Footlocker Western Regional
Mt. SAC College, Walnut, Ca.
Dec. 1, 2007 5K
Friday: The Prelude
On Friday runners came from twelve states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming) plus U.S. Overseas Military Installations to challenge for a spot in the Footlocker National meet to be held the following weekend in San Diego. Instead of the famous ‘sunny southern California’ climate everyone was met with pouring rain & foggy conditions. The temperature was supposed to reach 60 but did not, although the local ABC TV affiliate listed Hollywood on its weather map for the day as being 81 degrees & sunny skies. Maybe it was based on the ever optimistic harrier attitude but a cool made things seem even colder. The guess was the day saw a high of 55 degrees.
Yet still they came. There were hundreds of runners waiting to register or pick up their packets at the track by 10 AM in the morning and there were still scores on hand as late as 5 PM in the afternoon after the daylight had faded to darkness. After hearing about the dry weather & the fires that burned out of control for the past month on the national news it was a bit surreal to be hit by a driving rain & see the formidable hills of Mt. SAC turned into mud slides. Still many runners tried the challenging hills, although most did it earlier in the day. The track at Mt. SAC has three hills that encircle it essentially & it was quite cool to see runners jogging above you at various points on all of them. They ran alone or in pairs & even in groups as large as 20 to 30. For a good number of runners they heard about the course & were determined to at least try it.
Jonathan Lafler of Tahoma, Washington made a late decision to enter the race, booked a flight & then appeared around 4 PM to register. He quickly removed his extra clothing & headed out on the course. When he returned, he was asked if the course was as bad as it looked. The immediate answer was: it was worse! He promptly then grabbed a hose to remove most of the accumulated mud. How bad was it? Just in driving the less than 10 miles from the Ontario airport to Mt. SAC I passed six car wrecks & saw even more later. Warnings of flash floods were being broadcast & nearby Modjeska Canyon, where the recent Santiago fire had made the area vulnerable, was faced with mandatory evacuation. The course itself was a quagmire worthy of Portland, Oregon, yet worse given the hills. Jordan Hasay, a Footlocker National champion, picked up her packet late in the afternoon and wisely passed on a jog.
Saturday: The Races
Morning proved to be a vast improvement in terms of the weather with the rain having abated, the fog mostly dispersed & the breeze dissipated but the course, due to the previous day’s monsoon, was still impassable in places, so the decision was made early to run an alternate route. The change was certainly detrimental to runners, who were strong on hills, & it was questioned by some but it was the correct decision. The hills were still so bad they would have been near impossible to climb. Even worse they were so sloppy & slippery that one runner could have easily slipped & knocked a runner unintentionally off the course & down the side of the steep side. The runners from Missoula Montana along with their coaches & this writer all attempted a portion of the switch-backs the previous day & all concerned decided that was too risky. To their credit race officials had maps of the alternate flat & mostly paved course on hand early in the morning.
The magnitude of this event was evidenced even prior to the race as they announced the runner celebrities. The state champions were announced, who were competing in the girls’ race & unofficially totaled over thirty. Not to sound deprecating but state champions were literally a dime a dozen & of course there were also Footlocker returnees. The key today was that they were all on even terms at the start. Everyone here regardless of notoriety had an equal shot at the high school runners utopia of San Diego. They were not selected in any way by some committee of so-called experts. In the American way of selecting our Olympic team you appear at the starting line & give it your best shot as one vies for the Nationals.
As anticipated Jordan Hasay went out quickly & held a slight lead after only 100 meters had been reached. She increased that margin slightly in the next 300 meters but was challenged by Nadya Biston of Arizona & Laurn Chatelat of California, who ran as a pair just behind Hasay. Jordan continued to push the pace & opened up a slightly larger lead as Bishton fell back a bit trying to stay with her. California’s Kauren Tarver, a 3-time FL finalist moved into third while Chatelat cautiously dropped back. It was still early in the race but Hasay was seemingly in full race mode and the lead increased even further. Bishton & Tarver remained 2 -3.
The mile mark saw Hasay roll by in 5:10 with Bishton & Tarver in tow. It appeared that Hasay was now intent on taking full control of the race. The look on her face, when she returned to the start, displayed a determined runner. The gap grew ever wider. The only significant change, however, was in the chase pack with Claire Collison & Rachel Lange of California moving into the 5th & 6th positions. The next 800 meters more or less saw Hasay enter the stadium in a time of 8:30 with Bishton still attempting to stay in contention. There appeared to be no caution in Hasay from here on in as she raced past the two mile mark in 10:30. She had opened up a 10 meter lead by this time & Bishton & Tarver were battling for 2nd. The battle for the final qualifying berths was quite heated as Meghan Marvin of California battled Nastia Bishton, Taylor Wallace, Sarah Sumpter (Cal), Nicole Nielson of Idaho & Vanessa Hancock (also from California). Close behind loomed California’s Jacque Taylor, Claire Collison & Rachel Velarde (NM) & Andrea Nelso & Kayla Evans of Washington.
With only a little more than 800 meters to go Hasay clearly had the race in hand unless something surprising occurred. A recharged Chatelat began to move back through the pack & took over 2nd ahead of Bishton & Tarver, who continued to battle which was now for 3rd & 4th. Shortly there after Claire Collison moved again & caught Tarver. Arizona’s Jessica Tonn also made a move & now threatened to move into the top five.
Soon after the crowd cheered as Hasay dashed into the stadium on her way to her third straight Regional title (she joined Nicole Blood of the Northeast, who now leads the University of Oregon) & Chatelat finished 2nd eleven seconds behind her. Jessica Tonn placed 3rd ahead of Tarver, Meghan Marvin & a tired Nadya Bishton. Taylor Wallace claimed 7th just ahead of Nastia Bishton and Nicole Nielson fought the final pain to claim the final qualifying position for the trip to San Diego. Vanessa Hancock placed 11th & is the top alternate.
The boys’ race was a bit problematic due to the fact that there were so many runners at the state that a few runners, like Oregon’s Bryce Burgess, had to start on the grass rather than the road complicating their initial steps. Unlike the girls’ race there was no real early leader in the boys’ race and a large pack raced through the mile in a time of 4:33. Notably, however, the two pre-race favorites Luke Puskedra of Utah & German Fernandez of California were safely nestled at the front. The race continued to proceed as such with numerous runners vying for the lead. By the time that they reached the air strip Christoph Romo of California was leading the way. The pack still remained large &, aside from Fernandez & Puskedra, it included Jim Walmsley of Arizona, Miles Unterreiner of Gig Harbor, Wa. & James Attarian of California.
It was only when they had reached the half-way point and had returned to the start that the race finally began to take shape, for now Puskedra & Ferandez had assumed the lead. It was not long before Puskedra decided that he was not content to share the lead & increased his pace taking over first place. The move was countered quickly by Brett Walters of California, who then began to press the pace as they neared the two-mile mark, which was reached in 9:50. During the next half mile Fernandez & Puskedra returned to the lead & continued to battle. Just behind trailed Unterreiner, Aaattarian & Walmsley but almost as notable as the battle for the lead was the battle at the back of the qualifying pack. It is after all more important to qualify for the dream ticket to San Diego than to place high and with runners near the proverbial ‘bubble’ jockeyed for position to make things quite interesting, as the race went on toward its fateful conclusion..
Fernandez soon shifted into high gear & rolled into the stadium unchallenged to win by a 5 second margin. Puskedra easily took second ahead of fast closing Stephen Clark of Utah. James Attarian, Miles Unterreiner, Jim Walmsley & Chris Swartz (a Ca. junior) earned 4th through 8th but from here it became quite dicey. When they had reached the 2 ¾ mile mark there were ten runners still in contention for tenth place, the last qualifying place, & it was anyone’s guess who would succeed. Brett Walters (Cal) followed a second behind Swartz to take 8th and now there were four runners left to battle for the final two qualifying spots. In the end Riley Sullivan (Cal) edged Jonathan Lafler (Wa.) for 9th and just a second behind came Oregon’s Bryce Burgess, who claimed the first alternate’s position. . He had moved up quickly towards the end coming up just one position shy of the crucial place. Matt Tracy closely followed 1 second furt her back. In the end there were six runners who finished within 5 seconds at the key time of the race. Elliott Jantzer of Oregon placed 18th & was the second underclassman to finish.
The day featured some great races & contests even within the race. Although, as in all races, there were some finishes that were less than had been hoped for, the overall tone anywhere near the top twenty finishers was upbeat. It is what makes running so egalitarian for everyone gave the best that lay within them on this day. As followers of the sport we are aware that on another day there would likely be three or four different qualifiers in each race. Such is the nature of racing and there were so many gifted runners challenging for a limited number of positions. It’s difficult to be too disappointed when one tries their best & on this day it just did not quite happen. In spirit we know there will be other days. On the other hand for some it was a dream come true. Fernandez & Hasay will lead a fine West in San Diego next week
Compliments to the people of Footlocker for their long-standing effort to support our sport & conducting the only real National Championship in high school sports. The staff on hand put on a quality event under difficult circumstances & had results printed, much less posted, very quickly.
1 Hasay, Jordan 11 Arroyo Grande, CA 17:17
2 Chetelat, Lauryn 12 Davis, CA 17:28
3 Tonn, Jessica 10 Paradise Valley, AZ 17:35
4 Tarver, Kauren 12 Wrightwood, CA 17:36
5 Marvin, Meghan 10 Clovis, CA 17:37
6 Bishton, Nadya 12 Glendale, AZ 17:37
7 Wallace, Taylor 11 Klamath Falls, OR 17:39
8 Bishton, Nastia 12 Glendale, AZ 17:40
9 Sumpter, Sarah 12 Cloverdale, CA 17:44
10 Nielsen, Nicole 11 Boise, ID 17:51
11 Hancock, Vaness 12 Brea, CA 17:55
12 Taylor, Jacque 10 Petaluma, CA 17:56
13 Velarde, Rachel 12 Albuquerque, NM 17:58
14 Collison, Claire 12 La Cresenta, CA 17:59
15 Nelson, Andrea 10 Spokane, WA 18:00
16 Vega, Sierra 10 Temecula, CA 18:02
17 Hayes, Hillary 11 Huntington Beach, Ca. 18:02
18 Prescott, Lindsay 12 Glendale, AZ 18:05
19 Evans, Kayla 12 Auburn, WA 18:07
20 Pitney, Crystal 12 Fairbanks, AK 18:09
21 Silva, Samantha 11 La Mesa, CA 18:09
22 Henson, Hanna 12 Amado, AZ 18:09
23 Bergman, Jennif 11 San Jose, CA 18:12
24 Malone, Maria 11 Folsom, CA 18:13
25 Lange, Rachel 12 La Crescenta, CA 18:15
26 Smith, Kelsey 10 South Lake Tahoe, Ca. 18:15
27 Hood, Nicole 10 Walnut Creek, CA 18:15
28 Dunne, Alex 11 San Clemente, CA 18:16
29 Gomez, Kinsey 9 Dalton Gardens, ID 18:16
30 Francis, Leah 10 Juneau, AK 18:17
1 Fernandez, German 12 Riverbank, CA 14:53
2 Puskedra, Luke 12 Ogden, UT 15:08
3 Clark, Stephen 12 Salt Lake City, UT 15:14
4 Attarian, James 12 Dublin, CA 15:17
5 Unterreiner, Miles 12 Gig Harbor, WA 15:17
6 Walmsley, Jim 12 Scottsdale, AZ 15:19
7 Swartz, Chris 11 Bakersfield, CA 15:20
8 Walters, Brett 12 Victorville, CA 15:21
9 Sullivan, Riley 12 Rancho Santa Margarita 15:22
10 Lafler, Jonathan 12 Maple Valley, WA 15:22
11 Burgess, Bryce 12 Portland, OR 15:23
12 Tracy, James 12 Fair Oaks, CA 15:24
13 Khan, Talal 12 Fullerton, CA 15:30
14 Casey, Pat 12 Laurel, MT 15:31
15 Webster, Robby 12 Puyallup, WA 15:31
16 Boughton, Matthew 12 Phoenix, AZ 15:32
17 Solis, Anthony 12 Barstow, CA 15:32
18 Jantzer, Elliott 11 Phoenix, OR 15:33
19 Lezama, Jose 11 Hawthorne, CA 15:33
20 Hasvold, Bret CA 15:34
21 Duffy, Matt 12 Oakland, CA 15:35
22 Tibaduiza, Bryan 11 Reno, NV 15:36
23 Freriks, Tim 11 Cottonwood, AZ 15:37
24 Rosaaen, Kevin 11 Fircrest, WA 15:37
25 Acosta, Jeremy 12 Palmdale, CA 15:37
26 Parisien, Jacob 12 Palmer, AK 15:38
27 Howell, Daniel 12 Manti, UT 15:40
28 Bor, Ganbileg 12 Daly City, CA 15:42
29 Jewkes, Nate 12 South Jordan, UT 15:42
30 Shrader, Brian 10 Flagstaff, AZ 15:43 4