|FOOTLOCKER MIDWEST REGIONAL:
Roth, Homan qualify, Sikes, Arnold stay home
An onsite report courtesy of Fred Keiser:
(Head Coach at SJA and Olympic Trials Marathon qualifier)
On Friday, the course for the Footlocker Midwest Regional was in very good shape, with just a few soft patches scattered around. That changed overnight as rain showers hit off and on, causing the course to become a muddy playground. Temperatures were mild for this time of year, hovering near 50 degrees, with a bit of a wind that didn't play much of a factor since most of the course is in the woods.
The field was huge - 408 finishers. This became important because after about 1200 meters the trail shrunk down to about 4 meters across, room enough fo 3 or so runners to be side by side.
Up the first hill which lasts until the 800 meter point, no one runner separated herself from the field, rather most of the major players survived the uphill getting themselves into position for the actual racing to begin. A rule that asks runners not to wear their high school uniforms made if very difficult to identify anybody. One that was noticeable from Ohio was Amy Arnold. Apparently her race plan was to go out "smart", then work her way up. After 800 meters or so she was probably between 80-100th place. This strategy will not work against all the various state champions on a narrow muddy course.
At the mile mark, there seemed to be 2 runners that were controlling the race, (Erika Odlaug of IL and Nikki Bohnsack of MI), but they weren't more than a few feet ahead. A large, disassembled pack followed closely, which included Michelle Sikes (Lakewood), Angela Homan (Spencerville), and Kris Roth (Celina). The pack wasn't tight, probably because most had to watch their footing in the sometimes ankle deep mud. Hanging off the back end of the lead group was Katie Flaute (Dayton Carroll), who ran a great race. She was in contact with the top 8 through the first 2000 meters. Somewhere in the mix was Arnold and Maggie Infeld (Beaumont).
The second mile, considered to be mostly downhill, was also the muddiest. There were hundred foot sections that were inches deep in mud with no clear path to move to. With all the competitors out there, you were forced to either hold you line or practically jump into the woods to pass someone. At the two mile mark, the eventual winner, Erika Odlaug of Illinios, had separated herself from second place (Bohnsack) by about 15 meters, where second place was another 10 meters ahead of third. Chasing third was a pack of 4 runners, which was led by Roth and included Sikes and Homan. They looked good and all of them appeared to have a shot at 3rd place. Certainly the top 7 seemed separated and locked in for the national births, as 8th place was another 10 meters behind the main pack. Still, Flaute was hanging in 14th place with a mile to go, still within earshot of the 8th spot. Only Molly Morgan (Barnesville) was near Flaute at this point as Infeld slowed considerably and Arnold was still playing catch up.
The final mile is marked by more uphills, some turns, then a final downhill that leads to the last 300 meters of a muddy grass straightaway. Here, Odlaug dominated and made herself the only runner to break 18:00. She won by 19 seconds over yet another Rockford runner, Nikki Bohnsack - 17:49 - 18:08. In this meet the times didn't matter, just the top 8 places, but to win by 19 seconds was impressive. It came down to a kick for third place as Roth seemingly had it, but was out run in the final few meters by Amber Smith of Michigan. Still, Roth ran an incredible race to earn 4th place and a spot on the Midwest team, as did Homan who came in 7th place with an 18:28. Knowledgeable observers were left wondering where Sikes was, as Flaute, Morgan, Infeld, and Arnold all worked their way in. Soon after Arnold, Sikes was seen coming in as others sprinted by her. She had the look of someone who either fell or had nothing left in the tank. She was seen walking around later, so at least her health was okay. As to what happened during the third mile, that has yet to be discovered.
Carolyn Rauen (Turpin), Sunni Olding (Minster), and Andrea Maas (Colerain), all Ohioans, were apparently never part of the front pace, and finished respectively in the top 50 in this strong field.
The races of the day had to be Roth, Homan, and Flaute, with Flaute probably turning the most heads (especially those of college coaches).
Shock of the day was Sikes (what happened?).
Who's the best runner in the area? the state? Sikes, Infeld, or Arnold? Roth, Homan, or others? Nothing was proved.
4. Kris Roth (Celina) 18:21
7. Angela Homan (Spencerville) 18:28
12. Katie Flaute (Carroll) 18:44
18. Molly Morgan (Barnesville) 18:51
21. Maggie Infeld (Beaumont) 18:54
24. Amy Arnold (CVCA) 18:57
32. Michelle Sikes (Lakewood) 19:10
41. Carolyn Rauen (Turpin) 19:20
44. Sunni Olding (Minster) 19:24
48. Andrea Maas (Colerain) 19:26