for the Ages:
Moore Nips Lockhart, Leads Midwest
By Stephen (steveu) Underwood
The fans and followers of national prep CC figured this year's
Foot Locker Championships boys race would be a good battle with
several potential winners, but could anyone have anticipated the
closest race for that gender in the meet's 23-year history?
But that's what happened Saturday. And in the end, Tim Moore of
Novi, Mich. had that little bit extra to edge Virginia's Bobby Lockhart,
14:50.4-14:51.5. The closest previous gap was two seconds in 1996,
when Abdirizak Mohamud edged Sharif Karie. It was a titanic duel
that featured numerous lead changes throughout the final mile-plus
as the two regional champs challenged each other.
But the tough battle at the front was hardly limited to Moore and
Lockhart, as six runners broke 15 (also Chris Solinsky, Nurani Sheikh,
Tim Ross and Milos Mitric) and five more 15:10. The hard-charging
Solinsky moved smartly throughout the race and finished third in
14:52.9, just 1.4 back of Lockhart. And, with fine races from Ross
(5th), Sam Romanoski (14th) and a spiked Allen Bader (15th), the
Midwest wrapped up the team title over the South, 38-42.
Moore is (Just a Bit) Better
Moore gave his home state its third individual title in a row and
fifth overall. Only California has more. Moore also justified his
status as the highest returning finisher (8th) from 2000. The performance
capped off a great year that saw him emerge not only from the considerable
shadow of fellow Michigander Dathan Ritzenhein, but also teammate
Chris Toloff (now at Michigan State), who was basically the Novi
leader last fall before a late-season injury.
Neither Moore or Lockhart are top kickers, but Moore dug deep to
find a little more. "I just tried to sprint as hard as I could,"
he said, "and it worked out for me. I had a feeling it would
come down to this. It was tough and Bobby gave me a great race."
The essence of the battle was that of two strength runners who
didn't want to rely on their kicks, yet also didn't want to make
a hasty move. The result was a lot of surging that didn't break
anyone, but still served to up the ante. "I tried a couple
of times, but I figured I would not have the strength to break away,"
"I felt really good and strong the whole way," said Lockhart,
who in defeat still had one of the very best races of his career.
"I wasn't going to let him go. I thought I'd have a little
more at the end, but he just had a little bit better kick."
"The heat got to me," he added. "But Tim had a really
Moore also had a perspective and attitude that served him best.
"I made my moves when I felt comfortable and I wanted to be
flexible," he said. "The big deal was staying relaxed
The Way It Was
West stars Billy Nelson and Yong-Sung Leal ensured an honest pace
from the start, along with Scott Fuqua from the South (who later
faded to last due to a recurring back injury). By the mile, Nef
Araia held the lead, but Lockhart, Moore, Bobby Curtis, and most
of the other principals were there in 4:40, with others close behind.
There were still plenty of contenders at 2M (9:31), but the big
two and the tough-fighting Mitric from North Carolina were heading
things up. Sheikh and Ross were close behind, while eventual third-place
finisher Solinsky was in 9th, but close to the pack.
Moore and Lockhart then began their exchange of small, but indecisive
surges over the last several hundred meters, neither willing to
make a commitment until the final stretch. Solinsky moved up and
tucked in just behind the leaders, while Mitric fell back a bit.
In the final stretch, Sheikh came up for fourth (14:56.5) behind
Solinsky, followed by Ross (14:57.9), Mitric (14:59.2), Leal (15:03.8),
Northeast champ Peter Meindl (15:04.1), Nelson (15:06.7), Jesse
Fayant (15:07.5) and Fleet Hower (15:09.0) to round out a very close
Curtis was a surprise on the other end of the spectrum, taking
just 21st. He said after making a strong move to the lead pack from
a mile to 1.5 miles in, he started getting passed and was helpless
to do anything about it. "It was really disappointing,"
Leal and others spoke of how intense it was out there. "I
just wanted to go out strong and hold it as long as I could. There
were a lot of scary moments out there; every minute, really."
Said Nelson, probably speaking for many, "I wanted to go out
fast. I didn't want it to come down to the last half-mile, because
I don't have much of a kick."
With the dynamic 1-3-5 finish of Moore, Solinsky and Ross, the
Midwest won an exciting team race over the South. The effort was
also epitomized by Bader, who endured some nasty, deep spike wounds
at the mile mark that forced him to limp - but limp in a strong
"It was very hard," said Solinsky. "But I'm very
happy. My goal was the top 5." Ross added that after being
sick at FL Midwest (he was just 6th after actually running faster
than Moore in a different class in their Michigan state meets),
"I finally got to run my race."
The South took third with 52, while the Northeast had 87.
Foot Locker National Finals