If you have ever been a part of a state championship team you know the feeling of accomplishment accompanied with victory. Each year there come very special programs across the country that step beyond simply winning and into a realm of total domination. It is in these moments of triumph that the questions of team's "greatness" are raised. Extraordinary accomplishments that warrant recognition and validation to set in stone once and for all, their XC Legacy.
(Recap) In 2004 Nike changed the face of prep cross country with the implementation of Nike Team Nationals. After decades the hopes and dreams of avid cross fans were finally realized. Hosted by Nike, NTN allowed the top XC programs in the nation to compete in one true national championship race at Portland Meadows. Many state associations do not allow prep teams to travel so teams register as clubs in order to compete in this post season event.
The pinnacle event for the prep cross country team is earning a berth to Nike Cross Nationals. The goal of every prep team is to hoist the NXN National Championship Trophy, proclaiming the true national champions. The honor and prestige of traversing the Portland Meadows course as team victor welcomes the winning team into an elite fraternity of champions that stretches back three decades.
Nike Cross Nationals and all that the event represents to the sport of cross country undeniably traces its roots, inception, and excitement to one moment and one man over three decades ago. In 1973 New York Times free-lance reporter Marc Bloom looked across the nation and saw a lack in comprehensive coverage for prep cross country and came up with a revolutionary idea. An idea that would pump new life and energy into high school cross country. The single most profound event prior to the emergence of Nike Cross Nationals three decades later, The Harrier Magazine!
In 1974 Marc Bloom developed and implemented a network for prep cross country on a national scale by releasing detailed summaries of every state. The culminating event for The Harrier magazine was the release of the Harrier Top-50 High School All-Americans.
The winds of change came in 1976 when Harrier released the first national team rankings in US history. A new buzz and excitement spread throughout the nation as top programs sought fervently to be crowned National Champions by The Harrier magazine. Team rankings were again released in 1977, following the 1977 season The Harrier was discontinued until being resurrected by Bloom in 1989. XC Legacy has sought to bridge the gap from that final 1977 season until the 1989 season.
The significance of those four seasons from 74’-77’ in the scope of prep cross country cannot be understated. Without the efforts of Marc Bloom to network and harness the energy that is prep cross country there would have not been a platform for Nike Cross Nationals.
The Harrier 1989 rankings came at the perfect moment and for a decade teams from the four corners of the nation sought the coveted Harrier National Championship. It was this energy, and this excitement that inspired the creation of the Nike Cross Nationals…the nation’s true prep team championship.
Perhaps now a spotlight can rest on those teams who deserve recognition for superior national performances.
XCLegacy BIG-15 National Rankings
by Aron & David Taylor
|1. Arroyo, California||National Champions|
|2. Carmel, Indiana||Indiana State Champions|
|3. Christian Brothers Academy, New Jersey||New Jersey Meet of Champions|
|4. Bend, Oregon||Oregon State Champions|
|5. Conroe McCullough, Texas||Texas State Champions|
|6. Gallup, NM||New Mexico State Champions|
|7. Eisenhower, Washington||Washington State Champions|
|8. Largo, Florida||Florida State Champions|
|9. Schaumburg, Illinois||Illinois State Champions|
|10. Caldwell, Ohio||Ohio State Champions|
|11. Plymouth, Indiana||Indiana Runner-up|
|12. Naperville (Central), Illinois||Illinois Runner-up|
|13. Palos Verdes, California||Manhattan Invitational Runner-up|
|14. Sunset, Oregon||Oregon Runner-up|
|15. Mesa Mountain View, Arizona||Arizona State Champions|
|16. Walnut, California||CIF Division II Champions|
|17. Dana Hills, California||CIF Div I Runner-up|
|18. Highland, Idaho||Idaho XC Champion|
|19. Bellarmine, California||Northern California Champions|
|20. Corona Del Mar, California||CIF Div II Runner-up|
1. Arroyo, California: National Champions
After completing the 1986 season as the #3 Nationally Ranked team, Arroyo set sights on being the best team in the nation for 1987. Led by Southern California legend Tim O'Rourke, Arroyo was poised for an assault on the record books. Some have contested the '86 team as the national champions however, upon further research in 1986 we find that two teams were in fact superior to Arroyo. The tide would change in 1987 as the Arroyo team would receive a consensus National Championship.
The season opened at the Woodbridge Invitational where the team would post a meet record 77:46 total team time. Led by individual standout Gerardo Puentes 4th place showing in 15:20, the team filed in consecutively 5. Jaime Ortega (15:22); 8. Derrick Powers (15:30); 9. Jeff Gilkey (15:33); 15. Arroyo Runner (16:01). Not to shabby for any team opening any season. US#20 Corona Del Mar would finish second with a 79:14 total team time.
A breakout meet for Arroyo was at the Walnut Invitational. Winning the meet in historic fashion. Competing against US#13 Palos Verdes wich featured Kinney finalist David Scudamore, the men from Arroyo won with a total team time of 81:04. Palos Verde's would finish second with a team time of 81:40. Jaime Ortega finished second in 15:47, Derrick Powers finished 3rd in 15:59; Gerardo Puentes finished 4th in 16:06. US#13 Palos Verdes who had won the Open Varsity Boy's Division at the Clovis Invitational is the same team that won it's flight at the Manhattan Invitational and have been argued as the team champions of the nations largest cross country meet. At Manhattan Palos Verdes narrowly lost to US#3 Christian Brothers Academy (CBA), however in a head to head match-up Palos Verdes has the edge.
Competing at Mt. Sac, traditionally a West Coast Super-Meet, Mt. Sac has always featured the top athletes and programs in the State of California and nation. Jaime Ortega finishing 2nd in 15:28 as the team packed four runners in the top 11 places, 3. Derrick Powers (15:34); 10. Jeff Gilkey (15:45); 11. Girardo Puentes (15:46). The team won scoring 69 points and recording a #11 all-time 79:05 total team time. US#13 Palos Verdes would finish second with a close 76 points and a 79:28 total team time and US#20 Corona Del Mar finished 3rd with a total team time of 80:10.
The team then travelled to the Stanford Invitational to face national competition. The US#4 Bend, Oregon squad would be in attendance staking their own claim to the national crown. Running a national championship calliber final, Arroyo claimed the team championship with 48 points. US#4 Bend, Oregon finished 2nd with 114 points, US#19 Bellarmine, CA would finish 3rd with 144 points; and US#20 Corona Del Mar would finish 4th with 157 points. Arroyo was led by individual champion Derrick Powers (15:41.9); 2. Jaime Ortega (15:51.7); 4. Gerardo Puentes (15:59.7); 8. Jeff Gilkey (16:15.6).
The 1987 season would culminate at the first ever CIF State Championship. All that seperated Arroyo from greatness and a national championship would be a decisive victory over the Woodward Park 5000 meter course. Arroyo would not disappoint winning with a #6 All-Time 78:23 total team time. Jaime Ortega would finish 4th in 15:23, he would be closely followed by teammate 6. Jeff Gilkey (15:29); 10. Derrick Powers (15:31); 20. Gerardo Puentes (15:54); 37. Mike Deitch (16:04). in a meet that would feature five national ranked teams the first ever CIF State Championships was a huge success. Arroyo would defeat the US#17 Dana Hills, US#19 Bellarmine, US#13 Palos Verdes, and Arroyo's total team time was superior to first-ever CIF Div II team champions US#16 Walnut and Division II runner-up US#20 Corona Del Mar. Walnut had a an incredible season, the 79:16 total team time was second to only Division I champion Arroyo. What Arroyo faced each week was much like a national championship final, continually rising to the occasion, Arroyo claims the 1987 National XC Championship.