Not quite as cool as the old inflatable Tinley.
2005 Footlocker High School Cross Country ChampionshipsOn Saturday Dec 10th the Footlocker High School Cross Country Championships were held here in San Diego at Morley Field in Balboa Park. These races bring together the top 40 male and female high school cross country runners, 10 each from 4 large regions in the USA, spanning all high school grade levels. There are definitely some future elite triathletes among them. These kids can hold sub 5(boys) and sub 6 (girls) pace on tough terrain in warm temperatures and hold down good grades at the same time.
There was a pretty good turnout at the event, more than just families and friends of the athletes, but the spectator friendly, moderately hilly 2 loop 5K course could have accomodated many more spectators - if you're in town next year definitely go check it out.
The girl's race went off at 9:15 and the boys followed at 10am - the whole thing was over by 10:20. I managed a swim workout before and was still home by 11am, having seen some of the best up and coming running talent the country has to offer in an exciting fast paced event. The runners passed the start finish area 4 times and there was a big screen on which to follow the action when the runners were out on the further reaches of the course, along with live commentary over the PA.
Winning the girls race was a 14 year old phenom named Jordan Hasay, she broke from a dwindling lead pack at about 2 miles and won by 14 seconds in 17:04 from Marie Lawrence, now a 3 time runner up. AJ Acosta from El Camino High School in nearby Oceanside dominated most of the way in the boys race, holding off a hard charging Michael Coe to win in 15:02, to the cheers of his home crowd many of whom were sporting AJ Nation fan club t-shirts.
AJ's coach was interviewed after the race and allowed as how AJ was probably not the most purely talented runner in the field, not one to be threatening course records, but that his tenacious competitive nature leads him to do what it takes to win. Maybe another Faris Al-Sultan in the making? Somebody buy the kid a bike!
A few interesting observations from the view of the future of multisport in the US - the boys in particular were almost universally larger both in height and upper body than one might expect, or at least than I expected as compared to the more slightly built elite HS cross country runners of 25 years ago - perhaps a result of a greater emphasis on cross training in recent years? The very young girl's winner Hasay is quite petite as might be expected, but certainly not frail, and the girls in general were healthier looking than in the past. Quite a few of them referenced swimming as either a hobby or alternate sport in their biographical info. As Competitor's Bob Babbitt said in a conversation after the race, this sport is clearly fertile ground for triathlon recruiting, something he's pointed out to USAT in the past, unfortunately without much response.
More (and much better) photos and complete results can be found at www.footlockercc.com