Before I touch on the XC season thus far, this past weekend was a great one on the roads. Sammy Wanjiru broke Khalid Khannouchi's Chicago course record by 1 second with his 2:05:41. It was the fastest marathon run on US soil. Wanjiru who is only 22 is now 4 and 0 in the major marathons. His 4 wins have all been between 2:05.10 and 2:06.39. Amazing athlete. Props need to be given to this years pacemakers. Patrick Ivuti (2007 Chicago Marathon champ and a pacesetter this year) led the group through the 1/2 marathon in 1:01.59-1:02.00.
Speaking of the 1/2 marathon, American Dathan Ritzenhein continued his amazing 2009 with a Bronze Medal at the World 1/2 Marathon Champs (also on Sunday). Eritrean Zersenay Tadese won his 4th straight title in 59:35 while Kenya's Bernard Kipyego edged out Dathan for the silver 59:59 to 60:00. Another amazing performance in what has been a career year for Dathan Ritzenhein.
In the college XC ranks it is always exciting to see which freshmen step up to the transition. After last years great freshman crop everyone is wondering who will be the ones to break through. We saw great performances in early season victories from Arkansas' Soloman Haile (last years Footlocker champ) and Wisconsin's Reed Connor (last years NXN champ from The Woodlands, TX). Both were upstaged though recently (and soundly beaten in same race!) by Iowa's Jeff Thode. At the Wisconsin Adidas Invite on October 3rd Thode was edged for the win by Georgetown senior Andrew Bumbalough 23:54.0 to 23:54.7. Connor and Haile ran 16th and 17th about 30 seconds back. After winning the IL state meet last year Thode did not run NXN or FL but won the Mideast Meet of Champions. His track season was chronicled well in this blog with a 4:05 1600 and 8:51 3200. Very impressive young man and I hope to see him do very well at the NCAA level.
Jordan Hasay made her college debut that weekend as well and finished 6th at the Dellinger Invite. Jordan ran as the Oregon #2 to Alex Kosinski. Neither the Oregon Men or Women looked as good as expected. My NCAA favorite on the mens side this year is Oklahoma State. In addition to German Fernandez, Ryan Vail (All-American last year) returns for his final season and transfer Girma Mesecho (All American last year as a Frosh at Auburn) is eligible and ready to go. Colby Lowe should step up from last year and help the team win the title. Look for the Chris Derrick led Stanford team to challenge as well. On the women's side, I don't see any team capable of beating last years champ Washington.
On the prep level there is not much reason to take back any early season predictions. Chelsey Sveinsson (TX) dominated the Cowboy Jamboree in OK and while Lukas Verzbicas (IL) has only run once (an early season course record in Lyons, IL) he won the World Duathalon Champs which found him closing the last 2500 meters in 4:11 mile pace! Unreal. According to the Chicago Tribune, Lukas ran ill as well in his defeat of 18 year old Mario Mola, the World Junior Triathalon Champion from Spain.
While most everyone has Zach Wills (OH) as his main competition the Rosa twins from New Jersey are quickly stepping up as his main rivals. Joe has been setting course records and brother Jim has been right behind. Wills beat 2009 FL All-American Futsum Zeinasellaisse (IN) a few weeks back as well.
Down in TX, Region 1 and 2 are really heating up. Cedar Park, The Woodlands and Klein Oak all make Region 2 the toughest Team region in the State, if not the US.
Region 1 has seen some fantastic individual performances. Connor Adams (Flower Mound, TX) beat Craig Lutz early on. Lutz has since bounced back and won Nike South over a high quality field that included Parker Stinson (Cedar Park), Ryan Dohner (Klein Oak) Neal Smith (Southlake Carrol) and Travis Barcaley of Boerne. Also making noise out west is Lubbock Coronado jr Donovan Torres. Torres ran a fantastic 15:20 at Mae Simmons Park at the Lubbock Invite for the easy win. He followed that with a very close 2nd place (14:53-14:55) to Connor Adams at the McNeil Invite.
Look for Lutz, Adams, Torres and Smith to all challenge for individual honors and sub 15 at the Region 1 meet. After those 4 hopefully we can see some talent from El Paso make the State Final. In 4a, Region 1 on the boys side looks to go to the El Paso area as Jefferson is the favorite for the team title and the 1-2 Austin High duo of Isaac Spencer and Ramon Garcia will be very tough to beat. Keep an eye on the Clint girls in 3a and still don't discount El Paso Eastwood in the 5a girls.
On the national level, remember some of the names discussed as they will be names you will hear for some time. Verzbicas, Wills, the Rosa's, Zeinasellaisse, Lutz, Torres, and Elias Geydon (CA) will all be back next year. Maybe we will see a repeat winner on the boys side in 2011.