October is a few days away and things are starting to get exciting on all levels. The big city fall marathons are just around the corner and Chicago looks to be quite the race. Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot , Tsegaye Kebede , Vincent Kipruto , plus top American Ryan Hall all are looking to defeat defending champion (and Olympic Chamion) Sammy Wanjiru. I wouldn't be surprised to see a sub 2:05 if the weather cooperates. A great story is on the women's side where the legendary Joan Benoit Samuelson (1984 Olympic Gold medalist) returns and hopes to run under 2:50 for the 3rd time as a 50plus year old. I really hope she does, Joan is such an important figure in US Marathon history. Amazing woman. Someday I will actually not run this race and join the spectators along the course to see some of the true greats battle it out in what is always an amazing race.
College XC is starting to get going and the top runners are slowly making their debuts. The much anticipated debut of German Fernandez led to a 6th place finish at the Cowboy Jamboree. It seems as he and teammate Colby Lowe ran it as a controlled tempo run as they finished together. OSU's Girma Mesecho won the race. It is a promising start for OSU who brought in a tremendous recruiting class. I did notice that Kirubel Erassa was held out. Stanford ran as a controlled pack as well at the Stanford Invite. Chris Derrick, Elliot Heath and Jacob Riley all came across the line together about 4 seconds behind winner David McNeill (NAU). Stanford looked very, very good as they did last year up until NCAA's. An interesting development is Jakub Zivec coming on at Florida State University. Refer to my blogs from the 2008 XC season if you need any info on this tremendous talent from Czech Republic.
On the womens side I haven't seen to much top level action. Lavinia Jurkiewicz , the IL 3a state champ last year, ran strong in her debut for Wisconsin. Top WI recruit Emily Sisson is yet to race. Megan Goethals (University of Washington) opened with a 4th place finish at the Sundodger Invitational. She ran as UW's number 2 behind former IL high school star Lindsay Flanagan.
On the High School side many of the nation's elite have yet to run. We are still waiting to see debut's from Lukas Verzbicas and Jim Rosa. It is very likely Joe Rosa is out for the entire season and we are still a bit in the dark on the status of Chelsey Sveinsson. We have seen strong starts from Craig Lutz(TX), Jack Driggs (IL), Ammar Moussa (CA), Elias Gedyon (CA) and Futsum Zeinasellassie (IN). I have been a bit surprised as I thought Zach Wills (OH) would be right there with them but he has faced 2 defeats against top level competition. As of right now, if most rankings were based on races already run (and not waiting for Verzbicas or Rosa) Futsum should be a strong US#1 right now. He has been extremely impressive and narrowly missed Chris Derrick's course record at the Culver Invitational.
With Joe Rosa probably out, one wonders if Lukas will now just run FootLocker again. It is known that due to schedules the Rosa's can only do NXN and many people anticipated them meeting in Portland. Lukas, as well as Lutz, had been expected to do both series. With the expectation that Joe is done until track, Lukas may only be in San Diego. The match up of Lukas and Fustum, one that failed to happen last year when Futsum didn't show in Kenosha, would still be epic. I can only speculate right now as I anxiously await to see these guys race.
Down in West Texas the Eastwood girls have silenced all doubters as they are the undeniable #1 team in the El Paso area. The Eastwood boys have been THE biggest and nicest surprise this season as they have finished no worse than 3rd (at the big Lubbock Invite) and have won twice. Right now they, along with Montwood, are the co-leaders as the top team in the city. Top runner Juan Blanco, who ran a great 15:52 in Lubbock, has had the luxury of having his teammates step up and run close to him.
It is my understanding that the course at Mae Simmons Park in Lubbock has been changed up a bit and is now a slightly faster course. Still, the performance of Isaac Spencer of El Paso Austin was tremendous. He ran the fastest time of all 5 classes with a blistering 15:01. Very, very impressive run.
That's about it for now. Things will really pick up over the next few weeks as high schools start heading to the state series. College meets will pick up with the much anticipated pre-Nat's being the highlight. Here's to hoping the Chicago Marathon is another one for the ages. EDIT: Between the time I started this and the end it has been announced that Ryan Hall has withdrawn from the Chicago Marathon.