Ohio's Claire Durkin wins Foot Locker Midwest in record time
Freezing temperatures and a windy morning couldn't slow down the competition at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional Saturday. Claire Durkin (Sr., Worthington, OH) won the girls race in course record time, beating the field by over 40 seconds. Mike Fout (Sr., La Porte, IN) held off the pack to win the boys race. Read MileSplit's account of what took place.
MileSplit Coverage: Foot Locker Midwest Regional Race Summary
Results: Boys / Girls
Few athletes ever win a Foot Locker Regional by more than ten seconds. Ohio senior Claire Durkin won the girls race at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional Saturday by 41 seconds. Many expected a battle between Durkin and Iowa sophomore Katie Flood. While that dual took place during the first mile, Durkin's strong move durnig the second mile ended the question as to who was a better runner on the day.
A strong first mile of 5:45 kept a solid pack of girls together, led by Durkin, Flood and last year's winner Emily Sisson (NE). Once the athletes entered the back hills of the course Durkin pulled away with a phenomenal second mile, splitting a 5:12, to come through the two mile mark well up on her competitors.
Over the third mile Durkin continued to push the pace, while Flood, Sisson, Emily Infeld (OH) and Stephanie Morgan (OH) broke free of the rest of the field to finish 2-5. Durkin's winning time of 17:01 broke the old course record by high school legend Melody Fairchild by seven seconds. The crowd errupted in applause as Durkin surged to the finish, looking oddly surprised by how much she won by.
Behind the winner came Flood, finishing second in 17:42. Infeld finished third in 17:44, Sisson in fourth with a time of 17:45, while Morgan's fifth place finish of 17:47 gave Ohio three in the top five. Rounding out the top seven were multi-time national qualifiers Alex Banfich (IN) in 17:53 and Lindsay Anderson (ND) in 17:55. Chelsea Oswald (OH), Katie Hines (MI) and Meggan Freeland (MI) rounded out the top ten, each finishing at 18:00 or under.
Durkin's race seemed to surprise her quite a bit. Afterwards she said, "My strategy was to stay with the lead pack. After the first mile I seperated from them a little bit." Durkin's last two performances of the year were won by 40 and 41 seconds. She blew through the competition all season in Ohio and is seemingly on the road to challenge the top favorites at Foot Locker Nationals. When asked what her goal was for the national meet Durkin timidly responded, "My goal is to finish in the top ten." If she races the same way she did Saturday the results will be much great than top ten.
FLMW Top Ten Girls: 1.Claire Durkin (OH), 2. Katie Flood (IA), 3. Emily Infeld (OH), 4. Emily Sisson (NE), 5. Stephanie Morgan (OH), 6. Alex Banfich (IN), 7. Lindsay Anderson (ND), 8. Chelsea Oswald (OH), 9. Katie Hines (MI), 10. Meggan Freeland (MI).
Indiana's Mike Fout wins the boys race
A slow start to the boys race made for an exciting finish. The first mile of the race went out around 4:50 for the first mile. At the mile mark all the pre-race favorites were packed together, as Chris Derrick (IL) and Eric Fernandez (MO) led the way. The pack stayed together for the majority of the first two miles, where the athletes went through in a tactical 9:46.
Directly after the two mile mark the race seemingly began as the top athletes started to throw surges into the pace. At the two and a half mile mark four athletes emerged from the pack. Derrick, Mike Fout (IN), Maverick Darling (MI) and Rob Finnerty (MN) each changed gears and surged ahead for good. As the four runners drew near the finish line, Fout unleashed a powerful few strides to gap the field, which he carried in for good, winning the race by eight seconds in 14:55.
Derrick didn't respond to Fout's kick, running a strong second place finish in 15:03, while Darling finished third in 15:06. Behind those three came Finnerty, finishing fourth in 15:11 and earning his first trip to Foot Locker Nationals. Then came the race for the final qualifying spots.
Places 5-10 came through the finish in a flurry. The split on those six runners was a mere six seconds. Kevin Havel (IL) charged hard to earn his first Foot Locker berth in 15:16. Behind Havel were Kevin Williams (CO), Joseph Manilafasha (CO) and Tito Medrano (IN), finishing 6-7-8 all with the same time of 15:17. Junior Bobby Nicolls (CO) ran a brilliant race strategy, sitting on the back of the pack after the two mile shift. Nicolls earned himself a trip to San Diego in 15:19, while Evan Appel (CO) finished tenth in 15:21 to qualify for the second time.
Fout explained his race after the finish, "The start of the race went out really conservative and slow. I talked with my coach about what I should do if the race went out fast, but I wasn't prepared for how slow it went out. We picked it up at two miles and at the end I passed with authority, but I had a lot left."
The greatness that comes with winning a Foot Locker Regional was evident Friday evening at the pre-race dinner. Foot Locker greats Chris Solinsky, Jorge Torres, Ed Torres and Matt Tegenkamp all spoke to the high school athletes, inspiring them to achieve greatness. When asked about what it meant to win a Foot Locker Regional race Fout stated, "All the great guys won a regional." If that is true...Mr. Fout better start getting ready for greatness.
FLMW Top Ten Boys: 1. Mike Fout (IN), 2. Chris Derrick (IL), 3. Maverick Darling (MI), 4. Rob Finnerty (MN), 5. Kevin Havel (IL), 6. Kevin Williams (CO), 7. Joseph Manilafasha (CO), 8. Tito Medrano (IN), 9. Bobby Nicolls (CO), 10. Evan Appel (CO).