Fall is here and that means one thing. Cross Country season is upon us. It was a great summer of Track and Field. All of the Gala League meets were televised as well as others, great World Championships in Berlin. Good times, literally. Two Americans, Dathan Ritzenhein (12:56.27 New AR) and Matt Tegenkamp (12:58.56) , broke 13 minutes in the 5000 in the span of one week. 3 Americans (Evan Jager, German Fernandez and Chris Derrick) all no more than 2 years removed from the American High School system ran sub 13:30, all before they are old enough to drink a beer in a bar.
The United States women have seen a huge resurgence in the middle distances with fantastic 800/1500 meter performances from the likes of Anna Willard, Shannon Rowbury, Jenny Barringer, Christin Wurth-Thomas and Maggie Vessey. Hopefully the trend will continue for years to come as it was quite inspiring to see these ladies hold their own against the world's best.
Now we head in to the time of the year reserved for running on uneven surfaces and terrains. Cross Country. I can't touch much on the College ranks yet as most of the top teams and individuals have yet to race. Texas and Illinois are once again looking very strong in the High School ranks with some of the top individuals and teams.
The Lone Star state brings Chelsey Sveinsson (top female in the US), Sarah Andrews, Parker Stinson, Craig Lutz and Connor Adams. The Woodlands girls and boys teams look very strong and the Cedar Park boys look to challenge for State and National honors.
Illinois fields the top male in the nation (probably for a few years to come!) in Sophomore Lukas Verzbicas as well as some of the top boys teams in the nation in York and Naperville Neuqua Valley. York lost 2 stars in Steve Sulkin (9:01) and Jordan Herbert (9:04) and Neuqua lost Foot Locker All-American Danny Pawola but as most perennial powerhouses they have rebuilt and both should have strong showings at the IL state meet and Nike Cross nationals.
Moving on to some things you couldn't already find out on Dyestat, it looks like there are some good things going on at my alma mater Eastwood (El Paso, TX). The girls team is undefeated 2 meets in and is looking solid from 1-7 with several capable front runners. As long as they start getting the 1-5 time gap down they can make some noise after the District meet. On the boys side Junior Juan Blanco won the Clint/Horizon Invitational with a solid win over 200 plus runners. I think he has the ability to become the best XC runner from the school in many, many years if not THE best. He certainly impressed me with his 4:30 in the 1600 as a Sophomore. Hopefully these kids will stay healthy and go into the Region 1 meet with the knowledge that they can absolutely compete with the best in the Region and State. Coach Mike McLain has certainly been there, earning individual and team Region Championships as a runner for Hanks High School back in the glory days (the 80's) of El Paso High School Cross Country. If anyone can help them realize this goal it is him.
I will certainly touch on the progress and performances of the team this year as I cheer for them from afar.
In an unrelated "How did I miss this from last year?" the defending Arkansas big schools Girls Cross Country champion (who ran away with last years title as a Frosh) is Valerie Reina. Yep, Reubens daughter. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.