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Virginia has its day at national high school X-country finals--NXN in Oregon & footlocker in San Diego.

Fayetteville-Manlius Girls dominant again at NXN; Rainsberger wins Girls Title; Clinger the Boys Loudon County Starts Kelati and Hunter win National Crowns at Footlocker

NXN 2015 in Oregon: Ideal racing conditions are never the phrase uttered when it comes to cross country nationals at Nike's Premier team-focused National Cross Country Championship (NXN). It is routinely overcast with drizzle with a waterlogged course that brings out the toughest in XC racing. NXN moved to Glendoveer Golf course to many coaches and observers' applause in 2014, after several years of waterlogged and mud-filled sections of the course at Portland Meadows Race Track (course is inside the outer thoroughbred horse track). Footlocker on the other hand is set in San Diego (except for a 2 year run in Orlando) and almost always is raced on a sunny day with temperatures in the 60s. The Balboa Park course is known for a hill you hit twice and a dust cloud that can get kicked up by the field of 40 runners in each race.

NXN 2015 saw slightly less water on the course from its debut at Glendoveer in 2014. Over 3 inches of rain fell the night before the 2014 NXN races, which added some slip-sliding drama to how runners would attack the relatively flat course. In 2015 Oregon had been dry for almost all of November then comes December and rain. Come race day it was a light rain or drizzle that kept the course moist.

The big news at NXN each year is can Fayetteville-Manlius (F-M) out of the Syracuse NY region win the GirlsTeam Title once again. It was really big news in 2013 when Wayzata out of Minnesota came in an upset the perennial winners who had won the previous 7 NXN titles. In 2014, Head Coach Bill Aris of his "STOTAN XC CLUB (club name for the high school team) not only won the Girls Title but his Boys Team matched the Girls team and secured the Boys NXN Title. He is now mentioned as the most dominant High School Cross Country coach of all-time. Since the advent of the Nike Cross Nationals in 2004, only his New York State rival from Saratoga Springs and the Wayzata Minnesota team have carried the NXN Star Trophy home from Oregon. The girls race was first and soon it was clear that F-M's Girls were back to their aggressive ways and would not be stopped for a 9th title. They had the team scoring lead at the mile and stayed out in front for the entire race. Since first place was apparent, more interest focused on who earn the other 2 podium spots. The surprise this day was the strength of the California schools. One knock in the earlier years was that California schools were not ready for the muddy conditions of Oregon. That has changed. This year, the top California girls team from Great Oak (Temecula, CA) took 2nd and another California school grabbed 3rd. It became a NY--CA set of 4 when it was announced that Saratoga Springs was back in top form with a strong 4th place finish.

The BoysTeam title was also focused on California. The Boys team from Great Oak had garnered big team wins all year and had dominated the California State Meet. The Great Oak boys did not disappoint. Their top 5 pack was fairly close and up in the top 50 early on. The surprise team that was racing hard was the American Fork team from Utah. Their #1 guy was right up front trying to win the Boys Individual Title (Clinger outsprinted the Midwest's Ben Veatch to get the low #1 card for Great Oak). It became a Western States or Southwest Region day as Great Oak held on for their first NXN title with Clinger leading his American Fork team to the Runner-up spot.

Leaving NXN that day were several top runners who had the opportunity to qualify for the other National Cross Country Championship in San Diego, Footlocker. They were able to race and earn a NXN spot with or without their team on one weekend and then race the Footlocker Midwest Regional on a subsequent weekend. Many coaches and athletes grumble each year about this inequity nationwide.
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Title Annotation:THE BACK PAGE; National Cross Country Championship
Publication:Running & FitNews
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Nov 1, 2015
Previous Article:Team VA and team MD split 2015 Potomac XC cups.
Next Article:Footlocker 2016 (follow up to previous FitNews story on Drew Hunter and Weini Kelati of Virginia).

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