As the old saying goes, 'the hay is in the barn.'
Ohio's representatives, who are gearing up for NXN have made it out to Portland safely and have been soaking up all of the excitement that goes along with participating at the prestigious national meet.
The men's race will kick the festivities off on Saturday at 10:05 am with the ladies contest following that up at 11:35 am. Note that the times cited are PST (add 3 hours for those following in the EST zone).
So who is it that's actually toeing the line tomorrow on the Glendoveer Golf Course?
Well, we all know at this point...
It's the top two finishers at the OHSAA Division 2 State Championship meet, Caleb Brown and Mhalicki Bronson, who punched their tickets by crossing the line 2nd and 3rd, respectively at NXRMW and the team from Beavercreek, who produced a runner-up effort in Terre Haute, will be featuring their entire varsity squad.
Brown took seven consecutive wins leading up to the regional meet and in the process he clocked times south of the 15 minute barrier on a trio of occasions. The No. 1 ranked runner state-wide at 14:51.20 is seeking a big performance to close out his high school cross country career.
Bronson also started the 2019 campaign with seven straight wins and really he's only been solved by the aforementioned Brown. The senior from Defiance took second place to Caleb at Region Tiffin and the state meet prior to their latest showdown in Indiana. Bronson counts wins at the Portage Invite, the MSU Spartan Invitational and a pr performance of 15:00.30 among his season's highlights.
The Beavers secured emphatic triumphs at District Cedarville, Region Troy and the Division 1 state meet before their second place finish to Naperville North during regional competition. The group has been confident and resilient all fall, evidenced by another second place showing at the stacked McQuaid Invite back in September when they were minus the services of individual state champ, Taylor Ewert.
We reached out to all parties to acquire some final thoughts before the action heats up tomorrow.
Hear from Ohio's NXN qualifiers below:
Caleb Brown -
"My training has gone really well in lead-up to NXN. I've hit some solid mileage and I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life, as of now."
"I tapered down this week with the big meet approaching. I opted not to race the Foot Locker regional because I wanted to be fully focused on my goals for Nike."
"I'm going for the win on Saturday, but I'd be satisfied with a top 10 placement."
Mhalicki Bronson -
"I've been tapering and just keeping my body in shape for the race with no workouts being too taxing physically, just going hard enough to keep me prepared. I've been eating healthier and trying to get my mindset ready for the race."
"I'm trying to be prepared for the initial blast of speed that I'm expecting at the start and I'm also working on keeping my mind in the right place, so I can treat this as any other race."
"My main goal is to be a top 15 finisher, but overall I'm looking forward to having fun while I'm there and making sure to take it all in and see where my hard work and dedication to the sport has taken me."
Coach Russ on behalf of Beavercreek -
"The last 3 weeks preparing for NXN has had its highs and lows."
"Highs: realizing that they were going to get to fly to Portland and race against the best teams in the country is very exciting. The girls want to see how they stack up against the best of the best."
"The training has been great. We used the same basic plan we have used for Taylor to prep for NXN the last two years. Taylor has run her best race at NXN each year, so the girls are confident that they will, as well."
"Nike treats all of the athletes like they are world class runners. All of the running gear that they receive is amazing. They also get to talk and hangout with Nike's professionals, many of whom have been Olympians and world champions."
"Lows: two days before Nike Regionals, Juliann Williams was out on a run and hurt her foot. The day of the race she said it hurt, but that she was still going to run for the team. She ran almost her normal time, but was in tears afterward due to the pain. She went to the doctor the following Monday and found out that her foot was broken and her season was done. We were all crushed. She had worked so hard only to have a freak accident like this end her season is very disappointing. Juliann has told the girls that they all need to step up and make up for her absence. I still can't believe that she ran on a broken foot. Without her brave act we would not have even qualified to be here. Her toughness is just off the charts."
"How will we do? No predictions from me. All I know is that these girls will give their best for each other because of the love that they share. They're more like sisters than teammates."
"We hope that all of Ohio will be cheering us on."