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Regional Editors At the Races

Saturday, Dec 2, 2006 Portland Meadows Racetrack, Portland OR

DyeStat Regional Editors chatted with teams from their regions at NTNs
- read their summaries here -

Northwest - by Dave Devine - Spokane titans Ferris and Mead do well.
Southwest - by Sal Gonzales - Two top 10 finishes for Albuquerque teams
Midwest - by Scott Bush - Westfield IN girls get top 10 but rest of region drops back
South - by John Sullivan - Carroll Southlake fool the experts again with 3rd straight top 5 finish; Colby Lowe shakes off early pileup and closes to 4th
Heartland - coverage by Sal Gonzales - Yankton girls 5th - sickness and injuries drop Potosi & Willmar
Northeast - by Tom Cuffe - FM leads the Evil Empire - Men of Black (Coatesville) triumph
Southeast - by Brandon Miles - Eleanor Roosevelt MD girls rise to 7th - Midlothian girl breaks arm but still finishes
 California Girls - by Mike Kennedy - the Learning Process Continues



Spokane XC Club (Joel Ferris WA)
3rd place – 162

5 Quackenbush, Cameron     16:44.6
 16 Hickerson, David                17:04.6
 39 LaPlante, Nick                     17:32.5 
 44 Maloney, Pat                         17:40.9   
 58 Olsen, Stephen                    17:50.8   
 79 Devlin, Jeff                            18:07.4
122 Hawkins, Paul                     18:48.4

Spokane, riding a Harrier Magazine #1 national ranking, set out to prove there was more in the tank after the WA state win than they’d shown in previous years.  With David Hickerson out extremely well (second off the first set of hills), and the rest of the team in the top 25, Spokane led the boys’ field through the first kilometer, posting 99 points on the live scoreboard to Carmel’s (Jesuit CA) 165.  From there they waffled between 2nd and 3rd the rest of the way, as Cameron Quackenbush surged forward to 5th (16:44.6) and Hickerson faded slightly down the homestretch, dropping out of the top ten to 16th (17:04.6).  Normal top three guy Stephen Olsen had an off-day, finishing as 5th man in 58th (17:50.8). 

Quackenbush, after winning the WA 4A individual title, had aspirations to nail down one of the two available Foot Locker West bids, but fell short when New Mexico’s Ben Johnson (Academy) and California’s Michael Cybulski (Simi West) went 2-3 ahead of his 5th place run.  His greater concern, however, was with the team situation. “We wanted to prove ourselves today,” Quackenbush said as his team awaited the final score. “We wanted to show that we deserved the #1 ranking.  We kept working hard after the state meet, focusing and training.”  Though it wasn’t quite enough, the boys from Spokane surely proved they belonged among the country’s elite with their third place showing.

Mead XC Club (Mead WA)
5th place – 187

9 Lynch, Kelly               16:55.0
 11 Daratha, Kelvin     16:57.0
 18 Hatcher, Dylan      17:08.9
 41 Abata, Mario           17:37.1 
108 Bishop, Ryan       18:32.4
109 Curnutt, Jordan    18:34.6  
127 Kutsch, Steven     18:55.1   

Another NTN race, another top-5 finish for the harriers of Mead.  This was their lowest placing yet, after a 3rd in 2004 and a 4th in 2005, but still demonstrated a remarkable consistency, and an uncanny ability to bring the race when it counts against the nation’s best.  Mead’s lead trio of Lynch (9th 16:55.0), Daratha (11th 16:57.0) and Hatcher (18th 17:08.9) were across before any other team’s top three, but an early pile-up that took out key runners from several teams hurt Mead as well.  Fifth-man Ryan Bishop was left banged up and trailing, eventually finishing 108th, a difficult scoring gap to overcome in a field this competitive.  Hatcher knew it wasn’t Mead’s best showing of the season, but he was upbeat afterwards. “We were just trying to go hard...give it the best effort for the conditions.  Kelvin and Ryan fell at the start, but the top three packed up real well.  We just tried to grind and get it done.” 

Daratha went down in the same pile-up that claimed Bishop, but rebounded to finish a strong #2 man. “Everyone got out fast,” he said later, “the course was muddy and I just went down.  I got right back up and got after it.  We always look for the Ferris kids.  I saw Hickerson up there and I just went after him.”  He and Lynch both fronted Ferris’ second man, but it wasn’t enough to overcome their cross-town rivals, and Mead had to settle for a well-earned fifth, adding another top-5 finish to their storied record.


Billings XC Club (Billings Senior MT)
14th place – 291

26 Hoenke, Bridgette         20:31.0 
 37 Fain, Auriele                 20:43.9  
 60 Lehman, Cara             21:08.6  
 64 Aragon, Alexa              21:14.0  
104 Tollefson, Libby         22:09.0  
111 Fain, AuraLea              22:26.8  
126 Tollefson, Phoebe     22:53.5  

This was the first trip to Nike Team Nationals for the girls from Montana, and they spent much of the weekend in awe of the experience.  Everything from the flight (a first for senior Bridgette Hoenke), to the food, to a nutria they spotted near the lake on the Nike campus drew their attention and their interest.  When it came time for the race, they were ready, if a bit overwhelmed by the muddy conditions.  Hoenke led the way for the Broncs as she has all season, placing 26th (20:31) in a stacked field.  Afterwards she said, “It went great.  It was really hard, but it was a lot of fun.” Junior Auriele Fain (2nd runner - 37th 20:43.9) agreed, saying the course “felt like we were running in sand, but it was an amazing experience, having all of these runners of such a high caliber around me.  It made me run faster.  I’ve never run in anything this well-organized and this well-put together.”  Asked whether she hoped her team could return again next year, Fain was more interested in focusing on the present. “This was one perfect year for this team,” she said. “We had the perfect people come at the perfect time to make the perfect team.  I don’t know if that will ever come around again, so we’re just trying to live in the moment and enjoy it while it’s here.” 

Fairbanks XC Club (West Valley AK)
15th place – 303

39 Rorabaugh, Becca         20:44.3   
 42 Callahan, Maggie          20:51.0  
 65 Davis, Samantha           21:14.9  
 66 Teslow, Kayla                 21:16.5  
 91 Rorabaugh, Marisa        21:45.6  
125 Bowers, Aurora             22:51.3  
129 Boger, Wendy                22:56.9  

After placing 15th in their maiden voyage to NTN in 2005, the Fairbanks girls were looking for a major improvement in ‘06.  They ratcheted up their training and braved the bitter cold before shifting gears and spending a week in Arizona with fellow NTN qualifiers O’Connor of Phoenix.  There, they traded their -25 degree temperatures for 95 degrees, a stunning 120-degree shift in training environment.  If any team should have been ready for the extremes that the Portland Meadows course might throw their way, it was Fairbanks. 

Coach Doug Herron had counseled his runners to get out faster than they were accustomed, after feeling like a slow start doomed them to a lower placing in 2005.  The Wolfpack followed his instructions on Saturday, but it wasn’t enough against the talent assembled on the course.  They found themselves traveling a punishing middle ground of having gone out faster than they were comfortable, with less strength in reserve for the last kilometer than they were used to.  “That was the first time we’ve ever done that,” top finisher Becca Rorabaugh (39th 20:44.3) said afterwards. “Usually we run pace and try to go out more controlled, and I definitely prefer that.  I was really tired after the first quarter mile.  It felt really different, but I thought it worked out okay.  I just don’t think we all had our best day today.”  Their 15th place finish matched last year’s outcome, but for a team hoping to crash the top 10 and further cement the impression of Alaska as a cross country state on the rise, they couldn’t help but feel a little let down by Saturday’s performance. 

SW boys - girls
by Salomon Gonzales

Southwest Boys

7th (190) Academy XC Club
2) Ben Johnson 16:37
12) Dustin Martin 16:59
48) Kyle Cooper 17:41
56) Taylor Murray 17:46
72) Pat Zacharias 17:59
90) Harlan Pietz 18:13
130) Damon Campbell 19:05

The Academy boys toped off their season with a 7th place finish. The Chargers finished in a tie with Clifton Park XC Club but lost the 6th position (80-90). The Chargers were lead again by the dynamic duo of Ben Johnson and Dustin Martin. Johnson was able to finish 2nd and extend is season another week as the junior will be traveling to San Diego to compete in the Foot Locker Finals. Johnson though kept the focus on his team by stating, “I am ecstatic!! We came in ranked 10th and we believed that we were better; “I was going to let my feet do the talking.” Team leader Dustin Martin capped of a great career with his performance at Portland Meadows. The senior was with the lead pack for the first mile of the race and as the race moved through the slop he lost some places and faded to 12th. But the senior took it in stride and said, “I fell I did my job but it still feels bittersweet because it is the last race of my high school career.” Martin did do his job he ran like a hero and displayed the character of a champion. Martin is the only Charger who will not be back for the next cross country season for the Red Army.

13th (315) Los Alamos XC Club
29) Allen Pittman
50) Nathan Romero
62) Gareth Gilna
76) Kyle Pittman
98) Thomas Bowidowicz
110) Thomas Witherell
133) Steven Walter

The Los Alamos boys finished 13th in the battle of the best the best teams in the nation. Los Alamos had four runners involved in the “big fall” and “pile-up” that occurred during the first turn as the team recalled jointly “Gareth (Gilna) fell and 3 others with him. Gareth was still our third man. What a drag.” Team leader Nathan Romero, commented on the team performance, “Our inexperienced showed, we were not ready to run at that intensity for that long.” Their inexperience may have cost them some spots on the scorecard but the experienced that they gained should pay dividends in the long run. Romero is the only runner that will not be back next season.

19th (416) Cheyenne XC Club
46) Scott Foley 17:41
47) Joshua Franke 17:41
97) Laine Parish 18:22
105) Sean Wilde 18:27
121) Devin Rathburn 18:47
134) Micah Franke 19:33

The glass slipper didn’t fit perfectly in this Cinderella story. The Cheyenne XC Club had a great ride but their trip to Portland did not finish like the boys planned. The team’s usual #1 Scott Foley stated, “It was crazy out there. The pack fell in front of me and the pace slowed down.” Many of the runners on the Cheyenne team were affected by the competition as a whole as Sean Wilde noted ““I was so nervous. When I let myself get nervous something ends up hurting and today it was my back.” As a whole it was a magical season for Cheyenne. They persevered through some interesting trials and tribulations that included sicknesses, injuries and inexperience.

Southwest Girls

9th (254) Albuquerque XC Club
14) Julie Brasher 20:04
31) Rachel Velarde 20:36
53) Kristy Hannah 21:02
69) Allison Bedonie 21:20
87) Erin Ostlie-Madden 21:40
94) Laynee Valverde 21:49
119) Faviola Valdez 22:33

The Albuquerque XC Club felt like they had something to prove at Portland Meadows. So did Julie Brasher. The sophomore was 24th at last year’s Footlocker West meet and had yet to live up to the expectations set by the cross country pundits in the Land of Enchantment. But she was able to step up and show here true talents this weekend. Brasher commented, “I got out hard and felt good in the beginning. I have asthma and the weeds in New Mexico usually give me trouble but there are no weeds here.” Rachel Velarde has been the most consistent runner of the group this year. She utilized her usual come from behind strategy again this weekend, but she like most of the girls finished a bit disappointed, “I have never run in such a big race. I ‘kinda’ had to trick my brain and tell myself to keep catching people even though I was hurting.” This team will bring every girl back next year. They now have added the big race experience that the team desperately lacked. They will be a force for years to come.

13th (272) Phoenix XC Club
18) Lindsay Prescott, 20:15.7
30) Camille Olson, 20:35.9
38) Aleina Eisenhauer, 20:44.0
79) Jade Riley, 21:29
107) Kailey Rumbo, 22:15
135) Renee Peck, 23:13
139) Shannon Walsh, 23:49

The Phoenix XC Club came to race this weekend. They had aspirations of finishing in the top 10 and for the first half of the race they were accomplishing their goal. At the 1st and 2nd kilometer marks the girls were in the top 5 and looked like they were going to shock the field. They got out hard and pushed the pace. Early on in the race Phoenix’s frontrunner Lindsay Prescott locked determined as she ran with the top 10 runners. She faded to 18th but battled every runner who passed her. She didn’t let anyone get by without a fight. She will be back next year when she will get another chance to fulfill her dream of running in the Footlocker finals. This season she finished 24 seconds short. The girls from northern Phoenix were not affected by the conditions of the course in Portland. In fact they felt like it gave them an advantage. Camille Olson stated, “We lift a lot and so this type of course was perfect for us.” The Phoenix XC Club will return to warmer weather with a wealth of memories and an

MW boys - girls
by Scott Bush


Elmhurst XC Club (IL)

10th Place Overall - 209 Points
33. Michael Fry - 17:28
36. Steve Sulkin - 17:30
42. Nick Kuczwara - 17:39
43. Tom Achtien - 17:40
55. Alan D'Ambrogio - 17:46
94. Tim Jung - 18:20
104. Mark Sulkin - 18:26
Comments: High expectations were placed on Elmhurst once again this year. Heading into NTN Saturday morning, Elmhurst was the talk of the town in Portland. Dozens of high school distance running enthusiasts were picking Elmhurst to not only win, but to win by somewhat large margins. However, those expectations were crushed in the first minute of the race, as an enormous pile-up in the first 250 meters affected the entire top seven of the squad. On the replay video, it was apparent that most of the York runners went down in the "Tour De France" style collision. The ones that did not fall had to maneuver around and pack and slow way down. While some runners from other teams recovered well from the fall, Elmhurst did not, and had to play catchup the entire race. At the 1k mark, Elmhurst was sitting in 19th place overall and you could see in their faces that they were straining to try to make up ground. As the race progressed the pack of Mike Fry, Tom Achtein, Steve Sulkin and Nick Kuczwara ran and moved up well through the middle third of the race. They especially made a strong move from 2.5k to 3k, where they went from being in 14th place to moving up to ninth. However, from the time they passed the 4k mark, Elmhurst had spent all of its energy just trying to maintain their catchup pace and could not muster very much of a finish as they finished in tenth place overall. Elmhurst ran their normal pack race that they have run all season, but the fall early on threw this team for a loop and they simply could not recover. Team chaperon Dr. Michael Calcagno summed it at the end of the race by saying, "the boys had some bad luck, but they trained hard, raced hard and that is all you can ask for."

Cincinnati XC Club (OH)

15th Place Overall - 326 Points
49. Ricky Lupp - 17:41
51. Jake Nusekabel - 17:42
52. Corey Spriggs - 17:42
73. Doug Lang - 18:02
101. Michael Inderhees - 18:24
103. Mitchell Heusmann - 18:26
111. Sean Comer - 18:35
Comments: A top ten finish was the goal of the team from Cincinnati from the time they were first invited. To beat the predictions that were laid out there was a mighty goal on a day when every team was trying to be their best. Despite not being 100%, with their fifth man running on a stress fracture, Cincinnati ran a team style race like they have all season and finished their race in decent position, but definitely not how they expected. Normal number 2-3 man Ricky Lupp finished first for the team, running a smart and tactical race, moving up through the race and finishing hard. He finished a strong 49th, while two other runners, normal front man Jake Nusekabel and Corey Spriggs finished two and third places behind Lupp respectively. Cincinnati was moving strong through 2k, getting out well in the start, avoiding the big pileup and running tough through the first mile. At a mile and half Cincinnati was tenth overall, but the last half of the race ate up the team from Ohio, as they backslid until the end with most of their runners. Finishing 15th overall, being an at-large bid, is not bad at all, and given a healthy squad, they could have placed higher for sure, but what a great experience for this squad that has tried so hard for the past few years to make NTN. They should be proud. Leader of the pack Saturday, Ricky Lupp stated, "The race and this whole week has been a great experience." So true indeed.

Peninsula XC Club (OH)

17th Place Overall - 370 Points
13. Brian Himelright - 16:59
59. David Petrak - 17:51
81. Joey McCoy - 18:08
100. Tony Marette - 18:23
117. Scott Hilditch - 18:41
120. Matt Weiss - 18:44
125. Daniel Petrak - 18:52
Comments: Few will know this, but a virus spread through a couple of the team camps effecting their top runners. Missouri powerhouse Potosi was one of them, while Peninsula was the other. Frontrunner Scott Hilditch had to be taken to the hospital on Friday, causing this team a little stress that definitely was not needed heading into their toughest competition of the year. With the illness that fell upon Hilditch the rest of the team needed to step up a bit if they hoped to accomplish their goal of a top half finish. From the gun Peninsula ran mid-pack and raced a very even and strong race. While they didn't move up all that much during the race, Peninsula ran the hills hard and really concentrated from 2k to 4k. Brian Himelright, who was the top runner of the day for his team, ran an amazing race. Himelright ran a very smart race, starting in the top 25 from the gun and moving up slowly. Each man ahead of him seemed to be getting very fatigued around 3k, while he made his move to move up. With a quarter mile to go a top fifteen finish was a lock as long as he did not fade. Himelright finished well, and if Hilditch had been a healthy who knows what would have happened with this squad. Regardless, guys like David Petrak, Joey McCoy and Tony Marette ran great races to finish in the top 100. Great job to the boys of Peninsula. You ran undefeated the whole season and came away with an amazing experience running in the national high school championship of cross country.


Westfield XC Club (IN)

7th Place Overall - 210 Points
16. Kristina Krasich - 20:07
19. Maggie Bingham - 20:15
24. Kaitlyn Love - 20:27
28. Breanne Ehrman - 20:35
123. Brittany Rutledge - 22:44
133. Kimberly Robertson - 23:08
137. Dana Christie - 23:29
Comments: Westfield headed into Saturdays race with high expectations just like the Elmhurst boys. Westfield was not expected by many to finish in the top five, however many Midwest regional experts had picked them to possibly be a trophy threat. Knowing full well that their top three, and perhaps top four, could match up with any other teams', the team from Indiana knew they would need a great pack up front and a stellar race from one of their 5-7 runners to finish in the top three. From the gun Westfield jumped out to a very solid front running style of racing. Knowing that they needed to get out fast, as they learned from last years experience, the quartet of Kristina Krasich, Maggie Bingham, Kaitly Love and Breanne Ehrman lead the charge. Through 2k Westfield was in fourth place in the team scoring and looked ridiculously strong up top. Bingham led the team for much of the first 3k, running up in the top ten and looking very good for the first mile and a half. However, just past that marker she began to slow down just a bit and the rest of her teammates started to catch her. The strong pack of four passed the two mile mark still in the top five, and had an outside chance to earning a trophy still. However, their number five was pack in the 100's and they needed her to pass about twenty five people in the last mile to really make that one final push. All season long Westfield has tried to get their number five runner healthy, but they simply did not have enough training time. As the runners approached the final straight you could sense that although Westfield had the strongest top four in the entire race, their number five was just not going to do it. Through four runners Westfield was a trophy team, after their fifth finished they were tied for sixth, losing on the sixth person tie breaker. Westfield ran such an amazing season in the Midwest. They proved they were hands down the best team in the region and ran tough and strong to really capture the spirit of Westfield, the state of Indiana and the Midwest. Great job girls!!!

Hinsdale XC Club (IL)

17th Place Overall - 307 Points
23. Rosemary Hines - 20:24
52. Lauren Zumbach - 21:01
62. Elaine Kuckertz - 21:10
71. Gina Kapusta - 21:23
99. Jenny Laser - 21:58
124. Emily Cleary - 22:45
128. Heather Stevens - 22:55
Comments: In order for Hinsdale to accomplish a top ten finish at NTN they needed to really have a strong pack race with one or two of their girls finishing somewhere close to the top ten. Many thought that if Hinsdale replicated their state performance then they would do well enough to finish in the top ten, much like the surprise performance of Naperville North last year. In fact, many in Illinois were saying that this team was almost an exact replica of Naperville North. However, it is the day that matters most where things are proven. Hinsdale started out incredibly slow unfortunately, and when that happens on such a muddy course with such a high level of competition, to make up that room was nearly impossible. At 2k Hinsdale was 18th overall. At 3k they were 17th. At that point Rosemary Hines was running as their top girl in the top twenty five, while normal front runner Lauren Zumbach was a long ways back in the sixties. With a mile to go it looked like Hinsdale was making up some ground, but with a half mile to go that momentum slowed and Hinsdale ended up in 17th. Team chaperon Jere Hines said, "the girls ran hard and really put in a great effort." Hinsdale did run hard all season long, earned the trip to NTN and tried their best on the day. That is what matters most and a big congratulations to Hinsdale on a fine year.



CARROLL XC CLUB (Southlake Carroll, TX)

3rd place team – 187 points
6. Tara Upshaw, 10, 19:38.1
15. Christina Ferber, 12, 20:04.5
41. Emily Denny, 12, 20:50.1
47. Kirsten Brown, 12, 20:55.4
78. Taylor Stephens, 11, 21:28.9
136. Hannah Brown, 9, 23:18.6
138. Caitlin Gilbert, 10, 23:41.3

Fool us once, shame on you, fool us twice.....

Last year, a solid Carroll squad was often overlooked in pre-race predictions.  The girls then did their talking on the course, ending up 3rd with the fastest team average, on the heels of an 8th place finish in 2004. 

But with both of their 2-time Foot Locker finalists moving on to college, it was “obvious” this was a rebuilding year.  And after losses throughout the season, before putting it together for the state meet title, surely NTN would be a well-deserved reward, but a humbling competitive experience as well?  Indeed, one highly-regarded speed-rating-based analysis posted on Dyestat.com had projected Carroll in 20th place!

Well, the team’s 4 returnees had a different idea.  When soph Tara Upshaw, 23rd last year, took the early lead in true Carroll-style, things were looking up.  She ran a gallant race, ending up 6th, battling to the end.  Then sr Christina Ferber, just 26th at state, moved up steadily to finish 15th – similar to last year’s 70th at 1K to 28th at the tape performance.  A gutsy 41st from sr Emily Denny, suffering from a season-long torn ACL which hurt with each mud-wrenching stride and hay bale leap, was a big improvement on her 93rd last year and state 49th.  Fellow sr Kirsten Brown was on her heels in 47th (65th last year).  Taylor Stephens, the #2 runner at state, but hampered by a sore knee which made it difficult to walk post-race, rounded out the scoring in 78th.  Predictions, projections, whatever – this team is well-coached and just plain knows how to race the big ones!

“I watched NTN as an 8th grader,” said soph Tara Upshaw, whose sister Brooke ran here in 2004 and then with Tara last year.  “I love the whole course, and running in the mud.  We just knew we could do it.  Our plan was to go out fast, see where we’re at, and have every teammate run their best to see what we could do.  Our training has been good the last few weeks, and we knew if we ran our best it would show up in the results.”  The Carroll team uses the Paavo training method, which has some unconventional aspects.  “Yesterday (Friday), I ran 12x400 on a local high school track with my team in 74-78 seconds with a jog in-between.  A regular workout, just like all season.  It’s what we do the day before every race.  It opens our legs up.”

“We were glad to have everyone as healthy as possible today,” said sr Christina Ferber.  “I cut my foot on some glass at the beach (on a meet trip in October) so I was behind in my training.  We lost two great runners from last year, so we had to do things a little differently.  Instead of knowing we’d have 2 way up front, and the rest of us just trying to hold our positions, we all had to run hard and keep moving up as much as possible.”

Tupelo XC Club (Tupelo, MS)

Team 20th place – 454 points
45. Emily Crow, 12, 20:52.9
89. Katherine Steinman, 8, 21:42.9
95. Claire Corban, 12, 21:52.8
109. Maggie McFerrin, 10, 22:17.7
116. Catherine Holman, 9, 22:31.5
117. Maria Holland, 10, 22:31.9
127. Jana Mason, 12, 22:55.0 

The Tupelo girls had a superb school season, including Great American 3rd and wins at Chile Pepper and Memphis Twilight along the way.  At the same time, they realized this was the best field they’d ever faced, and were hoping for a top 15 showing.  And no matter what, the year was a great success.

Senior Emily Crow, a 2-time state champ, ran a strong race in 45th.  She was typically surrounded by teammates during the season, oftentimes one or more ahead of her, which would have produced a result matching, or even exceeding, Tupelo’s expectations.  But it was not to be.  There is never a simple answer, but the course conditions, juggling other sports some of the girls have taken up again after state, youth and inexperience, or the overall NTN experience (distracting to some) may have taken their toll.

“I was pleased with my place,” said Emily Crow.  “It helped that I ran at Foot Locker South as we hadn’t raced in a while.  The conditions were tougher than Great American, because of the mud.”  She and the team were thankful for the opportunity.  “It was wonderful.  We all (team, coaches, parents) met at Maggie McFerrin’s house on NTN Selection Sunday.  Coach (Nathan) Hall left the room to take the call, and then he came back in and told us we’d been invited, and we all jumped up, cheering and screaming.” 

South BOYS:

CARROLL XC CLUB (Southlake Carroll, TX)

Team 11th place – 249 points
4. Colby Lowe, 11, 16:43.8
24. CJ Brown, 10, 17:16.6
53. Chris Moore, 12, 17:43.9
83. Ahmed Toure, 10, 18:09.7
85. Richard Grue, 12, 18:10.3
126. Evan Garner, 10, 18:54.9
139. Kyle Ondrasek, 11, 19:48.5

Along with many other teams, Carroll was involved in the early-race pile-up, with several members going down, including #1 man jr Colby Lowe.  This helped explained why he didn’t take the early lead, which is his typical style.  Nonetheless, the Foot Locker finalist had moved near the lead pack at the 1K.

Lowe, 30th in 2004 as a freshman, continued to run near the front, eventually moving up to finish 4th.  As usual, talented soph CJ Brown was next, crossing the line in 24th, the 2nd sophomore overall.  Then it was sr Chris Moore in 53rd, followed by soph Ahmed Toure in 83rd (finally having a good day after misfortune at the Texas region and state meets) and sr Richard Grue in 85th to round out the scoring.  In total, 249 points for 11th place, an improvement on its 14th place showing in 2004, and better than many had predicted.

“We didn’t worry about predictions, we knew we were ready,” said Colby Lowe.  “I fell near the start, but just got up and didn’t worry about it.  When you come to Oregon, you know its going to be challenging because of the weather.  We just wanted to give our seniors something to remember.”  What about the Kenyans?  “It was awesome to watch them run.  And they came all this way.  I wish they were in our race.”  And how about the upcoming Foot Locker finals?  “Foot Locker South just wasn’t my day.  I felt a lot better today.  Last year (Nationals) was a good learning experience, it will be easier this time.  Both NTN and Foot Locker are great, but I like NTN better because your team/friends are with you.”       


Team 12th place – 293 points
14. Alex Neff, 12, 17:02.9
60. Bryan Downey, 12, 17:52.0
64. Reed Connor, 10, 17:55.1
67. Dominick Zucconi, 12, 17:57.8
88. Drew Butler, 10, 18:12.9
96. Quinn Valentine, 11, 18:21.9
106. Evan Blair, 12, 18:29.0

While winning a record 13th Texas state crown 3 weeks ago, The Woodlands felt they ran a solid race, but had even more potential than they’d shown.

One of those areas was #1 man Alex Neff, who had matched strides for nearly 2 miles at state with two Foot Locker finalists, before running out of gas and dropping back to 9th.  Many felt that a better race plan could have seen him as high as 3rd.  And that’s what happened today, as Neff ran aggressively, but within himself, crossing the line in 14th.  The next three scorers were close, but maybe slightly off, their state meet efforts.  Unfortunately, #2 man sr Evan Blair, the most consistent performer all year, including 12th at state, just plain looked sluggish and had a off day.  All-in-all, the team didn’t hit on all cylinders, but not many programs can do that and still end up 12th at Nationals.

“I got out great,” said sr Alex Neff.  “I was a little worried about going out so hard (after the state meet), but was able to relax during the middle.  Even so, I was very tired at the end and glad to be done.”  No one on the team was on the squad that participated in 2004.  Neff added, “It was a fun, but crazy experience.  It really tests your ability to focus.  It would have been easier a second time around.”

HL girls - boys

Potosi MO (Potosi Boys) - Willmar MN (Willmar Boys) - Yankton SD (Yankton Girls) - Sioux Falls (Roosevelt Girls)

Heartland Boys

8th (191) Potosi XC Club
10) Joshua Mathis, 16:55
17) Jacob Swearingen, 17:07
26) Joshua Thebeau, 17:16
63) Daniel Forbes, 17:54 
75)  Nicholas Niggemann, 18:03
124) Joseph Skelton, 18:50 
132) Evan Kelly, 19:08

No one had a weekend like Potosi’s Joshua Thebeau. On Thursday the senior looked chipper as he talked about the opportunity to “get dirty” in Portland, “I like it when its muddy. We are just happy everything worked out and we are here.” On Thursday night he was sick. His teammates believe that the vomited at least “twenty times” that night. The next morning he was admitted to the hospital. Portland physicians were not able to determine what was ailing Thebeau, but the trip to the hospital kept him off of the course on Friday. On Saturday he was able to put a valiant race together and finish 26th. He was the #3 for Potosi as Joshua Mathis and Jacob Swearingen were both able to crack the top 20. This team had high hopes for this weekend as Daniel Forbes stated, “We came here to win but the realistic goal is 4th.” They were not able to reach the star that they aimed for but the bravery of Joshua Thebeau will not soon be forgotten.

16th (347) Willmar XC Club            
28) Kaafi Adeys, 17:20 
69) Mohame Bedel, 17:58 
77) Mahad Hassan, 18:06  
84) Abdillahi Awale, 18:10 
89)  Mustafa Yusuf, 18:13
131)  Scott Boros, 19:06
140) David Anderson, 20:16

Nothing went right for the Willmar boys’ team. Many people believed that they could be one of the surprise teams of the meet. The action on the first turn set their fate.  As the Willmar boys posed for pictures they reminisced about their race and their falls “Mohame got stepped on hard.” Scott Boros stated, “He got spiked in the head.”  Four of the members of the Willmar team fell in the “pile-up” on turn one. Two of the runners’ injuries required stitches. One of those athletes was David Anderson who stood staring at the gapping cut on his knee that ruined his day. He was not able to get back into the flow of the race after the crash but he had the integrity to finish the race, even if he was 28 seconds behind his closest competitor.  As he looked around he muttered, “Today was a disaster.”  The race may have been a disaster but the team showed championship character throughout the weekend.

Heartland Girls

5th (202) Yankton XC Club
2) Betsy Bies, 19:23 
36) Kristin Sternhagen, 20:43  
51) Tiffany Leader, 20:59  
55) Emily Smith, 21:03  
58) Mariah Hofer, 21:06
100) Megan Hilson, 21:58 
101) Jade Steinberg, 22:03         

Betsy Beis is as tough as they come. You can see it on her face. Most people will never forget the ‘poster shot’ of her finishing last year’s NTN as mud streamed down her face. That picture is one of many that grace the side of the Nike Van. “I hate that picture,” Betsy exclaimed, “I don’t cry mud.” The picture of Betsy that should be posted on the Nike Van next year should be the one of her finishing this year’s race. It will show off the winning smile that that she flashed after she fell 20 meters from the finish. That smile goes perfectly with her attitude. That same smile was a gift to most of the competitors who finished the race around Betsy as the gladly shook hands with many of them and offered them congratulations for a race well run. But it was Betsy who should have been congratulated. For most of the race she trailed Allison Sawyer of the Hilton XC Club. When Sawyer lost a her show Beis made a move that looked like it would seal the deal but Ashley Higginson of the Colts XC Club had a move of her own left and was able to steal past Beis over the last half mile. But she couldn’t steal Betsy’s spirit. The Yankton team showed that the champion spirit is not owned by Beis alone. They finished 5th and came within 2 points of the awards stand. This was the third trip to Portland Meadows for Yankton girls. They were 1 of 6 schools’ to make all three trips. And even if the pundits won’t put their money on the team making a 4th trip I know at least one editor who will.

11th (264) Sioux Falls XC Club
7) Allison Eckert, 19:38   
9) Krista Eckert, 19:40 
80) Seanna Kautz, 21:31
83) Hargens, Erin 21:36  
85)  Bailey Breems, 21:38
103) Caitlyn Crowley, 22:08
132) Sara Ingalls, 23:07         

The girls from Sioux Fall ran together on Saturday. The top two runners, seniors Allison Eckert and Krista Eckert, were within 2 seconds of each other as they both finished in the top 10. Their next 3 runners finished within 7 second of each other but they were almost 2 minutes behind the senior duo.  Their final spread was 2 minutes and it separated them from the top teams at the Nike Team Nationals. They finished within 9 points of the top 10.
19th (266) City of Iowa XC Club
54) Brittany Dlhy, 21:02  
72) Kelsey Hart, 21:23  
73) Jessica Yagla, 21:24  
77) Samantha  Sidwell, 21:27  
90) Anne McKay, 21:45  
98) Cassidy White, 21:56 
130) Emily Fagan, 23:03
The City of Iowa team has been known for their pack running.  They continued that trend this weekend. Unfortunately their lack of a frontrunner was exposed by a very talented field.  Their original race plan was to come from off the pace and make their move on the 2nd loop. They executed their plan but it not to the degree of the original plan. The hole that they dug for themselves on the first loop was too deep to get out of. Brittany Dlhy led the way for City of Iowa when she finished in 54th place with a time of 21:02. Fifty-four seconds later 5 more of her teammates had crossed the finish line. At the finish line she stated, “We planned to make the 2nd loop our best loop.” They did do that but they were not able to get close to their weekend goal of a top 10 finish.




All You Need Is Love
The Beatles (Lennon/McCartney)

Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
It's easy.
There's nothing you can make that can't be made.
No one you can save that can't be saved.
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be in time
It's easy.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
There's nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.
It's easy.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
All you need is love (all together now)
All you need is love (everybody)
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

FM wins, FM wins, FM wins the National XC Title. So ladies how did you win the NTN crown? ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED. The girls out of Section III NY, from a little burg called Fayetteville-Manlius a small town just outside of Syracuse, NY wins the coveted NTN – think of the movie Hoosiers just transplanted to XC and NY. The “perfect” race plan was put together by coach Bill Aris (a cross-country genius) for his young Hornets and Ms. Carter, Buchan, Hauser, Hooley, Chapman, Malone and Caputo executed their coach’s’ plan to a “T”. An ebullient and emotional Aris was quoted after the win as saying, “I am a big fan of Pink Floyd and I’ll tell ya the first 2k was comfortably numb and the last 3k was RUN LIKE HELL! My girls ran our race plan to perfection!”

The FM girls got out well but not great… better yet they got out SMART, just as their coach had instructed them to do. The plan was to race the race as it unfolded and continue to move up as the opportunities presented themselves. The Hornets were in the hunt from the beginning and only continued to improve as the kilos passed. In the muck and the mire the young New Yorkers pressed on like sled dogs mushing to victory on the frozen tundra (Admiral Byrd would have been quite proud). Over the last 1000 meters the supremely conditioned FMers picked up ten points over a National caliber field in recording an astounding 50 point win. The goal over the final “K” was not just to ‘shut the door’ but ‘slam the door’ and they did so with an emphatic bang!

In talking with the National Champions after the race they said that the “secret” to their success this year was their love and respect for each other and their coach and a total belief in what they where doing from the first time they meet for summer training. The NYers from FM like all of the other phenomenal programs in this ‘race of races’ work hard, train intelligently and plan for all eventualities but on this second day of December at the third ever NTN title race at Portland Meadows the team from upstate NY took on ALL-COMERS and stood tall and proud on the top step of the podium. HAIL TO THE VICTORS!

By Teams:

  4 Carter, Mackenzie         10 Manlius XC Club          19:33.1       146.0    146
  5 Buchan, Kathryn           09 Manlius XC Club          19:35.6       145.1    145
 29 Hauser, Jessica           07 Manlius XC Club          20:35.5       125.2    125
 44 Hooley, Hilary            07 Manlius XC Club          20:52.4       119.5    120
 46 Chapman, Courtney         10 Manlius XC Club          20:53.5       119.2    119
 48 Malone, Molly             10 Manlius XC Club          20:56.2       118.3    118
 76 Caputo, Catie             07 Manlius XC Club          21:27.4       107.9    108

  3 Sawyer, Allison           08 Hilton XC Club           19:31.0       146.7    147
 13 Schultz, Caroline         07 Hilton XC Club           20:01.6       136.5    136
 43 Ritchie, Sarah            09 Hilton XC Club           20:51.3       119.9    120
 49 Herman, Shelby            08 Hilton XC Club           20:57.7       117.8    118
 70 Jones, Ashley             08 Hilton XC Club           21:21.5       109.8    110
106 Crocetti, Lindsay         09 Hilton XC Club           22:14.5       92.2     92
140 Abrams, Chelsea           09 Hilton XC Club           24:09.1       54.0     54

  1 Higginson, Ashley         07 Colts XC Club            19:18.4       150.9    151
 11 Jackucewicz, Briana       09 Colts XC Club            19:52.1       139.6    140
 40 Donaghy, Allison          08 Colts XC Club            20:47.0       121.3    121
 67 O'Dowd, Kristen           07 Colts XC Club            21:16.5       111.5    112
 81 Donaghy, Erin             08 Colts XC Club            21:32.5       106.2    106
 96 Flott, Allie              09 Colts XC Club            21:53.5       99.2     99
134 Clark, Morgan             09 Colts XC Club            23:10.0       73.7     74

(Men of Black)
On Saturday, December 2 at 12:00 PM PST the 20 best boys high school teams lined up as equals and the blast of the starters pistol released all 140 harriers from their motionless prison and sent them off on a collision course with destiny. The dreams, the aspirations and the hopes of their coach’s, parents, friends, classmates as well as their community was placed smack dab on their strong, fit and sturdy shoulders as they all looked to race into the record books. But only one team and one individual would emerge as the NTN CHAMPION and have their names forever forged into XC lore.  Once again the Northeast took the mantle of excellence as the best ever team out of the Keystone State – COATESVILLE – aka “The MOB” for their all black uni’s took home the beautiful National Team trophy of the goddess ‘Nike’.

The story of Coatesville is a complex one with a myriad of twists and turns and a set of circumstances that thrust this special group of young men into the National spotlight. Suffice to say that this team, this wonderful team came together to form a brotherhood of excellence that is as deep as the Schuylkill River and as loyal as the Liberty Bell.

Coach Keith Andrew along with assistant Dave Lapp used the wisdom of their collective years to bring about a sage season which would rival the legacy of good old Benjamin Franklin. Known for an aggressive running style the ‘Red Raiders’ did not deviate from their successful formula which had carried them to 8 consecutive victories this year. Coach Andrew and his staff knew the work ethic and the abilities of his finely tuned racing machine and turned them loose on the Portland Meadows course knowing that they controlled their destiny… their fate. And when push came to shove today in the quagmire know as PM the Men of Coatesville emerged victorious over a tremendously talented National field from the best programs around this country. Dawson, Ward, Dawson squared, Pannulla, Leonard, Mahoney and Rosato all dug deep from the gun and maintained their positions throughout the majority of the race.

The gut check came in the final kilo as the MOB had an 11 point lead over a fantabulous Simi West = ROYAL of California team. The proof was in the pudding as the PA squad cemented their dominance over the last 1000 meters and pulled away to a 22 point victory over the boys from the Sunshine State.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED was the feeling in the Coatesville camp and echoed by Coach Andrew. Team leader Kyle Dawson said that the major key was the bond, the unity and the overall focus of his teammates as they prepared for this day. Fourth man Tom Pannulla had the last say on the day as he shared his thoughts, “after winning state we came in here with a vengeance knowing that we had done all the work necessary to race well to complete our ‘dream season’.” Well men sleep well and dream big dreams because you are the reigning NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!

Dream Weaver
Ive just closed my eyes again
Climbed aboard the dream weaver train
Driver take away my worries of today
And leave tomorrow behind
Ooh dream weaver
I believe you can get me through the night
Ooh dream weaver
I believe we can reach the morning light

Fly me high through the starry skies
Maybe to an astral plane
Cross the highways of fantasy
Help me to forget todays pain

Ooh dream weaver
I believe you can get me through the night
Ooh dream weaver
I believe we can reach the morning light

Though the dawn may be coming soon
There still may be some time
Fly me away to the bright side of the moon
And meet me on the other side

Ooh dream weaver
I believe you can get me through the night
Ooh dream weaver
I believe we can reach the morning light
Dream weaver
Dream weaver
Dream weaver

FOREVER YOUNG! ENJOY IT, drink it in!!!



  8 Dawson, Kyle              07 Bridgetown XC Club       16:52.5       193.5    194
 20 Ward, Sean                07 Bridgetown XC Club       17:10.8       187.4    187
 21 Dawson, Owen              07 Bridgetown XC Club       17:12.6       186.8    187
 32 Pannulla, Tom             07 Bridgetown XC Club       17:27.6       181.8    182
 45 Leonard, Jason            07 Bridgetown XC Club       17:41.4       177.2    177
 61 Mahoney, Andrew           08 Bridgetown XC Club       17:53.7       173.1    173
 71 Rosato, Chris             09 Bridgetown XC Club       17:59.1       171.3    171

1 Murdock, Steve            07 Clifton Park XC          16:26.9       202.0    202
 15 Predmore, Zachary         07 Clifton Park XC          17:03.6       189.8    190
 40 Quinn, Adam               07 Clifton Park XC          17:35.6       179.1    179
 66 Soller, Thomas            07 Clifton Park XC          17:56.9       172.0    172
 68 Suriano, Zachary          08 Clifton Park XC          17:57.8       171.7    172
 80 Danaher, William          09 Clifton Park XC          18:07.9       168.4    168
102 Wilbur, Michael           07 Clifton Park XC          18:25.3       162.6    163

54 Terry, Matt               08 Danbury XC Club          17:45.5       175.8    176
 65 Becker, Brady             07 Danbury XC Club          17:55.8       172.4    172
 91 Balmaseda, Richardo       08 Danbury XC Club          18:15.4       165.9    166
 92 Schaefer, Tucker          09 Danbury XC Club          18:17.5       165.2    165
 93 Boudreau, Parker          08 Danbury XC Club          18:19.6       164.5    164
113 Bubniak, Joseph           09 Danbury XC Club          18:37.0       158.7    159
129 Rau, Justin               08 Danbury XC Club          19:04.6       149.5    149


by Brandon Miles

Midlothian VA (Midlothian Boys) - Chapel Hill NC (Chapel Hill Boys) - Midlothian VA (Midlothian Girls) - Greenbelt MD (Eleanor Roosevelt Girls) - Wilmington DE (Tatnall Girls)

PORTLAND, OR -- The Southeast Region did not have the greatest day at Nike Team Nationals. The boys had the last place team in the field with Chapel Hill XC Club (Chapel Hill NC) and despite having a pre-race favorite in Midlothian XC Club (Midlothian VA) and predicted top five finisher in Greenbelt XC Club (Eleanor Roosevelt MD), neither ended up cracking the top five at Portland Meadows. The news was not entirely dim for the Southeast. Despite being part of a major fall and pileup with less than 300 meters into the race, Midlothian junior Jason Witt had a gutsy run to take seventh overall in 16:51. While the Southeast girls were unable to matchup with the Northeast, who continued their dominance at NTN with three of the top four teams, the region's three team representatives all finished in the top 12 and their first two top ten teams.

Midlo #2 M.C. Miller breaks arm in fall early on to lead to team's misfortunte in Portland

In their first NTN experience, the Midlothian XC Club girls of Virginia had some growing pains. Luckily for them, only one runner graduates from their top seven in senior M.C. Miller. The team's usual number two or three runner, Miller, fell midway through the race and broke her arm. She was never able to recover and faltered to a 97th place finish in 21:55 as the team's sixth finisher. The team from Midlothian finished 10th overall in the team standings with 255 points. A considerable point swing could have occured in their favor without the fall from Miller. The Virginia team was led by the freshmen Lautzenheiser twins Kathleen (22nd, 20:21) and Leia (27th, 20:35) with top 30 finishes. Midlothian sophomore Paige Johnston (59th, 21:06) and junior Samantha Dow (61st, 21:08) moved up in the field after slow starts, but not far enough while freshmen Amy Witt (86th, 21:39) rounded the team's scoring. Not the day wanted by the Virginia 3A state champion and Eastern States Champ at Manhattan in October against the three Northeast teams, who took three of the top four places at NTN.

Despite adversity this season, Roosevelt MD girls rise to top again as SE top team

Audio Interview with Marika Walker

The Greenbelt XC Club (Eleanor Roosevelt MD) girls were once again the Southeast Region's top finishing team for the second year in a row (11th in 2005) as the team battled great adversity throughout the season with injuries and team suspsension of two of their top three runners at the state meet. The Maryland team was eighth overall and 12 points ahead of Midlothian with 243 points. "I'm so proud of these girls. Every problem we've had, brought us together. Over time, we have become closer than we have even been," said Roosevelt's top finisher and senior Marika Walker, who finished just off the top ten in 12th place with a time of 19:54. Like Midlothian, Saturday could have been a lot better for Greenbelt as their number two runner Teshika Rivers struggled with a hip flexor injury to finish 88th overall in 21:41 as the team's fifth finisher and one of their top five runners in Tyreka Arrington lost one of her shoes in the first 300 meters in the race, yet still managed to finish 74th overall in 21:25. Rivers had finished 26th in the 2005 NTN race. A duplicate finish in 2006 would have Roosevelt a similar shift in points and place as a good day for Midlothian's M.C. Miller.

At-large Tatnall squad has respectable showing in NTN debut

The Wilmington XC Club (Tatnall DE) girls were in the top ten at one point of the day as incorrect team results had the team from Delaware in eighth with the final team standings. Once the team scores were adjusted, the Southeast Region's first at-large team finished a respectable 12th place with 268 points. Only 24 points separated them from the region's top finishing team in the region in Greenbelt to showcase the close proximity of the three regional teams in the meet. Tatnall sophomore Juliett Botorff led the squad with 20th place individual run of 20:17 as the Southeast's second highest finishing individual. Finishing 12 places and 11 points behind Botorff was senior team member Jenna McCartan with a solid race time of 20:38 for 32nd place. The NTN experience is one many Tatnall seniors will remember always as McCartan was one of three senior finishers along with Joanie Castango (84th, 21:37) and Annie Castagno (113th, 22:29). However, Tatnall still has a nucleus of returnees from next year with Botorff, junior Katie Kershner (57th, 21:03), Molly Parsons (75th, 21:27), and Kallie Fehr (131st).

While the Southeast girls had the potential to have a big day in Portland without a few off days from some of their key runners, but the boys in the region still have a ways ago. The Southeast will have to wait till next year to see if they can get a team in the top ten after a third unsuccessful try on Saturday. The Midlothian XC Club (Midlothian VA) was the region's best shot this year coming in as the Virginia 3A state champion and region's top ranked team, but fell four places and well over 100 points behind a tenth place finish in 14th place with 324 points.

Witt bounces back from big fall early to lead Midlo boys

Audio Interview w/ Jason Witt

The bright spot for Midlothian and the Southeast boys was the individual run by junior Jason Witt. Witt, who was considred as an outside hopeful at qualifying for Footlocker Nationals, finished 15th last weekend in Charlotte at Footlocker South. Witt came back one week later to race at Nike Team Nationals and put together his greatest race of the season and it did not exactly start out smoothly. The boys championship race had a major spill that included dozens of runners within the first quarter mile and first turn of the race and Witt went down in the middle of it. "Mentally that was a hard blow at the start because you always visualize a perfect race or start and get out where you want to be. I was way back and I had never been in that position before," said Witt. Witt handled the new position well in getting stuck behind early and in tough footing to move up through, Witt continued to pick runners off throughout the race and until he found himself finishing seventh overall in 16:51. The Midlothian junior was eight seconds off two-time Footlocker qualifier Colby Lowe from Carroll XC Club (Southlake Carroll TX), who finished fourth overall in 16:43 in Portland. Lowe had finished 18 seconds of Witt at Footlocker South with a 7th place run. The whole race including the last 200 meters, I was still working my way up.

However, Nike Team National is a team event and Midlothian has a team took a so-so finish of 14th place. Not great in looking at theteam's optimstic expectations coming in, but not awful either consider the outsider's expectations of the team. The next four finishers for Midlothian were closely packed in their finish with only 14 seconds separating them, but the small spread does a team no good when those finishers are the in back half of a competitive team field such as NTN with Mark Merritt (70th, 17:58.7), Jonathan Mellis (74th, 18:03), Michael Hammond (8th, 18:11), and Tommy Reese (87th, 18:12). Four of the top six finishers for Midlothian will be returning next year including top ten finisher Witt, so if they are able to make a return trip to Oregon, they will have some valuable experience on their roster. "The guys said they felt good, so whatever position we end up, we'll be happy with. Hopefully we can make it back next year and improve upon that performance," said top finisher Witt.

Chapel Hill boys earned their way back, but field was too much

Chapel Hill XC Club (Chapel Hill NC) did have experience from last year's NTN team, which took 12th as a team in 2005 at Portland Meadows, but the lack of front running power proved to be too much for the North Carolina team to overcome as only sophomore Taylor Gilland cracked into the top 100 as one of the top finishing sophomores in the race in 27th place in a time of 17:18. Chapel Hill overcame a lot of key losses due to graduation to get back to Oregon and win another state championship in North Carolina, but being competitive at NTN again was too much of challenge as the team took last place in 20th with 487 points. The team should be still proud of their season to earn the trip back to Oregon as the only repeat qualifier.

 California girls

The Learning Process Continues

    After the first three years of the Nike Team Nationals at Portland Meadows race Course, it is becoming clearer and clearer that California’s girls are still learning to deal with conditions which they never encounter and would have difficulty in simulating. Newport/Corona del Mar XC club from Newport Beach placed sixth behind Fayetteville-Manlius XC and defending champion Hilton, two teams from New York that finished 1-2.
     Last year Newport /Corona del Mar also finished sixth with 128 points. That team is generally considered one of the very best ever produced in the Golden State. Coach Bill Sumner, who has been coach cross-cross country for 35 year and high school age athletes for 25 year said, “This is really a learning process.”
        “After being here last year, it seemed that the successful teams were patient,” Sumner continued. “It is not a dry course (an understatement) and not a fast course. We wanted to go slow at the beginning and move up and that is what we did, going from 8 at the first kilometer to third at the four kilometer. Unfortunately we did not finish well but we succeed in doing what we wanted to do.”
      Newport got what it needed from its top three. Sarah Cummings was eighth in 19:39.8, behind Ashley Higginson of Colts XC from Colts Neck, N.J., who won in 19:18.4. Junior Shelby Buckley was 10 in 19:51.2 and Alison Damon was 17th in 20:12. However, Newport’s next two runners were Hilary May in 82nd and Allison Gushue
in 93rd. for a total of 210 points. The silver lining for Cummings and Buckley is that they both qualified for the Foot Locker national individual cross country championships in San Diego.
        California’s other two teams entries did not perform quite as well as Newport. Concord/Carondelet XC team was 16th and Santa Clarita Valley from Saugus was 18th.
Concord/Carondelet was a bit of a surprise NTN qualifier after they won the State Division II title and received an at-large berth. Concord got solid performances from their top four led by freshman Nicole Hood, who finished 25th in 20:28.7. “Our focus all year was to win State,” said Coach Mary Ann Grubb. “We looked at NTN as a bonus. In answering whether the team had ever run in theses conditions (temperatures in the low 30’s and very slippery mud), Grubb had a one word answer, “No.” Grubb’s plan was to go out hard and avoid the mud pits. “We did a good job but we were just awash in mud.” 
       Santa Clarita Valley/Saugus XC was the victim of sickness as most of the team missed school earlier in the week and their performance show the effect. From the middle of the season there was very little difference between Newport/Corona del Mar XC and Santa Clarita Valley/Saugus yet here Newport ran 103:07 while Santa Clarita Valley run 106:24. Shannon Murakami was the top finisher in 21st for Santa Clarita Valley in 20:18.0. When the team was asked if they had ever run in such conditions, Murakami answered for the entire squad, “Never, this was by far the toughest race I have ever been in”.
      Both Concord/Carondelet XC and Santa Clarita Valley could have an opportuninty to test the theory that teams improve on a course they have previoulsly run. Concord returns its top seven and Santa Clarita Valley/Saugus returns 13 of 14.

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