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Great American Preview-list of top tanked teams


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  • Great American Preview-list of top tanked teams

    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 stadium.

    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 A.M.

    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 hopefuls.

    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.

    Check and for instant results, pictures(Mike Leary), stories and interviews

    Top Ranked( Preseason) 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(Preseason) 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