Photo Run

 

Foot Locker Boys 2018

 



The  boys'  race started out as if they  too would race at a  brisk  pace with the  first  quarter mile, which was downhill, run in a swift 65 or 66 seconds but once the pack made the turn to head back up the hill the leaders  eased  back off the pace.   Leading  the  way were Midwest champion Cole Hacker and John Renfree, who placed fifth in this  race last year.   With the pace relaxed, as it was,  virtually everyone was still in the race and the pack was more of a legion.


       Race director Tim O'Rourke labelled the pace as "conservative" and there was no arguing with that, when Renfree & Hocker led the  way to a 2:16  clocking at the 800 Meter  mark.  Following  close behind  were Jon Velasco of California, Northeast champion  Jack Stanley of NJ, Lucas Aranburo of Ma. & South champion Cruz Gomez.   The runners ambled around the pool at the top of the hill and then headed past the start & crossed the road into the "valley."   The pace remained  tepid  and the only event  of note was Graydon Morris slipping in at the back of the leaders.   Morris has the  distinction of  being only  the second male  runner to have qualified  three  times by his junior  year and, also the  second place finisher as a sophomore, he  had to  be taken seriously.  Race  commentator Carrie Tollefson had  spoken with Graydon before the race & he had noted he had let the leaders  get away last  year & that he had no  intention of making that error in race strategy again.


       The pace continued in its 'relaxed' way , when Hocker  & Jon Velasco led the pack through the mile mark in 4:48.  On their heels  were Renfree, Stanley & Drew Bosley of Wi.   Upas Hill often separates would  be challengers  from the true  contenders & Hocker & Renfree led a modest push up the  steep  grade.   The leaders cruised at the  top but Renfree opened up on the descent which occuerd around the  six minute mark of the race.   A small  group  trailed Hocker which incuded Joshua Methner of Il.  Morris & West champion Kashon Harrison of NM but once the hill was disposed of a lead  group coalesced again, so that  at the half  way point of the race a good  dozen runners were still in contention.  Leading the  way at this point was Methner with Hocker, Renfree, Stanley, Camren Fischer of Ar. & Bosley all credited with 7:16.   A dozen runners  remained, who had legitimate  chances of victory.


        With half of the  race behind the runners it was obvious someone  would make  a move soon with the only  question being  which  harrier.   Speaking after the race with me Hocker had noted that in the last  few  races he had employed a 'sit and kick'   strategy and he  assumed most would antiicipate the same  strategy  for him & Cole  was  determined to use the element of surprise this  race.   With the race playing out in reality as he had envisioned Hocker opened up on the  down hil and set a  brisk pace.   Looking  back it was  from this point onward that the Indiana State champion had seized virtual control of the race.  From here on it was up to the rest of the field to respond to him.   


      Hocker  set a hard pace challenging the others to stay with him and that challenge  was  met  early on with solid  cast of characters accepting.   Hocker led at the two mile  mark by clocking 9:55 but he was  certainly  not alone.  Renfree, Methner, Bosley, Harrison, Stanley & Morris all shared the time & Morris was just  a second  back.  Colin Baker was just one more of the fourteen  runners, who were all under the ten minute mark.   While the  first increase in pace  did not  break the  chase pack,  his second move as he raced did.   This was at the 11:12 point in the  race & from then on the race was  joined in earnest  by a select  few.   Race announcer O'Rourke  concede that Hocker was "driving the pace"  & in control of the pace.


      Points of  demarcation  included reaching the  wall in  12:12 and then 12:29, when Hocker  began his  second climb up the hill.  It is the  second time  up the hill that  can  be a killer &, while it impacted the leaders a bit, its impact on the back of the pack was noticeably  severe and a few  truly  struggled.   Up ahead the  pain was not in evidence and Renfree made a counter move, which Hocker was  forced to answer.   Further  back Graydon Morris took over fourth place.  While Hocker followed Renfree up the hill once at the top Hocker  upped the  ante in a  big  way.  Renfree  for his part tried to match the move but  he clearly had to make an effort to respond well.   Morris meanwhile  was involved in his race within  a race and  moved into third place. 


       Hocker was  rolling when he rushed past the three mile mark around 14:53.  Hocker's  strong move could not  be matched and the soon to be  crowned champion took a look over his shoulder to make sure there would be no surprise but soon he was  gone.   His winning time  was 15:13, which was  strong  considering the rather pedestrian  pace  early.   Jake Renfree ran a fine 15:19  to earn  second and Graydon Morris placed third but shared the clocking with Carter Solomon of Mi. & Drew Bosley, who improved on his 7th place finish of last year.   Joshua Methner took sixth in 15:27 and  Jack Stanley followed in 7th with 30.  Colin Baker of SC garnered 8th with 15:30 with Evan Bishop of SC following a second later.   Carter Cheeseman of  Texas placed tenth with 15:36 & Kashon Harrison was 11th with 15:37.


       The Midwest  Boys made it a sweep of the team races  by scoring with a total of 25 points, as the South placed second  with 35.  The West  guys were third with 69 points and  the Northeast  was a distant  fourth with 98 points.   The  quality of the  field was underscored by the  fact that 18 runners  broke the sixteen minute  barrier and this is a quality  course, that  has  been  raced  for years and stood  the test of  time.     

 
      The  fans on hand  were fortunate to see two  fine  races with a high  caliber of  runner.   It  was a beautiful  day  for running and wonderful  addition to  forty  years of Foot Locker history.  It was  Foot Locker (via Kinney early) that  supported runners and the ensuing time has  brought great growth in running, which in large part  flowed  from this  race.  Congratulations  to everyone, who  participated & contributed to this  great  event.   We  look forward  to seeing you next year at the hotel Del Coronado, when the next  40 years of Foot Locker commences.