Christian Brothers University Brooks Twilight High School Preview
Cross Country is pretty well noted for its motivational slogans. Since cross country has been around for ages, that's not news to anybody I'm sure. For some of you very die hard cross country fans, you probably even feel the sport basically has the birthright to motivational quotes and slogans. Hey... I'm right there with you! Cross country certainly has the best quotes by far! "Your punishment is our Sport". "Champions Train, Losers Complain". "Cross Country - Everything else is just a game". "Cross Country is one hill of a sport". "Cross Country - all it takes is all you've got". And here's my favorite - "Pass them, don't pace them!".
I know someone out there is thinking football has the one up on the quotes... or basketball... Well, they get a lot of mileage (a pun) because their sport might vaguely be popular, but hey, nothing says it like cross country.
So let me expand on that a bit. You've heard the "Don't give up at half time. Concentrate on winning the second half" saying before. Or the "This is our turf... our court our home" ... Blah blah blah... Um... folks.... cross country doesn't have any 'second halves'. We don't pass the ball... to anyone. There are no substitutions... ever. Your shoes are the only protective material you wear.... Turf... ha, we race in the woods, how's that for turf! Right, it's not a contact sport but step in a hole or a side hill about half way thru a grueling 5K, and see how your body feels. Or push yourself harder than ever, up a hill, with your biggest competitor right on your heels, at the last 500 meters of a race... throw up. . nah... well, maybe... but complete collapse is more like it! And time outs, when have you ever called a time out during a race. Yep, I thought so - absolutely NEVER!
Well, anyways, now that I got that off my chest, on to the real reason for the article... The Brooks Twilight! Just like the first snow fall signaling the start of winter or the leaves falling off the trees in the fall. The Brooks Twilight kind of signals the start of the cross-country season, unofficially of course since it's already started!
Take a bunch of soccer fields and turn it into a cross country course for the evening and what you get is a super spectator friendly and fast course for cross country athletes! Do it at the early part of the season, then you get the added bonus of gaging your fitness pretty quickly. From a coach's perspective, it's your insight validate what talent you have on your team and how well the athletes are responding to the training so far. As an athlete, you get to see where you are at in your conditioning and how others around you stand as well. Add the fact that this meet has some of the fastest and best cross-country athletes from several states, and you have what this meet has been for several years - a premier event put on by a premier University and one that's not to be missed!
This meet is pretty much known for having the BEST cross country athletes around coming in to tackle the course and this year is no exception. When you look at the entries for this year's meet, you'll need to hold onto your hats folks because it's a huge list! We are going to see schools from Missouri (Eureka, Ft. Zumwalt West, Dexter, Jackson, Lindbergh, Melville, Meadville, Northwest Cedar Hill, Parkway West, Rock Bridge, St. Clair) and Mississippi ( Tupelo, Tate, Saltillo, Simpson Academy, South Panola, Oxford, Northpoint Christian, Madison Ridgeland, Jackson, Heritage, Corinth, Brandon), Kentucky (Marshall County), Arkansas (West Memphis, West Helena Central, Sylvan Hills, Rogers, Nettleton, Maumelle, Gosnell, Greenwood, Conway, Bentonville), Hoover from Alabama, Parkview Baptist and St. Thomas Aquinas from Louisiana. Not to mention the dozens of teams from TN. There's probably a few more that I'm just missing at the moment, so apologies for that. But as you can see, talent is not a shortage at this annual event, this meet doesn't shrink over the years, not by a long shot!
If you're familiar with the name Winders, then you're pretty familiar with the history this family has at this meet. In 2015, Javon Winders took this title. Titus, his brother, came in tenth then. Javon graduated and then the next year Titus came to this meet and won. And that win was one of those that after the 1st mile, you were just wondering by how much would this athlete win by. The next year Titus defended his title but about 20 seconds behind him was the younger brother of the trio, Silas. Silas got the runner up spot to a really strong surging Titus.
So... am I predicting Silas will win? Well, not really - and since when do I make predictions?? But consider this, he won last weekend with an impressive 15:40, which is seven seconds better than his runner up time at the Twilight last year. A sign. Well, we'll see. Cross country is a fickle kind of sport and anything can happen. But no matter the outcome, Silas is going to be near - or AT - the front of the pack in early November at the steeple chase course, that much is certain.
So who is here that can give this young Winders a run? Mooreville high school in Mississippi is bringing Dylan Allen who is a 2:02 800 runner and state champion in the 800/1600 and 3200 as well as the 4A class state cross country champion. Dylan's best is 15:39 and on this course that kind of speed will be something he will need to stay near the front.
Another strong contender for the leader coming here is Will Stone of Homewood High school in Alabama. His 15:22 best time was earned last year while winning the Jesse Owens. Seems he has the best PR coming into this meet, so tag him for a fast race. Having run a 1:55 to get a state championship in the 800 is going to be a big help once he enters the stadium field. He's also a state champion in the 1600, 3200 and XC in 2017. That's some impressive credentials for sure!
Houston's Bradley Turner comes into this race with an impressive sub 10 win at the Hoka Postal Nationals last Saturday. This senior is the favorite to cross the line as the best local athlete and a chance to get another win under his belt. Bradley's got a 16:27 for the 5K but coming into this with last week's 9:46 and the way he looked, this will be a break out year for him we hope!
A couple others to be on the lookout for will be Billy Driemeyr of Lindbergh HS in St. Louis. He's got a 9:52 for the 3200 and a 4:30 for the 1600, so his 16:35 could drop significantly this season since this is one of his first races this season. It's that one part of being a cross country athlete, if the off season went well, then you could start out your season with some big improvements.
Dresden's Loral Winn is also hitting her stride as of late. Considering she was the runner up last year at this meet, that might make her competition worry a bit. Running a 2:12 in the 800 at the Music City Distance Carnival this June has put her on the radar to watch both this cross country season. That leg speed could just be the one deciding factor for her to get to the front spot in the last few meters of this pretty fast course. She ran 18:53 to get a second place finish in her category at the Foot locker south regional last season. If you combine the 800 time and her sub 11 in the 3200 in May, do not blink because she seems poised to do something fast Saturday.
Last year's bronze finisher, Karlee Hoffman of Daviess County Kentucky is coming back to see if she can go a little better. She finished off last year with a 5th place finish in the Kentucky State meet and has broken under the 5:30 mark in the mile several times during last track season.
The girls' varsity high school race may also have a really competitive local flavor this year. With so many schools coming out to this meet from several different states, that isn't going to be an easy task by any means.
On the girl's side, local Arlington athlete Skylar Boogard is now a senior and looking forward to her last high school season. You really have to admire this athlete. Over the years, she's gone thru running and collapsing at a race, some stress fracture scares and having to make a comeback. But this really talented athlete doesn't seem to be fazed by any of that either. There's no holding back this talented athlete and I do believe you should keep an eye on this athlete Saturday night. Her last full year of cross country saw her setting her PR at 18:28 and if she stays healthy and with her determination, could better that this season.
The Houston leader, Lydia Tankersley, matched her teammates accomplishment last week by also winning the Hoka postal nationals and comes into this meet as a true competitor. Having a sub 19 in the 5K event and with the win last week, does have her in the mix Saturday. Lydia's teammate, Felicity Bost might be a surprise finisher here. Felicity has the middle school record set in 2014 and has a low 19 for her PR but also has a 2:20 and 1:02 (800/400 respectively) and I'm always amazed at how fearless young athletes can race, so you never know!
St. George's Allison Newman is running well lately, especially with her 3rd place finish in the Hoka the other day. Having tagged a fourth place finish in her division at the State XC meet last year and with that Hoka win now, she is likely to be one to watch. She has an 18:53 for the 5K but has run mid 11's in the 3200 and might be ready to break out in the 5K on this fast course.
Of course, since this is hosted by CBU, there's the college ranks as well. All kinds of conferences here. Schools such as Alabama, Middle Tennessee, Missouri Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Christian Brothers (no kidding!), and a lot of others making the trip to run here.
The Brooks Twilight is hosted by Christian Brothers University and Coach Hoffman always guarantees a really well run race! Ok, nothings a guarantee, but every year they deliver at this spectacular meet. With over 900 high school boys and 700 high school girls competing, it will be a big field for sure. The ability to run this meet is pretty much thanks to all the volunteers that come out each year and all the sponsors that back this really great cross country meet. It takes a lot to put on a race evening like this one... Middle school athletes, JV and Varsity events, and College competition all in one evening. It's really fun to watch! So lace up and run fast this Saturday, it's cross country season again!!
And please, I am certain I may have left out talking about someone out there that deserves recognition, so you can add your thoughts in the comments below if you'd like. It's impossible for me to review 1500 or so athletes in the time I had to write this - so for those I didn't mention, run fast Saturday and maybe I'll talk about you in a post-race article!
See you on the Track... and of course, the grass!