The high school cross country community has been waiting with bated breath since August for any news on the Foot Locker National Championships, but on Friday it wasn't pretty, as the organization announced it was canceling its annual meet in San Diego, California due to concerns over COVID-19.
Hope had seemed to be building when Foot Locker did not make a rash decision before the fall season, as it did not follow when Nike announced the cancellation of Team XC Nationals in July, well before its annual national team championship would commence in December.
And perhaps that's because Foot Locker Nationals, the longrunning national championship -- and formerly the Kinney Cross Country Championships -- has held a race every year for over four decades. Every year, the race pits 40 qualifiers from the Northeast, South, Midwest and West Regions on the line at Balboa Park. To some, it's the only true national championship race in the country.
In recent years, some incredible races have taken place, from Reed Browns' barnstorming last 800 meters in 2016, to Sydney Masciarelli's surprise win in 2018, to Zofia Dudek breaking 17 minutes and running an all-time great 5K at Balboa in 2019.
But after Nike made its decision in July, that left Foot Locker determining its own future.
And in recent weeks, according to sources, Foot Locker officials have held meetings to discuss the status of the meet.
However, by Friday, the final decision came.
There will be no Foot Locker National Championships in 2020.
A host of returners levied hopes on returning to the meet this fall, including national contenders like Melissa's Judson Greer (TX), Penns Valley Area's Colton Sands (PA), Skyridge's Creed and Davin Thompson (UT), Conard's Gavin Sherry (GA), Cherry Creek's Parker Wolfe (CO) and Manchester's Aidan Puffer (CT).
Greer, a fifth-place finisher in 2019, was the top returner back.
Meanwhile, it seemed like anyone's race to win on the girls side, with Muskegon Western Michigan Christian's Abby Vanderkooi (MI) returning after a third-place finish in 2019. Science Hill's Jenna Hutchins (TN), former Foot Locker champ Sydney Masciarelli (CT), IMG's Carly McNatt and Tatum David and Cornwall's Karrie Baloga (NY) were all back as well.
Foot Locker Nationals Champions Since 2010
2019: Josh Methner, Hersey, IL, 15:08.80
2018: Cole Hocker, Indianapolis Cathedral, IN, 15:13.70
2017: Dylan Jacobs, Sandburg, IL, 15:19.70
2016: Reed Brown, Southlake Carroll, TX, 15:01.80
2015: Drew Hunter, Loudoun Valley, VA, 14:55.70
2014: Grant Fisher, Grand Blanc, MI, 15:03.00
2013: Grant Fisher, Grand Blanc, MI, 15:06.50
2012: Ed Cheserek, St. Benedict's Prep, NJ, 14:59.00
-- Note: 2013 & 2014 & 2015 NCAA XC Champion
2011: Ed Cheserek, St. Benedict's Prep, NJ, 14:51.50
2010: Lucas Verzbicas, Sandburg, IL,
2019: Zofia Dudek, Ann Arbor Pioneer, MI, 16:45.00
2018: Sydney Masciarelli, Marianapolis Prepatory, CT, 17:00.30
2017: Claudia Lane, Malibu, CA, 17:03.40
2016: Claudia Lane, Malibu, CA, 17:04.81
2015: Weini Kelati, Heritage, VA, 17:09.70
-- Note: 2019 NCAA XC Champion
2014: Anna Rohrer, Mishawaka, WI, 17:13.00
2013: Tessa Barrett, Waverly, PA, 17:15.40
2012: Anna Rohrer, Mishawaka, WI, 17:24.80
2011: Molly Seidel, University Lake, WI, 17:21.40
-- Note: 2020 Olympic Marathon Qualifier
2010: Aisling Cuffe, Cornwall, NY