Ryan Express rolls westFoot Locker Cross Country Championships 2002
By David Yon
Ryan Deak followed up an impressive state championship – both team and individual – with a very strong performance in the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships. The meet which draws the best runners from all over the country is considered by most to be the national high school championship of cross country. It begins with four regional meets held in different zones of the country. Ryan worked his way to the final where he finished 12th in the national meet.
The South regional was contested in Charlotte, North Carolina at McAlpine Greenway Park. Ryan represented Maclay, GWTC and Tallahassee well as he blazed to a third place finish in 14:58, not that far off the South Regional meet record of 14:43 held by Alan Webb. The top eight finishers qualified for nationals. Alex Miletich (38, 15:44) and Herbie Thiele (77, 16:05) of Chiles High also represented the city well in the boys competition. Allie Hunter of Lincoln finished 122 in 21:00 in the girls race.
Ryan was the lone runner to advance to nationals though and he battled a bit of a cold and the more difficult course in Balboa Park in San Diego, California to finish twelfth in a time of 15:20.3. His effort gave him the best finish by a Floridian since 1991 and tied him with the best time ever on the Balboa course by anyone from Florida. It also made him third team All-American and the son of one of the proudest fathers anywhere around.
The Maclay junior was thrilled about the whole experience saying he had “the best time of my life.” The luck of the draw gave him with Chris Solinsky as a roommate. Solinsky, a senior from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, tied the record for greatest margin of victory by winning in 14:40.5, while second place Wesley Smith crossed the line in 15:01.