DE- MD - VA - NC - GA - FL - AL - TN - KY - WV - DC
|Miami Columbus, FL
Colin Mearns VA 15:16
|Kathleen Stevens VA 17:14
Photos Courtesy of Brandon Miles;
1. Brookwood, GA 109
2. Miami Columbus, FL 143
3. Parkview, GA 149
4. Mountain View, VA 171
1. Tatnall, DE 74
2. Blacksburg, VA 83
3. Hidden Valley, VA 107
4. Midlothian, VA 116
*Team and Individual qualifiers are in bold
The Nike Cross Southeast Regional on Saturday at the WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina produced a meet with plenty of fast times and great competition across the board.
The Tatnall girls of Delaware continued their great excellence within the region by winning the girls’ team title and securing their fourth straight Nike Cross Nationals berth by holding off a strong challenge by a Stevens twins-led Blacksburg of Virginia.
Kathleen and Joanna Stevens simply ran away from a field including several nationally ranked runners such as Laura Hoer of T.C. Roberson (NC) and Nicky Akande of Collins Hill (GA). The Stevens twins competed earlier in the season at WakeMed Soccer Park for the Great American Festival posting times of 17:44 for Joanna and 17:46 for Kathleen. Both made considerable drops in their 1-2 finish at NXN Southeast with Kathleen as the winner at 17:14 and Joanna as the runner-up at 17:23. Kathleen’s performance was only three seconds off the current course record.
After the Hidden Valley girls snapped their streak of Virginia 2A state titles two weeks ago, the Blacksburg girls not only defeated their season rival but almost won the entire region against the experienced Tatnall squad. Their #4 runner Sarah Dorrell, who physically struggled to finish at the state meet and faltered in the final mile, bounced back with a strong race in Cary to help her team advance onto Portland. Dorrell finished 37th overall with a personal best time of 18:55.
The front running of the Stevens had not much been of an advantage in the team score department for Blacksburg this season especially matching up against teams like Hidden Valley as most meets had few if no runners from other teams to displace the team scoring. With a high level of competition at the NXN regional with entered teams having top level individuals scoring, the 1-2 finish from the Stevens gave them more breathing room than usual over Hidden Valley and other schools vying for one of those coveted automatic top two spots.
Tatnall saw their top runner Haley Pierce put together one of her best individual races of the year to finish third overall behind the Stevens twins in a time of 17:42 and their #5 runner finished around the same area as the fifth runners for challengers Blacksburg and Hidden Valley. It was the 11 second wave of the next three finishers after Pierce for the team from Wilmington, Delaware which allowed them to put distance between themselves and the two Virginia teams. Reagan Anderson (14th, 18:22), Rebecca Salter (18th, 18:31), and Molly Parsons (20th, 18:33) all finished among the top 20 for Tatnall as Parsons ran well ahead of the other contending team’s fourth finisher.
The pack of three was critical in the success for Tatnall (74 pts) to hold off Blacksburg (83 pts) especially with one of their top runners in Kallie Fehr suffering an off day and finishing well back in 70th place. Tatnall can certainly run much better and improve their team finish next weekend in Portland if Fehr runs back up with the pack. After an incredible 3rd place team showing last year at NXN, Tatnall coach Patrick Castango is just pleased to see his team returning back to the meet after a season with some ups and downs including injuries and illness. With the pressure of qualifying off, Castagno feels his girls have a shot at finishing among the top half of the field with a top 10 finish but feels his team’s national rankings just within the top 15 is a fair assessment as well.
Hidden Valley knew coming into this meet that they would see more runners from other teams displacing their team scoring in between the Stevens twins of Blacksburg and their top runners with the greater competition. Thus, they knew in order to compensate for the points loss that they would have to move up in places across the board and run faster. The Virginia 2A state champions certainly ran faster with their entire top five running under 19 minutes for the first time this season led by 9th place finisher Annie LeHardy at 18:09 and rounded out by senior and fifth finisher Mary Catherine Sowder in 42nd place at 18:59. Their 50 second spread was the best among the top four finishing NXN selection eligible squads.
In a similar racing plan executed in their state title win over Blacksburg, the Hidden Valley girls started out conservatively and then moved up the last half of the race. It was too little and too late though to run down the runners from Tatnall and Blacksburg as Hidden Valley finished third at NXN Southeast for the second year in a row with a team score of 107. Fortunately for Hidden Valley though as they found out mid-day on Sunday that their Nike South Invitational win over eventual NXN South Regional champion Southlake Carroll of Texas as well as two impressive wins in championship against Blacksburg in their region and state meet was enough to sway to the selection committee to pick them as one of the four at-large berths.
The 2009 Nike Cross Nationals will be the third time in the meet’s six year history which the Southeast Region will be represented by three girls teams with the addition of an at-large team. Outside of Tatnall’s third place finish last year, 2006 was the best year for the region’s girls teams taking places 8th (Eleanor Roosevelt MD), 10th (Midlothian VA), and 12th (Tatnall DE) in the competitive national field.
The Midlothian girls finished fourth with 116 points to establish the state of Virginia as the top state in the region for girls teams with three of the top four schools. Lake Braddock, the team which defeated Midlothian for the Virginia 3A state title and was just a few points off 2A state champs Hidden Valley and ahead of Blacksburg in the combined meet merge, could have made it an even more dominant showing for the state but opted to skip the meet and conclude their season with the state title.
Despite being a dark horse pick to be a spoiler, the Green Hope (NC) girls made it even closer and more competitive than expected with the Virginia schools and Tatnall girls with their fifth place showing with 116 points. With an impressive 31 second split for their top five which was the smallest margin of any team in the race, Green Hope is setting themselves up to be one of the top returning teams in the Southeast next fall as they graduate only their #7 runner from their top seven. Next year, look for this team to not only challenge for qualifier spot, but be able to compete for the regional title and put together team able to run with the nation’s best outside of the region.
Qualifying individuals for the Nike Cross Nationals from the championship girls race were Kathleen Lautzenheiser (4th, 17:49) of Midlothian VA, Nick Akande (5th, 17:56) of Collins Hill GA, Laura Hoer (6th, 18:00) of T.C. Roberson NC, Jessica Rubin (7th, 18:05) of Thomas S. Wooten MD, and Kaitlyn Davis (8th, 18:06) of Mountain View VA.
Few runners at this year’s Nike Cross Nationals will have as much racing experience at Portland Meadows than Midlothian senior Lautzeheiser as this will be her third time competing in the meet. The only year which she did not run in the meet was her sophomore year when she qualified and competed at the Foot Locker Nationals instead. Akande also has NXN race experience when she competed alongside her Collins Hills teammates last year, who finished 9th overall as a team. The Georgia 5A state champion Akande finished 43rd in the 2008 Nike Cross Nationals competing for Collins Hill, while Lautzenheiser finished 52nd competing as an individual qualifier. As a freshmen at NXN, Lautzenheiser placed 22nd.
Maryland state champion Jessica Rubin was a slight surprise in qualifying as she out kicked Virginia 3A state champion Kaitlyn Davis right before the finish line as Davis became a big fan of the Blacksburg and Tatnall teams waiting for the team results to be announced with both teams advancing onto nationals. As a result, the Stevens twins of Blacksburg and Pierce of Tatnall were not counted as the five individual qualifiers and bumped the cut off of the five qualifiers to 8th place finisher Davis. Rubin defeated several top ranked Virginia runners who she finished well behind earlier in the season at the Oatlands Invite including Oatlands winner Ariel Karabinus and Davis, but had shown recent signs including her dominant state title win in adverse conditions that she was ready for a big race and PR in Cary.
Boys Summary to come soon!
Miles Gallery - Full gallery to be posted by Sunday evening.
PrettySporty.com Gallery - 803 photos total from prettysporty.com's Cheryl Treworgy.
Locascio Gallery - 256 photos from MileStat.com contributor and Blacksburg parent Frank Locascio.
Skelton Gallery - 246 photos from MileStat.com contributor and Blacksburg parent Tayloe Skelton.
Kathleen & Joanna Stevens - 1st & 2nd place individuals for 2nd place Blacksburg (VA) girls
Coach Patrick Castagno - 1st place Tatnall (DE) Girls Head Coach
Coach Dan King - 3rd place Hidden Valley (VA) Girls Head Coach
Colin Mearns - Championship Boys Individual Champion from Jamestown (VA)
Tyler Anyan - 2nd place individual for 1st place Brookwood (GA) boys
Armando Del Valle - 10th place individual for 2nd place Christopher Columbus (FL) boys
D.J. Moniak - Open Race Boys Champion from Jamestown (VA)
By Jonathan Grooms
Tatnall (DE) girls
Tatnall girls will be attempting to establish themselves as the model program that all teams within the Southeast region strive to become if they are successful on Saturday in qualifying for a fourth straight Nike Cross Nationals race. A trio of Virginia schools (Hidden Valley, Blacksburg, and Midlothian) will attempt to be the spoilers after battling it out with one another throughout the fall including a fourth meeting in five weeks for Hidden Valley and Blacksburg. Florida's top ranked squad Chiles is back to prove they are more than just fast times on flat courses in Cary after a disappointing showing last year NXN Southeast against the Virginia schools and Tatnall, while Green Hope girls of North Carolina are the darkhorse pick and looking fit after an impressive 3200 time trial recently. Laura Hoer of T.C. Roberson (NC) and the Stevens twins of Blacksburg are the top individuals. NXN Southeast Girls Preview by Brandon Miles
Brookwood (GA) boys
The Brookwood boys of Georgia are heavy favorites to win the regional title especially after impressing earlier in the season on the same course in a Great American victory. Florida state champions Christopher Columbus and Virginia state champions Mountain View are just two of several teams with hopes of sneaking in behind Brookwood for second place and an automatic berth to the national race in Portland.
Maryland state champion Andrew Palmer is the only returning boys individual national qualifier from the Southeast region, while Colin Mearns of Jamestown (VA) was one of the region's top finishers in both the 2008 region and national race alongside his team. Mearns is one of several of the top individuals in the race who will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing state meet by earning one of the five individual national qualifier spots reserved for the 12-state region.