Claire Durkin (OH) won the FL Midwest girls race by 41 seconds
Pack running will be the key to success if the Midwest hopes to win the team races Saturday at Foot Locker Nationals. At the Midwest Regional packs reigned supreme in both races if you look at the results. The boys have a dominant top four with a lot of experience after them to fill the rest of the scoring gaps, while the girls have a mix of newcomers and experience that should make their team very strong.
Foot Locker Midwest Athlete Capsules
Boys (Alphabetical Order)
Evan Appel (Jr., Dakota Ridge, CO)
Regular Season: Appel ran through much of the competition during the regular season. One of the bigger meets he ran in during the season came at the Dave Sanders Invitational. Appel beat the field running 15:46, 17 seconds ahead of runner-up and Foot Locker finalist Bobby Nicolls.
State: Won the Boys 5A individual title at state in 15:54. He won the race by 16 seconds, running the second fastest time of the day, only behind Foot Locker qualifier Kevin Williams.
Foot Locker: Placed tenth overall in 15:22. Beat eleventh place finisher Bobby Aprill at the line, as the two athletes finished with the same time.
Notes: Qualified for Foot Locker Nationals in 2006 as a sophomore. Placed twenty-ninth overall. Appel's track PR's pale in comparison to many of the other top stars in the Midwest field, however coming down from altitude and having surpreme strength helps him compete very well in cross country. It also helps that he runs for one of the better distance programs in the country in Dakota Ridge.
Michigan's Maverick Darling finishing the boys race in third place
Maverick Darling (Sr., Ovid-Elise, MI)
Regular Season: Ran at a few smaller meets throughout the season. One of his better performances came at the Spartan Invitational where he placed first by a large marge in his division. Darling ran the fastest time of the day fairly easily running 15:16 for the 5k course.
State: Won the Boys DIII individual title while running 14:52. His time beat the runner-up finisher by forty seconds and earned him the fastest mark of the Michigan State Meet.
Foot Locker: Placed third overall in 15:07. Finished three seconds back from second place finisher Chris Derrick and eleven seconds back from race winner Mike Fout.
Notes: Darling ran through the competition all season long, partly because he had very little of it. The Michigan star clearly ran as the top runner in the state despite little competition due to the size of his school. Numerous course records and a 9:05 two-mile finish at Nike Outdoor Nationals last year helps his resume.
Illinois star Chris Derrick finishes second at FLMW
Chris Derrick (Sr., Neuqua Valley, IL)
Regular Season: Broke over a half dozen course records throughout the season. Derrick's toughest challenge came at the Culver Invitational in Indiana. At the race Derrick beat Foot Locker qualifier Mike Fout by 18 seconds, breaking the course record by a large margin, finishing the 5k race in 14:47.
State: Won the AAA individual title, running the second fastest time ever on the historic state meet course. Derrick ran 13:52 (3 miles), beating the runner-up by twenty seconds.
Foot Locker: Placed second overall behind race winner Mike Fout. Finished in 15:04, eight seconds behind Fout.
Notes: Steady progression has been the key to Derrick's rise to stardom. His breakthrough national performance came at the Illinois State T&F Meet last spring, taking national star Evan Jager to the last 100m in the 3200, where Derrick finished the race in an amazing 8:54 as a junior.
Rob Finnerty (MN) earning his spot to Foot Locker Nationals
Rob Finnerty (Sr., Burnsville, MN)
Regular Season: Finnerty's biggest test of the season came at the Roy Griak Invitational. He aced the test winning the Boys Gold race in 15:57, running away from the competition and finishing 18 seconds ahead of the runner-up finisher. Finnerty raced uncontested much of the regular season.
State: Won the Noys AA race at the Minnesota State Meet. Placed first with a time of 15:28, nine seconds ahead of second place.
Foot Locker: Placed fourth overall in 15:12, five seconds behind third place finisher Maverick Darling.
Notes: Since his freshman year in high school, many expected big things from Finnerty. He was one of the fastest freshmen in the country. Since then Finnerty dealt with injuries, finally having a fully healthy finish to a cross country season this year. Finished in eleventh place at Nike Outdoor Nationals in the one-mile, where he ran 4:10. Also finished thirteenth overall in the two-mile running 8:59 for two-miles.
Foot Locker Midwest winner Mike Fout (IN) leads the Midwest boys
Mike Fout (Sr., La Porte, IN)
Regular Season: Running 15:05 at the Culver Invitational, which set a course record, placed Fout second behind Foot Locker qualifier Chris Derrick. Fout challenged Derrick for two miles, fading towards the end. However, he beat the third place finisher by 33 seconds. The Indiana senior finished well ahead of his competition the rest of the season.
State: Easily won the Indiana State Meet in a time of 15:31. He beat the second place finisher by 25 seconds.
Foot Locker: Won the Foot Locker Midwest Regional by eight seconds over Chris Derrick, winning in a time of 14:56.
Notes: After being labeled as one of the best runners in the Midwest last fall, Fout had to end his season early due to an injury. After running to an eleventh place effort at Nike Outdoor Nationals, where he finished in 8:58 for two-miles, Fout refocused this year and dominated the Indiana landscape all season. He verbally committed to Florida State University earlier in the season.
Kevin Havel (Sr., Hersey, IL)
Regular Season: Two races challenged Havel during the regular season. At the Peoria Notre Dame Invitational Havel placed third overall after running with race winner and Foot Locker qualifier Griff Graves much of the race. He finished the three mile course in 14:27. Havel's top performance before the Illinois state series came at the Palatine Invitational where he placed second in 14:04 for 2.95 miles, only losing to Tom Achtein (York)
State: Placed third overall in the Boys AAA race. Ran with Foot Locker qualifier Chris Derrick for the first two miles, then faded badly down the stretch. Ran 14:17 (3 miles), five seconds behind runner-up Tom Achtein.
Foot Locker: Placed fifth overall in 15:17, five seconds behind fourth place finisher Rob Finnerty.
Notes: Since his freshman year in high school Havel has been labeled a star on the rise. While that star never fully shown bright, all of his past experiences helped guide him to a Foot Locker berth. The senior is one of the all-time greats in Illinois high school cross country history despite never winning a state title.
Joseph Manilafasha (Jr., Denver North, CO)
Regular Season: Peaking great for Foot Locker, Manilafasha did not show his '06 Foot Locker form for the majority of the regular season. At the Liberty Bell Invitational, Manilafasha received a big test where he placed third behind Foot Locker qualifier Kevin Williams in the Boys DIII race. The junior finished in 15:18, losing to Williams by 27.
State: Placed third overall in the Boys 4A race at the Colorado State Meet. Manilafasha ran 16:40, 57 seconds behind race winner and Foot Locker qualifier Kevin Williams.
Foot Locker: Placed seventh overall in 15:18, running the same time as sixth place finisher Kevin Williams and eighth place finisher Tito Medrano.
Notes: Qualified for Foot Locker Nationals in 2006 as a sophomore. Finished twenty-fifth overall. Manilafasha seems to peak perfectly for Foot Locker Regionals and Nationals. All season long he did not resemble the same runner that qualified for Foot Locker as a sophomore, yet somehow managed to place in the top ten and earn himself another trip to San Diego.
The lead pack in the boys race at FLMW
Tito Medrano (Sr., Layfette Jefferson, IN)
Regular Season: The up and down runner tends to finish the cross country season very strong, and this year was no exception. Early races put Medrano a bit further back than many expected, however he improved the back half of the season by a bit., obviously looking toward Foot Locker.
State: Finished sixteenth overall at the Indiana State Meet. His time of 16:18 put him 47 seconds behind race winner and Foot Locker qualifier Mike Fout.
Foot Locker: Placed eighth overall in 15:18, the same time as sixth place finisher Kevin Williams and seventh place finisher Joseph Manilafasha.
Notes: Medrano has shown glimpses of greatness throughout his high school career, however some injuries have bogged him down. Last spring Medrano showed his true promise as he finished fourth in the 3200 at the Indiana State T&F Meet in 9:07.
Bobby Nicolls (Jr., Regis, CO)
Regular Season: Nicolls ran in many meets were some of the top talent competed, however he finished often times behind the front runners. All of these competitions were in preparation for the end of the season however. One of his better performances came in late September at the Dave Sanders Invitational, finishing 17 seconds off of race winner and Foot Locker qualifier Evan Appel.
State: Placed fourth in the Boys 5A state race. His time of 16:24 put him 30 seconds behind race winner and Foot Locker qualifier Evan Appel.
Foot Locker: Placed ninth overall in 15:20, two seconds behind the sixth through eighth place finishers.
Notes: Many were surprised that Nicolls made the Foot Locker Midwest squad, however they should not have been. The junior had his eye on this meet all season long, running through most of his earlier competitions. A glimpse of what he could accomplish came at the Midwest Distance Gala last June in Illinois where Nicolls placed fourth overall in the two-mile in 9:10, as only a sophomore.
Kevin Williams (Sr., D'Evelyn, CO)
Regular Season: Williams blazed through the Colorado cross country courses this fall, winning some big races with some very big times. One of his toughest races came early in the season at the Liberty Bell Invitational. Williams won the Boys DIII race, beating Foot Locker qualifier Joseph Manilafasha by 27 seconds, running the fastest time of the day in 14:51.
State: Easily won the Boys 4A race at the Colorado State Meet. Placed first with the fastest time of the day in 15:43, 40 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.
Foot Locker: Placed sixth overall in 15:18, one second behind fifth place finisher Kevin Havel and outkicked Joseph Manilafasha and Tito Medrano, both athletes finishing with the same time as Williams.
Notes: Running with little competition in most of his meets this fall, Williams learned how to lead from the front, something that should come in useful Saturday at the Foot Locker National meet.
Girls (Alphabetical Order)
Lindsay Anderson (Sr., Leeds, ND)
Regular Season: Few athletes challenged Anderson during the season, as she proved herself the top runner in North Dakota yet again. However, her race athe Roy Griak pinned her against some very tough competitors in Foot Locker qualifiers Katie Flood and Emily Sisson. Anderson tried sticking with the two front runners early the race, fading towards the end to finish sixth overall in 19:21.
State: Won the Girls B race at the North Dakota State Championships. Her time of 14:24 (4k) earned her the top time of the day and won her race by 20 seconds.
Foot Locker: Placed seventh overall in 17:55, only two seconds behind sixth place finisher Alexandra Banfich.
Notes: Qualified for Foot Locker Nationals in 2005 as a sophomore. Placed twenty-fifth overall. Has consistently been the top runner in North Dakota the past four years, winning numerous state championships.
Alexandra Banfich (Sr. Culver Academies, IN)
Regular Season: Banfich ran a series of competitive races throughout the season. One of her most impressive victories came at her home Culver Invitational. Banfich won the race yet again, running 18:05 and beating second place by seventeen seconds. Banfich also won the New Prairie Invitational by 14 seconds in 17:58.
State: Won the girls individual championship at the Indiana State Meet in 18:21, 17 seconds ahead of the second place finisher.
Foot Locker: Placed sixth overall in 17:53, six seconds behind fifth place finisher Stephanie Morgan and eleven seconds behind runner-up Katie Flood.
Notes: Qualified for Foot Locker Nationals in 2005 & 2006. Placed thirty-fifth her sophomore year ('05) and seventeenth as a junior last season. Placed tenth in the mile at Nike Outdoor Nationals last year while running 4:56. Committed to Princeton University on Wednesday.
Claire Durkin takes questions after her big win
Claire Durkin (Sr., Worthington, OH)
Regular Season: Durkin faced very little competition during the regular season. She ran in smaller invitational and rarely faced any top Ohio runners. Looking at her seasonal results show an athlete who was consistently impressive. She ran over 18 minutes in her first race, but never ran slower than 17:48 for a 5k invitational after that.
State: Easily won the Girls DI race at the Ohio State Meet. Ran 17:10, beating the runner-up finisher by 28 seconds. She ran the fastest time of the day by 17 seconds.
Foot Locker: Won the Foot Locker Midwest Regional by 41 seconds, running away from the field after the first mile to finish in 17:01.
Notes: While her past success' have been mighty, Durkin took her running to a new level this fall. Many expected her to finish in the top three at Foot Locker Midwest, but not blow the field out by forty seconds. The first indication where she was this good came at the Mid-East Championships, beating a star-studded field by forty seconds.
Katie Flood (So., Dowling Catholic, IA)
Regular Season: Flood ran the majority of the year winning races with little competition. Often times her teammate Ashlie Decker was her toughest challenger. However, the Roy Griak Invitational tested just how tough Flood was. She took on '06 Foot Locker National third-place finisher Emily Sisson in the Girls Gold race. Sisson never proved a challenge as Flood won the race in 17:56, thirty-six seconds ahead of Sisson.
State: Won the Iowa State 4A individual title in 13:27 (4k) in course record time. She beat her nearest competitor by 33 seconds.
Foot Locker: Placed second overall in 17:42, 41 seconds behind race winner Claire Durkin and two seconds in front of third place finisher Emily Infeld.
Notes: After a record breaking freshman year, Flood decided to run Foot Locker Regionals this season. Last weekend she placed second overall at Nike Team Nationals, guiding her team to a fourteenth place finish.
Katie Flood (IA) running in second place
Meggan Freeland (Sr., Parma Western, MI)
Regular Season: Running at the Portage Invitational in Michigan, Freeland's top performance of the regular season came at this meet. The senior paced third overall in the Girls DII race, losing to race winner Sloan Secord by 14 seconds. Freeland ran a time of 18:49 on the tough 5k course.
State: Placed third overall in 18:11 in the Girls DII race at the Michigan State Meet. Finished twenty-two seconds behind the race winner.
Foot Locker: Placed tenth overall in 18:00, two seconds behind ninth place finisher Katie Haines. Beat eleventh place finisher Rebecca Addison by five seconds for the last qualifying spot.
Notes: Toughness reigns surpreme for Freeland. The senior had a rocky season, but concluded it on a nice note. Last spring she showed a lot of that toughness at the Michigan State T&F Meet. She placed second in both the 1600 and 3200, running 4:59 and just over 11 minutes.
Katie Haines (Sr., Rockford, MI)
Regular Season: An up and down season was evident this entire season. Haines placed twenty-seventh overall, nearly two minutes behind race winner and Foot Locker finalist Alex Banfich. Haines ran 19:51.
State: Finished tenth overall in the Girls DI race. Haines ran 18:15, forty seconds out of first place.
Foot Locker: Placed ninth overall in 17:58, two seconds behind eighth place finisher Chelsea Oswald.
Notes: The best finish for Haines nearly all season came at the Mid-East Championships a few weeks after her state meet and just before Foot Locker Midwest. Haines placed fourth overall, mixing it up with some serious competitors. She has been on the cusp of running at the national elite level for her entire running career, racing for the historic Rockford program that dominated the girls scene nationally in the late-90's and early-00's.
Emily Infeld (Sr., Clev. Heights Beaumont, OH)
Regular Season: The experienced senior easily cruised through her regular season with an eye on post season competition. One of her most impressive performances of the season came at the Tiffin Invitational. Infeld won the Girls DII-A race by 46 seconds, running 17:34 over the 5k course. Also beat Foot Locker qualifier Chelsea Oswald by 30 seconds at the Sim Earich Invitational.
State: Won the Girls DI race at the Ohio State Meet. Won the race by 42 seconds, running 17:30.
Foot Locker: Placed third overall in 17:44, only two seconds behind runner-up Katie Flood.
Notes: Qualified for Foot Locker Nationals in 2006 as a junior. Placed twentieth overall. Placed second overall in the Nike Outdoor Nationals one-mile race in 4:47, one second behind race winner Stephanie Morgan.
The girls pack at the half way point of the FLMW race
Stephanie Morgan (Jr., Barnsville, OH)
Regular Season: Competed at the Great American XC Festival in Alabama during the mid-season. Morgan finished fifth overall, running quite well against many of the top runners in the South. Beat Foot Locker qualifier Kayla Hale.
State: Won the Girls DIII race at her state meet. Beat the field by over a minute, as Morgan crossed the line in 17:27.
Foot Locker: Placed fifth overall in 17:47, two seconds behind fourth place finisher Emily Sisson and only five seconds behind runner-up Katie Flood.
Notes: Transfered from Clarkston, MI after her freshman year where she ran on one of the top teams in the nation. Won the Nike Outdoor Nationals one-mile last track season in 4:46.
Chelsea Oswald (Jr., Cuyahoga Falls, OH)
Regular Season: At the Sim Earich Invitational, Oswald finished 30 seconds behind DII race winner and Foot Locker qualifier Emily Infeld. Her time beat the third place finisher by over a minute. This was one of the first glimpses of Oswald's potential Foot Locker talent.
State: Placed second overall in the Girls DI race, finishing in 18:12, 42 seconds behind race winner and Foot Locker qualifier Emily Infeld.
Foot Locker: Placed eighth overall in 17:56, only one second behind seventh place finisher Lindsay Anderson.
Notes: Surprise is the word that comes to mind when talking about Oswald at Foot Locker Nationals. The junior had very little to her name before the Foot Locker Midwest meet. During the fall she was the only finisher even remotely close to Foot Locker qualifier Emily Infeld, but still a ways off. She finished in the lower half of the field last spring in the state 1600 meter run, running 5:11.
Emily Sisson (So., Millard North, NE)
Regular Season: Rolling through the competition all season long in Nebraska, Sisson's toughest race came at the Roy Griak Invitational in Minnesota where she squared off against Iowa's Katie Flood. Sisson lost the race to Flood by 36 seconds but beat the rest of the strong field by a wide margin, finishing the race in 18:32,
State: Broke her own state record at the Nebraska State Meet. Her 14:25 (4k) effort beat runner-up and former teammate Kelli Budd by 39 seconds.
Foot Locker: Placed fourth overall in 17:45, one second behind third place finisher Emily Infeld and three seconds behind runner-up Katie Flood.
Notes: Qualified for Foot Locker Nationals in 2006 as a freshman. Placed third overall and enters nationals this year as the third returnee. Placed seventh overall at Nike Outdoor Nationals in the two-mile, running 10:29.