This Saturday in frigid Wisconsin 10 boys and girls will look to qualify for the Foot Locker Cross Country Championship in San Diego. Missouri MileSplit's David Everett takes a look at the top contenders starting with the boys.
Lukas Verzbicas- MS#1 (SR, IL) – The returning Foot Locker Champion has kept his phenomenal high school career rolling. He was just seconds off of Craig Virgin’s record at the Illinois State Meet, but he set a record at Nike Midwest Regionals. He blazed the course in 14:53 to beat Chris Derrick’s course record and win by 12 seconds.
Futsum Zeinasellassie- MS#2 (JR, IN) – Many were anticipating a great duel between Verzbicas and Futsum last year, but with some last minute changes, he did not run. Zeinasellassie came in 7th at Foot Locker Nationals as a freshman, the highest place of any freshman guy at nationals. He won his state meet in 14:51 and he should be a front-runner on Saturday.
Jack Driggs MS#11 (SR, IL) – Driggs led his team to qualify for yet another Nike Cross National’s two weeks ago. He outkicked Zach Wills in the homestretch to finish second in a time of 15:05. He has finished second twice only behind Verzbicas.
Zach Wills MS#15 (SR, OH) – The future Oklahoma State Cowboy has established himself as a National threat. He finished 5th last year at Nike Cross Nationals. He won his state meet in 15:19 and then went on to finish 3rd at Regionals Behind Driggs and Verzbicas.
Chris Walden MS#25 (SR, IN) – Walden finished 11th last year at Footlocker Nationals. He has finished 4th at both his State Meet and NXN Midwest. However, he has finished just seconds behind Futsum on several occasions.
Tony Smoragiewicz MS#13 (JR, SD) – He joins Verzbicas as a Nike Regional Champion winning the Heartland Regional in a time of 15:16. He won his state meet by about 20 seconds as well.
Scott Albaugh (SR, MI) – The Michigan Division 1 State Champ won state just over the next contender (Austin Whitelaw). He should be a top ten threat on Saturday.
Austin Whitelaw (SR, MI) – Whitelaw clocked in just 2 seconds behind Albaugh at State. He went on and finished 1st at the Mid-East Cross Country Championship, ahead of some great competition, including Chris Walden.
William Kincaid (SR, CO) – Runners from Colorado always have an advantage coming down from altitude. He won his division at State in a time of 15:58. While this time may not seem fast, it is around what Danny Nichols ran last year at the State meet and he went on to finish 9th at Foot Locker Midwest.
Alex Standiford (SR, MI) – Standiford won state (Divison 2) and then finished 11th at NXN Midwest. He has defeated Scott Albaugh in season, so he should make a strong bid to be a Midwest finalist.
Devon Young (SR, MO) – Class 4 Runner up in Missouri, AAU Champion and 17-18 XC Coaches National Youth Champion.
Evan Landes (SR, KS) - Won his state championship in Kansas by a wide margin.
Michael Clevenger (JR, IL) – Won his division at State, 13th at NXN Midwest.
Trent Lusignan (SR, MN) – 7th at NXN Heatland
Daniel Everett (SR, MO) – 15th at NXN Midwest, Class 3 Champion in Missouri.
Lukas Gemar (SR, MN) – 10th at NXN Heatland
Dan Schubert (SR, WI) – Wisconsin Division 1 State Champion.