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2008 Foot Locker Girls Cross-Country Recap: Hasay Ends Her Career How She Started It, McLaughlin Nearly Steals The Show
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 bculley01@hotmail.com.

The problem with highly-anticipated showdowns, of course, is that they rarely meet our expectations. Prize fights, the Superbowl, and in particular, 150m match races; they mostly disappoint us. So when people scan the headline for the girls race at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships, they think that Jordan Hasay thumped another mediocre field in an over-hyped showdown. And oh, how they missed the story.

Pre-race chatter was appropriately all about the returning champions; Hasay, the 2005 Champion from California, Kathy Kroeger, the 2006 Champion from Tennessee, and Ashley Brasovan, the 2007 Champion from Florida. But for the first 4,700 meters of the 5,000 meter event, the day belonged entirely to the largely unheralded Allie McLaughlin.

Who?

Unknown McLaughlin Only Has Been Running A Year
A senior out of Colorado Springs with the build of a freshman, McLaughlin grabbed the women’s field by the throat and forced them into a tactical chess match. Hasay, Kroeger, and Brasovan played wait-and-see with a thick pack of ponytails as McLaughlin burst ahead in the first kilometer and passed the mile in a reasonable 5:21.

“I usually go out in about 5:15 at home,” claimed the diminutive Midwesterner, “I like to start fast, and it helps me to finish fast”. The chase pack arrived 6 seconds later and the final contender passed through in 5:40. The hunt was on.

But did anyone know who they were hunting? McLaughlin had finished 4th in the Regional but noted it was a bad day for her. But that’s probably why she wasn’t a familiar face. The reason is she only started running last year. Her sports background? Lacrosse. You can’t make this stuff up.

By chance, this reporter meandered over to the host hotel the day before the race. At 7:30am, he noticed a 4-foot nothing inch girl in a black long-sleeved shirt about to start her run. Like every runner since the dawn of Timex, she clicked her watch and began. Except unlike most runners, she hit the road at what appeared to be low-6 minute per mile pace. An animal. And worth waiting around for. Fifteen minutes later she retuned and meekly mentioned that, “I love to train. I had five weeks after Regionals and I just tried to do the same training as ever”. Whatever that is, Allie, keep it a secret.

McLaughlin quickly showed the pack that she was the real deal by extending her lead coming off the first of two significant climbs.

The Morley Field course is roughly laid out in a figure-eight, which is rounded twice for the 5K distance. As McLaughlin emerged from the third of the four basic loops, approximately 2.2 miles into the race, her lead was unchanged. Hasay was leading the 9-member chase pack, and Brasovan was in position, but still more than 10 seconds back. Things were getting extremely interesting.

Brasovan And Hasay Give Chase
Heading toward the final hill, Brasovan seemed to realize that Hasay, a stride behind her, wasn’t her biggest problem; McLaughlin was. It was simply a question of whether she realized it in time. Were Brasovan and Hasay about to show themselves as brilliant tacticians with the patience of a pair of crocodiles? Or fools for worrying about each other’s position and letting McLaughin steal the race? Brasovan wouldn’t stand for it any longer and surged. But as she began to close the gap on a still-strong McLaughlin, she unknowingly played into Hasay’s hands.

Ahead of the break, McLaughlin was showing signs of mortality: “I was excited to lead, and I wanted to hold it, especially in the last bit because I’m not a kicker.” But she began to notice that the cheers of support had shifted to exhortations of concern. “At the crest of the hill, some Colorado guys said that they [Brasovan and Hasay] were coming for me. That’s when I got scared.”

And so it goes. Soon after the base of the hill, with all of 300m between herself and a fairy tale, Brasovan drew even with the tiring McLaughlin. The resistance she offered was noble, but futile. Brasovan was accelerating; McLaughlin was toast.

Hasay Comes From Out Of Nowhere To Win
Meanwhile, chasing Brasovan up the hill and past McLaughlin, the incredibly talented Hasay was gaining confidence and gaining ground. As Brasovan turned the final corner with 150m to go, Hasay hit the afterburners exactly the way that the fastest-ever prep 1,500m runner is supposed to, and even managed to give herself a few seconds to enjoy the final few strides of her high school cross country career.  (Dyestat California has a great video (with no choppiness either) from the Foot Locker broadcast of the final part of the girls' race. It helps you appreciate just how far back Hasay was and what a great 3-way duel it was the final mile).

“I knew Jordan was behind me,” sighed Brasovan, “It would be a sprint.” Hasay explained, “I know I have a good finish and I was going to have to use it. I just needed to relax down the home stretch.” Notably, Hasay added to her lengthy running resume by becoming the only girl to win Foot Locker as both a freshman and a senior.

Hasay’s time, 17:22, was 3 seconds ahead of Brasovan’s, but not quite among the top 20 all-time for the meet, an indicator of the race’s tactical unfolding. Megan Goethals, from Michigan, and Chelsey Sveinsson, from Texas, also pipped McLaughlin, who gamely hung in for fifth (17:34).

Evidently, the over-hyped showdowns sometimes do deliver.

1  Jordan Hasay (12)             West      Mission College Prep.              Arroyo Grande          CA 17:22
2  Ashley Brasovan (12)          South     Wellington H.S.                    Wellington             FL 17:25
3  Megan Goethals (11)           Midwest   Rochester H.S.                     Rochester              MI 17:30
4  Chelsey Sveinsson (10)        South     Greenhill School                   Dallas                 TX 17:31
5  Allie McLaughlin (12)         Midwest   Air Academy                        Colorado Springs       CO 17:34
6  Kathy Kroeger (12)            South     Independence H.S.                  Franklin               TN 17:42
7  Shelby Greany (12)            Northeast Suffern H.S.                       Suffern                NY 17:45
8  Chelsea Ley (11)              Northeast Kingsway Regional H.S.             Clarksboro             NJ 17:49
9  Lindsay Flanagan (12)         Midwest   Lake Park H.S.                     Roselle                IL 17:50
10 Jessica Tonn (11)             West      Xavier College Prep.               Paradise Valley        AZ 17:53
11 Emily Lipari (11)             Northeast Roslyn H.S.                        Greenvale              NY 17:53
12 Aisling Cuffe (10)            Northeast Cornwall Central H.S.              Cornwall On Hudson     NY 18:03
13 Emily Jones (12)              Northeast The Bromfield School               Harvard                MA 18:11
14 Chelsea Oswald (12)           Midwest   Walsh Jesuit H.S.                  Medina                 OH 18:11
15 Danielle Menlove (9)          West      Jordan H.S.                        Sandy                  UT 18:14
16 Laura Vigilante (11)          Northeast West Morris Mendham H.S.           Brookside              NJ 18:14
17 Melanie Thompson (12)         Northeast Voorhees H.S.                      High Bridge            NJ 18:18
18 Ashlie Decker (11)            Midwest   Dowling Catholic H.S.              Des Moines             IA 18:19
19 Alex Dunne (12)               West      San Clemente H.S.                  San Clemente           CA 18:22
20 Taylor Wallace (12)           West      Henley H.S.                        Klamath Falls          OR 18:24
21 Becca Addison (12)            Midwest   Grand Haven H.S.                   Spring Lake            MI 18:24
22 Jordan Tomecek (11)           Midwest   Milan H.S.                         Milan                  MI 18:25
23 Lauren Smith (12)             South     Brazoswood H.S.                    Lake Jackson           TX 18:27
24 Megan Morgan (11)             West      Torrey Pines H.S.                  Del Mar                CA 18:30
25 Amanda Russell (11)           South     Vista Ridge H.S.                   Cedar Park             FL 18:30
26 Jessica Zangmeister (12)      Midwest   Fairview H.S.                      Fairview Park          OH 18:30
27 Katie Kellner (12)            Northeast West Windsor-Plainsboro H.S.       West Windsor           NJ 18:34
28 Shalaya Kipp (12)             West      Skyline H.S.                       Salt Lake City         UT 18:37
29 Emily Sisson (11)             Midwest   Parkway Central H.S.               Chesterfield           MO 18:37
30 Jacque Taylor (11)            West      Casa Grande H.S.                   Petaluma               CA 18:38
31 Kirsten Kasper (12)           Northeast North Andover H.S.                 North Andover          MA 18:40
32 Kayla Hale (12)               South     Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy     Indialantic            FL 18:45
33 Jennifer Lynn Bergman (12)    West      Valley Christian H.S.              San Jose               CA 18:47
34 Sheree Juliann Shea (12)      West      University City H.S.               San Diego              CA 18:53
35 Adrianne Soo (12)             South     Durham Academy                     Chapel Hill            NC 18:53
36 Diane Robison (11)            Midwest   Parkway Central H.S.               Chesterfield           MO 18:54
37 Ashley Isham (11)             South     Vista Ridge H.S.                   Cedar Park             TX 19:00
38 Megan Marsico (11)            South     Glenvar H.S.                       Salem                  VA 19:06
39 Kimberly Spano (12)           South     North Mecklenburg H.S.             Huntersville           NC 19:07
40 Erin Cawley (12)              Northeast Newark Valley H.S.                 Newark Valley          NY 19:08																								

Regions:
 1. Midwest 49 (3  5  9  14  18  21  22)
2. Northeast 51 (7  8  11  12  13  16  17)
3. South 60 (2  4  6  23  25  27  28)
4. West 65 (1  10  15  19  20  24  26)

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