If you have ever been a part of a state championship team you know the feeling of accomplishment accompanied with victory. Each year there come very special programs across the country that step beyond simply winning and into a realm of total domination. It is in these moments of triumph that the questions of team's "greatness" are raised. Extraordinary accomplishments that warrant recognition and validation to set in stone once and for all, their XC Legacy.
(Recap) In 2004 Nike changed the face of prep cross country with the implementation of Nike Team Nationals. After decades the hopes and dreams of avid cross fans were finally realized. Hosted by Nike, NTN allowed the top XC programs in the nation to compete in one true national championship race at Portland Meadows. Many state associations do not allow prep teams to travel so teams register as clubs in order to compete in this post season event.
The pinnacle event for the prep cross country team is earning a berth to Nike Cross Nationals. The goal of every prep team is to hoist the NXN National Championship Trophy, proclaiming the true national champions. The honor and prestige of traversing the Portland Meadows course as team victor welcomes the winning team into an elite fraternity of champions that stretches back three decades.
Nike Cross Nationals and all that the event represents to the sport of cross country undeniably traces its roots, inception, and excitement to one moment and one man over three decades ago. In 1973 New York Times free-lance reporter Marc Bloom looked across the nation and saw a lack in comprehensive coverage for prep cross country and came up with a revolutionary idea. An idea that would pump new life and energy into high school cross country. The single most profound event prior to the emergence of Nike Cross Nationals three decades later, The Harrier Magazine!
In 1974 Marc Bloom developed and implemented a network for prep cross country on a national scale by releasing detailed summaries of every state. The culminating event for The Harrier magazine was the release of the Harrier Top-50 High School All-Americans.
The winds of change came in 1976 when Harrier released the first national team rankings in US history. A new buzz and excitement spread throughout the nation as top programs sought fervently to be crowned National Champions by The Harrier magazine. Team rankings were again released in 1977, following the 1977 season The Harrier was discontinued until being resurrected by Bloom in 1989. XC Legacy has sought to bridge the gap from that final 1977 season until the 1989 season.
The significance of those four seasons from 74’-77’ in the scope of prep cross country cannot be understated. Without the efforts of Marc Bloom to network and harness the energy that is prep cross country there would have not been a platform for Nike Cross Nationals.
The Harrier 1989 rankings came at the perfect moment and for a decade teams from the four corners of the nation sought the coveted Harrier National Championship. It was this energy, and this excitement that inspired the creation of the Nike Cross Nationals…the nation’s true prep team championship.
Perhaps now a spotlight can rest on those teams who deserve recognition for superior national performances.
XCLegacy BIG-15 National Rankings
by Aron & David Taylor
|1||Carmel, Indiana (Chuck Koeppen)||Undefeated National Champions|
|2||York, Illinois (Joe Newton)||State AAA Champions|
|3||Portage, Indiana||State Runner-up|
|4||Bloomington North, Indiana||State #3 Team|
|4||Bloomington South, Indiana||State #3 Team|
|6||Schaumburg, Illinois||State AAA Runner-ups|
|7||Tuba City, Arizona||State AAAA Champions|
|8||South Eugene, Oregon||State Champions|
|9||Mater Dei (Santa Ana), California||CIF SS Champions|
|9||Leigh (San Jose), California||CIF NS Champions|
|11||Kent Roosevelt, Ohio||State Champions|
|12||Bernards, New Jersey||New Jersey Meet of Champions|
|13||Highland, Idaho||State Class A Champions|
|14||Lewiston, Idaho (Bill Neiland)||State Class A Runner-up (2points)|
|15||Largo, Florida||State 4A Champions|
1. Carmel, Indiana: National Champions
After being upset at the 1980 State Championship to Bloomington North the Greyhounds entered 1981 returning five (5) sub 16 minute 5k runners. After storming through the Indiana Sectional, Regional, and Semi-State Championships Chuck Koeppen had the Carmel men primed for a special state championship performance. Entering the meet it is hard to imagine improving upon the almost unbelievable performance of Bloomington from the season before, but that is exactly what Koeppen's Greyhouds accomplished. (image: Indy.com) Impressive story on Chuck Koeppen
Quite possibly the single greatest team championship performance (1-5 spread) in U.S. history the Greyhounds produced a 7.3 second spread from the 1-5 varsity runners. Averaging 15:16 over the 5000 meter course Carmel avenged the 1980 defeat to earn the 5th team title in 6 seasons. The Greyhounds stormed through the season with many milestone moments for a US prep squad that did not culminate with the state championships. The dominance of Carmel was demonstrated and felt each week throughout the season.
(Left-Right: Mike Montero, Dan Boston, Richie Garing, Dave Widmer, Brian Ogle, Coach Koeppen, Adam Smith, Leonard Bareford, Jon Beasley, Coach Shoop)
1981 Carmel Season Summary
The Western High meet proved to be a first step as Carmel scored 16 points for the team victory. In a meet where four runners would finish ahead of the state 3200 meter (9:14) champion Bob Stolz the team filed in 1. Richie Garing 15:41; 2. David Widmer 15:51; 3. Adam Smith 15:54; 4. Leonard Bareford 16:01; 5. Bob Stolz 16:07; 6. Dan Boston 16:18.
The next major ice-breaker for the Greyhounds came at the Indiana Ben Davis Invitational against 12 teams. Carmel scored a perfect 15 points with the top five tying for first place in a course record 15:33 for 5000 meters. 1. David Widmer 15:33; 2. Adam Smith 15:33; 3. Dan Boston 15:33; 4. Richie Garing 15:33; 5. Leonard Bareford 15:33.
September 23, 1981:At the Warren Central Invitational the Greyhounds again scored 15 points with the top five tying for first place in a course record 15:52.7 for 5000 meters. 1. Dan Boston 15:52.7; 2. Adam Smith 15:52.7; 3. David Widmer 15:52.7; 4. Richie Garing 15:52.7; 5. Leonard Bareford 15:52.7.
September 24, 1981:Against Lawrence North, Carmel scored 16 points with the top five under 15:48 for 5000 meters. The team average of 15:25 over 5000 meters was a meet record. 1. Adam Smith 15:14; 2. Richie Garing 15:16; 3. Dan Boston 15:21; 4. David Widmer 15:26; 6. Leonard Bareford 15:48.
September 29, 1981:Against Pike, Carmel scored 15 points with the top 5 averaging 15:41 over 5000 meters. 1. Leonard Bareford 15:30; 2. Adam Smith 15:30; 3. David Widmer 15:37; 4. Richie Garing 16:14.
October 3, 1981:At the 6th Annual Ill-Iana Classic the Koeppen led Greyhounds won with 25 points and a 15:15 3-mile average. Placing five in the top 7 places in the 18 team meet was phenomenal. 3. Adam Smith 15:12; 4. David Widmer 15:13; 5. Richie Garing 15:14; 6. Dan Boston 15:17; 7. Lee Bareford 15:23.
October 8, 1981:At the Olympic Conference Championships Carmel won with 24 points and five in the top seven places. 2. Richie Garing 15:27; 4. David Widmer 15:38; 5. Dan Boston 15:39; 6. Leonard Bareford 15:42; 7. Adam Smith 15:42.
October 13, 1981:At the Hamilton County Championships Carmel wins with 15 points and the top five tying for first place. 1. Adam Smith 16:32; 2. David Widmer 16:32; 3. Richie Garing 16:32; 4. Dan Boston 16:32; 5. Leonard Bareford 16:32.
October 17, 1981:At the Pike Sectional Championships Carmel would again score a perfect 15 points with the top five tying for first place. 1. Adam Smith 16:08; 2. David Widmer 16:08; 3. Dan Boston 16:08; 4. Richie Garing 16:08; 5. Leonard Bareford 16:08.
October 24, 1981:At the IHSAA Regional Championships Carmel set the meet record with a perfect score of 15 team points. In the 10 team meet Carmel asserted their dominance with a 15:30 average over 5000 meters. 1. David Widmer 15:17.7* Course Record; 2. Dan Boston 15:26; 3. Richie Garing 15:33; 4. Leonard Bareford 15:39; 5. Adam Smith 15:39.
October 31, 1981:At the IHSAA Semi-State Championships Carmel rested senior Richie Garing in preparation for the state championship assault. Carmel still won with 41 team points over 16 teams. 2. Adam Smith 15:59; 3. Leonard Bareford 15:59; 5. Dan Boston 16:04; 8. David Widmer 16:18; 23. Jon Beasley 16:55.
|Athlete Name/ Place||State Time (5000 Meters)|
|Adam Smith (10th Place)||15:13.2|
|Leonard Bareford (11th Place)||15:15.1|
|Dan Boston (13th Place)||15:16.7|
|Richie Garing (15th Place)||15:17.8|
|David Widmer (18th Place)||15:20.5|
|Jonathan Beasley (70th Place)||16:05.2|
|Mike Montero (98th Place)||16:29.3|
2. York, Elmhurst, Illinois
After a so-so 1980 state championship performance the long green line entered the Illinois State Championships on a quest for perfection. York would not disappoint with a superb 44-185 schellaking of Shaumburg. Newton's squad placed five competitors in the top 30 averaging 14:53 over the fast Illinois Championship 3-mile course. On average this equates roughly to a 15:22 5K average assuming it would be run on an extremely flat and fast course. While very quick, it was not as superior as the Carmel average over the Indiana 5000m Championship course. To put it short, Illinois and Indiana were once again the creme of the U.S. prep cross country running crop. Lets meet the National XC Runner-up York Team.
|Athlete Name/ Place||State Time (3-Miles)|
|Rex Armstrong (6th Place)||14:35|
|Doug Schroer (13th Place)||14:48|
|Mark Jerger (19th Place)||14:59|
|Dale Madsen (22nd Place)||15:01|
|Dan Newman (29th Place)||15:05|
|Joe Gross (36th Place)||15:08|
|John Driscoll (96th Place)||15:33|
3. Portage IN
After the performance of Bloomington North in 1980 it was hard to imagine Portage leap frogging the defending national champions. But that is exactly what Bill Wilke's team had in mind as they stormed through the 1981 season as the definitive #2 team in Indiana. Coming into the 1981 season Portage returned four (4) of their top five (5) varsity scorers. However it was the inconsistency of the 5th man and an off day by several runners that kept Portage from competing for the team championship.
At the Indiana State Championships Portage placed the top four (4) under 15:43 for 5000 meters. In what went down as the closest and deepest state championship final in the country Portage finished a mere four (4) points ahead of upstart defending national champion Bloomington North and only 14 points ahead of Bloomington South. Averaging 15:38 over the South Grove 5000 meter course Portage showed true team strength. Coming into the State Championships Portage was riding Sectional and Regional Team Championship victories but the true test would be a battle with Indiana perennial powerhouse Carmel and the two Bloomington teams.
|Athlete Name||State Time (5000 meters)|
4. Bloomington North & South, Indiana
After a superb 1980 season Bloomington North returned their top two runners for another go at the Indiana State Championship. Hampered by the loss of key varsity runners Bloomington North was largely a force due to the individual performances of Kinney National finalists Marty Bassett and Jeff Grove. Two of the truly great individual competitors Bassett and Grove ran second and fourth at the State Championships in 14:47.2 and 14:56.1 over 5000 meters. However, the team strength was the issue as the Bloomington North team would battle rivals Bloomington South all season long.
What is interesting about Bloomington South and Bloomington North are that they are near identical teams. At the Sectional and Regional Championships Bloomington South claimed team championship victory. On the other hand at the following Semi-State Championships Bloomington North rebounded to claim team championship victory. In what can only be called a true team match-up the two Bloomington teams were on a collision course with Carmel and Portage at the Indiana State Championships.
With equal depth the two teams finished out of the running as Carmel ran away with the team championship. However, as expected at the State Championships Bloomignton North would rise to the occasion narrowly finishing third to Portage with four(4) points of seperation 148-152 in the Indiana State Championship final while defeating Bloomington South by 10 points.
In a head to head match-up based upon State final results Bloomington South defeats Bloomington North 27-28 points. But in a similar match-up Bloomignton North defeats Portage 25-30, conclusion: Indiana has four nationally dominant teams. At the Indiana State Championships the Charles Warthan led Bloomington North team averaged 15:32 while Bloomington South averaged 15:38 over the 5000 meter state course. For this reason, it is impossible to differentiate who was truly the better team so we rank them with a tie for 4th in the nation.
|Bloomington South, IN||Time/Mark||Bloomington North, IN||Time/Mark|
|Ken Waterhouse||14:43.0||Marty Bassett||14:47.2|
|Eric Rush||15:27.2||Jeff Grove||14:56.1|
|Dan Gornall||15:43.9||Mike Minnett||15:32.7|
|Alan Mather||16:02.9||David McMillan||16:12.6|
|Chris Goss||16:15.7||John Ruff||16:16.6|
|Doug Wilson||16:40.8||Kenny Williams||16:16.9|
|Randy Viola||17:11.0||Jon Tichenor||16:28.4|
6. Schaumburg, Illinois
Finishing second to York at any state meet is no meager accomplishment. Arguably the most dominant program year in and year out, to compete head to head with the men from Elmhurst almost always equals a national top ten ranking. So it was with Schaumburg in the 1980 Illinois State Championships. Finishing second to York, largely due to a large gap between the 4th and 5th runner Schaumburg's average over 3-miles equalled roughly to a 15:44 5k average was the sixth fastest in the nation.
|Athlete Name||State Time (3-Miles)|
8. South Eugene, Oregon
Truly one of the great state championships in the nation, the Oregon State Championship has stood as a benchmark for U.S. distance running since Bill Dellinger's inaugural victory in 1949. Other U.S. greats such as Steve Prefontaine and the great McChesney family helped put Oregon distance running and South Eugene High School on the national map.
Since 1972 the South Eugene Axemen claimed eight (8) State Championships in nine (9) years. Standing as the most dominant team of the previous decade the Axeman entered 1981 with one thought in mind, avenge the 1980 State Championship loss to Sunset. In that 1980 final South Eugene narrowly lost to Sunset by 10 points. In 1981 the Axemen were determined this result would not happen again. The 1981 State meet would be coach John Gillespie's final state championship appearance before moving on to a coaching position at the University of Oregon.
The Oregon squad from South Eugene which featured three (3) nine minute two-milers entered the State Championship against a tough Sunset squad. Team championships demand a collective effort combining individual achievement to capitalize on a moment of opportunity to seize greatness. With the falter of Sunset's top runners John McCarthy and Matt Moss, South Eugene ran away with the 4A team championship. Led by individual victor Matthew McGuirk South Eugene scored a 76-102 team victory over the defending state champions Sunset sending coach Gillespie out in style. McGuirk led the Axemen to a ninth 4A team championship in 10 years and what would be the last for truly one of the dominant U.S. prep cross country programs.
The Oregon State Championship course was a tough 5000 meters, perhaps one of the most difficult in the nation. Known in the early 80's for slow times it by no means is an indicator against a teams strength and depth. For example, in 1980 South Eugene's Dan Mazo ran 16:09 (15:47 in '79) over the state course but went on to finish 7th at the Kinney Finals running 15:07. In the 1981 Kinney final McGuirk would run a 15:05.7 for 5000 meters to place 9th. What we know from the "books" is simply that this was a difficult course. As a further indicator of South Eugene's strength McGuirk would go on to run a 8:21 3000 the following spring to claim the state championship. This is also the team of runners who would go on to set the U.S. 4x1500m National Record (16:03.7) the following spring.
|Name of Athlete / Place||State XC Time||82' 1500m time||82' 3000m time|
|Matthew McGuirk (1st)||16:02.1||3:54.5 (4x1500m)||8:21.11 (8:54)|
|Will Kimball (11th)||16:36.5||3:58.5 (4x1500m)||8:42.78 (9:17)|
|John Chambers||16:58.0||4:05.1 (4x1500m)||8:39.39 (9:14)|
|Ken McChesney||17:13.5||8:40.80 (9:15)|
|Eric Mason||17:39.8||4:05.6 (4x1500m)|
9. Mater Dei (Santa Ana) & Leigh (San Jose), California
Out of California we have Mater Dei (Santa Ana) and Leigh (San Jose). In 1987 the CIF held the first-ever State Cross Country Championship. Before the 1987 CIF State Championship each section had its own championship meet. In 1981 Nationally renowned statitian Doug Speck and Harold Willman ranked Mater Dei (Santa Ana) and Leigh (San Jose) as the top two programs in the state of California. Mater Dei scored an impressive 37 points at the Southern Sectional 3A Championship race with Leigh scoring 62 points at the Central Coast Section Championship race. In the Northern California FinalsLeigh raced away in victory with five (5) competitors under 15:31 finishing ranked #2 by Speck and Willman for California.
Honorable Mention(in no particular order):
Salesianum, DE; Bernards, NJ; Crescenta Valley, CA; Abington Heights, PA; Kent Roosevelt, OH; Daniel Boone, TN; Archbishop Malloy, NY; Murray, UT; Conroe McCullough, TX; Stevens Point, WI; Tuba City, AZ; Magnolia, WV; Highland, ID; Wichita-Kapaun, KS; Greencastle-Antrim, PA; Dodge City, KS; Ferris, WA *We thank those who submitted these superior team championship performances