Andrew Wheating and Leonel Manzano impressed with some great miles in a year with no World Championships or Olympics. If Alan Webb is to come back, he will face a very formidable task in beating them for mile supremacy.
Today is Labor Day, marking the unofficial end of summer. This means Cross Country is upon us. Here in Illinois all eyes will once again be on Lukas Verzbicas and his quest to break Craig Virgin's record at Detweiller Park. He will not go unchallenged as York's Jack Driggs recorded one of the nations fastest miles (4:08.24) at the Midwest Distance Gala in June. The Chicago area had two of the top 10 HS milers in the nation and both return.
4:04.38 **Lukas Verzbicas (Sandburg, Orland Park, Il’)
4:05.50i Alex Hatz (Fayetteville-Manlius, Manlius, NY)
4:05.86+ *Elias Gedyon (Loyola, Los Angeles, Ca)
4:06.18 Jake Hurysz (Eastern Alamance, Mebane, NC)
4:07.28i Kirubel Erassa (Grayson, Loganville, Ga)
4:07.70 *James Rosa (West Windsor-Plainsboro North, Plainsboro, NJ)
4:07.98+ Ben Johnston (North Central, Spokane, Wa)
4:08.07 Pat Schellberg (Delbarton School, Morristown, NJ)
4:08.24 *Jack Driggs (York, Elmhurst, Il)
4:08.46 Isaac Presson (Asheville, NC)
York is looking like a heavy team favorite this year despite losing Andrew Smith, the State Champ in the 3200, but that is what York does every year under legendary Coach Joe Newton. Yorks recent time trial indicate Driggs is fit and the front runner with a solid 2-5 backing him up. They have a nice spread from 2-5 (6 seconds).
Driggs 8:47 Hedman 9:13 Hedman 9:15 Mimlitz 9:16 Gornick 9:19
We won't see Lukas (pictured below at FLMW, a meet that left me muddy as can be, as a spectator!) until end of month at earliest, at least on an XC course as he preps for the World Jr. Triathlon Champs later this month in Hungary. I'm sure he won't miss a beat as his running splits in these races are usually nothing short of spectacular.
Will he repeat as National XC runner of the year? This will be his last season as he took summer school courses to graduate early in 2011. He will be hard pressed by many in the class of 2011 including the Rosa twins, Craig Lutz (TX), Ammar Moussa (CA) and Elias Gedyon (CA). Others that can't be discounted are Zach Wills (OH- remember he edged Lukas at NON in 2009), Jeremy Elkaim (NJ- 8:46 3200 in a win over the Roas's), Futsum Zeinasellassie (IN-7th at FL Nationals in 08) as well as Driggs.
To me the overwhelming girls favorite has to be Chelsey Sveinsson of Texas. The "experts" disagree as most have picked her second behind Aisling Cuffe of NY based mostly off of her 10:02 for the full 2 mile at NBN, That would be a sub 10 in the 3200 which Chelsey has yet to run. I, however, think Chelsey would have had she not had an injury shortened track season. If she comes back fully healthy this year, she will be THE one to beat. It is worth noting that Freshman Natalie Rathjen (Highland Park, TX) just won the opener at Marcus 1 in 10:45, the same time Chelsey ran last year. Girls races are never as clear cut as the boys it seems.
Texas is already rolling. Craig Lutz dominated the Marcus 1 meet as expected. Southlake Carroll served notive that they may be the team to beat in Region 1 as they dominated the field winning with an impressive 39 points. Amarillo Tascosa showed they may be the sleeper team in Region 1 (5a) with an impressive 3rd.
In El Paso, Issac Spencer (Austin) ran away with the season opener in what should be a banner year for him. The surprise of the meet was the Eastwood Troopers (yes, I'm biased!) who were edged by a single point by Austin. The Troopers who had and have had a strong JV every year regrouped and served notice they are a team to be dealt with. The rapid off-season improvement by runners such as Luis Salazar will be key as team leader Juan Blanco can't do it alone. The Trooper Girls, who were expected to be solid, ran away with the girls title over very good Clint and Horizon teams. If Melanie Stires has the type of season she is capable of the Trooper Girls will look to improve on last years 5th place finish at the Region 1 meet. Coach Mike McLain has done a great job in developing the JV squads to step right up when the time has come. I look forward to seeing my Alma Mater proving the naysayers wrong.
For those who ran XC in El Paso, you should check out Coronado ex's Vince Bejarano's alumni website. It is open to all and can be a great place for some people to reconnect after many years. Look for it in the links section on your left.