For me, what was compelling about the 38th annual FootLocker cross country was the drama in both races, and the changing circumstances of the runners.
In the girls’ race, Claudia Lane took off hard, and put on a huge surge at three miles, holding off fast charging Nevada Marino. Nevada told us in an interview that she lost a bit of confidence on the last hill, but surged to the finish, gaining back some confidence.
The boys race was close from start as Seth Hirsch did all he could to win the race, but making it a very compelling race none the less!
The FootLocker course on Balboa Park is a roller coaster of cross country running. I recall watching my first FootLocker with the late Doug Speck. He showed me the hills and the downhills as watched the runners run the course. It is a fun course to watch and the drama unfolds as runners commit or over commit to the course and the race.
You have to hand it to Seth HIrsch. The young man from Nebraska has been racing his butt off. His NXN race last week was punctuated by some tough pace work, and in San Diego, Seth went to the front, leading in 4:46 and 9:44. “I was feeling pretty good at two miles, I should have pushed it a little more, ” Seth confided after the race.
In a group were Finn Gessner, Reed Brown and Seth Hirsch. Finn Gessner pulled up next to Hirsch on the hills, and Reed Brown took the lead on the downhills. But, Seth Hirsch would not give up. He pushed every chance he had, inflicting damage on the rest of the field.
While West champion Talon Hull made up ground and was only three seconds off third, the battle was between Hirsch, Brown and Gessner.
Reed Brown is built like a steepler. The young man has real leg speed, funny thing is, he has not been winning races. Well, today was his day.
All three challenged for the lead. Reed Brown took the lead again on the second downhill, pushing the pace, but neither Gessner nor Hirsch let him get away. Just before three miles, Finn Gessner took a short lived lead, and then, Reed Brown put down the proverbial hammer of Thor. Brown broke Gessner and Hirsch, winning in 15:02, with Finn Gessner in second, 15:04 and Seth Hirsch smiling as he crossed the finish in 15:04. Talon Hull was fourth in 15:08, and Alexander Maier was fifth in 15:11.
Reed Brown was dumbfounded on his win, ” I did not win much this year. In Texas, if you make any mistake, you will not win! But, I just won FootLocker! ” Reed had been concerned about Gessner and Hirsch. ” Seth is tough, he runs a hard pace, so I had to be careful.” noted Brown after his championship win.
Finn Gessner gave me one of the most unusual, funny and honest quotes of all times. ” I wanted to be in top three and then, get a date with Nevada Marino.” Well, one of two is not bad. Actually, we do not know the outcome of his request for a date with the number two FootLocker women’s runner, although Finn did note that both had taken second might be an omen.
Seth Hirsch was all smiles after the race. ” I ran hard, I might have been able to go a little faster, but I am happy.” Hirsch had run hard last weekend, as well as this weekend.
South won the boys team title today as well as girls! South boys scored 38, Midwest 42, West 50 and Northeast, 102.
A fine boys race and a fine girls race! What a day for cross country running!