An In-Depth NXN Southeast Region Boys Preview

Boys Individuals Preview

Top Returners From 2018: 

9. Leif Anderson, Marist (GA); 13. Adam Magoulas, Belen Jesuit (FL); 15. Christian Landis, Providence Day (NC); 19. Sully Shelton, Harrison (GA); 22. Carlos Shultz, Loudoun Valley (VA); 23. Luke Tewalt, Washington Latin Public Charter (DC).

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Individually is always tough to identify who is actually entered in the meet prior to the event beyond top runners on the entered teams, but here is who we know for certain is racing at WakeMed.

The top two runners who battled it out for first place at Great American in Graham Blanks of Athens Academy in Georgia and Carlos Shultz of Loudoun Valley in Virginia. Blanks was not registered for Foot Locker South despite racing in the meet last year instead of NXN Southeast, so looks like his sizzling 14:45 victory at Great American gave him all the signs he needed to make NXN as his preferred path to nationals this fall.

The Georgia state champion is rated as the 14th fastest runner in the country this season according to the well respected Tullyrunners speed rating system from his Georgia state meet performance. The Harvard University commit has made a big jump for his senior year in XC coming off a track season with bests of 9:13 in the 3200 and 4:20 in the 1600. He's been virtually unbeaten this season.

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1. Graham Blanks, Athens Academy (GA); 2. Carlos Shultz, Loudoun Valley (VA); 3. Jack Eliason, Western Albemarle (VA), 4. Sully Shelton, Harrison (GA), 5. Sam Keeny, South River (MD)

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As mentioned prior, it was Loudoun Valley's Shultz who pushed Blanks at Great American -- but he eventually succumbed to a 10-second loss in a new 5K personal best runner-up of 14:55.

Shultz had a stellar race to end his 2018 cross country season, where he finished 30th at Nike Cross Nationals in Oregon to help Loudoun Valley their second straight title. Since then, he has taken over as the team's lead runner. His biggest win of the season came in the team's Class 4A championships, a race he won in 15:24.

Other top individuals to consider: Virginia state champion Jack Eliason; Georgia state champion, Sully Shelton; Maryland state champion, Sam Keeny; and North Carolina state champion, Ian Harrison. 

Jack Eliason finished fourth in the Race of Champions at Great American (15:05) and is coming off an impressive 15:15 performance to win the Virginia class 3 state title. The Western Albemarle (VA) senior was 7 seconds behind Shultz in a runner-up race at the Albemarle Invitational last month and if his team fails to qualify for nationals, he is certainly capable of grabbing one of the five individual spots to Oregon.

Harrison (GA) senior Sully Shelton placed 6th at Great American and is one of the few runners in the field with sub 15 minute credentials. Shelton was the Georgia 6A state cross country champion this fall and certainly has some wheels based on his track performances including a 4:10 full mile last spring in the Music City Distance Carnival.

South River (VA) senior Sam Keeny broke the Maryland state meet course record earlier this month with a sensational time of 15:34 performance on the hilly 3 mile course at Hereford High School. Keeny finished 7th in the Race of Champions at Great American with a 5K personal best time of 15:07. He appears prime to make a big jump from his 58th place finish in his 2018 NXN Southeast Regional race.

Panther Creek (NC) senior Ian Harrison finished just inside the top 10 against most of these top NXN Southeast individual contenders at Great American with a 15:09 personal best 5K effort. Harrison went win the North Carolina 4A state title in 15:25 and is coming off a 9:12 3200 tuneup on the track last weekend. He actually finished second in that 3200 behind another North Carolina runner to possibly watch on Saturday in local runner Carson Williams of Cardinal Gibbons who has gone 15:08 for 5K this season and just edged out Harrison in that 3200 race indoors last week in 9:11.

Another runner from North Carolina to look out for is the adidas XC Challenge winner in 15:10 from September at WakeMed in Green Hope's Thomas Vo. He didn't have the greatest finish to his remaining season in North Carolina including a 6th place in his state meet, but if he can return back to his early season form could put him in position to contend for a top 5 national spot.

Here is a sleeper pick in the field to surprise. Florida 4A state champion Rheinhardt Harrison of Nease came on very strong at the end of this season to win his first state title as a sophomore with the fastest winning time on the day at 15:24 and possibly could keep his season going with a national berth as an underclassmen. Harrison showed the talent as a middle schooler winning AAU Junior Olympic Games national titles on the track. Plenty of upside and a great opportunity for him to do something now in high school on the national level.

LionsSpiva, Oliver
Marietta XC ClubBresnock, Michael
Marietta XC ClubCompton, Joe
Marietta XC ClubFortenberry, Jared
Marietta XC ClubMayfield, Cade
Peak City XCKennedy, Scott
Peak City XCLynch, Emmett
SB EliteAlexander, George
SB EliteBrodie, Tristan
UnattachedAbell, Ryan
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UnattachedBlanks, Graham
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Whitman HarriersMegary, Jackson