The pack during the first mile of the FL West boys race
The strength of the West once again lies in how well their pack runs. Both the boys and girls squads have front runners with a chance to win the individual title. German Fernandez and Jorday Hasay enters as pre-race favorites, while Luke Puskedra is also a pre-race favorite on the boys side. The boys side however has no athletes competing with past Foot Locker Nationals experience.
Foot Locker West Athlete Capsules
Boys (Alphabetical Order)
James Attarian (Sr., Dublin, CA)
Regular Season: Attarian ran the second fastest time of the day at the Stanford Invitational earlier in the season. He won the Boys DIII race in 15:22 to win the race by 15 seconds. This was one of his performances that showed he should not be discounted.
State: Won the Boys DIII race at the California State Meet in 15:17. Attarian beat runner-up Mohamed Abdalla by three seconds, running the fourth fastest time of the day.
Foot Locker: Placed fourth overall in 15:17, three second behind third place finisher Stephen Clark and nine seconds behind second place Luke Puskedra.
Notes: Smart race tactics and a fearless personality push Attarian to championship status. His fourth place effort at Foot Locker West pushed him into another category that he has never felt before.
Stephen Clark (Sr., Skyline, UT)
Regular Season: Perhaps his best performance of the regular season came at the Bob Firman Invitational, where Clark placed second overall in 15:25, losing only to Foot Locker qualifier Luke Puskedra.
State: Won the Boys 5A individual title at the Utah State Meet. Clark's time of 15:23 put him only behind Foot Locker finalist Luke Puskedra's time on the day.
Foot Locker: Placed third overall in 15:14, six seconds behind runner-up and in-state rival Luke Puskedra.
Notes: A strong season in Utah was overshadowed much of the time by front running in-state rival Luke Puskedra. Clark put hiimself in the race at Foot Locker West, which led to a strong finish and a trip to San Diego. His track times do not compare to some other Foot Locker competitiors, mostly due to the fact that he races in Utah.
German Fernandez (CA) winning the boys FL West race
German Fernandez (Sr., Riverbank, CA)
Regular Season: Fernandez faced little competition throughout the season. The senior won nearly every meet he competed in by over a minute, earning a reputation of going out fast and building comanding leads. His legend grew during the season, exploding to full prominence after stopping during a race to tie his shoe and still winning by over 45 seconds. His biggest finish came at the Stanford Invitational, winning the Boys Elite race by 40 seconds in 14:42.
State: Won his state race in 14:24, which broke the course record previously held by Foot Locker champion Marc Davis. Fernandez ran the fastest time of the day by 49 seconds.
Foot Locker: Won the Foot Locke West Regional race in 14:53. He beat runner-up Luke Puskedra by 15 seconds, using a vicious kick in the last 600 meters to pull away for the win.
Notes: Injuries have plagued Fernandez' training for the past few years. Often Fernandez would show signs of greatness only to fall into another injury. His consistent training this year leads many to believe that his true talent is finally showing. He is easily won of the Foot Locker favorites Saturday. His top track performance from last season came at the Golden West Invitational mile, finishing second in 4:13.
Jonathan Lafler (Sr., Tahoma, WA)
Regular Season: Beat an extremely tough field at the Jim Danner Invitational during the second weekend of October. Lafler won in an impressive 16:26, three seconds ahead of runner-up Charles White (CO)
State: Placed fourth overall at the Washington State Meet in the Boys 4A race. Lafler's time of 15:59 put him twenty seconds behind race winner and fellow Foot Locker finalist Miles Unterreiner.
Foot Locker: Placed tenth overall in 15:22, running the same time as ninth place finisher Riley Sullivan, and less than ten seconds out of third place overall. Beat eleventh place finisher Bryce Burgess by one second.
Notes: Placed second overall at the Nike Border Clash, finishing behind Foot Locker qualifier Miles Unterreiner. Lafler showed a lot of promise during the season, showing his strength from time to time as he beat solid fields across the board. Won the NTN Northwest seeded individual championship in 15:48 and outleaning two athletes at the line.
Luke Puskedra (#12) leads the FL West boys race early on
Luke Puskedra (Sr., Judge Memorial, UT)
Regular Season: Broke a few course records during the regular season. His best performance came at the Bob Firman Invitational where Puskedra won in 14:49 to finish 36 seconds ahead of runner-up and Foot Locker qualifier Stephen Clark.
State: Won the Boys 3A individual title in a course record time of 14:54. Puskedra's time was the fastest of the day by 29 seconds.
Foot Locker: Placed second overall in 15:08, fifteen seconds behind race winner German Fernandez and six second ahead of third place finisher Stephen Clark.
Notes: Puskedra won the NTN Southwest Regional with a strong early pace to beat '06 Foot Locker qualifier Ben Johnson by eight seconds, finishing the race in 14:48. He improved quite a bit this fall, turning into a front runner worthy of challenging for the national title.
Chris Schwartz (Jr., Foothill, CA)
Regular Season: His big win in his division race at Mt. SAC proved early on that Schwartz was a top athlete in California, which also incidcates he is one of the top athletes in the region.
State: Won the DI race at the California State Meet in 15:13, one second ahead of runner-up Riley Sullivan. His mark was the second fastest of the day, only behind the 14:24 run by Foot Locker qualifier German Fernandez.
Foot Locker: Placed seventh overall in 15:20, only six seconds from third place. Schwartz qualified as the only non-senior on the West squad.
Notes: It's rare that a junior qualifies for Foot Locker Nationals. This year's West squad is full of non-national meet experienced individuals. This should bode well for Schwartz who finished the season strong, while finally having a few challengers.
Riley Sullivan (Sr., Trabuco Hills, CA)
Regular Season: A slow start to the season due to an injury kept Sullivan down early on. However, once the senior got going he quickly re-established himself as one of the top runners in California. One key performance came at the Mt. SAC Super Sweepstakes, placing tenth overall in 15:14, seventeen seconds behind race winner and Foot Locker qualifier Jim Walmsley.
State: Placed second overall at the California State Meet in the DI race. Sullivan lost to Foot Locker qualifier Chris Schwartz by one second, running the third fastest time of the day in 15:14.
Foot Locker: Placed ninth overall in 15:22, the same time as tenth place finisher Jonathan Lafler, and one second ahead of eleventh place Bryce Burgess.
Notes: Early season struggles led to a fresh finish at the end of the season. Sullivan's squad was supposed to be one of the top teams in the country, yet injuries slowed down their progress. Sullivan finished his regular season strong. Look for him to be fairly fresh at nationals.
Miles Unterreiner (Sr., Gig Harbor, WA)
Regular Season: Unterreiner had plenty of competition during the season in star-studded Washington. Early in the season he finished a respectable fourth place overall at the Bob Firman Invitational in 15:46. That race was the starting point for Unterreiner, quickly improving towards being the best in Washington.
State: Won the Boys 4A individual title at the Washington State Meet in 15:39. Unterreiner's mark beat second place by eight seconds.
Foot Locker: Placed fifth overall in 15:17, running the same time as fourth place finisher James Attarian and nine seconds behind runner-up Luke Puskedra.
Notes: Earned a big win at the Nike Border Clash after the state series finished. Unterreiner improved quite a bit as the season carried forward, showing his determination and talent at the end of the Foot Locker West race. Last spring he won the Golden West Invitational mile over German Fernandez in 4:13.
Jim Walmsley (Sr., Horizon, AZ)
Regular Season: Outkicked California's Jeremy Acosta in the final straight to win the Mt. SAC Invitational's Super Sweepstakes. His mark of 14:57 won the race by one second and gave him confidence the rest of the way to run with nearly any front runner.
State: Won the 5A-II race at the Arizona State Meet in 15:37. Walmsley beat his nearest competitor by 28 seconds. Ran the fastest time of the day by 23 seconds.
Foot Locker: Placed sixth overall in 15:19, finishing two seconds behind fifth place finisher Miles Unterreiner.
Notes: Placed third at the NTN Southeast Regional behind '07 Foot Locker qualifier Luke Puskedra and '06 qualifier Ben Johnson. Running in a similar mode as past Foot Locker champion Ken Cormier, who won Foot Locker Nationals after running under the radar for much of the season in Arizona. While Walmsley probably won't win Nationals, a top ten finish is achievable.
Brett Walters (Sr., Sultana, CA)
Regular Season: His strongest finish of the regular season came at the Stanford Invitational. Winning the Boys DI race, Walters ran away from the pack in the final mile to win in 15:37, 15 seconds ahead of the runner-up finisher.
State: Placed third overall in the Boys DI race at the California State Meet. Walters lost to Foot Locker qualifiers Chris Schwartz and Riley Sullivan by eight and seven seconds a piece. Walters finished in a time of 15:21.
Foot Locker: Placed eighth overall in 15:21, one second ahead of ninth and tenth place finishers Riley Sullivan and Jonathan Lafler.
Notes: Walters ran the perfect race at Foot Locker Nationals. He sat with the pack, near the back, for much of the race. In the final 600 meters he moved into a solid finishing position and hung on to qualify.
Girls (Alphabetical Order)
Nadya Bishton running at NTN Southwest Regionals
(Photo by Gary Murray)
Nadya Bishton (Sr., Mountain Ridge, AZ)
Regular Season: Big wins in big times fill up Bishton's race results this season. One of her staple victories this season came at the Stanford Invitational. Nadya beat twin sister Nastia at the finish line by two seconds, running 17:29.
State: Won the Girls 5A-I individual title by two seconds over her sister Nastia, finishing the race in 17:28.
Foot Locker: Placed sixth overall in 17:37, the same time as fifth place finisher Meghan Marvin and only nine seconds from runner-up Laurynne Chetelat.
Notes: Qualified for Foot Locker Nationals in '06 as a junior, placing sixteenth overall. She is a front running athlete, taking off early in races. Do not be surprised to see her leading the race Saturday early on. Also won the NTN Southwest Regional by five seconds in 17:38.
Nastia Bishton (Sr., Mountain Ridge, AZ)
Regular Season: Running behind her twin sister Nadya for most of the season, Nastia proved week in and week out that she belonged in the Foot Locker National meet. Her best performance for the regular season came at the Stanford Invitational where she finished two seconds behind Nadya in 17:31, twenty seconds ahead of third place finisher and Foot Locker finalist Laurynne Chetelat.
State: Placed second overall in 17:30 at the Arizona State Meet. Bishton finished two seconds behind race winner Nadya Bishton in the 5A-I race.
Foot Locker: Placed eighth overall in 17:40, five seconds behind third place finisher Jessica Tonn.
Notes: Having a Foot Locker level training partner every day certainly did not hurt Nastia as she ran and raced against her twin sister Nadya. Nastia had a sub-par Foot Locker race last fall, looking this entire season to make up for the disappointment.
Laurynne Chetelat (Sr., Davis Senior, CA)
Regular Season: Chetelat's breakthrough race of sorts that pushed her onto the national scene came at the Mt. SAC Invitational. In the Girls Super Sweepstakes the senior beat three prior Foot Locker finalists to place third overall in 17:10, only five seconds behind runner-up and Foot Locker qualifier Jessica Tonn. Also placed third in the Girls Seeded Race at the Stanford Invitational behind the Bishton twins.
State: Won the Girls DI race at the California State Meet in 17:18. Beat Foot Locker finalists Meghan Marvin and Kauren Tarver by 15 and 25 seconds respectively. Her mark also gave her the third fastest time of the day regardless of division, only behind Foot Locker finalist Jordan Hasay and Christine Babcock.
Foot Locker: Placed second overall in 17:28, eleven seconds behind race winner Jordan Hasay and seven seconds ahead of third place Jessica Tonn.
Notes: Running well for most of her high school career, Chetelat really broke out onto the national scene this year. Her late season performances at state and Foot Locker regionals indicate great racing is still ahead of her.
Jordan Hasay wins yet another Foot Locker Regional race.
Jordan Hasay (Jr., Mission Prep, CA)
Regular Season: Her biggest test of the season took place at the Mt. SAC girls Super Sweepstakes, placing first by 23 seconds over runner-up Jessica Tonn. Hasay won the rest of her meets by huge margins, often winning by over a minute.
State: Won her state race, winning the Girls D5 title in 17:05. Hasay won by 1:38 seconds and ran the second fastest time of the day, only trailing the 17:04 run by Christine Babcock.
Foot Locker: Won the Foot Locker West Regional title in 17:17, eleven seconds ahead of runner-up Laurynne Chetelat.
Notes: After winning Foot Locker Nationals as a freshman, Hasay placed tenth as a sophomore. Knowing exactly what went wrong and what needed to change this year, Hasay came back from a late track season to focus on her own road to San Diego. A slower start earlier in the season helped her finish very strong at the end, as she hopes to go after her second national cross country title.
Meghan Marvin (So., Clovis, CA)
Regular Season: Marvin's most impressive performance came in the Mt. SAC Super Sweepstakes race, finishing sixth overall in the star studded field. Marvin beat two past Foot Locker National contestants, finishing fifteen seconds out of second place in 17:20.
State: Finished third overall in the Girls DI race at the California State Meet. Marvin finished in 15:33, the same time as runner-up Claire Collison and 15 seconds behind race winner Laurynne Chetelat.
Foot Locker: Placed fifth overall in 17:37, nine seconds behind third place finisher Jessica Tonn. Marvin's time also equalled that of sixth place finisher Nadya Bishton.
Notes: Running strong for most of the season, Marvin showed her consistency in nearly every race she competed in. Being underlooked by some for most of the season, her strong finish at both state and Foot Locker Regionals bode well for her at nationals.
Nicole Nielsen (Jr., Borah, ID)
Regular Season: Nielsen's most impressive win during the regular season came early on at the Bob Firman Invitational where she beat a star studded field in the Girls Elite race, including NTN champion Madelina Morgan. Nielsen won the race in 18:19, six seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.
State: Placed second overall in 18:03 in the Girls 5A race at the Idaho State Meet. Nielsen finished seven seconds behind race winner Kinsey Gomez.
Foot Locker: Placed tenth overall in 17:51, seven seconds behind ninth place finisher Sarah Sumpter. Beat eleventh place finisher Vanessa Hancock by four seconds.
Notes: Running in Idaho for the majority of the season, Nielsen enters as one of the under ranked athletes at Foot Locker Nationals. The junior is easy to point out in the field, running with long braided hair, one of the only, if not the only, competitor to do so.
Top runners of the girls race pass the half mile marker
Sarah Sumpter (Sr., Healdsburg, CA)
Regular Season: Won the varsity girls D4 race at the Stanford Invitational by 45 seconds. Her mark of 17:50 gave her the third fastest time of the day regarldess of which race.
State: Won the Girls D4 race at the California State Meet by 44 seconds. Sumpter easily pulled away from the field right from the gun, finishing the race in 17:26.
Foot Locker: Placed ninth overall in 17:44, seven seconds ahead of tenth place finisher Nicole Nielsen and four seconds behind eighth place finisher Nastia Bishton.
Notes: Consistency throghout the season was the key to Sumpter earning a team spot. She did not get a chance to compete against many of the top individuals during the season due to the size of her school
Kauren Tarver (Sr., Serrano, CA)
Regular Season: Ran an up and down season with a focus on the end of the season. Tarver finished twelfth overall at the Mt. SAC Invitational Girls Super Sweepstakes, finishing nearly a minute behind race winner Jordan Hasay in 17:39.
State: Finished fourth overall in the Girls DI race at the California State Meet. Tarver's time of 15:43 put her ten seconds behind third place finisher and fellow Foot Locker qualifier Meghan Marvin.
Foot Locker: Placed fourth overall in 17:36, only one second behind third place finisher Jessica Tonn and eight seconds behind runner-up Laurynne Chetelat.
Notes: Tarver placed sixteenth as a freshman, fifth as a sophomore and seventh as a junior at Foot Locker Nationals, making her the only four time qualifier on the girls side this season. She tends to peak very well at the end of the season and all of her Foot Locker experience should put her in good company for much of the race.
Jessica Tonn (So., Xavier Prep, AZ)
Regular Season: Tonn finished a bit behind her competition in Arizona, however she placed second overall in the Girls Super Sweepstakes at Mt. SAC during the middle of the season. The sophomore placed only behind fellow Foot Locker qualifier Jorday Hasay in 17:05, while beating three other Foot Locker finalists in the process.
State: Placed third overall in the 5A-I race, finishing in 18:03. Her third place effort put her behind fellow Foot Locker qualifiers Nadya Bishton and Nastia Bishton. Tonn finished 33 seconds behind runner-up Nastia.
Foot Locker: Placed third overall in 17:35, seven seconds behind runner-up Laurynne Chetelat.
Notes: As a freshman, Tonn earned a spot on the Foot Locker West squad, finishing twenty-fourth overall at Foot Locker Nationals. During the season Tonn lost a few times to fellow Arizona qualifiers Nadya and Nastia Bishton. However her focus was on Foot Locker much of the season and that type of late season planning obviously worked well in '07.
Taylor Wallace (Jr., Henley, OR)
Regular Season: Had few chances during the regular season to compete against many of the top competitors due to the class her school was in.
State: Won the Girls 4A race at the Oregon State Meet by over a minute, finishing in 18:13. Wallace ran the fastest time of the day regardless of division, winning her race by 1:05.
Foot Locker: Placed seventh overall in 17:39, four seconds behind third place finisher Jessica Tonn.
Notes: Proved all season long that she was indeed the top runner in the state of Oregon. Big finishes towards the end of the season made many believe that she had an outside shot at qualifying for Foot Locker Nationals, which she accomplished.