Harrison Scudamore missed an NXN individual berth by one place. Can he make a national qualifier happen in Wisconsin?
At 11:25 AM CST on Saturday, a few hundred boys set out on a journey of 5000 meters through a small patch of Wisconsin woods adjacent to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside campus. The ten who make the fastest trip through the woods get to do it all over again in an urban park in San Diego.
There are two returning qualifiers from last year's Foot Locker national championship meet in Saturday's FLMW field. Those two are returning regional champion Dylan Jacobs of Illinois and 3rd-place finisher Gabe Fendel of Indiana.
After that pair, the field looks wide open for 2017. The next highest finisher back from last year's meet is 14th-place Chad Johnson of Ohio. While Johnson figures among those vying for a Foot Locker Nationals berth, it's far from a lock for him.
Colorado's top returning runner is Harrison Scudamore of Denver East. Scudamore ran 15:41 and finished 28th at last year's meet.
Among the top entries in this year's field who don't bring with them returner status are Charlie Perry and Danny Kilrea of Illinois (and he just may figure as the overall favorite for the race), Cole Hocker of Indiana, Matthew Carmody of Iowa, Jack Thomas of Kansas, Shuaib Aljabaly and Nick Foster of Michigan, Nicholas Scheller of Minnesota, Victor Mugeche of Missouri, Zach Kreft and Matt Scape of Ohio, Derick Peters of South Dakota, and Drew Bosley of Wisconsin.
One cool thing about a race like this is that a whole lot of the runners, including those up front, have little or no familiarity with those they'll be bumping shoulders with. As a result, much of the first couple miles tends to become a contest of measuring and testing the competition.
At this writing, there is still some question lingering over whether Charlie Perry will be running on Saturday or focusing all his energy on NXN. If Perry doesn't run, Scudamore immediately becomes Colorado's top hope for a national qualifier. As it is, Scudamore and Perry are close, though Perry has prevailed recently at both State and Nike Cross Southwest.
The rest of the Colorado field is solid and should keep Colorado in the hunt for a top-five finish in the state scoring. Illinois and Michigan bring the deepest fields and are likely to dominate the state scoring.
Aside from Perry and Scudamore, those running in Wisconsin who were medalists at the Colorado state meet include Tyler Scholl of SkyView Academy, Colton Stice of Gunnison, David Fine of Elizabeth, Brock Dykema and James Lee of Silver Creek, and William Dixon of Monarch. With a monster effort on Saturday, several of these guys could present an outside threat to slip into the top ten who qualify for nationals. If there's a small advantage to be found in having had last weekend off, that advantage belongs to Fine.
The course should be relatively fast this year with no mud or ice. Wind could be a minor factor. Taking all that into account, along with the hilly nature of the course, it probably takes at least a 15:20, and very possibly as fast as a 15:10 to qualify for nationals.