2002 Great American XC Festival
Nike's Great Races of America
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Great American 2002

4th Great American
will be bigger than ever

CHARLOTTE 6/15/02 -- Meet director Rick Hill today announced the following statistics with more than 3 months to go before the 4th Great American Cross Country Festival.

  • 562 teams entered.
  • Over 4000 runners from 41 states.
  • Kingwood and Saratoga return to defend titles.
  • Saratoga NY girls go for three in a row but 14 state champs from 2001 to challenge.
  • Solinsky and Kaltenbach lead elite individual entries.
  • Finke named new Meet Director.
  • Resort Hotels sold out.
  • Nike signs on for three-year sponsorship

Entries for the Great American Cross Country Festival, featuring Nike’s Great Races of America, will reach an all time high in 2002 with 41 states sending a total of 562 teams, representing over 4200 runners.  The event scheduled for September 27-28 at the Ballantyne Resort in Charlotte NC will include 22 races ranging from one mile to 8,000 meters.  The Festival, known for its hospitality, team educational experiences and elite competition, will hold opening ceremonies at 4:30 PM on Friday, September 27, followed by an outdoor pasta dinner and collegiate races featuring many of the nation’s best programs. 

The Saturday high school races start at 8:00 AM with the featured Small School Championship Race followed by the elite Race of Champions going off at 9:00 AM and the Seeded Invitational starting at 10:00 AM .  “We have adjusted our schedule for 2002 to make sure our most competitive races are out of the heat of the day,” said Meet Director, Fred Finke.  “When you add the earlier starting times with the fact that the event was moved back from the third weekend in September to the last weekend, running conditions should improve significantly.  The region’s first cold front usually comes in between the second and fourth weekends of September which results in a nice drop in temperatures, especially in the early mornings,” he added.

Two other major changes will be introduced for 2002.  First, elite individuals not part of a powerhouse team will be placed to the Seeded Invitational.  Meet officials made the change to maintain a focus on teams in the Race of Champions.  “In our first Great American Festival, we saw an incredible team duel between Bingham from South Jordan , (UT) and Saratoga Springs , (NY), without elite individuals clouding the picture,“ reported race founder, Rick Hill.  “In our second and third years we allowed elite individuals to run in the premiere team race, but it made it very difficult to follow the top teams.  With the demand for more and more elite runners including Canada and Great Britain it was no longer practical to race the best teams and elite individual together.”

In another change, the Festival eliminated the Open High School Division, which had previously attracted less competitive teams.  The new format places all teams outside of the Race of Champions and the Small School Championship into one highly competitive Invitational Division, where all teams from the four races will be scored together.  This change has been credited with increasing the depth and quality of the races.  In the Festival’s first year, only 20% of the participating teams were located outside of 350 miles from Charlotte .  In 2002, 50% of the teams will come from over 350 miles from Charlotte .  The majority of the growth is coming from Ohio , Pennsylvania , New York , Texas , New Jersey, Georgia , Florida , California , and Utah .


Each of the Championship teams from all three previous Boys Race of Champions will try to become the first boys’ program in 2002 to ever take a second Race of Champions trophy home.  The Woodlands (TX), the 1999 Champion, Mountain View (UT), the 2002 Champion, and Kingwood the 2001 Champion, will all return to face the deepest team race in the short four year history of Great American.  However, they will be challenged by Ohio powers, Hilliard Davidson and La Salle, a very good Marcus (TX), Thomas Jefferson from Virginia and historic northeast power Shenedehowa , NY .  Look for the winning team to have five sub 4:30 milers and three sub 9:20 two milers and all five with sub 16:00 performances in the fall.


Art and Linda Kranick, coaches of the most prolific cross-country program in the nation will go for their third consecutive victory in the girls’ Race of Champions.  After losing to Bingham in the 1999 first running of Great American, Saratoga has been unmatched in winning the 2000 and 2001 races.  In 2002, Saratoga may bring the best girls team of all time to Charlotte as they go for three in a row.  But no less than 14 other state champions from 2001 will challenge Saratoga, including Dickinson, (ND), Turpin (OH), Jenks (OK), Mountain View and Orem (UT). 


 The new four-star Ballantyne Resort, featuring a championship golf course designed for large spectator crowds will be the home of the 2002 Great American Festival.  The resort, which sold out all four hotels six months before Great American will provide a level of events and activities never experienced by high school runners.  New to this year’s festival will be a Saturday afternoon post race swim party and a free coach’s golf outing.   The Resort Hotel located directly on the course will provide a large room for package pick-up and the public living rooms over looking the championship golf course will be the social gathering place for the weekend with a large fireplace, oriental rugs, over-sized sofas, and an open fruit and sports drink bar.  “The primary attraction to Ballantyne are the family living room areas,” said Hill.  “In recent Festivals, our coaches and athletes have told us they most enjoyed sitting around talking to former Olympians and the coaches of historic national powers.  It is like a living Cross Country Hall of Fame and it will be centered around the Resort Hotel’s living room,” Hill continued.  Also the ever-popular dinner dance, marching bands, DJ, professional sports announcers and Olympic athletes will return.


 Nike has signed a new three-year sponsorship with the Great American Cross Country Festival for undisclosed terms.  “ We are very pleased to have Nike to demonstrate their confidence in our event,” reported Hill.  “However, we are most elated in Nike’s commitment to high school distance running.  This sponsorship will allow over 2000 high school teams to realize the Great American experience in the next three years, representing every region of the nation.  Nike’s Great Races of America will truly define the full breath of the American high school distance running community.  This event is creating a shared identity among a vast array of teams from coast to coast and this is immeasurable.”


Fred Finke, long time head coach of Lyman High School in Orlando, Florida and a key leader of USTAF Cross Country activities have been named the Meet Director of the Great American Cross Country Festival.  He currently is the National High School Representative to USTAF Men’s Development Committee and has served in that position since 1995.  He is also the Men’s Long Distance Staff Selection Coordinator for USTAF (Olympics, World Championships).  In 1998 Finke was the first and only High School coach ever selected as a Head Coach of a Senior Men’s World Cross Country team.  He brings to Great American an incredible wealth of experience and leadership.

 Premier Runners to Converge on Ballantyne

The 2002 Great American Cross Country Festival is attracting the nations’ most elite High School Cross Country runners. The Festival’s past stars, which include Alan Webb, Sara Bei, Laura Zeigle, and Alison Tubbs has generated consider attention for an event that has only been around for three years.  Top high school runners flock to Great American because it is the only opportunity to showcase their talents in a national class field prior to the early NCAA signing period and to test their fitness against the best before moving into their state championship seasons.

Richard Hill, coordinator of elite individuals released on June 13, 2002 the following sneak preview of several runners who will run the challenging Ballantyne course.

A full list of individuals will be released in September.  Early entries include the following runners:

 Matt Debole ( Mt. Tabor , NC ) 

  •  3rd              2001 Great American Seeded Invitational             (15:44.9)
  • 1st              2002 Penn Relays Mile                                            ( 4:09 )
  • 1st              2001 NC State XC Championships
  • 16th               2002 Foot Locker National Championships          (15:20.5)

 Chris Solinsky ( Stevens Point , WI )

  • 3 rd             2001 Great American Race of Champions           (15:11.7)
  • 1st              2002 Arcadia Invitational 3200 Meters                  (8:48.4)
  • 3rd              2001 Foot Locker National Championships          (14:52.9)
  • 1st              2001 WI State XC Championships                        (15:07.0)

 Ryan Deak (Chiles, FL)

  •  1st              2001 Great American Race of Champions           (15:18.4)
  • 7th              2002 Arcadia Invitational 3200 Meters                  (8:56.6)
  • 2nd             2001 FL State XC Championships                        (15:36.0)

 Bobby Curtis ( St. Xavier , KY )

  • 1st              2001 Great American Seeded Invitational             (15:09.0)
  • 2nd             2002 Golden West Invitational Mile                        (4:07.6)
  • 1st              2001 KY State XC Championships                        (15:06.0)                   
  • 2001 Foot Locker National Championships          (15:40.9)

Megan Kaltenbach (Smoky Hill, CO)

  • 27th           2001 Great American Race of Champions           (19:15.4)
  • 1st              2001   CO State XC Championship                       (19:05.0)
  • 14th           2001   Foot Locker National Championship          (17:52.6)
  • 1st              2002 Golden West    3200 Meters                          (10:03.3)

 Meghan Owen (Killingly, CT)

  • 10th           2001 Great American Race of Champions           (18:21.2)
  • 1st              2001 CT State XC Championships                        (14:50.1)
  • 1st              2002 CT State 1600 Championships                    (4:55.7)

 Amber Harper ( Orem , UT )

  •  3rd              2001 Great American Race of Champions           (17:58.7)
  • 1st              2001 UT State XC Championships                        (17:58.0)
  • 9th              2001 Foot Locker National Championships          (17:46.1)
  • 1st             2002 Arcadia Mile                                                    (4:53.4)

 Nicole Blood ( Saratoga , NY )

  •  8th              2001 Great American Race of Champions           (18:13.5)
  • 4th              2001 NY State XC Championships                        (18:18.0)
  • 1st.             2002 Loucks Games                                                (4:52.6)

2002 Great American


Charter Sponsors
DyeStat thanks these organizations for providing significant support to DyeStat
in the 2001-2002 school year, earning Charter Sponsor status for 5 years.


Great American Cross Country Festival Inc.

National Scholastic Sports Foundation

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