Great American Cross Country Festival Preview
Boys' Race of Champions
There are twenty-one teams from twelve states in this year's Race of Champions. Virtually all are ranked highly in their respective states and are led by three top-50 teams: defending champion Brookwood (Snellville, GA) is #19, with Trinity Prep (Winter Park, FL) at #25 and Columbus of Miami, FL at #45. Other highly ranked teams include Midlothian, VA (Southeast #2), Winston Churchill of Potomac MD (Southeast #7), Montgomery Bell of Nashville, TN (Southeast #8) and St. Xavier of Louisville, KY (Southeast #9). New York powers North Rockland (Thiells, NY #4) and Saratoga Springs (NY #5) should be in the mix, as should be regionally ranked Bishop Hendricken of Warwick, RI, third last year.
Two Raleigh, NC schools look to be competitive as well: Broughton (NC 4A #2), who won the prestigious Wolfpack Invitational on September 18, and Leesville Road (NC 4A #4).
The top ranked individual coming in is Armando del Valle of Columbus (Miami, FL). Also highly ranked are Mitch Mallory (Wakefield , Raleigh, NC), the 2009 NC 4A 3200m Champion, Cody Pelliccioni (Morgantown, WV), winner of last weekend's Outlands Invitational in Leesburg, VA and Graham Crawford (Williams, Burlington, NC) 8th at the Wolfpack Invitational.
Girls' Race of Champions
Perennial powerhouse Saratoga Springs, NY is back to defend its title. They have won this championship each of the four years it has been in Cary, scoring an incredible 26 points in 2004. They are again impressive, currently ranked #2 in the U.S. La Salle Academy of Providence, RI is ranked 15th in the U.S. and the top school (outside of New York) in the Northeast, will try to stay with Saratoga. Other highly ranked regional schools include Bishop Feehan of Attleboro, MA (Northeast #3), Midlothian, VA (Southeast #3, third last year), Hidden Valley of Roanoke, VA (Southeast #4) and North Shore of Glen Head, NY (New York #5).
The top individual is Aisling Cuffe of Cornwall, NY, arguably the best cross country runner in the nation. She is one of the favorites to win the Footlocker Nationals this year. The course record of 17:10 set by Wesley Frazier of Ravenscroft (Raleigh, NC) could well be in jeopardy. Also running will be Kayla Beattie (Woodstock, IL) running under 18:00 and winning the Peoria Woodruff Invitational in her home state two weeks ago. She was 8th indoors in the 2 mile at the 2010 Nike Indoor Nationals (10:43.17). Local Samantha George of Millbrook HS (Raleigh) should finish in the lead pack. She won the Greensboro Invitational last week and has a 10:36.57 two-mile to her credit (7th at the 2010 New Balance Nationals).
Other Races of Interest:
The Girls Invitational will showcase Kelsey Margey (Harborfields, Greenlawn, NY) and Grace Tinkey (First Presbyterian, Macon, GA). Margey, who only started running in January, has run 4:43 for a full mile and this is her first cross country season. She opened with at win at the challenging Sunken Meadow State Park (NY) two weeks ago. Tinkey has won each of her races over the past four weeks in convincing style, and is currently ranked as the 23rd best individual cross country runner in the nation according to Dyestat.