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Great American Cross Country Festival Release


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  • Great American Cross Country Festival Release

    The Great American Cross Country Festival to Feature Nationally Ranked
    College and High School Teams
    By Ricky Quintana

    SAS Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. will be the site of some outstanding
    competition on Friday and Saturday, September 26th and 27th, as 400+ teams
    and over 4,000 runners from 29 states compete in the 5th annual Great
    American Cross Country Festival. The two-day event, now under the auspices
    of the National Scholastic Sports Foundation, will feature 37 nationally
    ranked teams in 30 races. College races begin the competition on Friday at
    2:15 P.M. High school races will begin early Saturday morning at 7:30 A.M.
    and continue throughout the day.

    The Great American Cross Country Festival will move for the third time in
    its history to a new permanent home, SAS Soccer Park. The newly designed
    course will begin inside the multimillion dollar 7,000 seat soccer stadium
    that served as the home of the WUSA‚s Carolina Courage. After a spectacular
    introduction featuring a drum line, balloons and much fanfare, runners will
    make their way through the SAS Soccer Park grounds before finishing in the

    The third addition of college races will kick off action Friday, September
    26th, at 2:15 P.M. There will be eight college races in all with the
    featured race being the NIKE Race of Champions, set to go off at 4:15 P.M.
    for the women and 4:40 P.M. for the men.

    The women‚s race should be a real battle as 10 nationally ranked teams toe
    the starting line. Last year‚s Great American winner, Brigham Young
    University, returns to defend its title. The Cougars captured the 2002 NCAA
    Championship last year and entered this season ranked #1. This will be their
    first true test of the season.

    Individually, 2002 NCAA Cross Country Champion, Shalene Flanagan of the
    University of North Carolina returns to defend her title. Flanagan will
    begin her junior season with an eye on a second national cross country title
    and a berth in next summer‚s Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. She earned
    favorite status this past June in Palo Alto, CA after placing second in the
    5,000 meter run at USATF Championships.

    The men‚s NIKE Race of Champions will be an equally tough field as eight
    nationally ranked teams vie for the title. Last year‚s defending Great
    American champ and this year‚s #5 preseason ranked team, Northern Arizona
    will be the favorite. The Lumberjacks will be challenged by #7 Michigan and
    #8 Central Michigan. Defending individual champ, Northern Arizona‚s Henrik
    Ahnstrom, also returns to defend his title.

    High schoolers will rise at dawn to make it to the start of the races, which
    begin at 7:30 A.M. Saturday morning, September 27th. The highlight again
    will be the NIKE Race of Champions. There will be a reversal of order as the
    boys will start first at 9:00 A.M. and are followed by the girls at 9:25

    The boys NIKE Race of Champions is aptly named as 13 state championship
    titles are shared among the teams entered. Thirteen of those teams are
    nationally ranked; arguably, the best field ever assembled for high school
    cross country race. Preseason #1 ranked The Woodlands (Conroe, TX) is
    favored to win the title. Last year, they were runaway winners before their
    top two runners were disqualified for making a wrong turn.

    Individually, 2002 Footlocker National Cross Country finalist Galen Rupp
    (Central Catholic, Portland, OR), Ian Gottesfeld (Henderson, Westchester,
    PA) and Brian Sullivan (The Woodlands, Conroe, TX) will face an early season
    test to decide the winner. Also entered in the race will be the national
    sophomore mile record holder, Jeff See of Middletown, OH. See broke Alan
    Webb‚s four year old record last June at the Adidas Outdoor Championships in
    Raleigh, N.C.

    On the girl‚s side, three time Great American Race Champion titleist and #2
    preseason ranked, Saratoga Springs (NY) will seek an unprecedented fourth
    consecutive title against seven other nationally ranked teams which share
    ten state championships amongst them.

    Saratoga Springs‚ Nicole Blood is the favorite after winning the Great
    American title last year, but will face stiff challenges from Footlocker
    finalists Laura Cummings (Bay Shore, NY), Heidi Magill (Mt. View, UT), and
    Maddie Schueler (Sacred Heart Academy, Louisville, KY).

    The Race of Champions is not the only high school cross country race loaded
    with talent. The Seeded Invitational races will include some of the premier
    high school milers in the country. #1 ranked returning miler Erik Stanley
    (Klein, TX), #3 Victor Gras (Belmont, MA), #6 Ryan Deak (Smoky Hill, CO), #
    8 Gavin Coombs (Griswold, CT), #14 Chris Spooner (Lewisburg, PA) and #25
    Jake Morse (Arlington, TX) will race for the title on the boys side. The
    girls Seeded Invitational race will be equally exciting as the fastest
    returning miler in the country, Sarah Bowman (Fauqier, Warrenton, VA) will
    compete against Footlocker finalist Katelyn Kaltenbach (Smoky Hill, CO),
    Kate Niehaus (Spring Valley, SC) and more than ten other Footlocker National

    The festivities will end late Saturday night as the high school runners will
    get a chance to eat, socialize and dance at the Regency Park in Cary, N.C.
    in the annual Harrier Ball.

    Top Ranked College Teams in the Collegiate Race of Champions

    Men (source: Mondo USTCA Coaches Poll)
    #5 Northern Arizona, #7 Michigan, #8 Central Michigan, #10 Villanova, #14
    North Carolina State, #15 William and Mary, #22 Butler, and #26 Ohio State.

    Women ( Source: Women‚s Cross Country Coaches Association)
    #1 Brigham Young, #9 Columbia, #10 Northern Arizona, #11 North Carolina, #14
    North Carolina State, #16 Duke, #20 Virginia, #25 William and Mary, and #28
    West Virginia.

    Top Ranked High School Teams in the NIKE Race Of Champions (ranking source:
    The Harrier)

    #1 The Woodlands (Conroe, TX), #3 Mt. View (Orem, UT), #6 Shenendehowa
    (Clifton Park, NY), # 8 Central Catholic (Portland, OR), #12 Kingwood (
    Kingwood, TX), #13 Denver West (Denver, CO), #14 Christian Brothers Academy
    (Lincroft, NJ), #16 Middletown (Middletown, OH), #19 The Webb School
    (Knoxville, TN), #20 Henderson ( West Chester, PA), #21 LaSalle (Cincinnati,
    OH), #22 Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville, FL)

    #2 Saratoga Springs (Saratoga Springs, NY), #7 Mountain View (Orem, UT), #14
    Cedar Park ( Cedar Park, TX), #18 Bay Shore ( Bay Shore, NY), #19 Kingwood
    (Kingwood, TX), #20 Spanish River (Boca Raton, FL), #21 Wyomissing
    (Wyomissing, PA), #22 Argyle (Argyle, NY)

    Complete team profiles can be found at:

    A complete profile of top rated individuals can be found at

    __________________________________________________ _______________
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  • #2
    Re: Great American Cross Country Festival Release

    I like the idea of this meet. Have a big high school meet, with some of the top teams from around the country, and then run a college race the evening before, so that all the HS kids have a chance to see what top-level collegiate cross is all about. Also provides schools with a chance to show off in front of the preps, much like at the Penn Relays.

    I wish more cross meets were like this. College meets need all the spectator help they can get.

    Whadday'all think? Any drawbacks?


    • #3
      Re: Great American Cross Country Festival Release

      Other than the "Geez, it takes all day" type of thing, I see no drawbacks at all. If a community makes an XC meet (or track, for that matter) a real annual happening on the level of NASCAR or PGA/LPGA, it can only help raise the consciousness of the sport.

      The Tiffin Cross Country Carnival in NW Ohio bills itself as the 4th largest meet in the nation, and it's a real community event. The local paper puts out a special section both before and after the meet. Malone College in NE Ohio puts on a combo HS/collegiate meet -- and since they're often among the best NAIA teams in the nation, it must offer a recruiting advantage. (The Malone meet is where I ran against Bob Kennedy, coming some 4 minutes in arrears!)


      • #4
        Re: Great American Cross Country Festival Release

        >(The Malone meet
        >is where I ran against Bob Kennedy, coming some
        >4 minutes in arrears!)

        What was the distance?