With only six of the twenty Foot Locker finalists from last year returning back in 2008, the West seems to be wide open for newcomers to make names for themselves. Leading the way on the girls side is '05 national champion and '07 third placer Jordan Hasay (CA), while Chris Schwartz (CA) is the lone male national returnee.
West Individual Rankings
1. Chris Schwartz (Sr., Foothill, CA) - Last year Schwartz surprised the field at the Foot Locker West Regional by qualifying for the national meet. While Schwartz was considered a contender, he ran like a veteran and earned his spot, being the only junior to qualify for the west squad. With some big track performances now under his belt as well, including a second place 3200m effort at the California State T&F Championships in 8:58.50, Schwartz now heads into this season as a sure bet to make the West squad, as well as vie for the national title.
2. Elliot Jantzer (Sr., Phoenix, OR) - Despite running in one of the smaller classes in Oregon, Jantzer has been able to prove that he is easily one of the best distance runners in the west. Last fall Jantzer won a state title, then ran a great race at Foot Locker regionals, finishing as the second non-senior. This spring Jantzer continued his in-state domination, winning the 1500m/3000m double with times of 3:58.53 and 8:40.47. With another year of experience and mileage under him, Jantzer can now take another shot at qualifying for a trip to San Diego and Foot Locker Nationals.
3. Kevin Rosaaen (Sr., Wilson, WA) - Looking at the statistics from last year, Rosaaen rose up the rankings from where many would have placed him earlier in the year. At the Washington State Cross Country Championships in '07, Rosaaen finished third overall, finishing behind Foot Locker finalists Miles Unterreiner and Jonathan Lafler. The spring saw Rosaaen run consistently good times. This fall Rosaaen returns as the top returnee in Washington state and the number six returnee from the Foot Locker West Regional.
4. Trevor Dunbar (Sr., Kodiak, AK) - Running up in Alaska, it might be easy to overlook Dunbar. The cross country season ends in October in Alaska, while the track season doesn't get started until seemingly every other state is already started. Despite such different timing of the sport seasons, Dunbar has shown he is one of the best in the country heading into the fall. Last year Dunbar won the Alaskan state title in cross country, and while he was expected to run well at Foot Locker regionals, he had a sub-par race, finishing way back in the pack. The Kodiak standout redeemed himself this spring with second place effort in the 3200m run at the Golden West Invitational in 9:06.41, while also running 4:15.8 to win the Alaskan State T&F Meet. If Dunbar can stay sharp from the Alaskan State Meet to Foot Locker regionals, expect Dunbar to make a run for the win.
5. Bryan Tibaduiza (Sr., Galena, NV) - A different year, a different set of circumstances. Last fall Tibaduiza was the leader of his squad. The Galena H.S. boys team was nationally ranked and had a shot to qualify for NTN. With so much focus on the team, Tibaduiza's individual accomplishments got set aside a bit. With many of his varsity teammates graduating, more focus will be on Tibaduiza this fall, as the defending state cross country champion looks to earn his place in the Nevada state record books. Perhaps the best indicator of just how potent Tibaduiza could be this fall was his NTN Southwest performance last year, which saw him place fourth behind three Foot Locker qualifiers. As the number four returnee in the region, Tibaduiza is as strong as anyone and has the experience to earn a very high place in late-November at regionals.
6. Jonathan Sanchez (Sr., Buchanan, CA) - One of the most consistent runner in California last year, Sanchez looks to make his mark heading into his senior cross country season. Last fall Sanchez placed 12th at the California State Cross Country Championships, running strong among a very solid field. In track he stepped up his performance one step further, placing ninth overall in the 3200m, runinng a personal best time of 9:10.38. Consistency in racing and consistency in improvement are always positive signs for a runner, which should make Sanchez very optimistic heading into the season.
7. Tyler Valdes (Sr., Dana Hills, CA) - As one of the top California returnees this fall, as well as guiding one of the top ranked squads in the country, Valdes has a lot to prove in 2008. Last fall Valdes came up big time and again for his squad, placing fifth at the California DI State Cross Country Championships and leading his squad to high national rankings for parts of the season. This past spring he took sixth place in the competitive 1600m state final. With high hopes for his squad, Valdes can feed off the energy his team will provide, and take his talent one step further in 2008.
8. Mac Fleet (Sr., University City, CA) - With high expectations heading into his junior cross country, including a possible berth to Foot Locker Nationals, Fleet seemed to be the bad luck kid. A foot injury ended Fleet's season short, requiring surgery. After the surgery, Fleet sustained a saiatic nerve injury, followed by a mild plantar facia tear. With so much adversity, Fleet still overcame the lack of training to finish his season off with a third place finish in the state 1600m. Healthy now and ready to roll, Fleet has shown the talent that he can be one of the best in the country, and with his senior year upon him, now seems to be the time to shine.
9. Brian Shrader (Jr., Sinagua, AZ) - As a mere sophomore Shrader won state championships in the 1600m and 3200m, while running the second best time last fall at the state cross country meet, only finishing behind Foot Locker finalist Jim Walmsley. After his 4:15.80/9:23.47 state double victory performance this spring, Shrader heads into the season as the strong favorite in Arizona, while also taking on the added pressure of being a Foot Locker favorite. As one of the top juniors in the country, Shrader could pick up valuable experience this year that could help him greatly in his senior season...but who wants to wait until next year to qualify for a national meet?
10. Eric Fitzpatrick (Jr., Boise, ID) - A standout in Idaho since his freshman season, Fitzpatrick has showed time and again that he is one of the top runners in his grade. After winning multiple state titles in Idaho last year, Fitzpatrick seems primed to take his talent to the national stage, where he'll face challengers throughout the season in the always competitive Pacific Northwest. Like many of the other athletes in the rankings, if he can lower his times just a bit, he is then certainly in the running to make a trip to nationals.
11. Jose Lezama (Sr., Leuzinger, CA) - After placing tenth last year in the DI California State CC Championships, Lezama ran exceptionally well and finished in the top twenty at Foot Locker regionals. As the number three returnee in the region, Lezama will surely have eyes focused his way throughout the season. However, after a quiet spring, Lezama will need to improve if he hopes to qualify for nationals, since many of his west coast rivals made significant progress during the track season.
12. Dominick Robinson (Sr., Campbell County, WY) - Sure to be overlooked for much of the season due to living in the less populated state of Wyoming, Robinson has clearly distinguishsed himself as the best runner in Wyoming and a possible contender to qualify for nationals. After winning multiple state titles in '07-'08, Robinson looks to take another step forward, with eyes squarely set on a trip to San Diego come December. The Campbell County standout's biggest leap to prime time this past spring came at the Golden West Invitational, which saw him place third overall in the 3200m run, running a personal best mark of 9:07.79.
1. Jordan Hasay (Sr., Mission Prep, CA) - With one national cross country title to her name and numerous track titles, Hasay will look to go out on top in her final year of high school competition. As a freshman, Hasay won the Foot Locker National title, coming up short of earning another her sophomore year, while finishing third last year. With a successful track season behind her, one that included a new national 1500m record in 4:14.50, as well as a top three all-time performance for 3200m in 9:52.13, Hasay continues to show why she is one of the top female high school distance runners of all time.
2. Jessica Tonn (Jr., Xavier Prep, AZ) - Heading into her junior year of high school, Tonn looks to qualify for Foot Locker Nationals for the third time in a row. Last fall Tonn qualified for the national meet, finishing 20th overall. While Tonn had hoped to finish a bit higher, she had an excellent spring track season, which finished with state titles at 800m and 1600m. Tonn also earned an all-American finish in the 3200m run at Nike Outdoor Nationals. Leading one of the stronger teams in the nation this fall, Tonn will look to lead a squad to Nike Cross Nationals, as well as make a statement that she's one of the best individuals in the land.
3. Taylor Wallace (Sr., Henley, OR) - After rolling through the competition last fall in Oregon, Wallace earned a trip to Foot Locker Nationals with a big performance at the regional meet. Wallace capitalized on the experience by finishing 33rd overall at the national meet. During the track season Wallace earned a distance double at the state track meet, winning the 1500m and 3000m events in 4:33.79 and 9:58.30 respectively. As long as Wallace stays healthy, she should find herself traveling to San Diego again later this fall for nationals once again.
4. Nicole Nielsen (Sr., Borah, ID) - As a multi-time defending state champion in Idaho, and a Foot Locker finalist in '07, Nielsen is looking like a strong choice once again to make Foot Locker Nationals. Last year Nielsen had an outside shot to qualify for the national event, coming up big at regionals with a tenth place finish, grabbing the last spot. After finishing 37th at the national meet, Nielsen finished first in the 1600m and 3200m events at her state meet. She also placed fourth in the highly competitive Golden West Invitational mile during the post-season.
5. Jacque Taylor (Jr., Casa Grande, CA) - Last fall Taylor was the heartbreak runner, missing Foot Locker Nationals by only five seconds. This fall Taylor brings a newfound confidence in her abilities, stemming from a runner-up finish in the state 1600m run, where she broke 4:50 and only finished behind state champion and U.S. record holder Christine Babcock. This fall Taylor looks to make the west squad, and assuming she can stay healthy, she has a great shot to do just that.
6. Meghan Marvin (Sr., Clovis, CA) - Marvin is a Foot Locker national qualifier and one of the best athletes in California. In 2007 Marvin ran an excellent post-season, qualifying for a trip to San Diego, then placing 38th at the national meet. During the track season Marvin didn't show the same dominance she had in cross, finishing eighth in the state 3200m run with a time of 10:40.31. If Marvin can regain her form of last fall, she has another great shot to qualify for yet another national meet.
7. Leah Francis (Jr., Juneau-Douglas, AK) - Last year many thought Francis had a good shot to make Foot Locker Nationals. After running through her competition in Alaska, Francis tied up a bit at Foot Locker regionals, leaving her short of qualifying for nationals. With a successful spring which saw Francis win multiple state titles, she now turns her focus to helping her team try and win a state title, as well as try to defend her individual state title. If Francis can run through her competition like she did last year, she may be looking at a possible Foot Locker National berth once again.
8. Kaylin Mahoney (So., Saugus, CA) - Mahoney was not only one of the top freshmen runners in the state of California last season, but she also ranked as one of the top freshmen in the country. Leading one of the top teams in the country, Mahoney finished at or near the front in nearly every race she competed in. After placing sixth in the Arcadia Invitational 3200m run earlier in the track season, Mahoney finished third in the state 3200m run in 10:25.40, only finishing behind Hasay and Laurynne Chetelat, who ran two of the top five fastest times ever in the event. Mahoney will once again try and help her Saugus squad qualify for Nike Cross Nationals.
9. Alex Dunne (Jr., San Clemente, CA) - Dunne had one solid spring on the track, posting some big performances. Perhaps her biggest win came at the Arcadia Invitational, which saw her win the event over a very strong field. Later in the season Dunne placed fourth in the 3200m run, losing third place to West #8 Mahoney in a sprint to the finish. Dunne's finishing time was 10:25.75. Dunne certainly has as good as shot as any of the California front runners to qualify for nationals.
10. Andrea Nelson (Jr., Shadle Park, WA) - At Foot Locker regionals last fall, Nelson just missed qualifying for nationals. As one of the top returnees this year, Nelson knows she has her work cut out for her, as she tries to take another leap in her training and racing. As the top runner in the state this season expectations are high for Nelson, especially after she ran 10:40.04 for 3200m on the track this spring.
11. Shalaya Kipp (So., Skyline, UT) - As a mere freshman, Kipp earned quite a string of accomplishments. Her runner-up finish at the Utah State Cross Country Championships got things started, then this past spring she finished third in the 1600m and 3200m at the state track championships, with her 3200m time being 10:57. While she doesn't seem to have the same leg speed as some of the other athletes in the rankings, she proved in '07 that cross country seems to be her best sport.
12. Candace Eddy (Sr., Davis, UT) - After guiding her team to a state title last year, along with front running teammate Natalie Haws, Eddy is now the leader of her squad since Haws graduated. Eddy's been a force in Utah since her freshman year, and now with her senior year upon her, she has to be thinking about winning a state cross country title. Last year Eddy placed fifth at the Utah state meet, but had a great spring, which ended with a second place finish in the Arcadia Invitational 1600m run, as well as a runner-up finish in the 3200m at state in 10:52.80.