Photo Run

 

Foot Locker  2018

 

 


        Sunny skies, a firm course and an almost ideally pleasant temperature greeted  runners at San Diego's famed Balboa Park Course.   After  torrential rains pounded the  city on Wednesday & Thursday it did not  seem possible but Katelynne Hart took  advantage of the  conditions setting a  strong pace, which dared other  runners to stay only one accepted the challenge to stay with her.  When  Sydney Masciarelli of Ma. accepted, fans  were  treated to a race that was  worthy of the fortieth running.


        It   did not seem like the race would be that  special at  first as the  field heading down the the first hill with the entire field  bunched  together.  The pace  picked up as the runners headed back  up the hill by the tennis courts with Katelyn Hart of Illinois leading the pack, which included six runners from the Midwest.  The  time for  800 Meters was  a good 2:32 but hardly impressive.   Running with Hart were Taylor Ewert of Ohio, Emily Covert of Min.,Ericka Vander Lende of Mi., Abby Loveys of N.J. and Alex Morris of Il.


       The meet started to get interesting after Hart led the way around the  pool and then across the road into the valley area.  At this point Hart  began to push the pace  hard, which had the effect of spreading out the field.   The core leaders remained intact but Sydney Masciarelli of Ma. inserted herself into the group, so as to remain in close  contact.  Sydney was the Northeastern Champion yet a  realtive  unknown as she lacked experience given this was her  first year of cross country and limited racing even this fall.  As such she was a true dark  horse but, given her win in the Bronx, her talent was real however untapped.


       Hart reached the mile mark in 5:13 with a lead over Covert & Ewer of  two seconds   Also reaching the mark in 5:15 were VanderLaden & Vanderkooi, while Masciarelli & Alex Morris of Illinois were  clocked in 5:16.   Hart continued her  brisk  pace even as she made the ascent up Upas  Hill but Masciarellli & Covert worked together to limit the gap & once at the top of the plateau Masciarelli cut the margin significantly only to see Hart extend the lead  again on the descent.   About  six and a half  minutes had elapsed at this time & race announcer Tim O' Rourke commented "she's", meaning Hart, " committed"  now.


       The time  for a mile and a half was  7:54 for Hart with Sydney reaching it in 7:58 with Covert.   Most ot the chase pack clocked 8:03 & Marlee Starliper of Pa. was now in the picture with her 7th position sharing the  time.   Still the leader was  a model of  consistency as she dedicatelypushed the pace & maintained her lead.   She  reached the two mile mark in 10:50 with Masciarelli five  seconds  back and Vanderkooi, just a freshman, seven back along with Ewert.  Covert  clocked 11:03  & Starliper at 11:05.


       The trek to the  2  1/2 mile mark was still uneventful with Hart leading in 13:40 and Masciarelli following in 13:44.   Vanderkooi clocked 13:46 & Ewert 51.  It was eight  seconds  back to Covert.   The  general positioning did not  change until around the 14:40 mark, when Marciarelli made her move  & began to close.   She  gained  ground the second  time up Upas Hill but lost it  back on the trip  down.   It was at the bottom once again Masciarelli began to reel Hart in but this time for good.   The race  was now  just down to these two runners with Vanderkooi racing alone in third.


      A great  race is marked  by determination & in Hart & Masciarelli there was plenty in evidence.   The novice  running on pluck closed the  ground  with seeming ease and the duo were  virtually even at the  16:23 mark but  Hart  showed her grit and the 2017 second place  runner opened a short lead  again.   Masciarelli  responded in kind to  reach Hart's  shoulder only  to see  Katelynne up the ante another  time.    They  raced up the hill where the starting line was and they were flying as they headed down towards the chute.  Just  before the end the Ma.  champion found just  enough reserve to edge ahead of the valiant Hart.


     As if to underscore the magnitude of what fans had  just witnessed, we note that the sophomore's  time of 17:00.3 was the eighth fastest in Foot Locker's Balboa Park history, while Hart's 17:01.0 is the ninth fastest of all time.  It  certainly  was one of the most impressive races this ancient harrier has  seen and  none other than Pat Tyson,  Steve Prefontaine's old  roommate & the current XC  coach at  Gonzaga, promptly pronounced it the finest.


   Abby  Vanderkooi ran a  fine  time of  17:14 and  did so charting the last mile by herself.  Ohio state champion Taylor Ewert placed fourth in 17:20 & Emily Covert of Minnesota clocked 17:29 and is the only senior in  the top  seven.  Jaden Theis of Mi. ran 17:30 for sixth, while Kate Wiser of Ct. was seventh in 17:32.  Grace Connelly of Ma. finished in  eighth with 17:42 and Jenna Hutchins of Tn. followed in ninth with 17:43 - a  time she  shared with Ericka VanderLende of Mi.  Abby Loveys of NJ earned  eleventh in 17:48. 


     The Midwest placed  four runners in the top five to easily run off in the team  race with a low of 20  points.  Tim O'Rourke announced this was the second lowest  winning total  ever, so even as  a team competition this race stands out as an exemplary one.   The Northeast  girls  were a  distant  second with  40 points.   In the end this was a  stellar & exciting race, which was made possible by the valiant effort of Hart.  Still Sydney Masciarelli accepted the  challenge and  helped make it an exciting duel that surprised many fans.   Even her parents  conceded they had  planned to leave San Diego after the race & were so unprepared that they had  to go out and  by a proper dress  for the winner to wear at the awards  cermemony.   Thus running has a new  star in the racing  firmament, which is the stuff of  dreams.  Of course Sydney expressed it simply, when she made her speech at the Awards Banquet, when she  said that "playing  basketball is my love but I decided to give running a try this fall.  It was a good  decision."   Quite a punctuation to  forty years of Foot Locker  racing.