As far as tradition based cross country meets, the Frank Horton has been a core example of tradition in the Memphis area for years. I'm not even sure how long this has been going on. Ok, it says the 32nd annual so I suppose it's 32 years. Seems like it should say a hundred years and it's great to see it on the calendar this season! I say traditional in the sense that's it's cross country and named after a true great in the Memphis area. However, the race has made a few changes over the years.
The biggest change of course was the start time moving to the evening a couple years ago. In Memphis, that has resulted in a little better temperature to handle the 5K course. Even though it's September, we've been known to hit some high temperatures this time of year. Of course, and you know this was coming, the covid issue forced a few more changes to the meet. The tough competition is still there, that goes without saying. This year the meet is split across two evenings. Both nights start at 7pm when the sun is down. Although the temperatures the last couple of days has been cool, it's expected to get up into the 80's again by the weekend and so the start time should work great.
Another change is splitting the competition between Purple (Friday) and Gold (Saturday) groups.For years this race has been put on by the Christian Brothers High School and so the colors, well, there you go!Nick Dwyer, the race director, is a Brother and putting this on through the MYA (Memphis Youth Athletics) this year.Everybody races as a club or unattached. That's due to several different guidelines across many places.But not to worry, the MYA organization has put in strict and very thorough protocols the be able to put on meets among this pandemic time. So far, these have work well, if not extremely well.So, follow the guidelines.
I mentioned earlier that the competition is still going to be fierce. That is the one tradition that likely will never change with this annual cross country meet. The boys competition this years has a very intense feel to it.The local favorite would be the club from Bartlett who have a very strong team with Robert Dawson (16:15) and Elliott Garst (16:45) leading the way. They will have a real challenge ahead of them to try and match the Nashville area club out of Brentwood. Kevin Vanderkolk leads the way for these guys with a fast 15:06 seed and could possibly push even faster on this course. Phillip Hyams (16:16) and Brody Chapman (16:07) are also going to push the pace for this team.
And I can't leave off Miles Ally (15:10) who I've seen run since he was in middle school. Miles has won on this same course and is second in the ranking to Kevin Vanderkolk. That top spot might just be in jeopardy after this weekend, you never know. Either way these two front runners, well, should be a race we really want to watch!
Club wise, Houston seems to always have a strong team and with the likes of Jake Arnold, Samuel Tankersley and Hays Adams could do a good job of leading this team off from the start.The Purple Wave should be one to keep a close eye on. Jake Ryan, Parker Russ, Adam Willett, and then whoever else that may just have the desire to face the music and run with the big dogs, could put this team in the sleeper category. And by sleeper, I don't mean slow! Let's see how they run this weekend.
Landen McNair is likely the one here that will be chasing down the Vanderkolk star and is certainly in a position to go under his 15:36 at this race.I expect very fast times.A few others to watch for in this lead pack might just be Evan Pardo (15:39), Connor Jackson (15:46, Arkansas) and Whit Lawrence (15:48).That's a lot of sub 16's entered into this competition. And there are a lot of people that are really anxious to get in some good racing now.
The girls side comes in with some really solid talent.Kaitlyn Vanderkolk (Brentwood cc club) is entering this with a 17:55 best that she ran last weekend at the Southern Showcase. Her teammate, Brooke Tyll (18:12) and Gryphons Club star Allison Newman (18:23), Sofia Rutherford (18:39, another Brentwood area athlete), and Brentwood CC athlete Peyton Strauss (18:30) will be chasing down Kaitlyn and should make up the lead pack this weekend. We had a little rain and cooler temperatures in the Memphis area this week but no rain expected this weekend and temperature will be great - I can just imagine we'll see some very fast times here!
A few others that are likely to be right on the shoulders of the lead pack would include Eden Mittelsdorf, Maggie Wilson, Ann-Marie Braese, Zena Dorris, Lydia Tankerlsey.All these have some solid times under their belts and a good race might just be in the stars for them this weekend.
If I were to guess, the club from Brentwood girls should be the team to beat with the Houston club getting in a bit ahead of the Gryphons at this year's race .But then again....We are probably going to see twenty or even more breaking under the 20 minute mark at this meet, it has a very solid group of competitors.
Both boys and girls clubs here are going to be fun to watch. It'll be a little different with entries spread out so much, but a necessity lately. I doubt it's going to slow anybody down though. Slow is not one of the traditions here at the Frank Horton!
So there you go, a short and sweet preview of the upcoming Frank Horton race. With all the talent at this meet, I know I left a few people off and it wasn't intentional, so let's just see how everyone does this weekend!
See you on the track and the grass!