Aidan Troutner (15:03) Wins NXN Thriller as Loudoun Valley Sets Meet Record for Fewest Points (89) – 2017 NXN Boys Race Recap

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December 2, 2017

In a thrilling race worthy of a national championship, Timpview (UT) senior Aidan Troutner used a big kick to upset favored Brodey Hasty (Brentwood, TN) to become 2017 Nike Cross Nationals champion in 15:03.83 to Hasty’s 15:05.88. Troutner’s win was the third straight for a Utah boy at NXN — American Fork’s Casey Clinger won the title in 2015 and 2016 — and like Clinger, Troutner will take his talents to Brigham Young University next fall.

The team race was not as close as Loudoun Valley (VA), alma mater of former high school star Drew Hunter, destroyed the competition, scoring a meet-record 89 points to defeat runner-up Fayetteville-Manlius (NY) by 70. Led by senior Peter Morris (12th in 15:29) and junior Sam Affolder (23rd in 15:37), LV, running as “Purcellville” (the town Loundon Valley High is in) put four runners in the top 16 in the team scoring. The Vikings fifth man, which looked to be a weakness coming in, turned out to be a strength as well as Connor Wells-Weiner (95th, 16:23) finished as the fastest #5 man in the field on a muddy day at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland, Oregon.

The race

Troutner pulled the upset to win in his first national championship appearance

Troutner pulled the upset to win in his first national championship appearance

After a 4:52 opening mile, Illinois’ Danny Kilrea made the first significant move of the race at the halfway mark, stringing out the field as a group of five — Kilrea, Troutner, Hasty, Washington’s James Mwaura, and New York’s Silas Defel — began to pull away. From there, it was nonstop action to the finish line as the top boys traded punches for a mile and a half.

After Kilrea’s initial burst, Mwaura was the next to move as he took the lead at 3k and continued to push. By two miles (9:48.2), Mwaura, Hasty, and Kilrea had opened up a gap of a few meters on Troutner, who in turn had a gap on the rest of the field. Hasty made his bid to string out the field just after the 11-minute mark and though he succeeded in briefly opening a gap, Mwaura and Kilrea quickly reeled him in. Troutner remained in fourth a couple meters back, content to stalk the leaders from behind.

As they neared the finish line, Kilrea attacked again, then Mwaura, but none of them could shake Troutner, who, after miles of sitting just off the lead, drew level on the final hill just over 200 meters from the finish. Hasty was the only one who could answer, and as they entered the final straight, it was a two-man race. But it was Troutner, not the pre-race favorite Hasty, who kicked best, sprinting through the mud to victory. Hasty wound up second, concluding an outstanding high school cross country career that saw him take 7th, 3rd, and 2nd at NXN.

Analysis below results.

Individual top 25 (Full results here)

AthleteYr.#TeamScoreTimeGapAvg. MileAvg. KM1Mile2Mile
1TROUTNER, AIDANSR52SOUTHWEST-515:03.94:50.63:00.84:52.2 (5)9:49.1 (4)
2HASTY, BRODEYSR1SOUTHEAST-115:05.90:02.94:51.33:01.24:52.2 (3)9:48.4 (3)
3ANDERSON, LIAMJR10CALIFORNIA-215:07.60:04.64:51.83:01.54:52.6 (9)9:50.4 (6)
4MWAURA, JAMESSR31NORTHWEST-315:12.60:09.64:53.43:02.54:52.5 (7)9:48.2 (1)
5KILREA, DANNYSR21MIDWEST-315:14.50:11.64:54.13:02.94:52.1 (1)9:48.3 (2)
6HORTER, DUSTINSR19MIDWEST-115:21.20:18.24:56.23:04.24:52.2 (4)9:52.2 (8)
7BOSLEY, DREWJR14HEARTLAND-115:24.50:21.54:57.33:04.94:54.1 (24)9:54.7 (12)
8SMITH, CONANTJR23MIDWEST-515:24.90:21.94:57.43:05.04:52.9 (11)9:52.9 (9)
9HICKS, CHARLESJR150DUVAL115:27.20:24.24:58.13:05.44:52.8 (10)9:53.4 (10)
10HUSSEIN, KHALIDSR71WAYZATA215:28.50:25.54:58.53:05.74:59.0 (78)9:59.1 (20)
11HAMILTON, DUNCANSR29NORTHWEST-115:29.10:26.14:58.73:05.84:54.9 (27)9:57.4 (17)
12MORRIS, PETERSR142PURCELLVILLE315:29.90:26.94:59.03:06.04:53.6 (17)9:56.1 (13)
13JACOBS, DYLANSR20MIDWEST-215:30.40:27.44:59.23:06.14:52.1 (2)9:50.5 (7)
14MAIER, ALEXJR162FLOWER MOUND415:31.50:28.54:59.53:06.34:55.6 (38)9:56.9 (15)
15STRANGIO, MATTSO9CALIFORNIA-115:32.10:29.14:59.73:06.44:53.0 (13)9:57.5 (18)
16RUSSELL, NICOLASJR33NORTHWEST-515:32.30:29.34:59.83:06.44:55.9 (41)9:57.9 (19)
17MOSS, STETSONSO30NORTHWEST-215:32.30:29.34:59.83:06.54:53.6 (18)9:57.3 (16)
18MENDEZ, CLAYTONSR22MIDWEST-415:32.30:29.44:59.83:06.54:52.5 (8)9:53.9 (11)
19DEFEL, SILASSR35NEW YORK-215:33.80:30.85:00.23:06.74:52.3 (6)9:49.8 (5)
20GARNICA, BRANDONSR183SPRINGVILLE515:35.70:32.75:00.93:07.14:53.6 (19)10:02.4 (23)
21SPROUT, COLESO51SOUTHWEST-415:35.80:32.85:00.93:07.14:55.9 (42)10:02.9 (25)
22ALLRED, EASTONSO48SOUTHWEST-115:36.80:33.85:01.23:07.34:55.3 (35)10:02.6 (24)
23AFFOLDER, SAMJR143PURCELLVILLE615:37.30:34.35:01.43:07.44:53.0 (12)9:56.4 (14)
24ZARRIN, SHAYANSR174DENVER715:39.40:36.45:02.03:07.94:53.4 (15)10:01.3 (22)
25RAFF, RYANSR50SOUTHWEST-315:41.00:38.05:02.53:08.24:58.9 (76)10:03.2 (26)

Team results

Final StandingsScoreScoring OrderTotalAvg.Spread
4DOWNERS NORTH18724-28-38-45-52(69)(144)1:20:5516:110:24.0
9MOUNTAIN VIEW25814-37-47-70-90(105)(109)1:21:3816:200:51.6
14FLOWER MOUND3324-23-77-112-116(145)(150)1:22:0016:241:27.1
17W KENNEWICK3479-42-85-86-125(128)(141)1:22:3116:311:22.1
22WESTERN CARY48482-97-99-102-104(129)(134)1:24:0616:500:14.8

Quick Take: Troutner ran a terrific tactical race

From a spectator’s perspective, this race was awesome to watch as every minute brought a new move at the front of the race. But while that results in an entertaining product, throwing in a bunch of surges in the middle of a race is not the most efficient way to run. Troutner, rather than getting caught up trying to go move-for-move with the leaders, was content to hang back and make one definitive move instead, which proved to be a winning strategy.

Troutner’s race was even more impressive when you consider this was his first national championship race in cross country or track. He missed qualifying for NXN by one spot in 2016.

“Every single day during the summer, [I] just had that in the back of my mind just to keep pushing so I could get here,” Troutner said.

We won’t criticize Troutner’s competitors. It takes time to learn how to race — very few athletes enter college as strong tactical runners — and at this meet in particular, it can be difficult to go from dominating your competition all fall to suddenly having to race a bunch of guys close to your ability level. Heck, even Troutner admitted that his decision to sit back wasn’t totally a brilliant masterplan — he did it in part because he had trouble keeping up with the blazing pace at the front of the race.

Quick Take: The Utah pipeline continues to flow for Ed Eyestone and BYU

BYU made the podium at NCAAs this year thanks to a roster that consisted of five Utah natives and the Cougars return all but one scorer next year as top man Casey Clinger will be departing on a Mormon mission next year. However, BYU coach Ed Eyestone didn’t need to look far for a replacement as Troutner, who attends Timpview High School in Provo, has committed to BYU.

Colton Bogucki (center) almost dropped the trophy before hoisting it in Portland

Colton Bogucki (center) almost dropped the trophy before hoisting it in Portland

Quick Take: What a run from Loudoun Valley

In our preview, we mentioned how in the past five editions of the meet, no boys’ champion had scored more than 114 or fewer than 105. Loudoun Valley blew that out of the water today by scoring an incredible 89 points to trounce the competition as they had the best #2, #3, #4, #5, #6 and #7 runners in the field.

LV was the preseason #1 team in both the MileSplit and DyeStat rankings, in part because of a pair of key transfers: 2016 Foot Locker finalist Sam Affolder and 9:40 3200 runner Connor Wells. Both boys wound up playing key roles today as each finished in LV’s top five. But even if you remove Affolder, who finished 23rd overall, from the results, LV still would have won today (if you remove Affolder and Wells, LV would have lost by four).

Hats off to coaches Joan and Marc Hunter and the entire Loudoun Valley squad on a tremendous race. The Hunters now have quite the running resume. They coached a kid by the name of Alan Webb when he was a freshman at South Lakes High School. Their son Drew was the 2015 Foot Locker champion and a 3:57 miler in high school. Another son, Jacob, was LV’s fourth man today. And now they’ve coached a national championship team.

Oh yeah, and they’ve raised nine children. Amazing.

Quick Take: F-M finds a way again

Entering the race, Fayetteville-Manlius was ranked only 14th by DyeStat and projected 8th by high school running guru Bill Meylan of Tully Runners. But F-M ran its best race of the season in Portland, putting all five scorers in the top 100, to finish second, one place shy of sweeping the boys’ and girls’ titles. Only one school has ever accomplished that — you guessed it, F-M — in 2014. The Fayetteville-Manlius girls’ team won it’s 11th national title in 12 years on Saturday.