Saturday, November 19, 2016

Nike Cross Regionals South Report - #NXR #NXRSOUTH

Great day working - and race announcing - the Nike Cross Regionals South at Bear Branch Sports Park in The Woodlands this morning.

The team thinks that the crowds were way up as cars were parked up and down Research Forest - am sure some residents will be ringing up The Township over that!

Have definitely got to say that the team that produces Nike South and NXR South is one of the best to work with.  For me, I get the honor of saying I get to announce for one of the top boys high school cross country programs in America.

And when you work with the best, you have to elevate your game.  It was a solid day for me.  My vantage point at the finish kept me from having some of my best finish line calls, but they got the job done today.

Great teams provide great support, though.

Coach Shawn Hamilton gets the sound setup - and continues to make improvements - and arranges for upbeat music to be played throughout the meet.  The best timers in Texas, RunFAR USA, with Raul Najera and Graham Schooley working the meet today, ensure quick, accurate results.  Things were so smooth today that Raul was taking video on Facebook Live.

The Woodlands HS Boys Cross Country booster club is incredible.  They're so friendly, giving and hard-working.  It is such a joy and pleasure to work with, represent and be a part of their team.

This includes starter Wayne Rutledge, Tim Vibrock and the Golden family (Kevin and Kelley).  Henrita van Wyngaarden has been routinely volunteering meet after meet as well.

Great to see Tom Sherwood today as well as the McHales - father Tom (and Penn Stater) and his daughter Liz and the holder of a pair of Guinness World Records Calum Neff.

The other local Guinness World Record holder Ronnie Delzer was in the park watching, having run for East Carolina in his athletic past.

Texas Independence Relay race directors Jay and Joy Hilscher were there from Austin to see their son run.  I think he might have been the only one to cross in a TIR shirt.  (The yellow one.)

The people - Kate and Matt - that come out from Nike are super easy to work with - and it is very, very easy to get on the same page as them and work to take care of the sponsor relationship.

I've been fortunate enough to interview over the last five years - Leo Manzano, Chris Derrick, Emily Infeld, Mary Cain and today, Hassan Mead, U.S. Olympian in the 5,000 meters.  What a nice guy!  He did such a great job interacting with the kids.  (Saw Bernard Lagat, who he lost to in the US Olympic Trials by 20/100'ths of a second, was at #NXR Southwest today.)

The person that really provides me with the information to walk on to the property as prepared as possible is John Sullivan, best known by everyone as "Sully".  John does all of the seeding.  I get a data file on Wednesday with all of the racers, which this year totaled a little over 1,800.

Through some combined research work, I'm able to share with those in attendance that there were 20 state champions and 46 runners who finished in the top three of their state meet present today.

Super job by The Woodlands High School Junior ROTC program for their perfect presentation of the colors this morning and this senior from Liberty University that I happen to know - Waverly - did a really solid and beautiful job with the National Anthem this morning - after landing at about 10 p.m. last night.

And while I had known Coach Dan Green through a sportswriter friend that covered cross country for The Courier and the Houston Chronicle for many years, the late Scott Kaiser, I always appreciate JoAnn Blakeley for making the introduction to Coach Juris Green more than five years ago.

Cross country meets are exhausting to work compared to a road race, but I always seem to walk away satisfied from working these meets as well as those - UIL Region III and UIL Region III Preview - produced by the Sam Houston State cross country and track and field programs, led by David Self, the last two seasons.

No rest for the weary, though.  La Porte By The Bay Half Marathon in the morning!  :-)

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