The script didn't go quite the way the West Chester Henderson High School boys cross country team would've written it, but the outcome was still a good one -- all things considered.
Running as the Warrior Track Club, the Warriors qualified for Saturday's Nike Cross Country Nationals at the Portland Meadows course in Portland, Ore., as one of the two teams from the Northeast Region.
In the huge and outrageously competitive meet in the Pacific Northwest, and Henderson finished a very impressive12th overall in the team standings with 301 points.
"It's a little disappointing,' said Henderson coach Kevin Kelly. "We were hoping for top five -- at least a top 10 finish. But, finishing 12th in the nation isn't bad. This was a really hard meet.'
Christian Brothers from Lincroft (N.J.), the defending national champion, was the consensus pre-meet favorite. However, it was the Tides from Gig Harbor (Wash.) who claimed the crown. Gig Harbor was first with 111 points, while Christian Brothers took the runner-up spot at 139.
Brentwood (Tenn.) was third at 174 followed Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.) at 216, Carmel (Ind.) at 225, St. Xavier (Ohio) at 228, American Fork (Utah) at 230, North Central (Wash.) at 231, Arcadia (Calif.) at 255, Edina (Minn.) at 263, Northport (N.Y.) at 299 and Henderson at 301.
As expected, the Warriors' top finisher was Tony Russell. The veteran senior placed seventh at 15:16. The race was won by Taylor Wilmot from North Central (Spokane, Wash.) at 15:00."Tony was in second with 250 meters to go,' said Kelly. "He made a move to catch the guy who won. He tried hard but ran out of steam and nine guys passed him."We were in fifth place at 1000 meters and then Reiny (Barchet) got tripped. The guy in front of him went down. There was a big pile-up of about 20 guys and Reiny took the worst of it. He got spiked in the face and had about five or six spike wounds in his legs. It's a tough course. Guys always go down every year.'
Barchet finished 84th at 16:28, while Alex Knapp was 47th (16:06), Eric Stratman was 75th (16:24), Kevin Moy was 88th (16:29), Ricky Waltz, was 109th (16:42) and Seamus Collins was 136th (16:59).
"We felt that everybody could have finished higher than they did but it's not that they didn't run hard,' said Kelly. "This is a really tough meet with great competition -- 29 state champion teams and 36 individual state champions. The best runners in the country were here.'