High-SchoolTrack-and-XC: michigan

Womens USATF 100Errol Anderson/ESPNHSFL prep Shayla Sanders FL (left) finished third to Dezerea Bryant in the USATF Junior Womens 100, but both will represent Team USA in their favored WJC 4x100.


With a roster filled with experienced internationalists, including seven previous IAAF World Junior or World Youth medalists and seven more previous finalists, Team USA is in a word, loaded, going into the 14th IAAF World Junior Championships which begin Tuesday. There are arguably at least a dozen medal contenders competing (plus the relays), all of whom could help the U.S., combining with the men, to break its all-time championship best of 21 medals.

It’s good to start with the sprints, because therein lies Team USA’s true gold favorites: U. of Illinois frosh Ashley Spencer and both relays. A year ago, Spencer was a 42-second 300 hurdler from Warren Central HS in Indiana and had almost no experience running the 400 as a prep. Over the course of an incredible freshman year, she became the country’s top junior 400 runner and an NCAA champ with a 50.95 PR. She’s #1 in the world with that mark and, having run low-50-points for relay splits, she should be able to back up her talented teammates and bring home the gold on the anchor of the 4x400 to help the Americans defend their title.

The short sprints should be nearly as good, with 2011 World Youth champ and Texas prep Jennifer Madu and 2010 4x100 relay gold medalist and World #2 Dezerea Bryant of Clemson leading the way in the 100 and on the 4x100 relay – hoping for another title defense in the latter. Preps Shayla Sanders and Kali Davis-White, both from Boyd Anderson in Florida, will help take the stick around. Bryant and fellow collegian Olivia Ekpone are medal threats in the 200.

Injury-plagued 2011 World Youth champ and CA prep Trinity Wilson did not make Team USA, but collegian Morgan Snow and young gun Dior Hall – who claimed the New Balance Nationals Indoor 60H – lead 100H hopes. Illinois prep Shamier Little and collegian Kaila Barber should both make the final in the longer hurdles and contend.

In the 800, NJ prep Ajee Wilson is another returnee from the 2010 WJ squad, where she was fifth, and is now the reigning World Youth champ. With tougher competition this year, she is World #5 going into Barcelona. Unranked Danielle Aragon, a fast-improving Montana prep, should not be discounted, either. Other distance hopes for Team USA ride primarily on the shoulders of NY prep Mary Cain in the 1,500 (where she’s #2 all-time HS), 2011 World Youth steeplechase finalist Brianna Nerud (also of N.Y. and #2 in prep history), and very experienced Stanford frosh Aisling Cuffe in the 3,000 – though others could contend, as well.

Prep throws USR-holders Shelbi Vaughan, Haley Crouser, and Shelby Ashe (now post-HS) lead a superlative Team USA contingent on the field. Former GA prep Ashe is World #2 in the hammer, having set the American Junior record of 223-6 at the Trials, and returns from the 2010 WJ squad. Vaughan, who was fourth in the Olympic Trials discus and has thrown 198-9, trails only two on the World Junior list and won bronze in Lille last summer. Oregon prep Crouser was fourth at 2011 WY in the javelin, set her mark with 181-2 in March, was seventh at the Trials and is ninth on the WJ list.

Javelinist Brianna Bain (Stanford), 2009 WY discus medalist Alex Collatz (USC), and World top ten putters Christina Hillman (Iowa State) and GA prep Tori Owers (another 2011 WY finalist) will also support the American cause as likely finalists and possible medalists.

Among the jumpers, U. of Florida triple jumper Ciarra Brewer (seventh in 2009 WY Champs) is World #4 and U. of South Dakota vaulter Emily Grove is World #5. But don’t forget about preps like Madu in the TJ, Robin Reynolds FL in the LJ, and 2011 WY eighth-place finisher Sydney White NC in the PV.

And while Mississippi State’s Erica Bougard and GA prep Kendall Williams are not high on the heptathlon lists, both could threaten American junior or high school records.

How many medals can Team USA women win in Spain? How about at least 10? In terms of golds, expect a relay sweep and one from Spencer, plus at least one more in the sprints, hurdles or throws. For additional overall medals, plan on 2-3 more from the sprints/hurdles, one from the distances, and one or two in the throws.
Dior HallJohn Dye/ESPNHSDior Hall crosses the line seemingly calm and composed after her stunning upset of Trinity Wilson in the 60H.

NBNI Index

NEW YORK – Dior Hall had run a slew of fast times and even won some big races. But during Sunday’s finals in the 60-meter hurdles, the sophomore from Denver, Colo. took it to the next level.

Hall blitzed U.S. Junior and World Youth champ Trinity Wilson and the rest of the New Balance Nationals Indoor field, running 8.19 seconds for No. 2 all-time and another new sophomore class record. It was arguably the most impressive performance of the final session of the three-day affair at The Armory.

Three weekends earlier, in Pocatello, Idaho, Dior ran 8.30 in the prelims of the Simplot Games and then hit the last hurdle the next day as Wilson sped off with the victory and a then-US#1 8.23. Then, on Feb. 26 in Seattle, Wash., Hall lowered her time to 8.28 and bettered Wilson’s class record and won the race. But Wilson was elsewhere.

It all came together in New York. First she ran 8.25, fastest overall in the semifinal round. In the final, Hall got a huge advantage on Wilson at the start and the Californian – who last lost to a prep in 2010 – could never catch up. After the championship race, Hall found her mom – Yolanda Johnson, a former all-time hurdling great – and shared an emotional moment with her.

“I was excited,” Hall said. “I was crying with my mom. I feel like I’m on the right track and (now) it’s on to the outdoor season.”

Before the curtain closed on the indoor season, many of the country’s top athletes took a final stab at leaving their mark on it before moving on to outdoors.

In the boys 400, the highly anticipated showdown with trio Aldrich Bailey (Texas), Najee Glass (N.J.) and Arman Hall (Fla.) lost some of its sizzle when Hall didn’t run fast enough in the prelims to make the fastest section of the finals. So the big show turned into a rematch of the Brooks PR meet – with a nearly identical result.

Bailey got into the lead by the end of the stagger, but Glass was right behind him. Bailey left a seam open on the inside and Glass pressed through it to take the lead. Bailey went wide on the final straightaway to try and win – and was a little short. It was Glass clocking 46.57 and Bailey right there in 46.59.

“I forced myself in,” Glass said. “It was not a big gap. I had to be aggressive.”

Bailey certainly wasn’t expecting the pass on the inside and wasn’t even sure it was legal. “When Najee passed on the inside, I was like ‘What’s going on?’” he said. “I lost my form when he did that.”

Bailey recovered in time to win the 200 meters in a meet record 21.07 seconds, but it didn’t quite make up for the second straight loss to Glass (the difference in Seattle was .01 seconds).

For Edward Cheserek, the final day of NBNI provided an opportunity to pursue individual titles after anchoring two relays wins for St. Benedict’s Prep (Newark, N.J.).

It started with the two-mile, but Cheserek ran even splits on the way to 8:50.53 – a great time by anyone else’s standards, but seven seconds slower than he’d already run in this winter.

It was about 75 minutes that Cheserek took to the track again for the mile, but the race did not turn into the four-event coronation that he may have imagined. At the front, Jacob Burcham (Ona, W.V.) went after Cheserek, trying to surge his way to the lead. Each time, Cheserek responded and rebuffed him.

Laying in the weeds, right behind them, Brad Nye of Kaysville, Utah was watching and waiting. “With 400 to go, I was still in the race,” he said. “I said ‘I’m right here. This is perfect.’”

Nye moved off the final curve, ran past Burcham and Cheserek and took it through the tape in 4:08.67. The Foot Locker champ and 5,000-meter U.S. record-holder was next in 4:09.07 and Burcham was third in 4:10.82. Nye also had a performance at Simplot that set the stage for nationals, except in his case it was a 1,600 victory so dominant – an easy-looking 4:12.39 at high altitude – that many believed he could improve significantly.

Nye was almost stunned by his achievement and quick to be humble. He had watched each of Cheserek’s previous three races and noticed that he was being pushed – or pushing himself – in all of them.

“Wow, he is such a stud,” Nye said. “His whole attitude, his ability, I have nothing but respect for the guy. It was a great opportunity to run with him.”

Two of the other big matchups came in the 800-meter races.

Ben Malone of Pascack Valley, N.J. kicked late and ran a junior class national record and No. 2 all-time 1:49.94 to beat a field that included Zavon Watkins (N.Y.) and Ned Willig (Pa.), who were second and third, respectively. It concluded an amazing undercover campaign for Malone, who is also US#1 at 1,000 meters and has shown great range from 600 to cross-country.

Ajee Wilson and Mary Cain had a rare chance to go head-to-head, and get to know one another. The senior from Neptune, N.J. and the sophomore from Bronxville, N.Y. don’t live far apart, but they really didn’t know each other. Cain approached Wilson in the bathroom and asked if she’d like to warm-up together.

“She’s run 2:02 (for 800), so I just wanted to go out and do my best,” Cain said. “I tried to go after her that last 150. Why not? But that last 100 it was hard to find that other gear.”

Wilson had her eye on Cain all along and was wary of getting into a kicking contest with her. “I wasn’t asleep on (Cain),” she said. “I knew I needed to save something for the last 150.”

Leading off the field events, it was hard to top Avana Story of Woodward Academy (Georgia), already the national leader in the girls weight throw. She hit a two-foot personal best 63-1.5 to move to No. 2 all-time behind her former Throw1Deep Club teammate Shelby Ashe.

“After my third throw of 60 (feet), it was time to go all-out,” Story said. “I’ve been waiting for that 19 meters to come up all season.”

Ashe, who took the year off from entering college in order to train for the Olympics, continues to work out with Story and her teammates. “She’s like my big sister,” Story said of Ashe. “She told me I could do it.”

In the boys weight throw, Rudy Winkler of Averill Park, N.Y. had the four longest throws of the competition – all of them over 24 meters (78-8) – and hit the first 80-foot throw of the year for the winner, 80-11.75 (#8 all-time).

Carla Forbes of Newtonville, Mass. won a horizontal jump title for the third year in a row. The junior won the triple in 2010 and the long jump last year. On Saturday, she was fifth in the long jump with a respectable 19-7.

In the triple jump, Forbes improved to 42-5.25 for a 19-inch season’s best. It was good for No. 10 all-time. “I was kind of angry,” she said of her morning after the long jump. “I said ‘You know what, I’m going to win something this weekend.’ I had to focus on a new day.”

Ariah Graham of Wakefield, N.C. went 3-for-3 in her events. She anchored Wakefield (N.C.) to victories in the 4x200 and 4x400, and also won the individual title in the 400 with 53.95, fourth-fastest in the nation this season.

Wakefield’s 4x200 relay turned in a meet record 1:36.35, also #2 all-time. The 4x400 ran a US#1 3:43.01, good for #8 all-time.

Robert Rhodes anchored the boys of Boys and Girls (Brooklyn, N.Y.) to a relay win for the second straight day. After an emotionally draining 4x800 win on Saturday, Rhodes recovered in time to help his team take the 4x400 decisively, in 3:16.78.
Erin FinnJohn Dye/ESPNHSErin Finn moves out to a huge lead against the great national class 5k field -- which she would never relinquish.

NBNI Index

NEW YORK – Erin Finn decided that she’d had enough of driving to the lead in big races and then getting passed at the end. That happened to her in the Foot Locker XC Finals this past December and it happened again at the Brooks PR Invitational two weeks ago.

It didn’t happen on Friday.

Instead , the junior from West Bloomfield, Mich. charged to the front and kept on charging. She buried the field on the way to smashing the U.S. high school indoor 5,000 record by more than 15 seconds – crossing the finish line in 16:19.69 to win her first national championship at New Balance Nationals Indoor at The Armory. The previous record was set in this meet just last year: 16:35.15 by Waverly Neer.

“I told myself this is my chance,” Finn said. “I’ve come in second and third too many times. This is my race, my night, and everything worked out so well. God blessed me tonight, I’m so happy.”

Haley Pierce, of the Tatnall School (Wilmington, Del.) – who was second at NXN and second ahead of Finn in the Brooks PR two-mile – figured there was a chance that she could stick with her evenly paced plan and catch back up to Finn. She briefly edged closer in the middle of the race, but Finn’s pressure was too relentless.

Finn opened with 2:31 for 800 meters and went through 1,600 in 5:07. She then hit a succession of laps mostly in the 39s, with just one over 40.

“I was a little disappointed that I was slowing down,” Finn said. “I think my ego got the best of me. I knew if I went out and held on as long as I could I’d (get the record).”

Pierce also had reason to think she could break through with her biggest win since last year’s 3,000 at the Penn Relays.

“I was pretty confident,” Pierce said. “I know she goes out hard, but sometimes you can pull her back in, you know? I was just trying to stay relaxed in my head. I was trying for the national record and I could win if I got the record, but (Finn) ran an amazing race so I can’t feel too bad.”

Grosse Pointe South
John Nepolitan/ESPNHSKelsie Schwartz hands to Hannah Meier during Grosse Pointe South's winning DMR.
Pierce also ran under Neer’s 2011 standard, running 16:31.86. Brianna Nerud from North Shore (Glen’s Head, N.Y.) was third in 16:43.56 and 2011 New Balance Outdoor 5,000 champ Wesley Frazier of Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.) was fourth.

Finn wasn’t the only success story from Michigan on Friday.

The girls distance medley relay squad from Grosse Pointe South (Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich.), featuring junior twins Hannah and Haley Meier, chased Mountain View of Utah’s 8-year-old national record (11:35.43) and came up just four seconds short.

GPS turned in the No. 4 time in history, clocking 11:39.29 and winning by nine seconds. And it could return intact next year to make another attempt. In addition to the Meier sisters, the quartet included sophomore Kelsie Schwartz (800 meters) and freshman Ursula Farrow (400).

Hannah Meier took the final baton pass needing to run about 4:42 to get her team the record. And the mixture of adrenaline and nerves drove her to a 65-second first 400.

“There was a lot of nerves,” she said. “I felt different than I usually do before races. I just got out there pretty fast and went for it.”

Meier, who won the mile at the Brooks PR Invite two weeks ago, split 4:47.3.

The third final for girls on Friday was the high jump, and Kell, Ga. junior Kendell Williams lived up to her No. 1 ranking in the event. Williams needed a third attempt to make 5-9.25 but then cleared 5-11.25 on her first try.

Williams, who will begin the indoor pentathlon Saturday and also has the 60-meter hurdles on her plate, was able to overcome nagging discomfort in order to focus on her event and win the high jump title. She spent at least 20 minutes trying not to think about her full bladder.

“I’ve never had to high jump when I had to go to the bathroom like that,” Williams said. “I’m just glad I could still jump. I just tried not to think about it, to look at something else.”

Kendell Williams
John Dye/ESPNHSKendell Williams approaches the bar en route to HJ victory.
After outlasting 2011 runner-up Maddie Morrow of Hoover (North Canton, Ohio) and Dakota Dailey-Harris of LaSalle Academy (Providence, R.I.), Williams was given permission to leave the competition for a few minutes to address her emergency and then returned to take three attempts at 6-0.5.

In the boys DMR, the irrepressible Edward Cheserek made his first appearance in the meet a memorable one. He anchored St. Benedict’s of Newark, N.J. to the championship in 10:10.08.

Cheserek took the stick in sixth place but burned through a 54-second 400 to catch everyone in front of him and move up to the lead. From that point he ran only as hard as he needed to in order to stay in front of Piscataway’s Tim Ball.

Ball made Cheserek work for it, but the Foot Locker champ and 5,000-meter record holder had enough in the tank to bring his team the victory. He has three more events on his weekend to-do list: The sprint medley relay on Saturday and the two-mile and mile on Sunday.

The meet concluded Friday with a stirring finish in the boys 5,000. Foot Locker finalists Daniel Lennon of Peru, N.Y. and Dallin Farnsworth of Pocatello, Idaho traded the lead and neither one of them could shake the other. For 25 laps they went, not separated by more than a stride.

Lennon sped to the lead with 220 meters left and tried to put the race away but Farnsworth responded. Coming around the final curve Farnsworth slide wide and tried to make one final pass but he ran out of room and lost by less than a foot. It was Lennon in 14:37.25 and Farnsworth, the Simplot Games two-mile champion, in 14:37.32.

Lennon was gracious, calling it a “co-championship” because the race was so close.

“I got to the last 100 and started to see his shadow and thought, ‘I’ve got to go,’” said Lennon, who summoned everything he had to get to the finish line first. “I had no idea (who won). In all honesty, I thought he was going to get me. I consider it a co-championship. He closed on me faster than I closed on him and it was both of us together the whole race.”

2012 NBNI: Friday Preview and Predictions

March, 9, 2012

NBNI Index

Girls High Jump (Friday, 6 p.m.)
This should be a great battle between a trio of jumpers who have cleared 5-10 or better, led by 2011 runner-up and top returnee Madeline Morrow OH. Morrow was known last year for a big handful of great duels with fellow Ohioan Taylor Burke (2011 NBNI champ), who has now moved on to college. But she’ll hardly have the stage to herself. Multi-event star Kendell Williams GA, always a national championship threat in any one of several indoor or outdoor events, is entered here – though she recently said she might just focus on the 60H and pentathlon. The HJ has perhaps been Williams’ best event (and favorite) this year, so it would be surprising if she skipped it. If she’s here, she’ll likely battle Morrow to the final jump. A later add to the field is fast-rising Rhode Island star Dakota Dailey-Harris, coming off her New Englands title a week ago. Finally, the deep field includes 13 jumpers at 5-8 or better, so if the stars falter at the higher elevations, it could be anyone’s gold.
Top Three Picks: 1. Williams, 2. Morrow, 3. Dailey-Harris.
Winning Height: 5-11.25

Girls Distance Medley Relay (Friday, 6:10 p.m.)
The last time a powerhouse girls distance program from Michigan was a threat for a national relay title was back in the early 2000s when Rockford was fielding some of the nation’s best. Now enter the girls of Grosse Pointe South, which won the Michigan D1 state XC title (MI teams aren’t allowed to run NXN) and feature the Meier twins – both sub-4:50 milers (See Baker’s Dozen story about their record chances). There are a handful of other teams that could run in the mid-11:40s to 12:00, including LaSalle RI (US#3 11:53.36), Ocean Lakes VA, and meet-record holder Saratoga Springs (US#4 11:55.14), but it’s hard to imagine anyone beating the Michigan squad. Defending champ Fayetteville-Manlius is only running the 4x800.
Top Three Picks: 1. Grosse Pointe, 2. LaSalle, 3. Kinetic (Saratoga).
Winning Time: 11:34.50, USR

Boys Distance Medley Relay (Friday, 6:40 p.m.)
CBA NJ assistant coach Chris Bennett said Friday that their US#1 squad was pulling out of this event, better to focus on Saturday’s 4x1 Mile relay – the assault on a record taking precedence over scoring a potential sweep of the three longest relays. That leaves the door wide open for US#2 St. Benedict’s NJ to take the win, with star Ed Cheserek’s path to a potential DMR/SMR/2M/1M quadruple growing a bit easier. That’s not to say there are no other contenders. Marshfield MA with its distance duo of Kevin Thomas and Joel Hubbard, Piscataway NJ with Tim Ball, and Pembroke MA with Wesley Gallagher all have a chance to run 10:10 or better. Still, if Cheserek gets the stick within 6-8 seconds of the lead, it’s lights out.
Top Three Picks: 1. St. Benedict’s, 2. Marshfield, 3. Piscataway
Winning Time: 10:06.40, USR

Girls 5,000 (Friday, 7:10 p.m.)
The rematch of Erin Finn MI, Haley Pierce DE, and Wesley Frazier NC is the story here (see Doug Binder Story, SteveU’s Baker’s Dozen) and, as has been mentioned, Brianna Nerud NY is also highly capable of winning. If Pierce is on form, she should win, but the fact that she has been prone to an occasional collapse or major mid-race fade opens the door for anyone else. Whoever is most on their game definitely has a national record shot.
Top Three Picks: 1. Pierce, 2. Finn, 3. Nerud
Winning Time: 16:31.20, USR

Boys 5,000 (Friday, 7:55 p.m.)
There aren’t going to be any record chases this year, but the 5k should still be a very good competitive race with national class talent. Dallin Farnsworth ID and Dustin Wilson PA are both familiar with the 5k on the track; Farnsworth was 4th in this race last year and Wilson was 5th in the NBON 5k last June. On top of that, they were 11th and 13th, respectively, at Foot Locker Finals last fall. Farnsworth is really on a roll, though, coming off his meet record Simplot 3,200 win. Also, New Yorkers Thomas Awad and Dan Lennon should be solidly in the mix, especially Awad, whose marks have been strong nearly all winter.
Top Three Picks: 1. Farnsworth, 2. Awad, 3. Wilson.
Winning Time: 14:33.70

Boys 800John Nepolitan/ESPNHSThe last time (from left) Ned Willig, Zavon Watkins, and Ben Malone were on the track together, great drama ensued at the NB Collegiate 1k. What will happen in the 800 Sunday?

NBNI Index

There’s so much to love at the New Balance Nationals Indoor, the second straight year of a single national championship meet indoors for preps to settle who’s the best in the U.S. Here’s a primer to Baker’s Dozen best of the best over the three-day stretch (boys followed by girls, but in no pecking order).

Boys 800: Talent and drama to burn
The boys 4-lapper at NBNI isn’t getting the buzz of, say, the 400 or pole vault, but there’s no doubt that there will be high drama, especially with the following four protagonists:
Liverpool (Liverpool, N.Y.) senior Zavon Watkins: Defending champ and the only sub-1:50 (outdoors) in the field, Watkins had a great run of mile victories, but at shorter distances (600, 800, 1k) he’s dealt with a few defeats and a DQ. He still has something to prove.
Columbus (Bronx, N.Y.) senior Strymar Livingston: USRs at 500 and 600, but definitely has something to prove at 800 (2nd at Simplot), which will be his main outdoor event.
Great Valley (Malvern, Pa.) senior Ned Willig: Still US#1 at 800 this winter at 1:51.25, he “won” the 1k where he and Watkins were DQ’d and might still be burning a little from his 10th at Millrose (mile).
Pascack Valley (Hillsdale, N.J.) junior Ben Malone might be the most talented of all. He was the official winner of the NB Collegiate 1k (2:23.56) when the DQs came in, and has a US#1 4:11.66 1600, a 1:51 800 relay leg, and even a 1:21 600 to his credit. A dark horse who could take it all for sure, but he’s also entered in the mile.
Don’t be surprised if Robby Andrews' USR comes under attack and more than one runner goes under 1:50.

Boys PV: Best indoor trio ever
There have never been three pole vaulters at 17-6 or better in a single year, indoors. And, suffice it to say then that there has never been an undercover competition with three guys doing battle at such high altitude. It’s not completely shocking that Spring (Spring, Texas) senior Reese Watson and Lincoln (Gahanna, Ohio) senior Jacob Blankenship have reached that level, given their creds from 2011. But Kingwood Park (Houston) senior Shawn Barber was “only” a 16-6 vaulter when the season began. With his 17-8 outdoors last weekend, he actually leads the trio now. Interestingly, Texans Watson and Barber have not met this year, with Watson winning previous meetings between them before Barber’s big improvement. Blankenship has never vaulted against either of them, but his creds certainly match up: He was the surprise New Balance Nationals Outdoor (NBNO) champ last June and then earned a bronze at the World Youth Champs. These are three of the top six indoor vaulters in history, enjoy them.

Boys 400: From teammates back to rivals
While the above-mentioned vaulters have relatively little competitive history between them, the top guns in this epic 2-lap battle could hardly be more familiar with each other (See Doug Binder story). Still, the drama could hardly be higher. St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) senior Arman Hall was the man almost all of last year – winning NBNO and World Youth titles – except when he was beaten by Timberview (Arlington, Texas) senior Aldrich Bailey at the World Youth Trials. That surely gave Bailey confidence, despite being second fiddle again at the World Youth Champs, and he came out sizzling this winter with 47.05 and 20.99 marks in January. But then St. Peters Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) Najee Glass – a runner-up in the biggest races last year – finally got his, too, when he beat Bailey by .01 at Brooks Feb. 26. Their 46.06 and 46.07 times are #2 and #3 all-time (all tracks). Hall has done little indoors, but is down to 46.41 outdoors now (his 46.01 PR is the best of the three). And that’s what has transpired to create a matchup that, despite the rivals’ familiarity with each other, will be as dramatic as any race in the meet. And don’t forget, Bailey and Hall are racing the 200, too.

Boys 60H: Can Robertson confirm?
The boys short hurdle scene (55, 60) coming into 2012 was characterized by a big handful of guys with similar PRs, but no one having quite broken through to the super-elite level yet. And by the Brooks PR meet, the story was the same, with Potomac (Oxon Hill, Md.) senior Dondre Echols (7.17 55H) and Berea (Berea, Ohio) senior Donovan Robertson (7.87 60H) having pushed closes to all-time great territory. But then, shockingly, Robertson became that super elite performer Feb. 26 at the Brooks PR meet, hitting 7.77 in his prelim and then an eye-popping 7.57 in the final – cutting .03 off Wayne Davis’ 2099 standard. On Sunday, Robertson gets a chance to back it up. There will be eight other hurdlers in the deep field who have run 7.27 or better for 55H, or 7.89 or better for 60H. Robertson will have a big target on his back and it will be fun to watch if he can “get to the first hurdle first” (his words) and do it again, or if a challenger will rise up and take him down. One more thing worth remembering: In Robertson’s last national meet, NBNO last June, he led 110H qualifying (13.74, -0.1w), but finished last in the final. Think he won’t be motivated by that?

Ed Cheserek: Doing the “Verzbicas”
The races and circumstances may be a little different, but for all intents and purposes, Ed Cheserek looks to be trying to pull a “Verzbicas” this weekend at NBNI. No, he won’t be running the 5,000 and going for a record there – he’s already done that this winter. But he is expected to anchor St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) US#2 DMR (Friday) and US#1 SMR (Saturday), both with a solid chance to win. And he is entered in both the 2-mile and mile on Sunday. If he (and his team in the relays) wins all four, would it be as big a deal as what Verzbicas did last year? In comparing the Friday-Saturday part, Verzbicas pushed fairly hard to break his own 5k mark Friday before resting Saturday. With his respective 1600 and 800 relay legs, Cheserek would probably have to run PR-level marks to carry St. Bene’s to victories. On Sunday, Verzbicas had to beat Cheserek himself in the deuce, whereas Ches will not have nearly as tough a foe. And in the mile, Verzbicas faced a more experienced field for sure, but not necessarily more talented than what Cheserek will encounter. By Sunday night, we’ll see how the two historical efforts compared.

Boys Distance Relays: Can the Brothers beat ‘em all?
Whether or not a top cross-country program carries it through all year long to be a top indoor and outdoor distance power, in individual events and relays, is more hit and miss than people think. Some harrier outfits aren’t as well suited for the mile on down at the national level. So what the Christian Brothers Academy (Lincroft, N.J.) has done already this winter – US#1s in the 4x800 (#2 all-time) and DMR – and are poised to do this weekend is pretty special. Besides the favorite’s role in the above-mentioned events, you certainly have to give them the nod in the 4x1 Mile, where they are defending champions. Could they win all three, something no boys’ school has ever done? Certainly; they look to have a good margin on the fields in the 4x1 Mile and 4x800, while Ed Cheserek and St. Benedict’s (2011 outdoor champ) may offer the toughest challenge in the DMR. As for national records, CBA might not have quite the top-end power to take down the very tough 4x800 or DMR marks, but WWPN’s 17:21.58 4x1 Mile from two years ago could go down.

Girls 800: Cain chases Ajee chases the clock
One can hope for more competitive drama, but in all likelihood, the girls 800 will turn into three races:
1. Neptune (Neptune, N.J.) senior Ajee Wilson chasing the clock, trying to strengthen her hold on #2 all-time or even, perhaps, making a decent run at Mary Decker Slaney’s 38-year-old USR.
2. Bronxville (Bronxville, N.Y.) soph Mary Cain running in no-man’s land for a fast time, somewhere in the 2:05-2:08 range.
3. The rest of the pack having a good race for third place.
Can Cain challenge Wilson? Maybe, on a really good day. And remember, Wilson is a racer – not someone who’s often tried to push alone in a race where she’s the clear favorite. But for Wilson, who has run all of her fast races this winter against elites in the U.S. Open, Millrose Games, and New Balance Boston Indoor GP, what other motivation would there be to run here? She won last year in 2:06.17 and to come to The Armory Sunday just to run to win seems pointless. Been there, done that. Thus, if she really lays it on the line, maybe we’ll see something as special as we presumed two years ago when she authored that epic relay leg at NBON. Stay tuned.

Girls distance relays: New girls on the block
If you assess the girls distance relays starting with the 4x800 and 4x1 Mile, you’ll notice some typically good fields with a handful of teams that could go low 9s or just under 9:00 in the former, and another potential challenger (Haley Pierce and Tatnall, Del.) to Saratoga’s 2005 USR in the latter. But then you check out the girls DMR – now THAT could be interesting. Grosse Pointe South, Michigan and the amazing Meier twins have never entered a national meet relay since they burst on the scene two years ago. Now, just off 4:43.24 (Hannah Meier) and 4:48.10 (Haley Meier) indoor mile PRs at the Brooks PR meet, they will see if their combined talents can attack the 11:35.43 USR by Mountain View, Utah from 2004. Remember, they also have Kelsie Schwartz who has run 4:59 for 1600 and Ersula Farrow, who has run 5:05. One wonders why they didn’t go for the 4x1 mile, but running the Friday night DMR allows the Meiers a day of rest before tacking Sunday’s mile (Hannah his defending champ). If Schwartz and Farrow can combine for a 60-62 400 and a 2:18-20 800, the twins ought to be able to do the rest.

Girls 5K: Rematch for elite trio
While Tatnall (Wilmington, Del.) senior Haley Pierce, Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.) junior Wesley Frazier and West Bloomfield (West Bloomfield, Mich.) junior Erin Finn may have a broader perspective on Friday’s 5,000 than how it compares to their NBNO 5,000 last June – the comparison is certainly interesting to fans (see Doug Binder’s story). Pierce’s creds coming in last spring had made her an exciting favorite, but when she faded mid-race, Frazier and Finn put on quite a show in finishing 1-2. Since then, Pierce and Finn both had national runner-up finishes in XC (NXN and Foot Locker, respectively), while Frazier was off form. But as evidenced by their 2-3-4 finishes in the Brooks 2M, quite a battle should be ahead. In grave danger may be the 16:35.15 USR set just last year by Waverly Neer. And don’t forget about North Shore (Glen Head, N.Y.) senior Brianna Nerud, who could beat all three with a really good day.

Girls 60H: Hall gets another shot at unseating the queen
St. Mary’s (Berkeley, Calif.) senior Trinity Wilson has been one of the nation’s elite hurdlers since before her high school years and she has absolutely owned the 60H and 100H for the last year-plus. But if there’s anyone that could deliver the upset, it’s George Washington (Denver, Colo.) super soph Dior Hall. As the track world saw at Simplot, Hall pressured Wilson to be at the absolute top of her game at Simplot, only to stumble herself at the end and finish sixth. Atonement was sweet at Brooks, as Hall lowered her 60H PR to 8.28. Now she gets a rematch with the World Youth 100H champion, with both having to face a very good field. Can the young gun top the senior veteran? Or might Wilson be better than ever and take down Jackie Coward’s 2008 USR of 8.16? Watch and see.

Girls LJ: Battle of the 20-footers
Given that the national record in the girls indoor long jump is 21-7.5 (Carol Lewis, 1981), a 20-foot jump isn’t necessarily something to get really excited about. But five of them in the same years is pretty good, and having four of those five competing together for a national title is special indeed. The key players really haven’t crossed each other’s path much and don’t have a lot in common. Newton North (Newtonville, Mass.) junior Carla Forbes (20-1.25) is defending champ (and 2010 Nike Indoor TJ champ), so this meet is familiar to her. Fayetteville (Fayetteville, Ark.) senior Sydney Conley (20-1.5) has Olympic genes (her father is 1992 TJ Gold Medalist Michael), but is a relatively late bloomer and this is her first NSSF championship, in or out. And in Virginians Javanique Burress (junior AA champ from Louisa County at 20-1) and Shakeela Saunders (senior AAA runner-up from Nansemond River at 20-0.5), you have another national newcomer who’s made a big leap up this winter (Burress) and a veteran all-arounder (hurdles, TJ, long sprints) who has starred since her frosh year but popped that huge one way back in December (Saunders). These four girls have PRs within an inch of each other.

Multis: Familiar names
If it seems like Kendell Williams has been around forever, you may be surprised to realize that the Kell (Marietta, Ga.) junior is … still just a junior. Williams is everywhere, whether it’s in the number of events she competes in at a meet, or the number of meets she competes in during a given year. One of her many successes last year was winning NBNI with 3,792 points (#3 all-time) and while she must missed Shana Woods’ soph USR, she can get the junior class mark with just a 36-point improvement. Oh, and she’s also entered in the high jump (current US#1 5-10.75) and 60H (US#4 8.39). Meanwhile, on the boys side, the last name of the leading light should be familiar (Lazas), even if the first name (Jake) isn’t. Jake’s older brother Kevin battled Gunnar Nixon in 2010 in becoming one of history’s great multi-eventers in and out and is now a star at Arkansas (as is Nixon). But Jake, now a Brentwood (Tenn.) senior, has struggled with injuries somewhat. There’s no question, however, that he has tremendous physical talent and attributes and with a healthy senior year could challenge or surpass some of his brother’s marks. So don’t be surprised if you see a coming out party.

Girls sprint relays: Open the door for new powers
When you think of schools that have been all-around sprint and sprint relay powers at the nationals in the past several years, you think of Long Beach Poly, Eleanor Roosevelt, Benjamin Cardozo and Medgar Evers. But it may be time in 2012 to open the door to some new names, like Wakefield (N.C.) and Martin Luther King (Ga.). Wakefield isn’t new on the scene, but they’ve never run like they have this year, led by senior Ariah Graham and with US#1 marks of 1:38.35 4x200 and 3:45.64 4x400. Meanwhile, MLK – with athletes trained by Sprint Athletics – has developed stars like Felicia Brown (US#2 53.53 400) and Jada Martin (US#3 24.00 200). Perhaps the sprint relay race of the meet for either gender will be the 4x200, where both schools, plus Poly, will lock up.
5kJohn Dye/ESPNHSWesley Frazier (1), Haley Pierce (2) and Erin Finn (3) finished first, seventh, and second in this NBON 5k race

NBNI Index

Three of the country’s top female distance runners are part of Friday’s New Balance Nationals Indoor 5,000 meters field and even if they aren’t peaking for this event, a race featuring senior Haley Pierce and juniors Erin Finn and Wesley Frazier promises to be a good show.

At the Brooks PR Invitational on Feb. 26 in Seattle, that trio went 2-3-4 behind Foot Locker champion Molly Seidel in a loaded two-mile. Their shared history, however, goes back to last June, when all three were a huge part of a dramatic outdoor national 5k.

But first, this winter: Pierce, a Georgetown signee from The Tatnall School (Wilmington, Del.), will seek her first national title to conclude a productive indoor season that included a US#7 4:48.59 mile victory at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, a US#2 9:40.46 in the Yale Classic, and a US#2 10:14.54 in the two-mile. That followed her runner-up finish at NXN Finals in December, leading her team to third place.

“This winter we’ve been fortunate with the weather,” Pierce said. “We’ve been building up base, doing a lot of strength work.”

With her focus on the upcoming outdoor season, Pierce can afford to come to New York and take a low-pressure approach to the meet. She is also in Saturday’s 4x1 mile relay with her Tatnall teammates and will no doubt want to run well for her team, which has a chance to break the national record.

Finn, the 2011 Foot Locker runner-up and hard-charging junior from West Bloomfield (West Bloomfield, Mich.), is also focused on getting ready for a big outdoor season. After extending her cross country season into January so she could run the Edinburgh Cross Country Challenge in Scotland, Finn took some time off before ramping up her miles.

“Only recently have I added some fartleks and tempo runs,” Finn explained. “Indoor track isn’t really big in Michigan, so I am racing indoors to test where my body is on only a little training. I had a high mileage week last week, so I am just trying to make sure I am rested for the (NBNI) 5K. I am excited though! Hopefully I can go out and make it a gutsy race.”

Finn’s penchant for taking the lead has made her a marked target in national races (more on that in a moment), but her willingness to push the pace has helped produce fast times.

Frazier, meanwhile, said the weekend schedule dictated that she enter the 5,000 even though she’d probably have rather entered the mile or two-mile.

“It’s strictly a matter of timing for me this year,” said the junior from Ravenscroft (Raleigh, N.C.). “I have a lot of school stuff due on Monday and the rest of the week is loaded, so I need to get back (home) and Sunday running in New York was just not an option.”

That said, the 2011 New Balance Nationals Outdoor 5,000 champion will do her best to mix it up.

“I would like to run on pace and maintain my form with no breakdown,” Frazier said. “And then a win would be a nice bonus.”

So three girls with a lot of talent and nothing to lose will gain more elite race experience in a field that also includes North Shore (Glen’s Head, N.Y.) standout Brianna Nerud (who was 5th in the Brooks 2M), Bishop Eustace (Pennsauken, N.J.) senior Holly Bischof and senior Alexis Panisse of Benjamin Cardozo (Bayside, N.Y.), among others.

Long time since last June

It seems so long ago that Frazier, Finn and Pierce took the starting line at the 5,000 meters at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor championship on June 18 in Greensboro, N.C.

The meet was a coming-out party for Frazier, who made the short drive from her home and ran an impressive triple in a warm, muggy conditions over three days. She surged away from Finn to win the 5,000 Thursday in a national sophomore class record of 16:24.83 (No. 8 all-time), placed third in the two-mile on Friday, then won the mile in stunning fashion on Saturday.

Finn led much of that race, but in a moment of lost concentration stepped on the rail and nearly fell. She still managed to finish second with PR and would set another best the next day in the deuce.

Pierce – considered the pre-race favorite for the 5k after a spring where she won the Penn Relays 3k – faded badly that night, running more than three minutes for her final two laps and finishing seventh.

Since that meet, fortunes changed. In the fall, Pierce and Finn were fixtures in the national rankings.

Pierce entered the cross country season gradually, coming off an injury. She won Great American and then found herself locked in an in-state rivalry with Julie Macedo. The two of them ran so fiercely at the New Castle County Championships on Nov. 5 that they ran each other into the ground. Pierce ultimately recovered and led Tatnall to the medal stand at NXN, with only Sarah Baxter finishing ahead of her.

Finn ran 17:16 and 17:22 three days apart in mid-September and moved to US#1. Her Michigan and Midwest dominance seemed to slip at bit with a narrow state meet win and a distant third at Foot Locker Midwest. But Finn pressed the pace impressively at the Foot Locker Finals in San Diego, storming to a big lead before Seidel ultimately reeled her in and won.

Finn also led in the race at Scotland and again at the Brooks PR Invite two-mile, and she didn’t win those races either. Still, Foot Locker (and the Brooks race) represented career-best efforts to date.

“I guess that my racing style has always been pretty aggressive,” Finn said. “It’s probably not the smartest racing tactic. I am going to start to play around with other things. Nevertheless, I like to keep an honest pace and make sure that a two-mile race is really two miles – not a one and half mile jog with an 800 sprint.”

Frazier entered cross country season with great expectations that were probably misplaced. The two-time Foot Locker finalist didn’t run with the Ravenscroft team, preferring to stay focused on track workouts.

“For me, cross country is much more team-oriented and not being on a team makes it a little more difficult for me to get immersed in the season,” she said. “Second, I’m very interested becoming a better track runner and most of my training, even during (cross country) season, is oriented to things that, hopefully, will make me better on the track, especially the shorter distances – 800, mile, two-mile.”

Frazier did run at the Foot Locker South regional, but didn’t have a good day, finishing 39th. She had made the previous two Foot Locker Finals. She has run well this winter, though, and at Brooks ran within four seconds of her winning time at the 2011 edition of the race.

Of her 10:21.07 in Seattle, Frazier said she was “80 percent satisfied, 20 percent disgusted,” but considered it a learning experience.

For all three, the race is a test but not the final destination. They are all looking forward to what lies beyond.
Coverage of the 2012 MITS State Indoor Champs
Sat., Feb. 25, 2012 -- Bowen Fieldhouse, Ypsilanti MI

LINKS: Full Results | DyeStat Elites
LIVE RESULTS | Schedule | Meet Info | Qualifiers

  • G-60H: Ann Arbor Huron sr Cindy Ofili, sister of many-time NCAA champ Tiffany, joined the elites with a huge US#4 8.43 PR, improving by 0.41. Farmington Hills Mercy sr Laticia Sims (8.65). Romulus soph Quenee’ Dale hurdled US#9 8.68 in her prelim, then did 8.75 in the final.
  • B-60H: Ann Arbor Pioneer sr Drake Johnson zipped to a US#5 7.85, topping Clare’s Jake McFadden US#11 7.98.
  • G-WT/SP: Detroit Country Day sr Brittany Mann scored the only double of the meet with MITS record 54-4.5 (she’s already US#4 56-10) and 40-8.5.
  • G-200: Cass Tech sr Kyra Jefferson dominated in defending her title, winning by more than a second in US#5 24.31.
  • B-60: Three ran 6.93 or better, topped by Ypsilani sr Kyle Redwine at US#7 6.85.
  • B-SP: Cadillac jr Riley Norman got out to US#10 59-9.75.
  • G-3200: Allendale sr Ali Wiersma paces seven at 11:02 or better with a 10:40.56.
  • G-800: Dakota jr Lauren Burnett dominated in 2:14.10.
  • G-PV: Lansing Catholic Hannah Sailar, not even a 10-footer last spring, flies over 12-1.
  • G-400: 57.02 and an easy win for Oak Park 8th-grader Anna Jefferson.
  • B-PV: 15-3 for Lakeview sr Dan Emery, topping Adrian sr Cory Miller 15-0.
  • G-1600: With teammates Hannah and Haley Meier in Seattle for the Brooks PR meet, Grosse Pointe South fr Ersula Farrow wins in 5:06.25.
This is a list of reported Division I college commitments updated with news of this week''s signings. It is arranged by home state. Please let us know if any of these non-binding commitments have changed. We know this list is far from complete. Tell us where you are headed next fall and we can add you to the list. After you sign, send us a photo for our gallery and/or Facebook wall. Names in bold are confirmed as signed. The complete listings of college choices is HERE.

Andrew Harris (distance) - Alabama
Kevin Shannon (throws) - Alabama
Quincy Smith (sprints) - Alabama
Jonathan Stiegler (jumps) - Alabama
Lacey Dent (sprints) - Alabama
Joy Maneice-Marbury (sprints) - Alabama
Analisa Patrick (distance) - Alabama

Trae Armstrong (football/sprints) – Idaho
Jasmine Todd (sprints/jumps) - Oregon
Bacall Sterling (hurdles/sprints) - Sacramento State
Ashley Weber (throws) - Arizona State

Sydney Conley (jumps) - Alabama

Trinity Wilson (hurdles) - UCLA
Cami Chapus (distance) – Stanford
Amy Weissenbach (mid-distance) – Stanford
C.J. Albertson (distance) – Arizona State
Carrie Verdon (distance) – Colorado
Darren Fahy (distance) – Georgetown
Dylan Blankenbaker (distance) – Oklahoma
Kevin Mihalik (distance) – Air Force
Savannah Comacho (mid-distance) – Oklahoma State
Allison Sturges (distance) – Duke
Cameron Miller (distance) – Stanford
Kevin Bishop (distance) – Stanford
Cody Crampton (high jump) – UCLA
Rebecca Mehra (distance) – Stanford
Deon Pinder (jumps) – Oklahoma
Lyndsey Mull (distance) – UCLA
Blake Selig (sprints/jumps) – UCLA
Julian Todd-Borden (hurdles) – Drake
Ashlyn Dadkhah (mid-distance) – California
Shea Taylor (jumps and hurdles) – BYU
Kendal Nielsen (jumps) – Cal Poly
Rachel Bush (distance) - Cal Poly
Justin Unno (distance) - UCLA
Annie Grove (distance) - South Carolina
Erika Reddish (distance) - BYU
Adriana Olivas (distance) - Arizona State
Klyvens Delaunay (jumps) - Arkansas
Danica Wyson (distance) - BYU
Ashton Padberg (distance) - San Diego
Steve Michaelson (throws) - Wake Forest
Rashard Clark (sprints) - Arizona State
Alex Conner (distance) - Yale
Melanie Joerger (distance) - Loyola Marymount

Sierra Williams (sprints) - Florida State
Kirk Webb (mid-distance) - Penn
Karina Ernst (distance) - Syracuse

Connor Rog (distance) – Virginia
Matt Klein (distance) - Dartmouth
Clark Shurtleff (distance) - Penn

Julie Macedo (distance) – Florida
Haley Pierce (distance) – Georgetown
Sam Parsons (mid-distance) - N.C. State

Marvin Bracy (football/sprints) – Florida State
Robin Reynolds (sprints) – Florida
Arman Hall (sprints) – Florida
Shayla Sanders (sprints) – Florida
DerRenae Freeman (jumps) – Florida State
Kyri Tabor (sprints) - Alabama
Dwight Davis (sprints) - Alabama
Carly Thomas (distance) - Florida State
Katelyn Greenleaf (distance) - Alabama
Randy Johnson (sprints) - Miami

Cameron Thornton (mid-distance) – Texas A&M
Jonathan Jones (football/hurdles) – Auburn
Reed Hancock (jumps) - Alabama
Caroline Kissel (distance) - Georgia Tech
Sarah Howard (throws) - North Carolina
Avana Story (throws) - North Carolina
Devon Williams (multi) - Georgia

Emily Nist (distance) – Syracuse
Rebecca Lassere (distance) - Seattle

Malachy Schrobilgen (distance) – Wisconsin
Morolake Akinosun (sprints) – Illinois
Trevor Holm (distance) - Western Illinois
Danielle DeVito (distance) - Bradley
Lindsey Rakosnik (distance) - Illinois
Sydni Meunier (mid-distance) - Notre Dame
Jacob Bender (sprints) - Nebraska
Chelsea Blaase (mid-distance) - Tennessee
Zeke Elkins (mid-distance) - Drake
Ali Olson (distance) - Northern Illinois
Ellen Renk (jumps) - Northern Illinois
Olivia Herzog (throws) - Northern Illinois
Leah Raffety (distance) - Northern Illinois
Mallory Abel (distance) - Northwestern
Jacquelyn Thate (distance) - Murray State
Ben Bowers (mid-distance) - Penn
Rebecca Stearns (mid-distance) - Loyola Chicago
Will Crocker (distance) - Missouri
Leland Later (distance) - California
Tom Schutt (throws) - Ohio State
Dan Vitale (hurdles) - Northwestern
Jaylaan Slaughter (hurdles/sprints) - Northern Illinois
Lauren Lindholm (distance) - Illinois-Chicago
Carl Heinz (jumps) - Duke

Mary Davis (distances) - Miami (Ohio)
Maggie Bell (sprints) - Indiana
Meredith Jackson (mid-distance) - Baylor

James Harrington (sprints) – Alabama
Hannah Savage (mid-distance) - Northern Illinois
Taylor Twedt (jumps/multi) - Wisconsin
Tyler Donels (hurdles/jumps) - Missouri

Kavahra Holmes (football/sprints) – Louisiana State
Kelci Lyons (mid-distance) - Columbia

Abbey Leonardi (distance) – Oregon
Matt McClintock (distance) - Purdue

Champ Page (sprints) - Ohio State
Ronald Darby (football/sprints) - Florida State
Justin Ahalt (distance) - Alabama

Jennifer Esposito (sprints/hurdles) - Elon

Tyrus Conley (throws) - Tulsa
Zachary Kughn (distance) - Montana State

Thomas Anderson (throws) - Arizona State
Brandon Clark (distance) - Penn
Riley Macon (distance) - Minnesota
Mark Harries (distance) - North Dakota

Justin Fondren (HJ) - Alabama
Conner Foxworth (jumps) - Alabama
Asia Cooper (sprints) - Ole Miss

Dorial Green-Beckham (sprints/jumps) - Missouri
Brittany Kallenberger (sprints/jumps) - Central Missouri

Morgan Woitzel (mid distance) - Nebraska

New Hampshire
Hillary Holmes (hurdles/jumps) - Cornell

New Jersey
Ajee Wilson (mid-distance) – Florida State
Tim Ball (distance) – Notre Dame
Caroline Kellner (distance) – Cornell
Holly Bischof (distance) – Duke
Blake Udland (distance) – Duke
Najee Glass (sprints) – Florida
Myasia Jacobs (sprints) – Georgia
Samuel Mattis (discus) – Penn
Alicia Osley (sprints) - Northern Illinois
Darrell Bush (sprints) - LSU
Elly Wardle (jumps/multi) - Lehigh
Greg Caldwell (hurdles) - Princeton
Jermaine Collier (hurdles) - South Carolina
George Kelly (distance) - Michigan
Stephen Lewandowski (distance) - Clemson
Theresa Picciallo (throws) - Penn
Everett Price (mid-distance) - Princeton

New York
Samantha Nadel (distance) – Georgetown
Brianna Nerud (distance) – Syracuse
Katie Sischo (distance) – Providence
Kelsey Margey (distance) – Villanova
Alexis Panisse (distance) – Tennessee
Zavon Watkins (mid-distance) - Penn State
Lauren Fontana (mid-distance) - Texas A&M
Olicia Williams (sprints) - Baylor
Giancarlo Sainato (mid-distance) - Georgetown
Thomas Awad, (distance) - Penn
Brendan Smith (distance) - Penn
Valencia Hannon (sprints) - Clemson
Daniel Lennon (distance) - Syracuse
Patrizio Grandinali (distance) - High Point
Cody Israel (sprints/jumps) - Lehigh
Heather Martin (distance) - Georgetown
Christie Rutledge (distance) - Dartmouth

North Carolina
Samantha George (distance) – N.C. State
Thomas Graham (distance) – Stanford
Craig Engels (distance) - N.C. State
Tevin Hester (sprints) - Clemson
Gabrielle Gray (sprints) - South Carolina
Anna Gelbach (sprints) - North Carolina-Charlotte
Alexis Perry (hurdles/jumps) - N.C. State
Hezekiah Ward (hurdles) - North Carolina-Wilmington
Francesca Evans (sprints/jumps) - North Carolina A&T

Destinee Gause (sprints) – Florida
Donovan Robertson (hurdles) – Ohio State
Maddie Morrow (high jump) – Duke
Coy Blair (throws) - Purdue
Taylor Hatfield (distance) - Alabama
Jacob Blankenship (pole vault) - Tennessee
Stephen Lyons (throws) - Eastern Michigan

Isaiah Duke (sprints) - Baylor

Megan Fristoe (distance) - Oregon
Sara Fristoe (distance) - Oregon State
Ashley Maton (distance) - Oregon
Kira Kelly (distance) - Oregon State
Jefferson Jarvis (throws) - BYU

Angel Piccirillo (distance) – Villanova
Tori Gerlach (distance) – Penn State
Drew Magaha (distance) – Penn
Thomas Pitt (HJ) - Penn
Imani Brown (jumps) - Alabama
Kyle Felpel (throws) - Alabama
Chris Williams (hurdles) - Washington
Kyle Long (throws) - Arizona State
Margo Malone (distance) - Syracuse
Ned Willig (mid-distance) - Brown
Meredith Speakman (distance) - Syracuse

South Carolina
Chris Brown (football/jumps) – Notre Dame

South Dakota
Tony Smoragiewicz (distance) – Michigan
Kari Heck (sprints/jumps) - Nebraska

Rebecca Stover (distance) - Alabama
Emily Yarnell (sprints) - Tennessee
Emily Davis (sprints) - Belmont
Will Templeton (distance) - Liberty

Daniel Vertiz (distance) – Texas
Craig Nowak (distance) – Oklahoma State
Cali Roper (distance) – Rice
Jessie Johnson (pole vault) – Auburn
Reese Watson (pole vault) - Texas
Aldrich Bailey (sprints) - Texas A&M
Shelbi Vaughan (volleyball/discus) – Texas A&M
Hector Hernandez (mid-distance) - Texas A&M
Laura Craig (distance) - Texas A&M
India Daniels (sprints) - Texas A&M
LaKesha Jelks (mid-distance) - Texas A&M
Jennifer Madu (sprints/jumps) - Texas A&M
Sierra Patrick (HJ) - Texas A&M
Brittany Wooten (pole vault) - Texas A&M
Samantha Turner (throws) - Jacksonville
Jordan Chavez (distance) - Richmond
Taije Jordan (hurdles) - Baylor
Brianna Richardson (jumps) - Baylor
Richard Gary (sprints) - Baylor
Felix Obi (jumps) - Baylor
Alex Reece (sprints) - Baylor
Chris McElroy (mid-distance) - Baylor
Kristin Smithey (throws) - Baylor
Jonathan Wells (sprints) - Wichita State
Jermaine Authorlee (sprints) - Alabama
Hayden Reed (throws) - Alabama
Susie Kemper (distance) - Alabama
Chance Griffin (jumps) - Columbia
Kierra Hamilton (sprints) - Kansas State
Shelby Poncik (pole vault) - Texas Tech

Ahmed Bile (distance) – Georgetown
Megan Moye (distance) – N.C. State
Shaquera Leach (sprints) - Virginia Tech
Harrison Scharf (sprints) - Penn
Nick Wolfe (distance) - Alabama
Kimberly Ficenec (distance) - Alabama
Hannah Brown (mid-distance) - Stanford
Joel Coleman (sprints) - Virginia Tech

Maddie Meyers (distance) – Washington
Anthony Lee (distance) - Vanderbilt
Andrew Matthews (sprints) - Kansas
Aaron Castle (throws) - Arizona
Jacob Smith (distance) - Portland

Molly Seidel (distance) – Notre Dame
Joshua Dixon (jumps) – Arkansas
Olivia Pratt (distance) - Butler
Andrew Faris (distance) - Alabama
Ali Olson (distance) - Northern Illinois
Taylor Vinhal (distance) - Northern Illinois
Coverage of the Bupa Great Edinburgh Cross Country International Challenge
Sat., Jan. 7, 2012 - Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, Scotland

LINKS: Meet's Own Site


  • In the junior men's race Mead (Spokane, Wash.) junior Andrew Gardner placed fifth in the 6-kilometer race and was the third American, finishing behind winner Kirubel Erassa and fourth-place Eddie Owens. Gardner was timed in 20:11 and was just 15 seconds behind Erassa at the finish.
  • Stanford freshman Aisling Cuffe placed second the 4K junior women's race. Early on Erin Finn (West Bloomfield, Mich.) had the lead. U.S. preps Molly Seidel (Hartland, Wis.) and Katie Knight (Spokane, Wash.) ran well enough to finish third and fourth overall.


SCHEDULE (All times U.K.)

08:30 Information, baggage and toilets open
09:55 Senior Women Inter District & U23 Celtic Nations
10:20 U15 Girls Inter District
10:30 Bupa Junior Great Winter Run 2.5K
10:45 U15 Boys Inter-district XC
11:00 Bupa Great Winter Run - 5K
11:05 U13 Girls Inter –district XC
11:25 3 Boys Inter –district XC
11:55 Bupa Great Edinburgh X Country Junior Men’s 6km (Inc. U17ID & U20 Celtic Nations)
12:30 Bupa Great Edinburgh X Country Junior Women’s 4km (Inc. U17ID & U20 Celtic Nations)
13:05 Bupa Great Edinburgh X Country Men’s 8km
13:45 Bupa Great Edinburgh X Country Women’s 6k
14:15 Bupa Great Edinburgh X Country Men’s 3km
14:30 Senior Men’s Inter District &U23 Celtic Nations

Seidel, Finn, 3 from Spokane on U.S. team

December, 21, 2011
USA Track and Field has named five prep athletes to its junior teams that will compete at the Great Edinburgh International Cross Country Team Challenge on Jan. 7 in Scotland.

The six-member sides are comprised of a mix of college freshmen and high school students. The junior women's team is led by Standford freshman Aisling Cuffe, the Dyestat female Athlete of the Year in cross country and track and field for he 2010-11 school year. She is joined by Kaitlin Flattman and Jessica Jackson, both from the University of Arkansas. Additionally, Foot Locker finals winner and runner-up Molly Seidel (Hartland, Wis.) and Erin Finn (West Bloomfield, Mich.), and Nike Cross Nationals third-place finisher Katie Knight (Spokane, Wash.).

The junior men's squad includes Princeton freshman Eddie Owens, Ohio State's Michael Bradjic, Oklahoma State's Kirubel Erassa and Virginia Tech's Thomas Curtain. The are joined by two high school runners, both from Spokane. Nathan Weitz and Andrew Gardner were third and sixth, respectively, at the Foot Locker finals.

It is the first year the event has included a junior component. The U.S. team will race Great Britain, Northern Ireland and a select European team in both senior and junior races. The top four finishers on the junior teams factor into the scoring. For more information, visit USATF.org

Seidel digs deep and pulls out victory

December, 10, 2011
Molly Seidel and Erin FinnJohn Nepolitan/ESPNHSMolly Seidel and Erin Finn fight up the final hill.

Foot Locker Finals Index

It’s been a wild ride for US#2 Molly Seidel through four years of cross country in Wisconsin – and that was before the final 600 meters on Saturday at Balboa Park.

Seidel, who attends small private University Lake School (with less than 100 students), beat the reigning state champion in her first race as a freshman, when she barely knew what she was capable of. She was once disqualified at the end of the race for having rolled the waist band of her oversized shorts, causing the state association to amend one of its uniform rules.

And a year ago, Seidel was at home, hobbling around on crutches while the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships went on without her. Her leg began to ache on a trip to Hawaii and when she returned home to run in the Midwest Regional, it was obvious something was wrong. She ran and placed 11th – one spot out of a trip to San Diego. She later discovered that she had a staph infection in her leg.

On Saturday, Seidel’s up-and-down career ended on a mountaintop. She passed early flier Erin Finn twice in the last half mile and won the girls championship in 17:22 – and became the first Wisconsin winner of the race.

“This is incredible, after last year and the disappointment,” Seidel said. “A year ago I was at home, just getting off my crutches. I was thinking ‘What could have been had I been at Foot Locker? ‘This is complete (redemption). It’s incredible right now, just total disbelief.”

Laura Leff
John Dye/ESPNHSLaura Leff takes 3rd in the Foot Locker Finals girls race.
The girls race lost some of its star power when so many of the top 10 individuals chose to run at Nike Cross Nationals, but the race still lived up to Foot Locker’s high standards and produced nearly as much drama as the ballyhooed boys showdown.

Finn, the Michigan champion from West Bloomfield High, sped out to an early lead and then kept pressing, and gapping, the field. Finn was up by as much as 50 meters and it looked like she might break the field with her gutsy all-in move. She had finished 7th last year and was the highest returnee, but then was a distant 3rd to Seidel at Foot Locker Midwest. Saturday, Finn looked like a potential national champion.

“It definitely crossed my mind that it could be another Aisling Cuffe (type) win,” Seidel said, referring to the 2010 race. “I just tried to stay hopeful.”

Seidel, the Midwest champion and pre-race favorite, steered through the early traffic and took a position near the front of the chase pack, where she could see Finn up ahead by eight seconds.

As the runners approached the hill for the second time, Seidel closed the gap and moved ahead of Finn and into the lead.

As she summited the hill, she had more than five meters on Finn.

But then the runners turned and went down the sharp grade along Upas Street, and Finn flew back into contention and sped past.

“I knew that she was stronger than me on hills,” Finn said. “But I was stronger than her on the downhills. I knew if I had any chance of staying with her I had to pass her on the downhill.”

But over the final 400, Seidel refused to let go of her goal and pressed herself to respond once again.

“The last 400 was one of the toughest I’ve ever raced,” Seidel said.

Even though it was her first appearance at Foot Locker, she had clearly done her homework. She knew how the 2010 race had gone, and 2009 as well.

“Two year ago Megan Goethals came up from behind Chelsey Sveinsson and got her and I was definitely scared of that (happening to me),” Seidel said. “I pushed it the last minute until I hit that tape.”

Finn felt good about her second place finish, and the thought that she will have another chance next year.

“I just felt good going out (to the front),” Finn said. “I know it’s not the winner that’s first at mile one or mile two. It’s really what I’ve always done. For the end of this year (second) is pretty good.”

Sophomore Laura Leff of West Genesee High in Syracuse, N.Y. was a surprise third, 10 seconds back of Finn. She had placed 5th at Foot Locker Northeast after taking 2nd at the New York Feds meet. Northeast teammate Abbey Leonardi of Kennebunk High in Maine, a 3-time finalist (2nd in NE region all 3 years) was a career-best fourth in 17:36.

The 1-2 finish of Seidel and Finn led the Midwest to the team title with 42 points, 10 better than the Northeast.

Karlie Garcia, who missed a year with ailment and injury after qualifying as a freshman, returned to Foot Locker and made it to fifth place. The junior from Oakmont High in Roseville, Calif. was second the California Division III race and won Foot Locker West.

“It feels really good,” Garcia said. “It’s an accomplishment.”

Ed Cheserek and Molly Seidel turn back tough challenges from Futsum, Finn

December, 10, 2011
Edward Cheserek Futsum ZeinasellassieJohn Dye/ESPNHSEdward Cheserek outkicks Futsum Zeinasellassie for the boys Foot Locker Finals title.
Foot Locker Finals Index

The boys championship battle at Saturday’s 33rd Foot Locker Finals at Balboa Park in San Diego lived up to the hype.

Boy, did it ever.

Exchanging blows like heavyweight boxers – there simply isn’t a better comparison – US#1 St. Benedict’s (Newark, N.J.) junior Edward Cheserek and #2 North Central (Indianapolis) senior Futsum Zeinasellassie fought tooth and nail for the last two miles before Cheserek used the decisive weapon in his arsenal: a ragged kick in the final 300 to finally beat his rival and new friend, 14:52 to 14:53.

The other big boys storyline was whether Cheserek could break Reuben Reina’s 1985 course record of 14:36. But after mile splits of 4:48 (leader CJ Albertson, with Cheserek and others several seconds back) and 9:50, it was clear the standard was going to survive at least another year – with Cheserek promising to give it a better shot in 2012. “Just winning,” he said, regarding what his thoughts were today. “I wasn’t really thinking about the record.”

Molly Seidel
John Dye/ESPNHSMolly Seidel wins the girls Foot Locker Final.
The girls championship was just as competitive in its own way, with US#2 University Lake (Hartland, Wis.) senior Molly Seidel twice coming from behind to top fellow Midwesterner West Bloomfield (West Bloomfield, Mich.) junior Erin Finn, 17:22 to 17:24. Seidel and Finn led the Midwest to the girls team title, but on the boys side, the South claimed the crown for the first time ever.

When the gun started for the boys race, it was clear right away that winning took precedence over record-chasing for Cheserek and Zeinasellassie. Albertson, the aforementioned senior from Buchanan (Clovis, Calif.), took the lead in the first mile when it was clear no one else wanted to, and passed the half mile in 2:21 and mile in 4:48.

Immediately after the mile, however, Cheserek surged hard and caught Albertson, with Zeinasellassie and much of the pack following suit. From that point on, the two African-born standouts pulled away and made it their race. During the next 1.8 miles or so, they took turns chasing each other and alternating pace much in the manner fans have seen in Olympic and World Championship races between world-class Kenyans, Ethiopians and other Africans. However, neither pushed hard enough at any point to break the other, neither seeming to want to take that big a risk, but rather test and possibly wear down the other.

Zeinasellassie made a serious move before the base of the final hill, only to have Cheserek counter with a furious sprint up the hill, as fast as most have ever seen that segment. But Zeinasellassie came right back on him at the crest and the pair stayed together until just before the 3-mile mark when Cheserek began the final sprint that Zeinasellassie couldn’t quite match.

Almost 200 meters back, Cary Academy (Cary, N.C.) senior Thomas Graham – second to Cheserek in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals 5k last spring – had held third since the middle of the race. But Shadle Park (Spokane, Wash.) senior Nathan Weitz (FL West runner-up) had the best kick of the pack, powering down the stretch for third in 15:21. He was followed by Bismarck (Bismarck, N.D.) junior Jake Leingang (15:22) and San Antonio Reagan (San Antonio, Texas) senior Daniel Vertiz (15:23) – both doubling back well from Nike Cross Nationals last Saturday. Graham finished ninth and early leader Albertson 36th. US#3 FL West champ Darren Fahy, fronting the chase pack earlier, faded to 17th.

In the girls race, the early leader bore very serious consideration. It was the aforementioned Finn, who was the highest returning finisher from last year’s final with seventh. Finn was US#1 early in the season, but had slipped on the list after a very narrow state meet win and a distant third behind Seidel and fellow Michigander Julie Bos at FL Midwest.

But Saturday, Finn looked like the overpowering runner who has dominated D1 Michigan most of this year, putting 50 meters between herself and the field while passing the first two markers at 2:37 and 5:20. As the race moved toward halfway, Seidel moved into second alone, while three-time FL NE runner-up Kennebunk (Kennebunk, Maine) Abbey Leonardi, FL West champ Oakmont (Roseville, Calif.) junior Karlie Garcia, three-time finalist Presbyterian (Macon, Ga.) junior Grace Tinkey, and Montana frosh Makena Morley (Bigfork frosh) were among those fronting the chase pack.

Finn passed 2 miles in 11:08, but as the second hill approached, it was clear Seidel was catching her. The Wisconsin star moved strongly up the hill and it looked like the winning move, but she flagged a bit at the top and then coming down, as Finn used her considerable downhill skills to retake the lead and rev up the crowd.

Still, it was clear that unless Seidel was completely gassed, she had 4:46 miler’s speed that Finn didn’t have. With about 400 to go, Seidel went ahead for good and held on for the two-second victory.

“This is incredible, after last year and the disappointment,” said Seidel. “A year ago I was at home, just getting off my crutches. I was thinking, ‘What could have been, had I been at Foot Locker?’ This is complete redemption. It’s incredible right now, just total disbelief.”

One of the bigger surprises of the day followed as West Genesee (Syracuse, N.Y.) soph Laura Leff – fifth in her FL NE race – came on very strong for third in 17:34. She was followed by Leonardi (17:36), Garcia (17:36) and Tinkey (17:37). Unlike last year when most of the top finishers were seniors, nine of the top 12 will have another shot in 2012.
Sophie Chase and Grace TinkeyWalter Pinion/ESPNHSSophie Chase and Grace Tinkey, 2-3 at FL South, are two experienced finalists who should be in the top 10 or better

DyeStat’s SteveU, compiler of the Individual Top 25 rankings all season and an annual predictor of national meets, weighs in with his top 20 for Foot Locker Finals and a race analysis.


1. Molly Seidel WI
2. Karlie Garcia CA
3. Julia Bos MI
4. Abbey Leonardi ME
5. Sophie Chase VA

6. Angel Piccirillo PA
7. Erin Finn MI
8. Cali Roper TX
9. Grace Tinkey GA
10. Kelsey Braithwaite UT

11. Taylor Manett MI
12. Megan Moye VA
13. Makena Morley MT
14. Hannah Oneda MD
15. Cami Chapus CA

16. Olivia Ortiz FL
17. Catarina Rocha MA
18. Laura Leff NY
19. Jordan McPhee WA
20. Holly Bishof NJ

Analysis: Although most would call University Lake (Hartland, Wis.) senior Molly Seidel – the Foot Locker Midwest champ – the favorite, the Girls Final race would best be described as a wide-open affair, full of top-5 and All-American opportunities for those who can put together their best race Saturday. After five years with standouts like Aisling Cuffe, Megan Goethals, Chelsey Sveinsson, Jordan Hasay, Ashley Brasovan, and Kathy Kroeger putting together multiple finishes at or near the top, this year’s field has only one returnee from the top 14 – West Bloomfield (Mich.) junior Erin Finn, 7th in ’10.

Seidel is really no more experienced in a national XC final than her peers, but she gained a heap of valuable exposure to the highest level in track last spring when she was 3rd and 5th in the NBON mile (4:46) and 2-Mile (10:20) – times that equal or exceed anyone’s in the field. This fall, she’s raced 4k until the post-season, but put up the fastest set of times in state history. When it came time for redemption from her FL MW 11th in ’10, she had a dominating performance for a 6-second victory. Here, look for her to win in 17:15.

Of the other regional champions, Oakmont (Roseville, Calif.) junior Karlie Garcia seems the best equipped to give Seidel a run. In fact, don’t be surprised if she leads much of the early going. After finishing 15th as a freshman, then struggling through injury issues last fall, Garcia has been extremely consistent this fall, including a Mt. SAC D3 win (2nd best time of the whole meet) and 2nd at D3 state behind now-injured Carrie Verdon (and 3rd overall). She did what she was supposed to do, too, last weekend and looks ready to do it again.

From the Northeast, 2-time regional runner-up Kennebunk (Maine) senior Abbey Leonardi looked like she’d finally move up to the top spot, but was outkicked by Homer City (Pa.) senior Angel Piccirillo – herself a 2010 finalist but best known for 2 Penn Relays mile wins. Both were unbeaten before FL NE and both are good top 10 contenders.

The Foot Locker South race had four returnees, but no real favorites and Willis (Texas) senior Cali Roper – who races 3200m most of the year – emerged the winner in 17:02. It’s hard to tell how she will react to a meet like this, her first national meet at any level. Lake Braddock (Burke, Va.) junior Sophie Chase was 2nd in Charlotte and had a fine unbeaten slate the rest of the fall. She was 8th at FL S and 38th in the Finals last year. Third-place finisher and First Presbyterian (Macon, Ga.) junior Grace Tinkey qualified twice from 10th place at the South race in ’09 and ’10, finishing 20th and 15th, and could move up from that.

Also worth watching is the quartet from Michigan, as that state gained four qualifying spots for the second straight year – a big deal in the Midwest where the talent tends to be spread out. The Michigan girls were 7-8-11-18 last year, led by Finn. The most impressive in the region race, though, was national neophyte Grand Rapids Christian (Grand Rapids, Mich.) junior Julia Bos – six ticks behind Seidel and 20 ahead of Finn in 3rd. As is the case with Roper, no telling how she’ll responded to her first national meet of any kind, but like Garcia she’s been very consistent all fall.
Earlier this week, the USTFCCCA (that's the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches' Association) recognized the NCAA Division I all-region teams, revealing cream of the college crop for 2011. It also offered a chance to examine where those athletes went to high school -- and which states are contributing the most Division I talent.

Making the all-region is a byproduct of placing in the top 25 in one of the nine regional meets across the country last Saturday.

That means 450 athletes make the all-region teams, a list that skims the cream off the top of Division I cross country. And while it may not be exactly the 450 best ( because not all of the regions are equal), there is information here that may be eye-opening for high school athletes and coaches thinking about the next level.

The West Regional produced the fastest winning times, the fastest 20th place finishes and fastest 50th place finishes. That could be an indication that it was held on the easiest course, but it also indicates the level of talent in the West. Six women's teams from the West are ranked in the Top 30 nationally as well as four men's teams.

The deepest region for women may be the Great Lakes, where the top 50 finished within 81 seconds. The region with the fewest spaces up front for the men was the Mid-Atlantic Region, where the first and 50th finisher were separated by 84 seconds.

So where do the 450 all-region runners come from? Where is the fertile recruiting ground?

It may not come as a surprise that there are more Kenyans on the list (35) than there are Texans (30) or Californians (27). Additionally, 40 of the runners (or close to one-tenth) come from European countries. And 25 more come from Australia, New Zealand or Canada.

Would you believe that Pennsylvania produced more men on the list (12) than New York (8) or Illinois (8)? It's true. The Keystone state trails only California (15) and Texas (15). Also, 10 come from Indiana and nine hail from Georgia.

The women's list doesn't follow the same pattern. Texas (15) produces the most, which may seem odd because the state only runs 3,200-meter races for high school girls. Twelve of the 15 go to universities within Texas.

Ohio, the source of three of the men on the list, produces the same number of women (12) as California.

After Ohio and California, New York (11) and Michigan (11) are next, followed by New Jersey (10).

Pennsylvania, represented by 12 men, has just five women on the list. Iowa has six women, no men.

Here is a combined (men and women) breakdown by state or country where the athlete went to high school. Five states that did not make this list are Hawaii, Vermont, Delaware, Arkansas and Montana.

Kenya 35, Texas 30, California 27, New York 19, Michigan 17, Pennsylvania 17, Indiana 16, Ohio 15, New Jersey 15, Illinois 15, England 13, Georgia 11, Colorado 10, Utah 10, Virginia 10, Canada 10, Arizona 9, Connecticut 9, Australia 8, Minnesota 8, New Zealand 8, Missouri 7, Massachusetts 7, Florida 7, Tennessee 6, North Carolina 6, Washington 6, Iowa 6, Wisconsin 5, Ireland 5, Maryland 5, New Mexico 4, New Hampshire 4, Alabama 4, Germany 3, Uganda 3, West Virginia 3, Nevada 3, Norway 3, Kansas 3, South Carolina 3, Oregon 3, Wyoming 3, Nebraska 3, Kentucky 3, France 2, Belgium 2, Sweden 2, Idaho 2, Oklahoma 2, South Dakota 2, Mississippi 2, The Netherlands 2, Scotland 1, Maine 1, Czech Rep. 1, Rhode Island 1, Ethiopia 1, Venezuela 1, Zambia 1, Alaska 1, North Dakota 1, Portugal 1, Louisiana 1, South Africa 1, Estonia 1, Serbia 1 , Switzerland 1.
TripletsXCKeith BerendsThe Berends triplets -- Alec, Abby and Janey -- lead the pack for the Hudsonville (Mich.) girls cross country team.
The Hudsonville High (Mich.) girls cross country team features identical sophomore triplets Alex, Janey and Abby Berends up front and senior sister Julia Berends also in the top five. In our feature this week, we take a look at how the sisters are exploring their individuality through cross country even as they work together for a common goal.

What are the chances that there is a second highly ranked team in Michigan powered by triplets?

It turns out, there is! The Wilberding sisters (Mallory, Audrey and Tess) are juniors at Michigan's Birmingham Seaholm High School -- and all of them have PRs between 18 and 19 minutes for the state's No. 3-ranked team.

So, both sets of triplets could be on the starting line at the Michigan state meet.