Foot Locker prelims hold little surprise

Photo by Leonard COUTIN CV’s Claudia Pham drove hard for a winning time of 19:39 at last weekend’s Foot Locker prelims held at Mt. SAC,

By Leonard COUTIN

The prelims for the Western Region Foot Locker National Cross Country meet were held at Mount San Antonio College last weekend. The top 10 runners of the seeded boys and girl races move on to compete in San Diego for the Foot Locker National Finals on Dec. 11.

Competitors came from the four corners of the Western region. In the boys, Billy Orman of Tuba City, Ariz. took first place (15:28), followed by Andrew Gardner of Spokane, Wash. (15:35) and Jantzen Oshler of Trabuco Canyon, Calif. (15:38).

The top three girls positions were taken by Julie Nacouzi of Santa Rosa, Calif. (18:09), second was Molly Grabill of Poway, Calif. (18:15) and capturing third was Maddle Meyers of Seattle, Wash. (18:18). Arcadia’s Catrina McAlister took seventh place (18:27), allowing her to compete in the finals.

A highlight of the meet was found in the Open Senior Girls race that included CV’s Claudia Pham and Anneke Kakebeen.

From the start of the race Pham asserted an energy that propelled her to the front of the pack. Having run this course several times, she quickly took command of the field. Working her way around the valley loop and switchbacks, Pham took the lead down the airstrip to poop out hill.

Taking advantage of reservoir hill, Pham continued to drive hard back to the airstrip for a final victory lap to the finish line (19:39).

This was an exciting day for senior Pham and a rewarding end to her high school cross-country career.

“Claudia ran a great race. It was an exciting finish to her cross country season,” said Coach Mark Evans.

Teammate Anneke took 11th with a time of 20:36. For the Boys Junior race, CV’s Mike Duncan ran 16th (17:29).

Also taking place last weekend was the Nike Cross Country National Championship held in Portland Meadows. The Nike Cross Nationals is part of the larger Nike Nationals championship series that was established in 2004 to help strengthen the national circuit for high school cross-country and track & field.

This was the seventh Nike Cross Country meet (NXN), bringing athletes from Northwest, Heartland, Midwest, Southwest, South, Southeast, Northeast and New York. Rather than being represented by schools, this meet requires club appearances only.The course conditions were wet, muddy and slick while the weather was extremely cold with gusty high winds. As expected, Arcadia boys were up for the challenge. Ammar Moussa, now representing the Arcadia XC Club, led his club and took fourth place (16:16.3) for his team.

At the end of the day it was no surprise that the Arcadia boys brought home the trophy for first place with a team score of 92 points – particularly noteworthy as this was the first time a Californian team has ever won.

A nice aside was the support shown Arcadia by the Newhall Club, which qualified for third place for the overall team score, and were on hand to yell their full support at the winner’s ceremony for the Arcadia boys.