I recently had the opporunity to travel to San Diego, CA in December to watch one of my athletes compete at the Foot Locker National Cross Country Championships. After picking up a meet program, I noticed there is some interesting history between the meet and the Buckeye State. Ohio has had a strong presence at the meet since it's inception.
First, the meet began in 1979 at the Kinney Cross Country Championships. The company morphed into Foot Locker in 1993. The event was initially held at Balboa Park in San Diego. However, it's moved around between Orlando and Flordia over the past 3o years.
Ohio's first All-American was Reading's Connie Jo Robinson and Colmbus' Laura Craven in 1981. Robinson battled PA's Lois Brommer until the final 400 and pulled away for the victory in a blistering 16:40. It still remains as the 3rd fastest female time on Foot Locker history. Robinson is also the only female champion from Ohio. Craven finished 4th at 17:01.
In all 12 young ladies have claimed All-American status, Beaumont's Katy Radkewich was a 3-time All-American (1994-7th, 1995-3rd, 1996-2nd). A total of 23 ohioans have qualified for the event, ranking Ohio in the top 5 for number of qualifiers per state. Jesse Zangmeister was the last to qualify in 2008.
The men have placed 17 individuals in the top 10 at Foot Locker. This list includes former state champion and Rocky River's Bob Mau who finished 8th in 1982. Mau was the first All-American on the men's side. Scott Fry blasted the field in 1984 with a 14:50 en route to a Foot Locker title. Westerville's Bob Kennedy was the next Ohioan to break the tape, winning in 1987 (14:59). Fellow Ohioan and rival John Sence (Milford) was runner-up to Kennedy.
Caldwell's Brian Hesson, a 2-time All American, highligted three other Foot Locker All-American's from the Buckeye state. Hesson, J.J. White, Josh Ritchie, and Jason Rexing all finished in the top 10 in 1992. This also marked the last year Kinney Sports sponsored the meet.
In all, 24 young men have qualified for Foot Locker. Conclusion, Ohio can hold it's own with any of the top running states (Colorado, California, Illinois, Washington).