Last fall the Foot Locker South girls squad ran strong from start to finish in San Diego, scoring a 1-2 finish up top and tying the Northeast girls for the team trophy. This year eight of the ten female Foot Locker qualifiers return, led by defending national champion Ashley Brasovan (FL) and 2006 national champion Kathy Kroeger (TN) (pictured above by John Herzog). The boys side will follow the lead of '07 Foot Locker qualifiers CJ Brown (TX) and Thomas Porter (VA). These could very well be the strongest boys and girls contingents for the South squad in some time.
South Individual Rankings
1. C.J. Brown (Sr., Southlake Carroll, TX) - After earning a spot at Foot Locker Nationals last fall, as well as helping his team earn a berth to Nike Team Nationals, Brown should have high expectations heading into this fall campaign. After dominating Texas cross country last fall with his all-American teammate Colby Lowe, Brown will look to finish on top in Texas, in the South Region and possibly the national meet. With a 24th place finish to his name at Foot Locker Nationals in 2007, and a fifth place finish at NTN individually, Brown has the tools to finish as a high placing all-American this fall.
2. Thomas Porter (Sr., Mountain View, VA) - After placing 40th at Foot Locker Nationals last fall, Porter looks to redeem himself and make a statement this fall that his '07 finish certainly wasn't a showcase of his true abilities. While running a rather quiet spring of track, Porter consistently improved his personal best times, gaining strength for a big track season ahead. With so much success in his junior year, Porter is still lacking an individual state title in Virginia. You can bet winning the state title is his number one goal heading into the season.
3. Reed Connor (Sr., The Woodlands, TX) - The Woodlands has the richest history of qualifying athletes to Foot Locker Nationals, and this year Connor could add his name to that deep list. After a solid junior cross season, one that finished with a bit of disappointment due to an illness that hit him hard during the last few meets of the year, Connor bounced back to run extremely well this past spring. At the Texas State T&F Championships, Connor placed second in the 3200m run in 9:08.16 and third in the 5A 1600m event with a 4:13.28 clocking. On top of that, the senior helped guide his squad to NON all-American relay performances, including a DMR victory. With a season of good health and another summer of mileage underneath him, Connor could very well prove to be the top runner in the South.
4. Alex De La Garza (Sr., Mercedes, TX) - Perhaps the most overlooked of all the top runners in the region, De La Garza showed time after time last year that he is a force. Last fall De La Garza ran a great race at state, finishing in the top five. He then carried on that success with a solid performance at Foot Locker South, which saw him finish as the fifth non-senior. During the track season De La Garza finished with a 3200m best of 9:19.28, while placing second in the 4A 1600m run with a 4:12.28 time. His continued progression should mean big things ahead for the senior.
5. Zachary Ornelas (Sr., Vista Ridge, TX) - While Ornelas carried his track season a bit farther than most Texas distance runners, he showed time and again in the post-season that he was one of the better steeplechase talents seen in quite some time. Orenlas came up big at Nike Outdoor Nationals, placing first in the steeplechase event, outkicking the field over the final 400m. The Vista Ridge senior also placed second in the state 4A 3200m run, finishing with a nice personal best of 9:11.08.
6. Craig Lutz (So., Marcus, TX) - As a mere freshman, Lutz finished fourth overall in the 5A state cross country race, while also finishing in 31st place at Foot Locker South. With so much success in his first high school season, which in track included a 9:14.09 3200m personal best, Lutz has to be looked upon as one of the favorites in the region this year assuming he continues to improve. His smaller stature indicates that he still has plenty of room to grow, and he has shown no signs of slowing down. It's rare to have a sophomore qualify for Foot Locker Nationals, but Lutz could be the exception this season.
7. Matt Sonnenfeldt (Sr., Knoxville West, TN) - Riding the roller coaster of up and down performances, Sonnenfeldt finished a strong second last year at the Tennessee State CC Championships, finishing only behind all-American runner Sean Keveren. With Keveren moving on, Sonnenfeldt now moves into the top posititon in Tennessee, hoping to show he can run with anyone in the land. As the fourth returnee to Foot Locker South this fall, his odds are great that he'll be making a trip to compete in San Diego later this season.
8. Andrew Colley (Sr., Jamestown, VA) - Last fall Colley nearly beat Foot Locker finalist Peter Dorrell at the Virginia State Cross Country Championships. Losing by a slim margin, Colley used that to motivate himself in the spring, lowering his 3200m personal best to 9:09.97 at the Dogwood Track Classic. With a solid spring of results under his belt, Colley should be eyeing not only the top spot in his state classification, but the top spot in Virginia.
9. Bill Matthews (Sr., Baylor, TN) - While in-state rival Sonnenfeldt ranks as the South #6 runner, Matthews could make a case that he's the top runner in Tennessee. For the past few years he's dominated competition in the state, this past spring winning the 800-1600-3200 combination at the state track meet. He also took his talents westward, placing fifth in the Golden West 3200m run with a 9:11.29 effort. With a few teammates to push him throughout his workouts this season, Matthews could very well become the next great Tennessee distance runner.
10. Patrick McGregor (Sr., Hoover, AL) - Sit with the front runners and when it gets to the bell lap, simply explode around the competition and drive to the finish. That seemed to be McGregor's style all spring, as he time and again blasted his competition away with a furious kick. Working on his speed this past track season, McGregor got his best mile time down to 4:10.73, placing fifth in the NON mile. He also dominated Alabama distance runners, winning state titles in the 1600m and 3200m. While a bell lap kick doesn't necessarily work in cross country, McGregor did prove that he can run with nearly anyone in the country, and if he can replicate that attitude over 5k, he'll finish very well in national competitions once again.
11. Parker Stinson (Jr., Cedar Park, TX) - Last fall Stinson was getting ready to run his sophomore season in cross country, racing the courses throughout the state of California. This fall Stinson will get a chance to show his talent over the courses of Texas, as the transfer moved to Texas in between his cross country and track seasons last school year. After showing some promising signs of success last fall, Stinson took his talents one step further by placing third at the Texas State T&F Championships in the 3200m 5A race, running an exceptional 9:09.84. If he can show consistency and a bit more improvement this fall, Stinson should earn a trip back to California come December.
12. Ben DeJarnette (Sr., Atlee, VA) - He may not have the same credentials in the longer events as some of the others on this list, but DeJarnette's rate of improvement has been strong over the past season, setting himself up well for his senior season. As one of the top returnees in the state of Virginia, DeJarnette showed time and again last year that he would be a force in 2008. With a gutsy 5k performance at Nike Outdoor Nationals under his belt, as well as a 4:14.84 1600m performance, DeJarnette looks to guide the Virginia contingent all season long.
1. Ashley Brasovan (Sr., Wellington, FL) - Where else are you supposed to rank a defending national champion? Last year Brasovan broke her Foot Locker South Regional curse, finishing sixth and good enough to qualify to the national meet. Similar to her accomplishments all year leading up to that point, Brasovan took to the Foot Locker National course, simply breaking down her competition over the final mile and proving her talents against the best in the land. While she came down with an injury during the early part of the track season, Brasovan bounced back nicely to easily win the Nike Outdoor National 5k, and winning another state title in the 3200m run. Assuming she can stay healthy this fall, Brasovan should look to compete for the national title once again.
2. Kathy Kroeger (Sr., Independence, TN) - Last fall Kroeger was considered an underdog heading into Foot Locker Nationals despite winning the event the year prior. The reasoning for Kroeger's underdog status came from the fact that she sat out the track season before, perhaps losing fitness, but gaining health at the same time. However, Kroeger overcame the critics to finish second overall at Foot Locker Nationals, setting up a historic clash this fall with Brasovan and '05 champion Jordan Hasay. This spring Kroeger put up some solid efforts, including a fourth place finish in the two mile at NON in 10:24.53, while earning a fifth place finish in the mile with a 4:51.47 effort. With a full year of health under her, Kroeger can now focus on winning another Foot Locker championship.
3. Chelsey Sveinsson (So., Greenhill, TX) - What a freshman season Sveinsson had! After qualifying for Foot Locker Nationals, Sveinsson took it one step further by finishing 15th overall among the nation's best, earning top freshmen billing as well. During the indoor season, Sveinsson came up big at Nike Indoor Nationals, winning the freshmen girls mile with the top time of the weekend, while winning the 800m dash as well. With the whole nation a buzz for Sveinsson, she backed that up with a top three finish in the Penn Relays mile in 4:43.51. While she seemed to tired out a bit towards the end of the season, Sveinsson proved she was the top freshman in the land this past year and looks to make similar progress this fall, eyeing a top five finish at Foot Locker Nationals. If she improves at the same rate she did in her first high school season, don't be surprised to see her accomplish that goal.
4. Madeline Morgan (Sr., Mountain Brook, AL) - After winning Nike Team Nationals last year, beating Foot Locker top ten finisher Katie Flood, Morgan showed that she is one of the best in the country. Morgan continued her success this past track season, which saw her place second in the Nike Indoor National mile, then go on to win two inidividual events at the Alabama State T&F Championships, as well as guide her Mountain Brook teammates to a big win in the 4x800m relay. Morgan's state individual wins were quite impressive, running 10:36.04 for 3200m and 4:55.61 for 1600m. This fall Morgan not only looks to prove once again that she's one of the best in the country, but also lead her team to a potential top three finish at Nike Cross Nationals.
5. Kayla Hale (Sr., Holy Trinity, FL) - Often overlooked due to running in the small classification in Florida, Hale has shown for the past few years that she's one of the best in the nation. Last fall Hale earned a top twenty finish at Foot Locker Nationals, finishing 19th overall. This spring she easily swept through the competition in her state track meet, while focusing on the post-season Running-Zone.com All Class Showdown, which saw her finish fourth overall in the 3200m in 10:37.59, only losing to the other three Florida Foot Locker finalists.
6. Cory McGee (Jr., Pass Christian, MS) - A star since her first race her freshman year, McGee rides into her junior year with a load of expectations, hoping to bounce back from her 27th place finish at Foot Locker Nationals last year. This past spring McGee showed her speed on the oval once again. After winning Mississippi state titles in the 800m, 1600m and 3200m events, McGee placed a rousing fifth at USATF Junior Nationals in the 1500m run, finishing with a great mark of 4:25.88. McGee runs with a consistent rythm, one that should help her earn another trip to San Diego later this year.
7. Brittany Koziara (Sr., Boone, FL) - The 2007 cross country season was a magical one for Koziara. It seemed as though the then junior broke out of her shell and capitalized on her talent, earning a spot on the Foot Locker South squad, then finishing a very solid 29th place. With that experience and accomplishment now setting a precident, Koziara continued her success this spring with a state title in the 1600m run, while placing third in the post-season Running-Zone.com All Class Showdown, where she ran the 3200m in 10:36.14.
8. Lauren Smith (Jr., Brazoswood, TX) - Last fall Smith came up big at Foot Locker South, qualifying for the national meet. In San Diego, Smith took full advantage at the presented opportunity, finishing 17th overall. While her spring track season wasn't on par with where she finished her cross country season, Smith still showed signs of greatness and should contend for another qualifying spot this season. The talent is deep in Texas once again, and Smith looks to lead that group.
9. Kacey Nobert (So., St. Agnes, TN) - Last fall as a mere freshman, Nobert finished 12th overall at Foot Locker South after dominating her competition in Tennessee throughout the season. While the 12th place finish was a bit disappointing considering how close she was to earning a trip to Foot Locker Nationals, Nobert continued to improve and won a trio of state titles on the track this spring. If she shows similar progress to the amount she made last fall, expect to see Nobert fighting for a top ten finish in regionals once again.
10. Kathleen Lautzenheiser (Jr., Midlothian, VA) - What a fall it was for Lautzenheiser last fall. Not only did the then sophomore win the state championship, but she also nabbed the final qualifying spot for Foot Locker Nationals, and earned a 36th place finish at the national meet. This spring Lautzenheiser put up some solid numbers, including helping her team to some impressive relay times. With additional national level experience, she should be looking to make a return trip later this fall to sunny San Diego.
11. Adrianne Soo (Sr., Durham Academy, NC) - Three seconds. That's the amount of time that seperated Foot Locker South's tenth place finisher from Soo's eleventh place finish. Finishing in the disappointing spot of first non-qualifier, Soo took that frustration to the track this spring, winning yet another set of North Carolina state titles in the 1600m and 3200m events. While she doesn't get to compete against the best competition in the state week in and week out due to her school being in the private school league, Soo has shown her talents for the past three years prior and with her senior season upon her you can bet she'll want to go out with a trip to San Diego.
12. Lia DiValentin (Sr., Chantilly, VA) - Last year as fellow Virginia competitor Kathleen Lautzenheiser booked her ticket to San Diego, DiValentin sat back, made new goals and pushed forward. After finishing 15th at Foot Locker South last fall, DiValentin had a great track season, finishing with a new 3200m personal best of 10:39.49 and showing she'll be a force once again this fall. After placing second to Lautzenheiser last fall at state cross, DiValentin should be looking to take home a state individual title this time around.
13. Mandy Perkins (Sr., Spruce Creek, FL) - Overshadowed for the past year with all the success' of the top distance runners in Florida, the time is now for Mandy Perkins to shine. Last year four Florida girls qualified for Foot Locker Nationals and this year could see similar results. Perkins should be looking to be the fourth person added to the returning trio of Brasovan, Hale and Koziara. Last fall she finished fifth overall at state cross country, while she finished fourth in the state meet this spring in the 1600m and 3200m events. Another summer of getting stronger and moving closer to the state's front runners could mean big things for Perkins come October and November.
[ed. note - We have 13 girls ranked due to an oversight on our part in the original rankings.]