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2007 Footlocker Girls' Cross Country Preview: A Battle for the Age?
by: LetsRun.com
December 7, 2007

*2007 Boys Preview here

Casual observers of distance running likely assume that the 2007 Footlocker Cross Country Finals girls race is going to be an epic rematch between the 2006 champ Kathy Kroeger and the 2005 champ Jordan Hasay.

While it's great to have the last two champs back and running well (both Hasay and Kroeger won their regionals), to paint the race as just being a duel between the 2005 and 2006 champs would do the race a huge disservice as the 2007 edition is loaded with lots of talent up front and features many interesting subplots.

That being said, let's start with the two-time defending champs Hasay and Kroeger.

Hasay, who won Footlockers as a tiny freshman before finishing 10th last year as a sophomore, has been running well all Fall.  Any fears that she'd be yet another female runner that faded from the upper echelons as she matured should have been discounted last spring when she won a silver medal in the 1,500s at the IAAF World Youth Track and Field Championships in Ostrava, Czech Republic with a stellar 4:17 clocking. However, if anyone still had doubts, they likely have totally dissipated this Fall as Hasay has been running well and has set personal bests in all but two races this Fall.  She won both a CA state tile and the Footlocker West regional.  Kroeger, the 2006 champ, also enters Footlockers after winning her regional, but doesn't appear to be as strong as last year (more on that below).

The Favorite Isn't One of the Two Returning Champs

2005 Champ
Jordan Hasay
Photo by photorun.net
On paper, without looking closely, one might assume it's gonna be a two person battle. That would be a big mistake.

First of all, there are a number of talented runners back from last year. 6 of the top 10 from last year are back including the top 3.

Additionally, there is one very, very talented newcomer, Ohio's Claire Durkin. Hasay and Kroeger may have been running well but Durkin has simply been on another planet all fall.  Let's take a look at her last 3 meets, starting with the Ohio State championships.

She won the Ohio state championship by a dominating 28 seconds. Sounds impressive. Given what she did after that, it seems like she might have been having a bad day at states. At the Mid-East meet of Champs, Durkin broke the course record and won by 40 seconds. At the Footlocker Midwest race, she put on a show for the ages. Durkin ran 17:01 to break Melody Fairchild's 17 year old course record of 17:08, winning by an incredible 42 seconds. The younger visitors to letsrun.com may not know who Fairchild was. Let it be clear, she was one of the greatest female HS runners ever in American history.

When asked if he'd ever seen such a larger margin between 1st and 2nd at the regional, Footlocker Midwest race director Pete Henkes summer up Durkin's performance best when he said, I dont know if there was ever a 42-second gap between the first and 10th runner."

As we stated in our Footlocker Boys preview, we are using the TullyRunners.com Speed Ratings to help us compare performances.  At the Midwest regional, Durkin earned a speed rating of 163.  Kroeger, who barely edged Florida's Kayla Hale by less than a second in the South Regional only earned a 156. Now a fan of Kroeger's might point out that last year Kroeger didn't even win the South regional (she finished 2nd) before winning nationals.  That's true, but last year Kroeger had a 165 speed rating at Footlocker South and a 166 to win. She doesn't appear to be in that type of form this year (one point on a speed rating is worth 3 seconds), particularly given the fact that she was pushed to the limit by Hale.

Hasay's speed ratings aren't all that impressive either. Hasay earned a 157 in winning the West Regional. But at least she won easily - by 11 seconds - so one might think she could up the ante when pressed.

We've talked about 3 of the 4 regional champs. The one we haven't mentioned - Neely Spence - may very well be the best bet to challenge Durkin. Spence you say? Yes, as in Steve Spence. Neely is the home schooled daughter of Steve, who won a bronze medal at the 1991 World Championships in the marathon. Her mom was also a 17 minute 5k runner. Clearly she has good genes and good coaching (her dad coaches her).  She also is experienced as she was 8th last year at Nationals after she won the Northeast Regional for the first time.

She's been running well in 2007. She won the PA state meet by 25 seconds before winning FLNE for the 2nd straight year. This year she ran 17:37 compared to 17:41 last year.

A Great Deal
from Footlocker

Other than the regional champs and Hale, there are a number of runners that can't be ignored. The 4 Northeast runners behind Spence at FLNE, MA's Emily Jones, NY's Mary Kate Champagne, PA's Carly Seymour and MA's Keely McGuire were close to Spence at FLNE, all finishing within 10 seconds of Spence. The third placer from the South, Emilie Amaro was only two seconds back of Kroeger. Emily Sisson, 4th in the Midwest, finished 3rd at nationals last year. But her speed rating of 148 from regionals doesn't suggest a similar finish this year. For a similar reason, we haven't mentioned the Midwest runner-up,  Emily Infeld.

Looking at the West, CA's Laurynne Chetelat was the runnerup - 11 seconds back. The fifth placer from the West, Kauren Tarver, can't be ignored as she's a 4-time finalist and finished 5th in 2005 and 7th in 2006. A backward trend appears to be occurring but she could challenge for the top 10.

The Darkhorse Pick
We decided to reward those who actually are reading the entire girls preview. There is one person we haven't mentioned who is capable of winning on Saturday. Florida's Ashley Brasovan was a phenom all year long up until Footlocker South.  At Great American, Brasovan destroyed Kroeger by 42 seconds when she ran 17:05 to Kroeger's 17:47 (Hale was 8th in 18:28). At the Florida state meet, Brasovan and Hale were in different races but Brasovan ran 17:04 to Hale's 17:35 as Brasovan captured her 3rd straight 4A title. 

We're not sure what happened to Brasovan at Footlocker South as she was only 6th. If she was sick or taking it easy and runs in the finals like she did at Great American, she might be the only runner to challenge Durkin (assuming Hasay doesn't step it up). Unfortunately, we're fearing she may be burning out as she did last year when she was expected to be an easy qualifier for Nationals but didn't run well at regionals and didn't make it. The fact that Brasovan ran a 16:36 road 5k in August scares us. Considering, it's very hard for a professional runner to maintain his or her form during the long pro track season from say Prefontaine to World Champs (June to August), we think a high school junior would find it nearly impossible to be sharp from August through December.

We'll find out when the gun goes off on Saturday. 

LetsRun.com Final Analysis: The meet looks fantastic on paper as an argument can be made for all 4 regional champs. We're big Hasay fans and we'd love to see her wage an epic duel with Durkin. Hasay's been running better than she did in 2005 so its possible she could do it and it would be a great story after her struggles last year, but the speed ratings say it's very unlikely.

It would be great if Spence and Kroeger and Hasay and Durkin and a few others were all up there in a huge battle which isn't normally seen on the girls side. We don't expect that however.  In our minds, if Durkin is on, it doesn't look like anyone will challenge her.

Look for Durkin to earn a comfortable win. 

We're not sure what to make of Brasovan as she's clearly a talent. If you're looking to win the contest, you might pick her to win and pray she comes through as most everyone else will pick Hasay, Spence, Durkin or Kroeger. She's probably likely to either be in the top 3 or not in the top 10.

LetsRun.com Picks: 1) Durkin 2) Spence 3) Hasay 4) Jones 5) Seymour 6) Kroeger 7) Chetelat 8) Hale 8) Amaro 9) McGuire 10) Sisson 
JK's picks: 1) Durkin 2) Hasay 3) Kroeger 4) Tarver 5) Spence 6) Sisson 7) Flood 8) Brasovan 9) Seymour 10) Hale
Region Athlete City State Reg Time Notes
NE1 Neely Spence Shippensburg PA 17:37.4 Steve Spence's daughter won the NE for the 2nd straight year. PR of 10:20.05 for 2 miles. 8th in the finals last year.
NE2 Emily Jones Harvard MA 17:41.2 Finished 25th in last year's finals.
NE3 Mary Kate Champagne Plattsburgh NY 17:44.2 Ran PR of 10:25.79 for 3rd at the 2007 Nike Outdoor Nationals 2 mile.
NE4 Carly Seymour Ebensburg PA 17:46.3 9th place finisher at Nationals a year ago. Set course record at PA State meet.
NE5 Keely Maguire Georgetown MA 17:46.8  
NE6 Emily Lipari Greenvale NY 17:48.8 NY State Federation Champion. Winner of the freshman mile at 2007 Nike Outdoor Nationals; also ran 9:45.64 for 3,000 as a freshman.
NE7 Kacey Gibson New Castle PA 17:51.7  
NE8 Kathleen McCafferty Convent Station NJ 17:53.6  
NE9 Shelby Greany Suffern NY 17:56.7 3-time finalist; finished 19th last year.
NE10 Chelsea Ley Clarksboro NJ 18:00.4  
So1 Kathy Kroeger Franklin TN 16:56:00 Last year's surprise National Champion is obviously no longer a darkhorse. A 3-time finalist and still an 11th grader.
So2 Kayla Hale Indialantic FL 16:56:00 Finished 21st in the finals a year ago.
So3 Emilie Amaro Fort Lauderdale FL 16:58:00 13th in finals last year after getting 3rd in South Region.
So4 Brittany Koziara Orlando FL 16:59:00 3rd in Florida State 4A race behind fellow finalists Ashley Brasovan and Emilie Amaro.
So5 Aurora Scott Portsmouth VA 17:03:00 The runner-up at Nationals last year is a 4-time finalist and a World Junior XC team member.
So6 Ashley Brasovan West Palm Beach FL 17:07:00 Florida State 4A Champion over Emilie Amaro. 2007 Nike Indoor Nationals 2 mile Champion. Ran 10:13.45 for 3,200 outdoors to win Florida State title.
So7 Chelsey Sveinsson Dallas TX 17:22:00 Southwest Preparatory Conference (TX and OK private schools) Champion. PR of 2:12.32 for 800.
So8 Cory McGee Pass Christian MS 17:29:00 15th in finals last year. Ran 4:49.32 as an 8th grader to win the mile at the 2006 National Scholastic Indoor Championships.
So9 Lauren Smith Lake Jackson TX 17:32:00 Texas State 5A Champion.
So10 Kathleen Lautzenheiser Midlothian VA 17:35:00 Virginia State AAA Champion.
MW1 Claire Durkin Columbus OH 17:01:00 The new sensation smashed the course record to win the MW in a rout after destroying the Mideast Meet of Champs field the previous week.
MW2 Katie Flood Des Moines IA 17:42:00 Won Roy Griak Invitational, 2nd at Nike Team Nationals. PR of 9:42.17 for 3,000 as a 9th grader.
MW3 Emily Infeld University Heights OH 17:44:00 Qualified for 2nd straight year. PR of 4:41.37 for 1,600.
MW4 Emily Sisson Omaha NE 17:45:00 Last year's MW Region winner ended up 3rd at Nationals.
MW5 Stephanie Morgan Barnesville OH 17:47:00 Ran 4:46.31 for the mile to win 2007 Nike Outdoor Nationals.
MW6 Alexandra Banfich Plymouth IN 17:53:00 17th in the finals a year ago. 3-time qualifier.
MW7 Lindsay Anderson Leeds ND 17:55:00 25th in the finals in 2005; missed out last year with 16th in the Region.
MW8 Chelsea Oswald Medina OH 17:56:00  
MW9 Katie Haines Rockford MI 17:58:00  
MW10 Meggan Freeland Albion MI 18:00:00  
W1 Jordan Hasay Arroyo Grande CA 17:17:00 The 2005 National Champion as a freshman won the West Region for the 3rd straight year. Has a blistering 4:16.98 PR for 1,500 meters.
W2 Laurynne Chetelat Davis CA 17:28:00 Has a PR of 10:23.31 for 3,200.
W3 Jessica Tonn Paradise Valley AZ 17:35:00 24th place finisher at last year's Nationals.
W4 Kauren Tarver Wrightwood CA 17:36:00 4-time finalist was 16th in the finals in 2004, 5th in 2005, 7th last year.
W5 Meghan Marvin Clovis CA 17:37:00  
W6 Nadya Bishton Mountain Ridge AZ 17:37:00 16th in the finals last year; accompanied by twin sister this time around.
W7 Taylor Wallace Klamath Falls OR 17:39:00  
W8 Nastia Bishton Mountain Ridge AZ 17:40:00 Joins twin sister in the finals after missing out last year with a 25th place finish in the Region.
W9 Sarah Sumpter Cloverdale CA 17:44:00  
W10 Nicole Nielsen Boise ID 17:51:00  

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