2009 FootLocker Boys Champs: Lukas Verzbicas Makes History, by Larry Eder

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Lukas Verzbicas wins 2009 FL Boys Champs!, photo by PhotoRun.net.

The 5,000 meter cross country course in Balboa Park, San Diego, California has been the host to some of the best distance runners in America for the better part of the past thirty-one years. Elite athletes from Molly Huddle to Meb Keflizighi, our ING NYCM champ and Olympic silver medalist, and Jorge and Eduardo Torres, all FL alums, were there to cheer the current class of athletes. This race has given birth to many top American distance running careers. As the race has faced challenges over the past few years, a groundswell of support has developed. Saucony came in and supported the race the past two years, when a former sponsor pulled out of the event.

Even with the rain, the mud, the hills, the fans, coaches and stars were fetted to two great races. While the crowd was still worshipping Megan Goethals and her surprise win, sophomore Lukas Verzbicas gave them a history making race to watch! And in the end, Verzbicas was the star of the boys race!

From the start, Brian Shrader, Craig Lutz, Wade Meddles, Lukas Verzbicas were in the pack of 40, hitting the eight hundred meters in 2:22. Verzbicas jumped over a mud hole, as the course filled up with rain and mud, making the course even more challenging. Verzbicas and Lutz, followed by Shrader and Meddles, hit the mile in 4:48. Brian Shrader pushed to the lead shortly before the mile, on a long downhill. He would finish fifth.

The rain continued. Lukas Verzbicas, a sophomore, and Craig Lutz, the SouthEast region champion, last weeks Nike NXN champ, looked very good, and menacing. Would Verzbicas be able to handle a kicker lke Lutz? Shrader and Meddles were in tow, as the race hit 8 minutes. At 8:05,
Lukas Verzbicas made a surge, and took off. Craig Lutz stayed behind, but slowly began to fall back, ending in fourth place.

Lukas Verzbicas, who ran 14:18 indoors for 5,000 meters last year, and 8:58 outdoors, was running a challenging course, in challenging weather, with the deadliest field he had come up against so far in the past two years. Verzbicas extended his lead, hitting two miles in 9:42.

Verzbicas is fascinating to watch run. He charged up the hills and pushed the dowhhill. " I knew it was a tough field, and that these runners wanted to win like I wanted to win..." noted a thoughtful Verzbicas after the race.

Lukas Verzbicas built up a fifteen second lead by the final stretch, hitting the finishing tape in 15:07.8. With his victory, Verzbicas became the first sophomore male to win the FL Championship.

Running a fantastic race, Matt McElroy, ran a brilliant last mile to run past his competitors, taking second in 15:22.6. In third place, Wade Meddles, who was second in last weeks Western FL regional, and in only his second year in the sport (Wade played football before), moved from fourth in his regional to third in the nationals!, running a fine 15:24.0. NXN winner Craig Lutz finished fourth, in 15:29.6. Brian Shrader, the FL West winner from last week, was fifth in 15:30.9.

At the end of this rainy day, it was a sophmore from Illinois, who is both a triathlete and a global junior threat, who fascinated the crowd with his masterful victory over a top shelf field! At RBR, we can not wait to see Lukas Verzbicas race this spring!

The West won the team race, 31 points, to South's 42, Midwest's 49 and NE's 94!

2009 Foot Locker Cross Country Nationals - 12/12/2009
Morley Field, San Diego, CA
Last Completed Event

Event 2 Boys 5k Run CC
=======================================================================
Name Year School Finals Points
=======================================================================
Results - Men
1 Lukas Verzbicas 10 MW,Orland Hills,IL 15:07.8 1
2 Matthew McElroy 12 WE,HuntingtonBch,CA 15:22.6 2
3 Wade Meddles 12 WE,Gardnerville, NV 15:24.0 3
4 Craig Lutz 11 SO,HighlandVllg,TX 15:29.6 4
5 Brian Shrader 12 WE,Flagstaff, AZ 15:30.9 5
6 Jake Hurysz 12 SO,Mebane, NC 15:31.9 6
7 Tyler Byrne 12 MW,Georgetown, IN 15:33.1 7
8 Kirubel Erassa 12 SO,Grayson, GA 15:34.2 8
9 Shane Moskowitz 12 WE,Bremerton, WA 15:34.5 9
10 Matthew Mizereck 12 SO,Tallahassee, FL 15:36.8 10
11 Chris Walden 11 MW,Carmel, IN 15:37.7 11
11 Steve Magnuson 12 WE,Oro Valley, AZ 15:37.7 12
13 Martin Grady 12 MW,Burr Ridge, IL 15:38.0 13
14 Brandon Lord 12 SO,Hixson, TN 15:39.6 14
15 Dave Oster 12 NE,Verona, NJ 15:41.5 15
16 Tyler Udland 12 NE,Short Hills, NJ 15:42.3 16
17 Scott Fauble 12 MW,Golden, CO 15:43.4 17
18 Kevin Dowd 12 SO,Farifax, VA 15:43.6 18
19 Quinn Raseman 12 NE,East Setauket,NY 15:44.8 19
20 Blake Williams 11 SO,Durham, NC 15:44.9 20
21 Brad Miles 12 NE,Hatfield, PA 15:45.6 21
22 Walter Schafer 12 MW,Centennial, CO 15:45.8 22
23 Brian Atkinson 12 SO,MelbourneBch,FL 15:46.3
24 Rad Gunzenhauser 12 NE,Pittsburg, PA 15:47.3 23
25 Anderson Barclay 11 SO,FairOaksRnch, TX 15:47.8
26 Danny Nicolls 12 MW,Parker, CO 15:48.2 24
27 Chris Bendtsen 12 NE,Wolcott, CT 15:49.5 25
28 Ryan Poland 12 MW,Westminster, CO 15:50.9
29 Conner Peloquin 12 WE,Gig Harbor, WA 15:51.9 26
30 Cody Helbling 12 WE,Coeur d'Alene,ID 15:52.0 27
31 Ryan Gil 11 NE,Pittsburg, PA 15:52.5 28
32 Kurt Ruegg 12 WE,Yountville, CA 15:58.2
33 Pablo Rosales 12 WE, San Pedro, CA 16:06.0
34 Billy Orman 11 WE,Tuba City, AZ 16:07.0
35 John Raneri 12 NE,New Fairfiled, C 16:09.9
36 John Murray 11 NE,Shrewsbury, MA 16:14.5
37 Cory Puffett 12 NE,UpperMarlboro,MD 16:16.7
38 Colby Alexander 12 MW,Strongsville,OH 16:19.0
39 Nathan Karr 12 MW,Ann Arbor, MI 16:34.2
40 Colin Barker 12 SO,Atlantic Beach, 16:57.4

Team Scores
=================================================================================
Rank Team Total 1 2 3 4 5 *6 *7 *8 *9
=================================================================================
Results - Men
1 WE,HuntingtonBch,CA 31 2 3 5 9 12 26 27
Total Time: 1:17:29.70
Average: 15:29.94
2 SO,HighlandVllg,TX 42 4 6 8 10 14 18 20
Total Time: 1:17:52.10
Average: 15:34.42
3 MW,Orland Hills,IL 49 1 7 11 13 17 22 24
Total Time: 1:17:40.00
Average: 15:32.00
4 NE,Verona, NJ 94 15 16 19 21 23 25 28
Total Time: 1:18:41.50
Average: 15:44.30

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