Dylan Jacobs won Foot Locker Nationals at Balboa Park on Saturday morning in 15:19.7 to become the second Foot Locker champion in Sandburg High School history, following distinguished alumnus Lukas Verzbicas' back-to-back victories in 2009 and 2010.
While Claudia Lane won her second national title unchallenged, the boys' championship race was full of exciting mid-race surges from different competitors.
The opening pace was somewhat pedestrian with New Mexico's Kashon Harrison, the Foot Locker West region champion, finally taking the reigns after a 4:55 split.
Harrison, who is just a junior, was succeeded in leading duties by Northeast region champ Tristan Shelgren and Ole Miss commit Dalton Hengst before Jacobs made a decisive move to break things open.
But as has been the case all season on the Illinois prep cross country circuit, Lyons Township's Danny Kilrea went right with him.
Though Jacobs was the top returner in the field from last year's Foot Locker Nationals (11th as a junior), his in-state rival Kilrea has gotten the 'W' over him in every major race this fall: the Illinois Class 3A state meet (1st to 6th), NXN Midwest Regional (2nd to 4th), Foot Locker Midwest Regional (1st to 5th) and Nike Cross Nationals, where Kilrea placed fifth overall to Jacobs' 13th.
But if there was any lesson to be learned from last year's savage finishing kick by Reed Brown, who was only fourth at the Texas state meet and sixth at NXN, it's to never count yourself out.
Kilrea pulled even with Jacobs just before two miles, which they passed in 9:48, as a trio of boys from the South region ran another seven seconds back.
Jacobs again took the advantage at 2.5 miles, with the South boys narrowing the gap from Kilrea to five seconds, and he was solidly in the lead at 3 miles with a 14:47 split and one final hill to go.
By now, Texas sophomore Graydon Morris --who placed 34th at FL last year as a mere freshman-- had surpassed Kilrea for the second position.
The top trio would maintain their positions through the line, as Jacobs won in 15:19.7, Morris took runner-up honors in 15:23.3 and Kilrea placed third in 15:27.3.