Oregon signees have now won six of the last eight Foot Locker Nationals, with Brown and Drew Hunter winning the last two years and Lukas Verzbicas and Edward Cheserek winning from 2009-2012.
Brown's unofficial time was 15:02, three seconds ahead of Wisconsin's Gessner and Nebraska's Hirsch.
It was a somewhat surprising win for Brown, who lost to Luis Grivalja at Woodbridge, Sam Worley and Alex Maier at the Texas state meet, Worley at NXN South, Worley, Connor Lane, Alex Maier, Daniel Viegra, and Waleed Suliman at Foot Locker South, and Worley, Hirsch, and Maier at NXN just last week.
|FL Place||Beat Reed Brown in 2016 XC|
The South boys won with 38 points, ahead of the Midwest (42), the West (50), and the Northeast (102). Two straight individual wins and a team sweep for the South signals a bit of a changing of the guard. The South boys has never had consecutive individual champions, and Brown is the first Texas boy to win Foot Locker since Reuben Reina set the still-standing 14:36 course record in 1985.
He did it with a perfectly timed race. Hirsch, Gessner, and Dylan Jacobs of Illinois--all three wearing the yellow of the Midwest--pushed the pace early, with Hirsch and Jacobs leading through the mile in 4:46. But Brown and Tibebu Proctor and Washington joined the pack by halfway, and those five settled in a bit, hitting two miles in 9:44.
Hirsch and Gessner knew they had to grind. Gessner's 1600m PR is 4:16; Hirsch's mile PR is 4:21; Brown's mile PR is 4:04. And the two Midwesterners had a slight gap on Brown heading into the final half mile, but Brown caught them on the final downhill (a little over 800m to go), passed them right after, and used his speed for an easy win in the last 150 meters. Gessner and Hirsch ran 15:05, two and a half seconds ahead of fourth-place Talon Hull of Utah. (Hull also had a Brown-like clutch run, going from third at his state meet to fourth at nationals.)
Proctor and Jacobs paid a slight price for going for it early, finishing seventh and 11th. Pre-race favorites Noah Affolder and Sam Worley were never a factor, though they finished a solid sixth and ninth, respectively.
Watch Brown do 12x400m earlier this season: