Boys' Foot Locker Title Is Up For Grabs In Wide-Open Field

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By Bryan Deibel for MileSplit

Foot Locker Nationals is set to kick off Saturday at 9:15 AM with the girls race and 10 AM for the boys. 

We break down everything you need to know to watch the top athletes from each region around the country come together to chase after the national title.  

Top Contenders From The Northeast Region

Dalton Hengst, Sr. (MD) 

Having visited Hengst earlier this season, I know his year hasn't gone quite as planned. He had some very strong races at Great American and Paul Short early in the season, but fell short of the top spot at Manhattan and Foot Locker Northeast. After watching his training and talking with his coach, there is no doubt they've been preparing for this weekend. Winning a national title is one of their biggest goals. He also reiterated in his post-Foot Locker Northeast interview that he was satisfied with fourth place since "the big one's in two weeks." 

If Hengst peaks this weekend as planned, watch for him to be in the top three to five at Balbo Park. He's been doing some high caliber college-level workouts this season. Not to mention he's one of the top -- third-fastest -- returners from last year after finishing 21st at this meet.

Nathan Lawler, Sr. (NY)

Nathan Lawler is a bit of a sleeper pick. The Pittsford-Mendon senior has run a few strong races, including the Manhattan Invitational where he finished third in the Easter state race behind fellow New Yorker Mason Gatewood and Mount Tabor North Carolina's Cameron Ponder. Lawler was the NYSPHSAA - New York state championships Class B state champion, as well as the Foot Locker Northeast Regional fifth-place finisher. Last year Lawler chose to run Nike Cross Nationals where he finished 40th. He did say after this year's Northeast qualifying race that he wasn't feeling 100 percent; it will be interesting to see how the past two weeks have helped him prepare.  

Tristan Shelgren, Sr. (MA)

Tristan Shelgren was the Foot Locker Northeast Champion. The St. John's Prep senior had two other major wins this season, the Ocean State XC Invitational and the MIAA Eastern State Championships. At Manhattan, he was third in the Boys Varsity D race.

Shelgren had an excellent race and final kick to beat some of the top Northeast runners. He said in his post-race interview that his goal was only to qualify, until he heard someone tell him he was eighth; then he decided that was too close to call so he kicked it into gear to take the Northeast win. As the Northeast champion, look for him to be in the mix as one of the top contenders this weekend.

Full List Of Qualifiers

PLACE
TIME
NAME
GRADE
CITY/STATE
1
15:32

Tristan Shelgren

SR
Boxford, MA
2
15:37

Damien Dilcher

SR
Brick, NJ
3
15:37

Lucas Aramburu

JR
Brookline, MA
4
15:39

Dalton Hengst

SR

Owings Mills, MD

5
15:40

Nathan Lawler

SR
Pittsford, NY
6
15:42

Devin Hart

JR

Point Pleasant, NJ

7
15:42

Drew Thompson

SR
Trumbull, CT
8
15:51

Rusty Kujdych

SR

Feasterville Trevose, PA

9
15:52

Fahd Nasser

SR
Jersey City, NJ
10
15:54

Mason Gatewood

SR
Garden City, NY


Top Contenders From The South Region

John Tatter, Sr. (NC)

John Tatter is one of the top runners from the state of North Carolina this year. He burst on to the scene after a big race at the adidas XC Challenge, where he ran 15:00.70 for a 192 speed rating. He's had big wins at the NCHSAA state championship and the Foot Locker South Regional. After his regional win, he said he was super nervous about the race but executed his race strategy exactly how he wanted. 

Graydon Morris, So. (TX)

Graydon Morris was a surprise last year when he made it from the South region as a freshman. He was one of the only freshmen to ever qualify, joining the company of Hoka professional athlete Futsum Zienasellassie. Last year at the meet, Morris finished toward the back of the pack in 34th place. I think this year with a year of training under his belt and experience at the national level, he will be a strong pick to be a top-10 finisher and top South region representative.

Full List of Qualifiers

PLACE
TIME
NAME
GRADE
CITY/STATE
1
14:55.
John Tatter
12

Winston-Salem, NC

2
14:59.
Michael Phillips
12
Tallahassee, FL
3
15:05.
Graydon Morris
10
Aledo, TX
4
15:06.
Robert Carter Cheeseman
11
Keller, TX
5
15:06.
Carter Coughlin
12
Knoxville, TN
6
15:06.
Titus Winders
12
Mansfield, TN
7
15:06.
Kyle Harkabus
10
Senoia, GA
8
15:10.
Jake Renfree
11
Knoxville, TN
9
15:10.
David Melville
12
Summerfield, NC
10
15:11.
Camren Fischer
11
Fayetteville, AR

Top Contenders From The Midwest Region

Daniel Kilrea, Sr. (IL)

Danny Kilrea ran from the front just last weekend at Nike Cross Nationals. He got out hard in the first mile which ultimately led to him finishing fifth overall. That race was the University of Notre Dame signee's worst finish all year, since he'd finished first or second in every other race. He had some huge wins this season including the First to the Finish Invitational, IHSA cross country state championship, and the Foot Locker Midwest Regional. If he isn't gassed from so many back-to-back high-caliber races, then watch for him to definitely be in contention for the title this weekend; we should see how he's feeling within the first mile as he generally likes to go out hard. 

Zach Kreft, Sr. (OH)

Zach Kreft just missed qualifying for Nike Cross Nationals last weekend, which might end up being a good thing for the Buckeye Valley senior. He, unlike some of his fellow Foot Locker Midwest qualifiers, should be well-rested and ready to run fast this weekend. He had a huge race to finish second at the Foot Locker Midwest Regional. He holds the fastest time in the nation for the 5K this year having run 14:29.95 at the 2017 Midwest Meet of Champions.

Clayton Mendez, Sr. (IL)

Clayton Mendez, like Daniel Kilrea, has been tearing up the postseason. He was fifth at NXN Midwest, third at Foot Locker Midwest, and most recently 18th at Nike Cross Nationals. Before all of that, he was the runner-up at the Illinois state meet behind Kilrea. He said in his post-Foot Locker Midwest interview that a lot of his postseason racing has been to follow his fellow Illinois athletes who have more experience on the national and qualifying courses. That strategy has seemed to bode well for Mendez so far; if he can continue the path he's been on, watch for him to be a top-10 finisher.  

Dylan Jacobs, Sr. (IL)

Dylan Jacobs is this year's top returner after Flower Mound's Alex Maier didn't race his region meet. He, like many of the other top Midwest qualifiers, has been racing a lot this postseason including fourth at Nike Cross Nationals Midwest Regional, fifth at Foot Locker Midwest Regional, and 13th at Nike Cross Nationals. If he can pull through another solid race, he is another guy to definitely look for in the top five. Last year he took the race out hard following Seth Hirsch of Wisconsin. With a year of experience under his belt at the national level, Jacobs will most likely have a different game plan to put him in contention for the win. 

Full List of Qualifiers

PLACE
TIME
NAME
GRADE
CITY/STATE
1
14:53.3
Daniel Kilrea
12

LA GRANGE PARK IL

2
15:05.4
Zach Kreft
12
SUNBURY OH
3
15:07.0
Clayton Mendez
12
CHICAGO IL
4
15:07.2
Matt Scrape
12

PICKERINGTON OH

5
15:07.5
Dylan Jacobs
12

ORLAND PARK IL

6
15:08.4
Chad Johnson (Colonel Crawford)
12
GALION OH
7
15:08.6
Harrison Scudamore
12
DENVER CO
8
15:08.8
Matthew Schadler
12
CHANDLER IN
9
15:09.5
Shuaib Aljabaly
12
COLDWATER MI
10
15:10.4
Drew Bosley
11

THIENSVILLE WI


Top Contenders From The West Region

Joaquin Martinez De Pinillos, Sr. (CA)

A San Diego native, Joaquin Martinez De Pinillos is no stranger to Balbo Park,. De Pinllos has run a similar course several times including this year at the CIF San Diego Section Finals which he won running 15:03.50 for 3 miles. There are a few differences between the CIF course and the Foot Locker Course. The CIF course is shorter and only hits St. Hill once, but knowing the course should be an advantage for De Pinillos.

After his CIF San Diego Section win, he then went on to finish second at the CIF Division 3 state meet behind now Nike Cross Nationals third-place finisher Liam Anderson from Redwood High School. De Pinillos' time from the CIF State meet was the fourth-fastest time of the day. If De Pinillos is firing on all cylinders, he should be in the mix for a top-five spot despite taking third in the West region. 

Meika Beaudoin Rousseau, Sr. (CA)

Meika Beaudoin Rosseau from Bellarmine College Prep High School is another strong California runner. He is the only West region qualifier who was at the national meet last year. Some of his big races this year include winning the Mt SAC D1&2 Boys Team Sweeps race in 14:33.00, winning the CIF Central Coast Section, and placing fifth in the Division 1 boys CIF state cross country championships. With experience on the course, he should be in the mix for a top-10 finish. 

Kashon Harrison, Jr. (NM)

Kashon Harrison was a surprise to some after finishing as the No. 1 runner in the West region, but he's had some big races in 2017. The junior was the Desert Twilight XC Festival champion and New Mexico state champion. He just missed qualifying for NXN as he finished eighth in the competitive Southwest region. If Foot Locker plays out anything like NXN did for that region of the country, then Harrison will definitely be one of the top guys in contention for the title.

Read more about Harrison here.

Full List of Qualifiers

PLACE
TIME
NAME
GRADE
CITY/STATE
1
15:38.4
Kashon Harrison
11

Kirtland Central High School (NM)

2
15:41.1
Meika Beaudoin Rousseau
12

SUNNYVALE CA

3
15:43.4
Joaquin De Martinez
12
SAN DIEGO CA
4
15:44.7
Zach Winter
12
FARR WEST UT
5
15:45.1
Roberto Porras
12
DRAPER UT
6
15:45.4
Collin Ullrich
12
GALT CA
7
15:45.7
Bronson Winter
12
FARR WEST UT
8
15:49.5
Turlan Morlan
12
SPOKANE WA
9
15:51.3
Darius Riley
12

RANCHO CUCAMONGA

10
15:54.0
Justin Hartshorn
12
ALPINE UT


Top All-Time Marks 

Full List (Top 500)

RANK
TIME
ATHLETE/TEAM
GRADE

MEET DATEPLACE

1
14:29.83
DATHAN RITZENHEIN
MI Rockford

2001

Foot Locker Nationals1st
Dec 11, 1999

2
14:33.85
DONALD SAGE
CA York High School

2000

Foot Locker Nationals2nd
Dec 11, 1999

3
14:34.28
IAN DOBSON
OR Klamath Union

2001

Foot Locker Nationals3rd
Dec 11, 1999

4
14:35.70
ERIC REYNOLDS
CA Camarillo High School (SS)

1983

Kinney Cross Country Championships1st
Dec 16, 1982

5
14:36.24
JOSH ROHATINSKY
UT Provo

2000

Foot Locker Nationals4th
Dec 11, 1999

6
14:36.80
REUBEN REINA
TX San Antonio Jay

1986

Kinney Cross Country Championships1st
Dec 14, 1985

7
14:38.10
MARC DAVIS
AZ San Diego High School (SD)

1987

Kinney Cross Country Championships1st
Dec 13, 1986

8
14:40.50
CHRIS SOLINSKY
WI Stevens Point

2003

Foot Locker Nationals1st
Dec 14, 2002

9
14:41.30
MARK MASTALIR
CA Jesuit (SJ)

1986

Kinney Cross Country Championships2nd
Dec 14, 1985

10
14:41.70
ADAM GOUCHER
CO Doherty High School

1994

Foot Locker Cross Country Championships1st
Dec 11, 1993


Top All-Time Marks San Diego 

Full List (Top 500)

RANK
TIME
ATHLETE/TEAM
GRADE

MEET DATEPLACE

1
14:36.80
REUBEN REINA
TX San Antonio Jay

1986

Kinney Cross Country Championships1st
Dec 14, 1985

2
14:38.10
MARC DAVIS
AZ San Diego High School (SD)

1987

Kinney Cross Country Championships1st
Dec 13, 1986

3
14:40.50
CHRIS SOLINSKY
WI Stevens Point

2003

Foot Locker Nationals1st
Dec 14, 2002

4
14:41.30
MARK MASTALIR
CA Jesuit (SJ)

1986

Kinney Cross Country Championships2nd
Dec 14, 1985

5
14:41.70
ADAM GOUCHER
CO Doherty High School

1994

Foot Locker Cross Country Championships1st
Dec 11, 1993

6
14:49.80
TODD WILLIAMS
DC Monroe Middle School

1987

Kinney Cross Country Championships2nd
Dec 13, 1986

7
14:49.90
BRYAN DAMEWORTH
WI Agoura High School (SS)

1987

Kinney Cross Country Championships1st
Dec 9, 1989

8
14:50.00
MIKE FOUT
FL LaPorte High School

2008

Foot Locker Nationals1st
Dec 8, 2007

8
14:50.00
SCOTT FRY
WI Sandusky

1985

Kinney Cross Country Championships1st
Dec 8, 1984

10
14:50.90
MARK DANI
WI Valhalla High (SD)

1986

Kinney Cross Country Championships3rd
Dec 14, 1985


Staff Predictions

PLACE

CORY

BRYAN

TRENT

TRAVIS

Winner
Danny Kilrea
Danny Kilrea
Zach Kreft
Tristan Shelgren
Runner-Up
Zach Kreft
Dalton Hengst
John Tatter
Danny Kilrea
No. 3
Clayton Mendez
Joaquin Martinez De Pinillos
Clayton Mendez
Zach Kreft
No. 4
John Tatter
Dylan Jacobs
Danny Kilrea
Drew Bosley
No. 5
Kashon Harrison
Zach Kreft

Joaquin Martinez De Pinillos


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