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Boys Foot Locker Championship Preview

Boys Foot Locker Championship Preview
These are simply my own projections for the Footlocker XC Championships this Saturday in San Diego, CA. I wanted to breakdown and highlight some of the top individuals competing for a national title and All-American spots. Many people do not follow high school as closely as the NCAA or professional running scene, so I wanted to give a preview of the up-and-coming distance runners in the country. Many current distance stars competed at these championships and the Foot Locker history is fun to look back on. Good luck to all of those competing at the highest level in high school cross country!

Boys Individual All-American Predictions (Top 15)

In evaluating the top 10, I did some research and looked at the past 5 years of footlocker nationals. I took the top 10 from each year and looked at how well they did in their respective regional race.

- I found that 64% of all top 10 finishers at nationals finished in the top 3 at their regional race.
- 78% of all top 10 finishers at nationals were in the top 4 at their regional race and 84% of all top 10 finishers at nationals were in the top 5 at their regional race.
- Those that finished 7th-10th place at the regional meet only had an 8% chance of finishing in the top 10 at nationals.

These statistics make sense as only 10 runners qualify from each region, but they played a factor in helping me determine who I would choose to put in this top category.

Another interesting fact that I looked up is that since 1998, there has only ever been one male winner to not have won his regional race.

That outlier? Chad Hall in 2006, when he got 2nd in the West Regional race but won Footlocker Nationals. With only 1 of the last 15 champions not winning their regional race, there is a good indicatoin that there are 4 top candidates to win this weekend in San Diego.

1.  Aaron Templeton (Knoxville, TN) - South (US#2)

The winner of the South Regional, Templeton has been coming into form at the end of the season. At the 
Tennessee state meet, he took down the great front runners from the NXN 3rd place team of Brentwood. He then rolled the Foot Locker South meet in a very fast time of 14:36 on the aggressive McAlpine park course. He was 7th at Foot Locker Nationals last year and is the top returner. He was undefeated this season and I think he will be able to keep that streak going.

There are 3 different reasons why I picked Aaron to win.

Reason #1: Just before running the Foot Locker South Regional race, Templeton competed in the KYA 3200m time trial. He ran the fastest every 3200m on Tennessee soil running 8:54.29!

Reason #2:  His confidence is in a good place going into nationals, which can be seen in the interview below.

Flotrack's Take: We know that Aaron's brother Will runs at Liberty with Jarred, but he's our pick to win too. His performance at Foot Locker South plus that time trial is enough to push us to name him as the co-favorite for Saturday.

College: Templeton has verbally committed to run for Furman University next fall

Season Results

Meet Place Time
Hardin Valley Invitational 1st 15:26.58
Wendy's Invitational 1st 14:54.00
KIL Championships 1st 15:25.79
Tennessee State Meet 1st 15:16.44
Foot Locker South 1st 14:36.00

2.  Grant Fisher (Grand Blanc, MI) - Midwest (US#11)

Fisher is perhaps the strongest junior in the country. Last spring, he had a break out track season as a sophomore where he blasted a time of 3:50.30 for the 1500m. This fall, he's undefeated.

Fisher won the Foot Locker Midwest Regional meet by 7-seconds and looks to contend for the win in San Diego. In an article earlier this year Fisher stated, "my coaches and I are aiming to peak around late November/December in time for Foot Locker", he has been focusing on this all year. Look for big things from Grant this weekend and in the future.

Flotrack's Take: Not quite our pick for runner-up, but he's a solid choice. I'm pretty up to date on my Michigan XC trivia and I know Fisher was this year's state champion. That has to count for something.

Season Results

Meet Place Time
Nike Holly Festival of Races 1st 15:30.00
Jackson Invitational 1st 15:35.90
Portage Invitational 1st 15:10.80
KLAA Lakes Conference 1st 15:37.10
MHSAA Regional 02 1st 15:54.29
MHSAA State Championship 1st 15:13.70
Foot Locker Midwest Regional 1st 15:02.00

3.  Matthew Maton (Bend, OR) - West (US#5)

Maton was the winner of the Foot Locker West Regional and is fairly unknown despite an impressive undefeated season so far. Last year as sophomore, Maton ran 3:54 for 1500m and has shown this year in cross country that he is one of the best in the country.

In his post-race interview he did not seem to have a "go after the win" mind set but I think he is talented enough to stick with the leaders and will be able to hang with them.  He has run consistently very fast this year and look for him to be up front.

Flotrack's Take: Maton is our other big favorite to take the win. Oddly enough, his win at Nike BorderClash isn't on his Milesplit or Dyestat profile, but we knew he took a huge win up in Portland, OR. It might be our hype for the upcoming Club Cross Country Championship speaking here, but we think there's something special in Bend, OR. Maton is solid and could take the win.

Season Results

Meet Place Time
Saxon Invite 1st 14:57.00
Nike Pre-Nationals 1st 15:57.99
Oxford Classic 1st 15:01.80
George Fox XC Classic 1st 14:32.70
Special District 1 State Q 1st 15:25.20
Oregon State Meet 1st 14:59.00
OR-WA BorderClash 1st 13:28
Foot Locker West 1st 15:38.90

4.  Mickey Burke (Henrietta, NY) - Northeast (US#19)

Burke has experienced a big year in his senior campaign and he has solidified himself as one of the best harriers in the Northeast. After losing the New York State Meet, he bounced back with an impressive showing on a tough Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx at Foot Locker Northeast. I hope to see Burke do well as I am a fellow NY runner (I remember racing his older brother in high school). He seems primed for a big race this weekend.

College: Burke has verbally committed to run for Syracuse University next fall

Flotrack's Take: As another proud New Yorker, I know that Burke broke the course record at McQuaid. That's pretty impressive. What's also impressive is that even though that record run was back in late September, Burke has maintained his form all the way through December. His big run at VCP means he's ready for San Diego.

Season Results

Meet Place Time
McQuaid Invitational 1st 14:25.00 *3 Mile
Rebook Manhattan Invite 3rd 12:23.80 *4k
Section 5 Championships 1st 15:45.10 
NYS Championships 3rd 15:07.30
Foot Locker Northeast 1st 15:18.80

5.  Patrick Perrier (O'Fallon, IL) - Midwest

Perrier has not had the season that he was hoping for as he has been dealing with some tendinitis issues. Still, he is one of the few returners and has some impressive credentials.

Perrier finished 19th at Foot Locker Nationals last year and has some very impressive track times. He's run 9:03 (3200m) and 4:12 (1 Mile) and he comes in wanting to prove himself. 

Based on his interviews, he seems fired up and ready to compete for a top spot at nationals.  I am leery knowing that he has had some injury problems but I think he will be tough and grab a top spot this weekend.

Flotrack's Take: A bold pick for fifth. Based on his tough fall, we think that a top 15, maybe top 10 finish would be a good day for Perrier. Also, did he DNF from NXN Midwest? He's not listed in the results but this interview with Milesplit implies some sort of disappointing result.

College: Perrier has verbally committed to run for Stanford University next fall

Season Results

Meet Place Time
Forest Park XC Festival 1st 15:03.00
Richard Springs Invitational 1st 14:24.00 *3 Mile
Southwestern Conference 1st 14:45.43  *3 Mile
3A Sectional 1st 15:11.92
IHSA State Championships 1st 14:21.00 *3 Mile
Foot Locker Midwest 6th 15:15.00

6.  John Dressel (Mead, WA) - West

Dressel is one of the top returners as last year he finished 14th as a sophomore. He is one of the countires strongest young runners and could be a 3-time footlocker qualifer next year.  He has experience in San Diego and has been running consistently well all year. Look for him to grab the second All-American certificate this weekend.

Flotrack's Take: Man, Washington is good at cross country. Dressel will be fighting for a spot in the top five, but there's a reason we'd like him to have an incredible day. Why? Read his hobbies section on his Foot Locker profile. Dressel obviously spends his time wisely and we'd like his support to pay dividends.

Season Results

Meet Place Time
Tracy Walters Invitational 1st 15:00.00 *3 Mile
Bob Firman Invitational 1st 15:19.76
Richland Invitational 1st 14:49.56 *3 Mile
Greater Spokane League 1st 14:47.00 *3 Mile
3A/4A District 1st 15:41.00
WIAA State Championship 3rd 15:05.36
Foot Locker West 2nd 15:41.20

7.  Christian Alvarado (Fairfield, CT) - Northeast (US#20)

Alvarado is a strong senior out of Connecticut who placed 2nd at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional at Van Cortlandt Park. Although he does not boast the best track credentials of the Foot Locker qualifiers, he certainly has had a great senior year of cross country and has put his name on the board as a threat to other runners. Look for him to be in the mix with a mile to go as he will need to get out harder without having dangerous speed. He was 39th at Footlocker Nationals last year.

Flotrack's Take: Top 10 would be a good day for Alvarado. He's run 4:11.94 for the mile and 9:07.00 for 3200m, which is pretty darn good. They've changed the layout so many times at VCP that I'm not sure where or if that time is good for the record books. Still, it's fast.

Season Results

Meet Place Time
23rd Annual Woods Trail Run 1st 16:04.00
Wickham Park Invitational 1st 15:38.00
Southern Connecticut Conference 1st 15:16.00
CIAC Divisional Championship 1st 15:55.00
CIAC Open Championships 1st 15:31.00
New England XC Championship 4th 15:16.90
Jesuit Championships 1st 12:33.23 *4k
Foot Locker Northeast 2nd 15:21.50

8.  Connor Mantz (Smithfield, UT) - West

Mantz was the top sophomore and 2nd best returner behind Templeton at Foot Locker last year when he garnered an All-American status with his 12th place finish. After losing a couple of early season meets to in-state rival Kramer Morton, Mantz bounced back with a win at the Utah State Championship and a 2nd place finish at NXN Southwest (he not compete at NXN).  He is young but has the San Diego experience under his belt, so he should be ready to roll.

Flotrack's Take: Guys from Utah are tough to judge because their state meet is so early. He ran well at Bob Firman back in late September (finished right behind Dressel and Elijah Armstrong), so it's just a matter if he can rediscover that form in mid-December.

Season Results

Meet Place Time
Highland XC Invite 2nd 14:49.00 *3 Mile
Murray Invitational 2nd 15:20.10 *3 Mile
Bob Firman Invitational 5th 15:24.6
Utah Region 5 XC Championships 1st 14:32.50
Utah State XC Championships 1st 15:11.50 *3 Mile
NXN Southwest 2nd 15:22.70
Foot Locker West 4th 15:42.60

9.  Louis Colson (Alexandria, VA) - South (US#21)

Although he got 4th at the Foot Locker South Regional, the Harvard commit has had a very good season.  He has been consistent and is fit to run for a top 10 spot at nationals. Colson saw significant improvement on the track as a junior when his 3200m PR dropped from the 9:20s to 9:06.

He has run on some tough courses like at the Oatlands Invitational and has also gotten on some very fast courses like McAlpine for the regional meet.  Look out for a good performance from Colson.

College: Colson has verbally committed to run for Harvard University next fall

Flotrack's Take: He had a big run out at Great American, but a top 20 finish is more realistic for Colson than top 10.

Season Results

Meet Place Time
Monroe Parker Invitational 1st 14:43.00 *3 Mile
Oatlands Invitational 1st 15:16.00
Great American XC Festival 4th 15:00.90
Milesplit.com XC Invite 1st 15:21.00
VSHL Group 5A Conference 1st 14:42.00
VSHL Group 5A Regional 1st 15:30.00
VSHL State Championships 1st 15:06.00
Foot Locker South 4th 14:50.00

10.  Elijah Armstrong (Pocatello, ID) - West

Armstrong is one of the 6 juniors who qualified out of the West Regional. He also ran the NXN Northwest Regional, where he finished 2nd and beat the NXN champion Kai Wilmot.  I did not see Armstrong in the results for NXN so he must have sat out and just focused on qualifying for Foot Locker. He was 2nd at the Nike Pre-National race only behind Matthew Maton.  With him skipping out of NXN, he must be very focused on this weekend.

Flotrack's Take: 10th would not be a good day for Armstrong. He's run well all season and as stated above, he's taken down some big names too. He's a ran someone at the Flotrack HQ threw out for the win, so it's safe to say that a top 5 finish should be in the cards for him.

Season Results

Meet Place Time
Tiger Grizz Invitational 1st 15:47.80
Cardinal Classic 1st 15:53.02
Nike Pre-Nationals 2nd 16:04.25
Idaho State XC Championship 1st 15:41.08
NXN Northwest 2nd 15:24.10
Foot Locker West 3rd 15:41.60

11.  Joe Hardy (Seattle, WA) - West (US#6)

Hardy really has had a great year and has been ranked as high as US#2 in the Saucony Elite 50. I think he has the potential to place much higher than this, but I was just hesitatent after he finished 10th at the regional meet. In the last 5 years only 1 person (Ryan Pickering, 2010) who finished 10th at the regional meet went on to finish in the top 10 at the national meet. But he is still one of the top runners in the country and has a legitimate shot at placing in the top 10.

Flotrack's Take: We were all about Hardy earlier this season, but his form has taken a slight dip. Though he finished 10th at FL West (he said that he just treated it as a qualifier), it's hard to count out such a big-time performer.

Season Results

Meet Place Time
Sundodger Invitational 1st 14:47.20
40th Stanford XC Invitational 2nd 14:58.00
Richland Invitational 1st 14:47.66 *3 Mile
3A Metro League Championship 1st 14:56.87
WIAA State Championships 2nd 14:45.16
Foot Locker West 10th 15:53.30

12.  Addison DeHaven (Brookings, SD) - Midwest (US#13)

DeHaven is tackling the tough NXN / Footlocker double this weekend. D
espite finishing 17th at NXN, he has run consistently well for the majority of the season. I am assuming Addison was not thrilled with a 17th place finish and will want to get after a Foot Locker title this weekend. He has the talent and the speed (9:00/4:14 track runner) to compete up front. Look for him to bounce back.

College: DeHaven has verbally committed to run for the University of Wisconsin next fall.

Flotrack's Take: He's a tough South Dakotan and will want to end his season on a high note.
 In case you missed it, we previewed DeHaven in our NXN Individual Preview last week. 

Season Results

Meet Place Time
Faribault Invitational 1st 15:46.00
Roy Griak Invitational 3rd 15:33.80
ESD XC Championships 1st 16:03.90
South Dakota State Championship 1st 15:34.30
NXN Heartland 1st 15:08.90
Foot Locker Midwest 2nd 15:09.00
NXN Nationals  17th 15:24.00
13.  Kramer Morton (Sandy, UT) - West

Morton is a returner who just missed All-American last year placing 16th at Foot Locker Nationals. He came into the season very sharp and beat Connor Mantz head-to-head early in the season.

But I hope he did not peak too early as he has struggled to find his winning ways since the Utah State meet, where he finished a distant 6th. He missed out on qualifying for NXN nationals but then bounced back to qualify for Foot Locker once again.

In the early season he said his goas was to, "make it into the top 4 at Foot Locker Nationals and possibly win." I'm not sure he can do that but he certainly has confidence and drive to compete at that level, which is why I think he will grab his All-Americna spot this time around.

Flotrack's Take: Another big pre-season favorite who's taken a late season dip in form. After his run at the Nebo Invitational, we thought he'd potentially be up near the front at FL Finals. Now (and despite those aforementioned goals), we think he'll be in the top 20.

Season Results

Meet Place Time
Highland XC Invite 1st 14:48.90 *3 Mile
Murray Invitational 1st 15:18.10 *3 Mile
Nebo XC Invitational 2nd 14:45.70 *3 Mile
Park City XC Invitational 1st 15:05.90 *3 Mile
Utah Region 3 XC Championship 1st 15:12.56 *3 Mile
Utah State XC Championships 6th 15:42.00 *3 Mile
NXN Southwest 9th 15:41.60
Foot Locker West 7th 15:44.80

14.  Ben Huffman (Charlotte, NC) - South

Huffman's biggest win of the season came at the Great American XC Festival where he just outkicked the Brentwood's (TN) top 2 harriers along with Louis Colson. He has been very much under the radar, but look for him to sneak into the All-American ranks this weekend.  Consistency has played a big role in his success and it looks like he is peaking at the right time.

Flotrack's Take: I wouldn't really call those two performances "under the radar." Much like last year, we're leaning that the South can produce some serious national contenders. Didn't they win the "team race" last fall? In any case, Huffman will be fighting it out for a top 10 spot.

Season Results

Meet Place Time
CISAA/GCMSSA Conference 1st 15:48.00
SCSDB Eye Opener 3rd 15:38.27
Greensboro Invitational 1st 15:13.95
Great American XC Festival 1st 14:59.40
CISAA Championship 1st 15:21.00
North Carolina State Championship 1st 15:24.39
Foot Locker South 2nd 14:44.00

15.  Alexander Ostberg (Darien, CT) - Northeast

Although Ostberg only picked up 1 victory this season, he has had tough competition in Connecticut. The senior battled Trevor Hooper (UVA commit) and Christian Alvarado much of the season and has run consistently well despite his one win. But most impressive was his finish at Foot Locker Northeast, where he ran an impressive 15:22 at Van Cortlandt Park and 
only finished behind Alvarado and Mickey Burke. To put the times into perspective, Edward Cheserek ran 15:21 to win last year on the same course and 15:20 the year before.

Flotrack's Take: We actually think Ostberg is underrated here. An All-American finish would be nice, but a top 10 finish would be even nicer.

Season Results

Meet Place Time
Manchester Invitational 2nd 15:40.00
Wickham Park Invitational 2nd 15:41.00
FCIAC Championships 2nd 15:18.00
CIAC Divsional Championship 1st 15:34.00
CIAC Open Championships 3rd 15:38.00
New England XC Championship 2nd 15:11.00
Foot Locker Northeast 3rd 15:22.50

Click here to see the full Footlocker entries for this weekend.

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