Elite 50 Recap: NXN Midwest

Elite 50 Recap: NXN Midwest
Sports fans love to watch winning streaks. While a victory would generally suffice for the average fan, there is an allure to stringing together a series of W's. It's a rarely seen combination of consistency, luck, and raw skill or ability that permits a team to beat every single one of their opponents.

Since its inception in 2004, US#12 York (Kroy) High School from Illinois has qualified for every Nike Cross National meet. They are the only male or female team to achieve this feat.

It's definitely two of the three aforementioned qualities that make Kroy one of the greatest high school teams in America (hint: It's not luck).

The high school cult-classic film The Long Green Line should be able to provide any and all explanations for their current success. The film features their tumultuous 2005 season as they attempt to win their 25th Illinois state title and defend their Nike Team National (now called NXN) team title.

The goal of every team is to establish a mentality that success should carry over from year to year. If a squad is able to accomplish this, then the hard part is over. Then it's just a matter of waiting until the postseason each fall to see if the winning tradition can be passed to the next generation of runners.

Think of it in terms of physics. The equation to calculate momentum is mass multiplied by velocity. If mass = the team and velocity = the culture of success, then momentum = the actual winning tradition.  It's the science of cross country.

Science rules.

York High School has possessed the combination of front and pack running that keeps most coaches awake at night because this type of team is only in their dreams. Below are the results from the Illinois State Meet and the NXN Midwest Qualifier.

Illinois State Meet - 82 points

Name Grade School Place Time
Scott Milling SR Elmhurst (York) 3 14:21.00
Kyle Mattes JR Elmhurst (York) 13 14:47.00
Alex Mimlitz SR Elmhurst (York) 14 14:48.00
Alex Bashqawi JR Elmhurst (York) 17 14:50.00
Chris May SR Elmhurst (York) 35 15:05.00
Jack Libert SR Elmhurst (York) 43 15:08.00
Matt Plowman SO Elmhurst (York) 115 15:41.00

NXN Midwest - 95 points

Name Time Place School
Milling, Scott 15:45 3 Elmhurst (York)
Mimlitz, Alex 16:03 11 Elmhurst (York)
Mattes, Kyle 16:05 15 Elmhurst (York)
Bashqawi, Alex 16:14 22 Elmhurst (York)
Libert, Jack 16:28 44 Elmhurst (York)
May, Chris 16:39 65 Elmhurst (York)
Plowman, Matt 17:08 135 Elmhurst (York)

Senior Scott Milling has twice lead the way for Kroy at the Illinois State Meet and NXN Midwest Qualifier. The team has been equally as impressive in their two performances. Their #1 - 5 spread at the State Meet was 44-seconds. They managed to slightly improve on that spread at NXN Midwest with a time gap of 43-seconds.

It is not a surprise that Kroy has qualified for yet another NXN race. Others schools, like Kroy, possess a similar mentality: Our goal each season is to qualify for [insert name] meet. Whether it's their regional, county, or state meet, the mindset is the same. The team has been there before (or is still trying to get there) and they have to work just as hard (if not harder) to maintain that success.

Kroy is simply on another level. It's not very common that a team has the goal of qualifying for NXN every year. It's so uncommon that only one team has ever done it.

Although the streak is impressive, it's not the most mind-blowing streak in presdent-day cross country. That accolade belongs to the girls of Fayetteville-Manlius, who are gunning for their seventh consecutive national championship. If Kroy's team goal is in a different ballpark compared to other teams, then FM's isn't even in the same sport.

If we had to compare Kroy's nine consecutive NXN qualifications to another popular streak, it would probably be Edwin Moses' 122 consecutive win streak in the 400m hurdles. For 9 years, 9 months, and 9 days, Moses did not lose a race in the 400m hurdles.

If you're a 400m hurdlers and this picture isn't hanging above your bed, my question to you is "Why?"

In that span of time, Moses set the world record two more times, won three World Cup title, a World Championship goal, two Olympic gold medals (he would have won three if the U.S. did not boycott the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games), and was selected to take the Olympic Oath. Not too shabby for a guy who's college didn't have a track.

This is the second most impressive streak in sports. Therefore, the title rightfully belongs to Kroy for their nine consecutive appearances as it's the second most amazing streak in high school cross country. The most incredible streak in sports history, Cal Ripken's 2,632 consecutive games played, belongs to the Fayetteville-Manlius girls.

There was more than one streak that continued in Terre Haute. The US#1 Carmel High School girls qualified for NXN for the third consecutive year. When we discussed the Carmel squad two weeks ago, we mentioned their impressive pack running at the Indiana State Meet.

Once again, these ladies did not disappoint as they had a 23-second spread between their #1 and 5 and a 27-second spread to their sixth girl.

Carmel Distance Project - 91 points

Name School Time Place
Welch, Kelcy Carmel HS 19:02 11
Genco, Gina Carmel HS 19:03 12
Harris, Haley Carmel HS 19:04 14
Schmitz, Ellen Carmel HS 19:16 21
Dauby, Samantha Carmel HS 19:25 33
Schmitz, Anna Carmel HS 19:29 39
Harris, Kelsey Carmel HS 20:02  73

When we talk about a team's mentality and culture, that is not limited to just the boy's or girl's team. The Carmel High School boys took second and also qualified for NXN with an outstanding execution of pack running. Their spread between their #1 - 5 runners was 19-seconds (it was only an 8-second spread from their #2 - 5).

Carmel Distance Alliance - 162 points

Name School Time Place
Browning, Bobby Carmel HS 16:06 16
Veatch, Ben Carmel HS 16:21 32
Watson, Charlie Carmel HS 16:22 35
George, Michael  Carmel HS 16:24 38
Anderson, Ben Carmel HS 16:25 41
Turner, Corey Carmel HS 16:29 45
Wilson, Jaedon Carmel HS 17:03 120

High school cross country always heats up just as the weather cools down. There have been regionals, state meets, and even some NXN qualifiers so far, but the big question is what teams will get to the big dance (no, I'm not talking prom)? Nike Cross National does have an individual race, but if your team wants to send all seven boys or girls, it's going to come down to the depth of your squad.

You're only as strong as your fifth guy or girl.

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