Top 3 Storylines To Look For, by Kyle Brazeil
1. A Run Of Their Own.
While much of the seasons' focus has been on the 1-2-3 punch at another National Meet, two names are matched to meet up in another Clash of the Titans. From the East Coast, you have PA State Champ Senior Tessa Barett. Not only does she head into the race undefeated, those races haven't even been close. But like last years Sarah Baxter/Mary Cain matchup at NXN, the West brings a competitor of their own to the challenge. Makena Morley of Bigfork, MT was equally undefeated by similar margins. That is, until she met up with Alexa Efraimson at NXN Northwest. Surprisingly, the eventual NXN Champion was followed closely by Morley at their regional, only eight seconds back. That means that these two should separate early, and turn a National Championship into a duel meet.
2. The Unknown Factor.
Two other athletes enter the race as the unknowns. Both Anoush Shededah of MA, and Stephanie Jenks of IA took non-traditional paths to their regional qualifier. Shededah, a native of NY, goes to private school in Massachusetts. There, she runs in a prviate school XC League, with limited racing, and even more limited competition. With a few meet records under her belt, she entered Foot Locker Northeast without the credentials some of the other ladies may have had, but she proved that speed conquers all. Jenks took a different path. She doesn't compete for her schools XC Team at all, preferring to instead compete in Open and College races, where she has fared relatively well. That level of competition is the best preparation for a race like Foot Locker, and both ladies may just be the dark horses at Balboa.
3. Pulling Double Duty.
We may not have gotten the race we dreamed of with a split National Championship, but we will have the ability to put each in perspective. Several athletes will be coming back from the cold up north, and will allow us to gauge the field. Taylor Werner is the top returner, placing 5th overall in the frozen tundra last week. She is projected to take eighth overall, which gives a scale to the difference between the two races. Foot Locker seems to be more even at the top than NXN, and if Werner repeats the form she showed last week, we could see a trip to the podium for the sophomore from Missouri. Other doublers include Kelcy Welch, Natalie Rathjen, and Devin Clark, who all finished in the top 20 last week.
The facts behind the storylines... by Phil Grove.
In 2012, it was a race to remember for the Midwest at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships.
States known for producing corn, wheat and livestock brought a bumper crop of talented, fast distance runners to San Diego's Balboa Park. The girls from the heartland of the U.S. dominated the competition, capturing the top spot en route to placing three in the first four and six in the top 10.
Will the balance of power stay in place or shift Saturday when 40 of the best harriers once again toe the line in southern California with national bragging rights at stake?
One thing that is a certainty is a new champion will be crowned as 2012 winner Anna Rohrer of Indiana had to end her season early due to injury. In looking for a new titlist, recent history in the 5,000-meter race says to consider one of the four regional champions. The last time the girls' national winner did not finish first in her region was in 2007 when Ashley Brasovan of Florida claimed the champion's laurel wreath in San Diego after finishing sixth in the South Region.
This year's Midwest champ was Kelcy Welch of Carmel, Ind. Welch is one of 14 nationally ranked runners entered and is fresh off a 14th-place run last weekend at Nike Cross Nationals.
Finishing ahead of her at NXN and one of the other three national doublers in the girls' race is Taylor Werner of Bloomsdale, Mo. The sophomore was fifth in Portland, is listed in the same position in the most recent Saucony Elite 50 and is looking to improve on last year's 13th in San Diego.
The top returnee from a year ago – Hannah Long of Pacific, Mo. – also will be wearing a Midwest uniform. The junior was 10th in 2012 and is currently listed 14th in the national rankings. Stephanie Jenks of Aurora, Iowa, was second in this year’s Midwest Region and is No. 13 on the national chart.
The top finishers in this year's South Region are back again for another go at the storied double-loop course in Balboa Park and bring U.S. rankings with them. Senior Caroline Alcorta of Springfield, Va., won in Charlotte, is ranked sixth and finished 16th a year ago. Classmate Amelia Paladino of Morgantown, W.Va., is ranked 25th after a runner-up in the regional race and was 30th in 2012.
The remaining NXN-Foot Locker doublers are on the South team. Natalie Rathjen of Dallas and Devin Clark of Spring Branch, Texas, will be back on the West Coast for a second week in a row after placing 18th and 27th, respectively, in the snow and cold in Oregon.
Also racing back-to-back weekends are the West qualifiers, who earned starting spots in the rain last Saturday at Mt. San Antonio College in California. Leading that group of 10 is junior and three-time qualifier Makena Morley of Bigfork, Mt. While a pair of third-place finishes put Morley on the starting line the past two years, a 20-second victory sent the nation’s 7th-ranked runner to San Diego again for a chance to improve on ninth and 24th-place efforts.
Sarah Feeny of Ogden, Utah, also returns for the West team, finishing second at Mt. SAC, while Lucy Biles of Herriman, Utah, was third last Saturday and sports the No. 12 position in the national rankings and Anna Maxwell of Felton, Calif., qualified for her third Foot Locker Final and is ranked ninth.
In terms of national rankings and returnees, the Northeast might have the most formidable resume, sporting eight runners with at least one or both qualifications.
Entering Saturday’s championship race with the highest national ranking is Tessa Barrett of Waverly, Pa. The senior held off all challengers in the Northeast Region and is undefeated heading to California, sporting the No. 4 ranking nationally. Finishing right behind was Anoush Shehadeh of Larchmont, N.Y., the No. 10 runner nationally and a 2012 Finalist.
Hannah DeBalsi of Westport, Conn., was a close third in the qualifier and is eighth nationally, while junior Brianna Schwartz of Pittsburgh and freshman Briana Gess of Haddonfield, N.J., are listed 15th and 17th, respectively, in the U.S. ranking.
Also running on the Northeast team in San Diego for a second consecutive year will be senior Regan Rome of Dallas, Pa., sophomore Megan Reilly of Warwick, N.Y., and senior Katie Lembo of Penfield, N.Y. Rome was 19th, Lembo placed 21st and Reilly 31st in 2012.
New York Speed Ratings courtesy of Tully Runners.
FL FL State Overall Region Region Meet Name Gr School St Region Rating Rating Place Rating Other Seasonal Ratings Makena Morley 11 Bigfork MT West 158 154 1 159 155 (NXNNW), 147 (Cap 7), 149 (Mt West) Tessa Barrett 12 Abington Heights PA Northeast 158 155 1 158 152 (Foundation) Anoush Shehadeh 11 Phillips Andover Acad MA Northeast 154 154 2 --- --- Hannah DeBalsi 10 Staples CT Northeast 153 153 3 148 151 (NE Champ) Stephanie Jenks 10 Linn-Mar IA Midwest 153 145 2 --- Dellinger (16:57) 150+ ???; 141 (adidas NC) Caroline Alcorta 12 West Springfield VA South 151+ 151 1 150 145 (adidas NC) Briana Gess 9 Haddonfield NJ Northeast 151 152 5 151 140 (Groups), 142 (Manhattan), 135 (NJ Shore) Taylor Werner 10 Ste. Genevieve MO Midwest 151 143 4 149 151 (NXN), 145 (NXNMW), 155 (Forest Park) Anna Maxwell 12 San Lorenzo Valley CA West 150 132 7 150 148 (Mt Sac), 146 (Stanford) Brianna Schwartz 11 Shaler Area PA Northeast 150 152 4 136 --- Gabriella Karas 9 Martha Layne Collins KY South 150 147 4 152 --- MarLee Mitchell 11 Bingham UT West 149 132 8 121 135 (Westlake), 135 (Nebo), 126 (Firman) Sarah Feeny 12 Ogden UT West 148 148 2 148 144 (NXNSW), 137 (Firman), 133 (Murray) Amelia Paladino 12 University High WV South 148 148 2 --- 138 (Carlisle PA) Lucy Biles 11 Herriman UT West 147 138 3 142 148 (NXNSW), 144 (UT R4), 142 (Nebo), 141 (Firman) Megan Reilly 10 Warwick Valley NY Northeast 147 149 6 147 143 (NY Feds), 139 (Roy Griak) Samantha Ortega 11 Saugus CA West 146 135 4 144 144 (CA SS), 151 (Mt Sac) Jessica Lawson 9 Corning NY Northeast 146 145 7 141 147 (NY Feds), 145 (McQuaid) Natalie Rathjen 12 Highland Park TX South 146 147 3 142 NXNS(140), NXN(143), 140 (Marcus I) Katie Lembo 12 Penfield NY Northeast 145 145 9 144 143 (NY Feds), 143 (Manhattan), 145 (McQuaid) Kelcy Welch 12 Carmel IN Midwest 145 147 1 140 144 (NXN), 141 (NXNMW), 136 (Culver) Hannah Long 11 Eureka MO Midwest 144 143 5 143 141 (Great Am), 139 (Forest Park), 143 (BrTwil) Hannah Christen 12 Lake Braddock VA South 143 144 5 137 132 (MileStat), 140 (Desert Twi) Rebekah Topham 11 Griswold IA Midwest 142 143 3 137 137 (NXN Heart) Lauren Brasure 12 Rockford MI Midwest 142 142 6 142 --- Mailin Struck 11 Riverside-Brookfield IL Midwest 142 141 7 145 122 (FirstToFinish) Kathryn Foreman 10 Landmark Christian GA South 142 143 8 136 --- Molly Breidenbaugh 12 Trinity Episcopal VA South 142 143 9 --- 128 (MileStat) Devin Clark 11 Smithson Valley TX South 142 143 7 138 NXNS(137), NXN(140) Katy Kunc 12 Lake Braddock VA South 142 144 6 134 129 (MileStat), 127 (Desert Twi) Kirstin Sandreuter 12 Greely ME Northeast 142 144 10 141 140 (NE Champ), 121 (Manchester) Regan Rome 12 Dallas PA Northeast 142 145 8 125 123 (PTXC5) Kirsten Olling 12 Breckenridge MI Midwest 141 141 8 141 --- Abby Hong 12 Mira Costa CA West 140 132 10 141 141 (CA SS), 138 (Mt Sac), 116 (Firman) Rachel Nichwitz 11 Hamilton Southeastern IN Midwest 140 140 9 137 --- Karen Xiang 12 Nease HS FL South 140 142 10 128 136 (flrun) Alex Buck 10 Pendleton Heights IN Midwest 137 137 10 126 --- Sara Tsai 11 South Eugene OR West 135 134 5 130 135 (BorderClash), 114 (GeoFox) Maddie Criscione 12 Park City UT West 134 132 9 135 133 (NXNSW), 128 (Firman), 123 (Murray) Mikayla Malaspina 11 Vallivue ID West 132 132 6 127 126 (Firman)