Commentary

ESPN RISE Athletes of the Week

Updated: October 29, 2009, 9:39 AM ET
By Mark Tennis | ESPNRISE.com

The ESPN RISE National Athletes of the Week are cross country runner Joe Rosa of West Windsor-Plainsboro North (Plainsboro, N.J.) and golfer Emma Talley of Caldwell County High (Princeton, Ky.).

Joe Rosa
John NepolitanJoe Rosa is the top-ranked runner in the ESPN RISE DyeStat Elite 25.

Now that Rosa has been selected boys athlete of the week, he can give someone else a chance to be chosen from the East. Rosa has been that region's athlete of the week twice this year.

For the second consecutive week and the third time this season, Rosa -- a junior who is No. 1 in the DyeStat Elite Top 25 -- beat one of the Northeast's top course records. At the Reebok Manhattan Invitational, Rosa ripped a 12:03.8 for the 2.5-mile layout at Van Cortlandt Park, cutting almost three seconds off Solomon Haile's mark from last year. Haile went on to win the Foot Locker Finals last fall.

There have been questions as to whether Rosa's run should be accepted as a record because the course has been altered somewhat by construction at the park. Meet director Ed Bowes has said it should not be considered a record. Others contend the changes affect only short stretches and that the guts of the course, through woods and hills, are unaffected.

Talley displayed outstanding sportsmanship by disqualifying herself in the Kentucky state golf championships and thereby missing out on a second straight individual championship.

She shot a 1-under-par 71 in the opening round at Bowling Green Country Club in Bowling Green, Ky., last Saturday and followed with a 73 on Sunday for a total of 144, five strokes better than Lindsay Gahm of Sacred Heart Academy (Louisville, Ky.). But after completing her final round, Talley discovered she had signed an incorrect scorecard. She turned herself in, knowing she would be disqualified.

"I think it was only her and her family who actually knew about it," Caldwell County coach Randy Jackson told the Louisville Courier-Journal. "If she had kept her mouth shut, she would have won the trophy. But she's not like that."

Said Talley, a sophomore: "I just got caught up in the moment and wrote down the wrong score."

The complete list of this week's ESPN RISE Regional Athletes of the Week for fall sports (not including football):

East Boys
Joe Rosa
West Windsor-Plainsboro North (Plainsboro, N.J.), Cross Country
Also chosen as the ESPN RISE National Athlete of the Week.

East Girls
Sam McGuire
John Jay (Hopewell Junction, N.Y.), Soccer
The sophomore forward scored three goals as John Jay remained perfect against New York schools with a 5-1 victory over Our Lady of Lourdes (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.). McGuire played a key role as John Jay went undefeated and won a state title last fall. This season, the team is 11-1 with its loss to Ohio power Strongsville.

Southeast Boys
Michael Lewark
American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.), Diving
As a sophomore last year, Lewark placed third in the Florida State High School Association diving finals. At last weekend's 46th Woodson Invitational, the junior easily won the 1-meter title, piling up 488.80 points. The runner-up had 411.05.

Southeast Girls
Elise Walch
Martin County (Stuart, Fla.), Volleyball
The 6-5 middle blocker, who is headed to Wisconsin, racked up 24 kills and six blocks to lead her team past Berkeley Prep (Tampa, Fla.) in the championship match of the Tampa Bay Invitational. Berkeley Prep was No. 16 in the ESPN RISE FAB 50 entering the day and had not lost to a Florida school all season. Walch registered her 1,000th career kill in the title match.

Midwest Boys
Max Washko
Churchill (Livonia, Mich.), Soccer
A senior forward, Washko had two matches with two goals and one assist last week as Churchill ran its record to 15-0-1 and clinched a second straight division title. His two-goal outing in a 4-0 victory over John Glenn (Westland, Mich.) made him the school's all-time leading goal scorer. Later in the match, his assist made him the school's all-time leader in points. Washko has 19 goals this season.

Midwest Girls
Emma Talley
Caldwell County (Princeton, Ky.), Golf
Also chosen as the ESPN RISE National Athlete of the Week.

Southwest Boys
Craig Lutz
Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas), Cross Country
As a 10th grader last year, Lutz dominated much of the Texas season, finished fifth at the Nike Cross Nationals and won the Texas Relays 3,200 meters. But early this fall, he lost to previously unheralded Connor Adams. Last weekend, Lutz showed top form in defending his title at the Nike South Invitational. He beat nationally ranked (No. 9) Parker Stinson as well as honorable mention Ryan Dohner.

Southeast Girls
Rachel Johnson
Plano (Plano, Texas), Cross Country
Though she hasn't had to race the state's top two runners yet, Johnson is making it clear there are more national class runners in Texas besides Chelsey Sveinsson and Sarah Andrews. At the Nike South Invite at The Woodlands, Johnson made her way through a muddy course in 18:18.4, winning by 43 seconds over Regan Tindell, an NXN individual finalist last year. It was the unbeaten Johnson's fourth major invitational victory.

West Boys
Samuel Pons
South Pasadena (South Pasadena, Calif.), Cross Country
The junior threw his name into the hat as a contender for a CIF state championship by winning one of the season's most prestigious invites. Pons covered 5 kilometers in 14:53 in Saturday's Clovis Invitational, beating two other nationally ranked runners in the process -- No. 7 Erik Olson and No. 13 Ammar Moussa -- and running the fastest time ever for a junior at Woodward Park, the course used for the state meet. For Pons, who was the second-fastest soph in the state at 3,200 meters last spring, it was a big step up from his fifth-place finish in September's Woodbridge Invite, where Moussa was among those finishing ahead of him.

West Girls
Julie Nacouzi
Montgomery (Santa Rosa, Calif.), Cross Country
Two weeks after taking the D2 race at the Stanford Invitational, the junior won the championship division of another major meet. At the Clovis Invite, held on the Woodward Park state meet course, she clocked a 17:42 over 5k to take the race by 14 seconds. That also beat by 13 seconds the time Nacouzi ran at Stanford.

For the fall season, the national athlete of the week honors will be given to those who participate in sports other than football. The ESPN RISE Athlete of the Week panel consists of Garland Cooper (softball), Andrew Drennen (baseball), Ronnie Flores (basketball), Doug Huff (multi-sports), Kristin Olsen (volleyball), Sheldon Shealer (soccer), Mark Tennis (multi-sports) and Steve Underwood (track and cross country).

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