Coming into the 2016 Footlocker Boys’ race, the only thing we really felt comfortable saying we knew is that we didn’t know how this race would play out at all. With as many as 10 boys in possible contention for the win, we expected that the race would be close throughout, but had no confidence to claim to know who would emerge from that group.
In the early going, Seth Hirsch—the top returning runner from the 2015 race—took the lead and held the lead through the mile, which he led the field through in a controlled pace at 4:46. The first shake-up occurred on the uphill after the first mile with Dylan Jacobs taking the lead on the hill.
Jacobs held the lead through the plateau at the top before Hirsch took it back on the downhill only to be passed by Reed Brown—keep this in mind going forward. Coming off the hill at halfway through the race, there was a clear group of five runners in the lead. Joining Brown and Hirsch were Finn Gessner, Connor Lane, and Tibebu Proctor. Sam Worley and Noah Affolder were leading the next pack, but were not really threatening the lead.
Going into the second time through the hill, it appeared that the elder Affolder was going to make a push to join the apparent contenders. Instead, Gessner, Hirsch, and Brown used the uphill to open up a gap on the field with Gessner in the lead. Gessner held the lead through the uphill with he and Hirsch gapping Reed Brown on the plateau.
On the downhill, Hirsch too the lead from Gessner, but, out of nowhere, Brown came thundering past to take the lead and make it a three-boy race with 600m to go at the bottom of the hill. He sat with the others coming into the final straight before showcasing his superior mile speed in the final 150m to pull away from Gessner and Hirsch to win by nearly three seconds in 15:02.
As we mentioned in our preview, Brown came into Foot Locker on the heels of four consecutive losses to fellow Texan Sam Worley. In this race, though, Worley never put himself in contention while Brown put himself in position to take advantage of his speed at the end. Ultimately, I would imagine Brown would gladly choose again to suffer four straight losses to Worley—Texas states, NXN regionals, Footlocker regionals, NXN nationals—if it meant winning a national championship.