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2008 Foot Locker Boys Cross-Country Recap: Solomon Haile Cruises
by: Brian Culley, LetsRun.com
December 13, 2008

Editor's Note: Brian Culley ran for Norwell High School (MA) before any of the current Foot Locker participants were born.  He can be reached at [email protected].

Coming in to the Foot Locker Boys Cross Country Championships, Solomon Haile had never lost a cross country race.  His streak continues.

Haile was the heavy pre-race favorite.  “I had the same preparations for this race,” he began, “Well, maybe a little more.”  Whatever he added, it worked.  He was coy about discussing his pre-race game plan out of concern it could leak, but confessed, “Most of the time you have a plan, but you have to see how the race goes and change your plan.”

The best plan for a favorite in a deep field is typically to go out fast enough to be clear of any shoving, but to allow the early leaders to do the lion’s share of the initial work.  Haile didn’t have to study the plan too hard, because that was exactly the tactic he used.  Passing through the first kilometer, Haile was among a large pack, including seniors Chris Schwartz (CA) and Evan Appel (CO).  The fat pack hit the mile in 4:45 and even 39th place (out of 40) was in theoretical contention at 4:55.

Coming off the first hill and just shy of 1.5 miles, the boys began to string out.  Haile took himself a stride ahead of Trevor Dunbar, a sentimental favorite out of Alaska, and Thomas Porter from Virginia, as well as three other challengers.

As is sometimes the case in distance running, the drama was fairly subdued.  At 2.2 miles, Solomon had opened up a 10 meter lead on Dunbar, who had himself gained 10 meters on Porter, who had 10 more on Czech Republic exchange student Jakub Zivec.


This Is Easy, Kids
More photos here

Interestingly, Zivec nearly scratched from the event.  He had injured himself at a prior meet.  “My goal was just to finish,” he remarked, smiling broadly, “It [my foot] was very painful.  I wanted to give up, but the crowd.”  His comment hung in the air, requiring no further explanation.

Charging along toward the final hill, four boys were drawing most of the crowd’s attention.  Solomon had casually extended his lead to 30 meters on Dunbar, and appeared to have the race well under control, while Zivec tried gamely to chase down Porter for third.  Ascending the hill, Zivec caught Porter, but struggled on the downside.  Explained Porter, “He [Zivec] passed me on the hill, but he seemed to repose at the top.  I caught him back on the downhill.”

Repose?  Yep, most of these kids aren’t just national-caliber athletes; they also have absurdly high GPAs and manage to have plenty of time for charitable or other extracurricular activities.  It’s an impressive group of young men and women.

Haile, who cites accomplished athletes such as Bernard Lagat and Meb Keflezighi as his inspiration, seemingly cruised across the winner’s tape in 15:15.  Dunbar, who was widely praised for his 9:02 3,200m time trial in the snow of Kodiak, Alaska, was 7 seconds back.  “At the break, he [Haile] was so smooth.  He was running much more comfortably than I was.  I wasn’t sure I should risk going after him.  Doubts came, but I tried to block them out.”  Asked about the esteemed field, Dunbar offered his thoughts, “I knew about the competitors, but it’s not like track, you can’t compare cross-country races.”

Five seconds behind Dunbar, Porter and Zivec were still cracking elbows.  The duo was side by side at the final turn with 100m left, but Zivic was edged ahead in the penultimate 50m.  Porter recalled, “My dad was there at the road.  Our team’s slogan is “leave no doubt” so I tried to focus on that, and if I die, I die, but I had to give it my all.”  The inspiration paid off, as Porter found the source for a surge and not only passed Zivec back, but also held off a surprise charge from Drew Shields (IN).

But this day clearly belonged to Solomon Haile, who didn’t seem quite ready to relinquish the microphone during the winner’s circle interview.  But it wasn’t pride which kept him speaking, it was a genuine desire to show the crowd how much he enjoyed and appreciated the entire Foot Locker experience.  “I’m so happy. I’m so excited.” He continued.  And with good reason.

1  Solomon Haile (12)            Northeast Sherwood H.S.                      Silver Spring          MD 15:15
2  Trevor Dunbar (12)            West      Kodiak H.S.                        Kodiak                 AK 15:22
3  Thomas Porter (12)            South     Mountain View H.S.                 Fredericksburg         VA 15:26
4  Drew Shields (12)             Midwest   Fishers H.S.                       Fishers                IN 15:27
5  Jakub Zivec (12)              Midwest   Grand Rapids H.S.                  Grand Rapids           MN 15:29
6  Evan Appel (12)               Midwest   Dakota Ridge H.S.                  Littleton              CO 15:36
7  Futsum Zeinasellassie (9)     Midwest   North Central H.S.                 Indianapolis           IN 15:40
8  Chris Schwartz (12)           West      Foothill H.S.                      Bakersfield            CA 15:41
9  Joe Whelan (12)               Northeast Hamburg H.S.                       Hamburg                NY 15:44
10 Joseph DeMoor (12)            Midwest   Buena Vista H.S.                   Buena Vista            CO 15:44
11 Brian Shrader (11)            West      Sinagua H.S.                       Flagstaff              AZ 15:45
12 Leoule Degfae (12)            South     Thomas Edison H.S.                 Alexandria             VA 15:46
13 Danny Pawola (12)             Midwest   Neuqua Valley H.S.                 Naperville             IL 15:46
14 Shane Moskowitz (11)          West      Central Kitsap H.S.                Bremerton              WA 15:47
15 Dylan Sorensen (12)           Midwest   Zionsville H.S.                    Zionsville             IN 15:48
16 Zachary Torres (12)           West      Crescenta Valley H.S.              La Crescenta           CA 15:48
17 Andrew Berberick (12)         Midwest   J.K. Mullen H.S.                   Littleton              CO 15:54
18 CJ Brown (12)                 South     Carroll Senior H.S.                Southlake              TX 15:54
19 Michael Moverman (12)         Northeast Oliver Ames H.S.                   North Easton           MA 15:54
20 Kyle Satterwhite (12)         South     Western Albemarle H.S.             Charlottesville        VA 15:55
21 Matt Sonnenfeldt (12)         South     Knoxville West H.S.                Knoxville              TN 15:56
22 Bill Matthews (12)            South     Baylor School                      Birmingham             AL 15:56
23 Steve Sulkin (12)             Midwest   York H.S.                          Elmhurst               IL 15:58
24 Steve Magnuson (11)           West      Ironwood Ridge H.S.                Oro Valley             AZ 15:59
25 Cody Helbling (11)            West      Lake City H.S.                     Coeur d'Alene          ID 16:00
26 James Cameron (12)            West      Mission Viejo H.S.                 Rancho Santa Margarita CA 16:00
27 George Galasso (12)           Northeast Holmdel H.S.                       Holmdel                NJ 16:01
28 Andrew Springer (12)          Northeast Westerly H.S.                      Westerly               RI 16:01
29 Clint McKelvey (11)           South     Maryville H.S.                     Maryville              TN 16:04
30 Philip Wood (12)              Northeast The Pennington School              Yardley                PA 16:04
31 Ben Furcht (12)               Northeast Lower Merion H.S.                  Haverford              PA 16:07
32 Phil Galebach (12)            Northeast Medford H.S.                       Medford                MA 16:11
33 Chase Rathke (12)             South     Seven Lakes H.S.                   Katy                   TX 16:17
34 Tyler Udland (11)             Northeast Millburn H.S.                      Short Hills            NJ 16:18
35 Joseph Manilafasha (12)       Midwest   Denver North H.S.                  Denver                 CO 16:19
36 Evan Hibbs (12)               South     Georgetown H.S.                    Georgetown             TX 16:25
37 Wyatt Landrum (12)            West      Liberty Union H.S.                 Oakley                 CA 16:27
38 Karreem Tyre Johnson (12)     West      Palma H.S.                         Gonzales               CA 16:44
39 Alex Ott (12)                 South     Turner Ashby H.S.                  Weyers Cave            VA 17:30
40 Brett Johnson (12)            Northeast Ocean City H.S.                    Ocean City             NJ 18:41																																																																																																

Regions:
1. Midwest 32 (4  5  6  7  10  13  15)
2. West 51 (2  8  11  14  16  22  23)
3. South 71 (3  12  17  19  20  21  26)
4. Northeast 77 (1  9  18  24  25  27  28)

 

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