Foot Locker Comment (2:52 PM PT), per a representative:
It remains more pressing than ever for Foot Locker Nationals to change up its qualifying procedures after finding out the organization offered Katelyn Tuohy the possibility of a "golden ticket" a few weeks back.
Late on Sunday, we confirmed this news with North Rockland head coach Brian Diglio, who said Foot Locker wanted to gauge the interest of Tuohy at Foot Locker Nationals and offered the chance at a golden ticket. Tuohy and Diglio thanked Foot Locker for the thought, but they turned it down, saying it was too late in the process and they were already focused on NXN.
But the real question is this: why didn't Foot Locker consider the possibility of inviting any other athlete besides Tuohy?
Brodey Hasty, who was the No. 1 runner in the Flo50 national rankings heading into NXN, did not get this same consideration. He was ultimately beaten by Timpview's Aidan Troutner on Saturday -- on a late and impressive kick -- though because there were no auto-qualifiers, neither will race again.
But beyond Touhy and Hasty, there are at least four other athletes who would seriously ramp up the star power of Foot Locker Nationals had they been invited, too.
And had automatic bids been given to the top five finishers at NXN to Foot Locker Nationals, we would have seen a significant talent bump at Balboa Park on December 9 in San Diego.
That includes the new winner of NXN Aidan Troutner, Redwood (CA) High's Liam Anderson, and Lincoln Senior (WA) Highs' James Mwaura. In the girls race, you could also say that invitations would be warranted for Saratoga Springs' Kelsey Chmiel, Saugus (CA) High's Mariah Castillo, and Fayetteville-Manlius (NY) High's Claire Walters.
The problem with offering golden tickets before NXN is that it wouldn't account for unpredictability or surprise at NXN. If that were the case, Troutner would not have been offered an invitation, nor would have Castillo.
Still, based on conflicts with regional races, none of these athletes had chances to qualify, anyway. So the only opportunity for an invitation would have been a golden ticket.
Only one runner in the top five of each race at NXN is going to Foot Locker Nationals on December 9. That would include Lyons Township (IL) High's Danny Kilrea, and Glenbard West (IL) High's Katelynne Hart. Kilrea was fifth and Hart was fourth at NXN.
Troutner, a BYU signee, is going on a mission with the LDS church directly after graduation, so we won't have the chance to see his true potential as a prep at the national level.
So what gives?
There's obvious reason to invite Tuohy. We know a race between her and Malibu (CA) High's Claudia Lane at this point be fantastic for the sport of high school cross country -- and a historic moment.
Diglio said the Foot Locker representative that offered Tuohy the chance at a golden ticket couldn't have been nicer.
But there are problems with Foot Locker extending this invitation without consideration of others, especially when you consider it would seriously benefit the overall quality of the race and strike a mass appeal with cross country fans.
Unfortunately, just six days out from Foot Locker Nationals, that opportunity is all but lost.
The chance to pounce on this opportunity was Saturday at NXN.