* Clay Shively (left) won the season's fifth NPOTW poll; Patrick Koon is one of five nominees for this week's National Performer of the Week
Photo Credit: J Hobson/MileSplit & Chrisshonk/MileSplit
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Before Clay Shively took to the line at the Les Bolstad Golf Course for the Roy Griak Invitational, not a single high schooler in the course's expansive history had ever dipped below the coveted 15:30 barrier.
Once the dust settled following the Boy's Championship race, three boys had broken the 10-year-old record that was set by Obsa Ali in 2013. Shively maneuvered himself from 18th to first after the first mile, before using his signature kick to secure his second-straight win.
Last week, Shively collected 43% of the nation's votes, becoming the fifth runner to earn NPOTW honors.
Congratulations to Shively on the honor, along with the four other superb nominees for last week. This week, despite quieter weekends of racing for some states, athletes continued to put together stellar efforts on the cross country course.
Here are five of the best performances from last week's racing.
Ryan Pajak, Ringgold (PA): The first of two Notre Dame commits on this week's list of nominees, Pajak is coming off of a statement win at the 49th running of the Paul Short Run. Pajak stopped the clock at 15:07 on the dot, good enough for his third-fastest mark of his Ram career. On a course that has seen some incredible times in its lifespan, Pajak sits in the top-10 all-time. With his win over the weekend, Pajak stays perfect on the year at 3-0, and looks strong heading into the nitty-gritty part of the season.
Manny Putz, Onalaska (WI): After a grueling battle at Roy Griak, the Onalaska junior bounced back incredibly quickly, winning the Steve Johnson/Dan Houston Invitational in Waverly, IA. Putz ran 15:05.5 for the win, putting 22 seconds between himself and the runner-up. Putz now owns the first- and third-fastest times ever ran on this course, and looks to be coming into his fitness with his third-fastest performance ever.
Patrick Koon, Leon (FL): After a few meets of keeping off the gas, the recent Stanford commit had complete control over the FSU Invitational/Pre-State field. After leading the pack through the first mile in 4:45, and by the two-mile marker, he was one of just two runners left behind the gator. Over the 1.1 miles, Koon put a whopping nine seconds between him and the runner-up, stopping the clock in 14:50.4, less than half of a second away from breaking his own course record. With his victory on Saturday, Koon made it three-straight wins at Pre-State, and his fourth win overall this season.
Cameron Todd, Brebeuf Jesuit (IN): Running under the lights is pretty great, especially when you run the fastest time the course has ever seen. A soon-to-be member of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish next fall, Todd is taking full advantage of his senior campaign, wining the Nike XC Town Twilight title in 14:48.1, surpassing Kole Mathison's 14:51.7 record set just a year ago. Todd led another four boys under 15:00, setting a new nine-second personal best. This win put Todd at four on the year, and was a strong rebound after last week.
Joshua Ruiz, Belen Jesuit Preparatory (FL): Ruiz was the runner-up behind Koon at the FSU Invitational/Pre-State, running under 15:00 for the second time this season in 14:59.6. His performance bumped him up to the third-fastest high school boy in course history, just one-fifth of a second from taking the second spot. Ruiz battled it out with Koon for the bulk of the race, before finding himself in second, but led his team to another team title. Ruiz led three other teammates into the top 10, helping the Wolverines to the 38-124 victory over Brother Martin (LA). This keeps their 2023 campaign perfect so far at 4-0.
NPOTW Weeks 1-5
Week 1: Daniel Hruska, Cherry Creek (CO)
Week 2: Ethan Edgeworth, Cold Springs (AL)
Week 3: Bazil Mathes, Monticello (VA)
Week 4: Will Conway, Floyd Central (IN)
Week 5: Clay Shively, Trinity Academy (KS)