Top Three Storylines for Girls Foot Locker Finals

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)