Boise ID, a team which suffered an off week on their home course at the Bob Firman Invite, rallied back from that ordeal to finish fourth in Portland, edging out a surprising Newport WA team on sixth runner Fiona Wilhelm (191 points each), and defeating NW#3 Snohomish WA (6th with 192) and NW#6 Eastlake WA (7th with 203).

As her team celebrated around her, Carondelet coach Mary Ann Grubb suggested that this year’s version of the Cougars is both the same team that went to NTN last year, and a different squad altogether. “They put in a great summer of training, and are still training well right now. They definitely have set some loftier goals [this year].”

Among those goals is a return to trip to Portland Meadows in December, but with a stacked schedule of races in front of them, Grubb and her charges are taking a wait-and-see approach. “We take things one week at a time, “she said. “We ran here last year in December, and wanted to come back here when the course was dry and leave here feeling fast.”

With an individual champion and a team title heading back out the gates, it would be difficult to leave feeling anything else.

Meet Information

COACHES NOTE: Jim Danner Champs: Teams that will be competing for a top 10 NTN regional ranking regardless of region (this race will be seeded). Division 1 Teams that will be top 10 in their state. Division 2 Teams that will be State Meet Qualifiers. Division 3 Teams that will finish in the top half of their league. Division 4 Portland area teams who are in the building Phase. **All Varsity races are limited to 25 teams **All JV runners will run according to their grade level **Meet management reserves the right to seed all races The NTN course at Portland Meadows is a European style course, making for an exciting cross country experience for both athletes and spectators. The race course is relatively flat, and utilizes grass throughout the 5000m.

AWARDS: Awards will be presented and Nike give-a-ways will be distributed throughout the day. Trophies will be presented to the top five teams in all Varsity races, and medals will be awarded to the top ten individuals in ALL races. A Nike-sponsored Olympic athlete will be in attendance to present awards throughout the afternoon. This promises to be a memorable experience for all involved!

JIM DANNER: Jim Danner is considered the most successful x-c coach in Aloha High history. Coach Danner's teams won or shared six Metro League titles in the 1980's, and followed the district performances up with six state trophies during that same time period.

SANCTION: The meet will be sanctioned through the National Federation for all participating states.

MEET HEAD QUARTERS HOTEL: Nike Pre-Nationals has rooms reserved at the Hilton (Downtown Vancouver, Washington), which is located within 2 miles of Portland Meadows (10-15 min. from downtown Portland). Room rates are $99.00 (all teams and parents welcome), space is limited. To make a reservation, call 360-993-4500, and reference "Nike Pre Nationals Cross Country". Hilton Vancouver, 301 West 6th St., Vancouver. WA

TIMING: We will use Chip Timing in the Jim Danner Championship Division and the Division 1 race. Pull off tags will be used in all other races.

ENTRY INFO: All entries are due no later than Friday, September 14th. Coaches will need to enter athletes at www.athletic.net. The entry fee will be $100 for a boys team and $100 for a girls team ($200 max). Please make checks out to Aloha High School Cross Country.

MEET NOTES: Nike Pre-Nationals T-shirts will be sold for $15. A Nike-sponsored Olympic athlete will be present to sign autographs and present awards. Nike, Portland Running Company, and other sponsors will have a retail tent available for athletes to purchase running gear. A concession stand will be open throughout the meet selling programs, snacks and beverages.

DIRECTIONS: From Portland or Seattle, take I-5 to exit 306B, and follow signs to Portland Meadows. The course is located less than a 1/2 mile from the freeway.


Tim Tank, Aloha High School
18550 SW Kinnaman Road
Aloha, OR 97007
Phone: 503-259-4780
E-mail: [email protected]



Time Race Distance Entry Limit
8:00 a.m. Course Open for Warm Up
9:00 a.m. Division 4 Girls 5k 7
9:25 a.m. Division 4 Boys 5k 7
9:45 a.m. Division 3 Girls 5k 7
10:10 a.m. Division 3 Boys 5K 7
10:30 a.m. Freshmen Girls 5K Unlimited
11:00 a.m. Freshmen Boys 5K Unlimited
11:25 a.m. Sophomore Girls 5K Unlimited
11:55 a.m. Sophomore Boys 5K Unlimited
12:00 p.m. Division 3, 4 Awards
12:20 p.m. Junior Girls 5K Unlimited
12:50 p.m. Junior Boys 5K Unlimited
1:15 p.m. Senior Girls 5k Unlimited
1:45 p.m. Senior Boys 5k Unlimited
2:20 p.m. Division 2 Girls 5k 7
2:45 p.m. Division 2 Boys 5k 7
3:05 p.m. Division 1 Girls 5K 7
3:30 p.m. Division 1 Boys 5K 7
3:50 p.m. Jim Danner Champs (Girls) 5K 7
4:15 p.m. Jim Danner Champs (Boys) 5K 7
4:45 p.m. Division 1, 2, Danner Awards

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