Trotter, Odlaug . . . a familiar story
By Stephen Underwood (steveu)
If you substitute Amber Trotter for Dathan Ritzenhein and Erika
Odlaug for Alan Webb, this year's girls Foot Locker championship
bears something of a resemblance to the 2000 boys: A few very strong
favorites and a lot of possibilities beyond that. That's my opinion
and I'm sticking to it.
I label myself among the unfortunates that has not seen Trotter
race in person since her self-described recovery began from anorexia.
Or maybe "race" isn't the right word. Even at monster
meets like Mt. SAC, Cal State and FL West, the race has been behind
the Ukiah, California senior. Amber's seriously looking like one
of the most talented prep runners ever. Given her typical 5:05-range
opening miles, and assuming she'll wisely take into account any
warm, humid conditions Saturday, the race for first should belong
Or does it? If Trotter goes out per normal, how everyone else reacts
will dictate how the cards fall. And the first girl to consider
in this equation is Illinois' Erika Odlaug - who is hard to imagine
as anything but a favorite. The FL Midwest champ is a warrior who
has been tearing it up since last spring, when she won the Golden
West 2M. If she matches Trotter's opening salvo, the excitement
level will be sky-high
kind of like what people were hoping
for with Ritz and Webb last year.
Odlaug's response will also affect everyone else. If she goes with
Trotter, look for most of the rest of the leading contenders for
top-5 spots to collect in a formidable chase pack. If she doesn't,
the field could become spread-eagled.
Those who could contend are many, but a short list should include
Natasha Roetter of Massachusetts, New York's Molly Huddle, Michigan's
Nikki Bohnsack, North Carolina's Laura Stanley, Florida's Kara Scanlin,
New Mexico's Felicia Gulliford and Colorado's Megan Kaltenbach -
Roetter is last year's top returning finisher (4th), and how confidence
and aggressive she's willing to be will make the difference. Huddle
has a tendency to go out hard, but is getting better at pacing herself.
Stanley and Scanlin are part of a group of four returning runners
from the South. They've been here before and are probably underrated.
But the most interesting racers to watch in this group could be
Bohnsack and Guliford. The former is a sophomore who challenged
Odlaug in the Midwest before falling back. At least she knows what
it's like to try and run with Odlaug. Guliford nearly won in '99
before health problems slowed her progress last year. She is also
one of the most dangerous finishers.
Finally, Kaltenbach, though she was just 6th in the Midwest, has
run a 10:11 3200, and I never count out a 10:11 3200-meter runner.
In fact, Megan epitomizes the fact that there are many runners who
could surprise in the top 10, or even top 5
if they are willing
and confident to really go after it.
So there's what Trotter does, how Odlaug reacts and what happens
to the rest of the field in their wake - three races in one, if
you will. But if you want to make any bets at all this weekend,
bet on Trotter. Or better yet, take Trotter and Odlaug against the
field. It will be a real surprise if neither wins.
Foot Locker National Finals