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2008 Foot Locker - West
12/06/08 at Mt. SAC, Walnut CA
Jordan Hasay looking for 4-peat;
Trevor Dunbar challenges CA boys again

by Steve Brand

WALNUT CA 12/3/08 -- For Jordan Hasay, the California State Cross Country Championships last weekend in Fresno were like driving a car while peering in the rearview mirror.  With no lack of nostalgia, Hasay looked back on her four-year reign as the queen of the state meet with mixed feelings.  The San Luis Obispo (Mission Prep HS) senior was pleased to become only the second girl to win four straight titles, this one by 1:19, but her real gaze was forward.

“My favorite course is Mt. SAC,” said Hasay after recording the fastest time at the state meet, 17:18, which actually was the slowest of her four title runs.  “I can’t wait to run there.  And as far as my training goes, I’m still two weeks away (from peaking).”

Hasay has some unfinished business, starting with the Foot Locker West Regionals Saturday over the hilly Mt. SAC 5k course in Walnut that she likes so much.  She is looking to return to the Foot Locker National Championships the following week in San Diego for the fourth straight year.  She has had three top-10 finishes in San Diego, including a victory as a freshman in 2005.

Hundreds of runners from the Western states will try to be among the top 10 finishers in the girls (10:05 a.m.) and boys (10:50 a.m.) races.

Few will have the luxury of Hasay’s mind-set going in.  “I wish I could run a fast race (this weekend), but the only thing that matters is qualifying,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where you finish as long as it’s in the top 10.”  And anyone who thinks she’ll settle for anything less than first place doesn’t know the competitive Hasay, who became the darling of the U.S. Olympic Trials this summer in Eugene, Ore. with her long, flowing blonde hair that matched her smooth stride.  It’s just that she’ll put it on cruise control if she can to conserve energy against a field that hardly figures to just let her run away.

The chase group will have no shortage of individuals who come in with glittering credentials.  Among these are fellow Foot Locker National finalist and Xavier Prep AZ senior Jessica Tonn, who finished third in the regionals a year ago, 18 seconds behind Hasay.

There are also runners like Jordan, Utah, frosh phenom Danielle Menlove, who scorched her 3.1-mile state championship course in an impressive 17:42; or those who came on the scene this year with a splash like Washington state’s Alyssa Andrews, whose time of 18:00 was faster than that of Andrea Nelson, who was 18th in the regional last year.  Or 2007 Finalist Taylor Wallace of Klamath Falls OR, who has overcome an early-season injury and recently won the WA-OR BorderClash on the Nike campus at Beaverton OR.  Or Leah Francis, the three-time Alaska state champ who came down and placed well at Mt. SAC in October.

Even California runners who have chased Hasay for years are hoping this is the time they break through.  San Clemente’s Alex Dunne (28th here a year ago but only nine seconds behind Hasay on a time comparison of the state meet while winning Division II), and Sammy Silva of the Academy of Our Lady of Peace in San Diego (state Division II champ) are among those that fit that mold.

Boys - Mt. SAC champ Trevor Dunbar will challenge California boys again.

Unlike last year when the seemingly unbeatable German Fernandez of Riverbank was the clear headliner, no such overwhelming favorite exists for the boys, so there should be a wide-open race.  

Adding to the mystery is the California state meet performance by the lone returning Foot Locker National Championship finalist Chris Schwartz of Bakersfield.  Positioned right along side front-runner Mac Fleet of San Diego with a half-mile to go, Schwartz was not only unable to surge with Fleet, who went on to win the Division III title in 15:08, but he faded to seventh place, 21 seconds back, collapsing at the finish line.

“There’s nothing wrong with Chris,” said his coach, Arron Reitz.  “He said he just ran out of gas, that he had no energy. He was fine at practice on Monday.  “I think he just had a bad day. He’d only lost once before all season – it was an aberration. He’s looking forward to racing against Fleet and (Alaska’s Trevor) Dunbar.”

If you’re looking for the speed runner, Fleet’s the one having clocked a 1:50.40 for 800 meters and one of the fastest 1500-meter times by a high school sophomore two years ago of 3:50.48.   He did not compete at the regionals last year, his foot in a protective boot from foot surgery the week before.  The opportunity to run on his home course before a partisan crowd should motivate the University of Oregon-bound senior.

As for Dunbar, he’s the only one to beat Schwartz before last Saturday, running to an impressive five-second victory at the Mt. SAC Invitational in October.  Dunbar, who placed 52nd here a year ago, had earlier captured the Alaska state title in record fashion, then recently ran a ridiculously fast 9:01 two-mile – on a snow-covered track in a time trial.

For the boys, seniors tend to dominate, especially those who have been on the hilly course before.

That description would fit unbeaten Arizona 4A-II state champ Brian Shrader, who finished 30th a year ago, not to mention other Californians like Crescenta Valley High’s Zack Torres, Liberty High’s Wyatt Landrum and Palo Alto’s Phil MacQuitty.

Some of the other state champions with Top 10 hopes include Hawaii’s three-time gold medalist Bryce Jenkins, Nevada’s Wade Meddles and Bryan Tibaduiza, New Mexico’s Gareth Gilna, Oregon’s Drew Gordon and Wyoming’s Dominick Robinson.