Foot Locker Finals Preview
Six PA cross country stars will toe the line in the beautiful San Diego sunshine for the final time this season at the Foot Locker National Finals! The boys will have two qualifiers, while the girls will bring four.
Only one of the six is making a return trip to the Finals and that is AAA girls state champion Brianna Schwartz of Shaler Area. Schwartz has a special opportunity to earn a 2nd All American cross country certificate after finishing 6th in 2013 (top 15 receive All American recognition). Schwartz will also be putting her undefeated season on the line, having won the first four races she contested, including states and the Foot Locker Northeast race on November 29. She also has the fastest 5000 meter time in PA (17:25 at District 7).
The rest of the qualifiers will be making their first appearance to the biggest stage in individual cross country running. Marissa Sheva and Casey Comber will be making their only appearance on Saturday as seniors. Sheva went the first two months of the season without tasting defeat, winning PTXC 6 and Paul Short in the regular season, while adding District 1 gold to her resume at the end of October. She had her 2nd best finish in her career at the state meet and 3rd top ten finish. She also made the most of her Foot Locker Northeast Experience by finishing 7th.
Comber went on a five meet winning streak in the middle of the season before engaging in a couple of big head to head battles with league rival and fellow Foot Locker Finalist Jake Brophy of Central Bucks East. Despite coming up short in both races, Comber was having the best races of his career. He had his best state meet finish and then defeated Brophy for the first time at Foot Locker Northeast (4th to 5th) to qualify for Saturday’s meet.
Brophy is the lone junior to represent the Northeast region on Saturday. Brophy may be considered an underdog for a state champion appearing at a national meet, but the last time he had that tag, he beat PA’s hottest runner and became state champion and course record holder. Brophy has the 2nd fastest time in the state (15:08) and has won three of his last four races.
The last two qualifiers come from the Western part of the state, as Schwartz’s top rivals, Madeleine Davison of North Allegheny and Kelsey Potts of Mount Lebanon will be making their first appearance at the Foot Locker Finals.
Davison started the season as one of the top runners in the state, earning victories at Red White and Blue and PIAA Foundation, earning a course record in the first race. She struggled to compete against her friend and occasional training partner Schwartz, but still managed to record her best state meet finish and a 4th place finish at the Foot Locker Northeast Race. Her opportunity to run on Saturday will cap off a 2014 calendar year that has pushed her into the elite level of PA runners.
Fellow district rival Potts started her season off with a win, but suffered defeats to her biggest rivals for much of the season. Potts managed to stay in the top ten in every race she competed in, including her 2nd best state finish (5th) and an 8th place finish at Foot Locker Northeast. Potts has only finished outside the top ten in two races in her three year career.
Good luck to all the PA athletes competing on Saturday!