There have been memorable duels in the modern running era. Hicham El Guerrouj and Bernard Lagat in the 2004 Olympic 1500m final, Haile Gebrselassie and Paul Tergat in the 2000 Olympic 10000m final, and Sammy Wanjiru and Tsegaye Kebede at the 2010 Chicago Marathon. If we go back to the 1982 Boston Marathon, we’ll find a race aptly titled The Duel in the Sun.

This race featured Alberto Salazar, now coach of the Nike Oregon Project, and then London Marathon and Grandma’s Marathon (Duluth, MN) champion Dick Beardsley. The two ran stride for stride for almost the entirity of the two hour race that culminated in one of the most exciting marathon finishes in running history.

The Great American Cross Country Festival in Cary, NC featured that kind of thrilling finish. Though the race from Saturday, September 29th may not be as memorable as the ones already listed, it provides a preview of what's to come at Foot Locker Finals in December.

The boy’s race at Great American featured four of the top harriers in the country as well as returning Nike Cross National champions Christian Brothers Academy. Fans could not ask for a better preview of the 2012 FL Finals as the fourth, fifth, and sixth top returners from Foot Locker last season were featured in the race.

There was not much separating Sean McGorty from Chantilly High School (VA) and Jacob Thomson from Holy Cross High School (KY). McGorty, who took tenth last year at FL Finals (5th best returner) edged out Jacob Thomson in the final meters to take home the win and engrave his name on the new course record. Both McGorty’s time (14:43.6) and Thomson’s (14:43.9) were well under the previous course record of 14:57.6 set by Florida’s Daniel Moore.




The guy in yellow @0:53 says what we’re all thinking.


Both times rank second and third among all-time performances on the WakeMed Soccer Park course, which includes collegiate runners.

Below are the 2011 - 2012 performances for Sean McGorty:

Sean McGorty - 2011 cross country

Race Place Time Date
Foot Locker Finals 10 15:28.0 12/10/2011
Foot Locker South 6 14:54.0 11/26/2011
VA States - AAA 2 15:21.0 11/12/2011


Sean McGorty - 2012 outdoor track and field
Race Place Distance Time Date
Nike Elite Run 8 1-Mile 4:11.95 6/29/12
NBON Nationals 7 2-Mile 9:05.27 6/15/12
VA AAA State Champ 3 1600m 4:16.64 6/2/12
VA AAA State Champ 1 3200m 9:05.51 6/2/12
VA Northern Region 2 1600m 4:09.19 5/25/12
NBIN Nationals 6 1-Mile 4:13.81 3/11/12



Below are the 2011 - 2012 performances for Jacob Thomson:

Jacob Thomson - 2011 cross country

Race Place Time Date
Foot Locker Finals 19 15:41.5 12/10/2011
Foot Locker South 7 14:55.0 11/26/2011
Kentucky States - 1A 1 15:55.83 11/12/2011
Great American - ROC 3 15:02.8 10/1/2011 


Jacob Thomson - 2012 outdoor track and field
Race Place Distance Time Date
NBON Nationals 8 1-Mile 4:12.32 6/16/12
NBON Nationals 2 5000m 14:34.78 6/14/12
KY 1A States 1 800m 1:57.38 5/17/12
KY 1A States 1 1600m 4:10.80 5/17/12
Arcadia Invitational 15 3200m 8:58.12 4/7/12 



Josh Brickell from Peachtree Ridge High School in Georgia also just dipped under the previous course record with a third place finish in 14:57.5. Brickell was the top Foot Locker finisher in the field after taking 8th at FL Finals last year (4th best returner).


Josh Brickell - 2011 cross country

Race Place Time Date
Foot Locker Finals  8 15:24.2 12/10/2011
Foot Locker South  4 14:41.0 11/26/2011
Georgia States - 5A 1 15:40.68 11/5/2011


Josh Brickell - 2012 outdoor track and field
Race Place Distance Time Date
NBON Nationals 16 2-Mile 9:12.91 6/15/12
NBON Nationals 6 5000m 14:46.35 6/14/12
Golden South Classic 2 1-Mile 4:12.37 5/26/12
Georgia 5A State 1 3200m 9:10.40 5/12/12



Not to be overlooked was fourth place finisher Thomas Madden from Skyline High School in Virginia. Madden took 23rd at Foot Locker Finals last year and improved his time last year at Great American from 15:40.2 to 14:59.2.

 

Thomas Madden - 2011 cross country

 
Race Place Time Date
Foot Locker Finals 23 15:45.7 12/10/2011
Foot Locker South 8 14:56.0 11/26/2011
Virginia States - AA 1 15:33.0 11/12/2011
Great American - ROC 13 15:40.2 10/1/2011


Thomas Madden - 2012 outdoor track and field
Race Place Distance Time Date
NBON Nationals 11 2-Mile 9:09.11 6/15/12
John Handley Invite 1 1600m 4:15.60 4/21/12



One athlete who may emerge as a dark horse this cross country season was fifth place finisher Bakri Abushouk from Cary High School in North Carolina. Abushouk also improved his 16:01.50 from Great American last year to 15:03.3 on Saturday. Last year, Abushouk took 20th at NXN Southeast Regional (15:47.10) and has personal bests of 4:16.37 for 1600m and 9:26.46 for 3200m.

The team title was easily captured by the Christian Brothers Academy boys, who scored 60 points. St. Xavier High School from Kentucky took second with 148 points. The CBA boys set the record for the team time average with 15:24.04.


Christian Brothers Academy at Great American

Name Place School Time
Jack Boyle 6 CBA 15:15.0
Billy Bragg  7 CBA 15:17.6
Michael McClemens 11 CBA 15:22.9
Aaron Liberatore 22 CBA 15:30.3
Tommy Rooney 27 CBA 15:34.4



Rain from the night before made the course less than ideal, but it did not deter these runners from running record times in true cross country conditions. McGorty, Thomson, and Brickell will meet later this season at the Foot Locker South regional race. The trio should qualify, but the looming question is how they will finish at Foot Locker Finals in California.