Thursday, November 29, 2012

Recruiting Target Brent Kennedy Makes Foot Locker Nationals

Western Pennsylvania's Brent Kennedy (New Kensington's Kiski Area high school) is squarely in Villanova's recruiting cross hairs. Villanova is competing against Syracuse, Notre Dame, Virginia, and Virginia Tech, all of whom are keen to land a commitment from Kennedy. We at Villanova Running showcased Kennedy recently HERE, at which point in time Kennedy had made campus recruiting visits to both Villanova and Syracuse. Since that post, which highlighted his runner-up performance at the Pennsylvania state cross country meet, Kennedy -- only a junior with another prep year remaining -- has gone on to qualify for Foot Locker Nationals in San Diego (see the top results of last weekend's Footlocker Northeast Regional below) by finishing 9th of 169 competitors at Van Cortlandt Park on November 24th. Commenting on the race, Kennedy admitted that "I thought if I went out too fast, things definitely wouldn't work out for me. I went out through the mile pretty far back and really wasn't feeling great, but people started to come back (to me) through the Back Hills. I pulled up into about 15th place at the two-mile (mark) and was able to get those last six spots."

Foot Locker Northeast Regional -- Top 10: Nationals Qualifiers
 1.  Cheserek, Edward  12   Newark          NJ   15:21.8
 2.  Green, Jonathan   12   Berlin          MA   15:36.8
 3.  Wilson, Shawn     12   Marlton         NJ   15:42.5
 4.  Shearn, Brendan   12   Frackville      PA   15:45.5
 5.  Kroon, Kyle       11   Toms River      NJ   15:46.0
 6.  Crawley, Trevor   12   Cumberland      RI   15:47.3
 7.  Norris, Max       12   Narberth        PA   15:48.3
 8.  Alvarado, Chris   11   Fairfield       CT   15:49.1
 9.  Kennedy, Brent    11   New Kensington  PA   15:50.9
10.  Pondel, Austin    12   Columbus        PA   15:51.0 

Today, Kennedy posted his first journal entry as he leads up to the national championship race on Saturday, December 8th.

November 29

What a season. I am truly honored to be part of such a historic year in PA cross country. I know the purpose of this journal is to share my training and race experiences and things like that, but I could not begin without thanking my family and coaches, Mr. Berzonsky and Mr. Arabia, for their complete dedication to maximizing my success as a person and a runner. Of course, a big thank you goes to my teammates for making running such a fun and enjoyable part of my life.

Our team set our sights on making it back to the state meet for the second year in a row. Though we came up short, it would be impossible to view the year as a failure. Our personal successes reflect the hard work from everyone top to bottom on the squad. I was lucky enough to have a legitimate shot at winning every race I was in, losing to Vinny Todaro and Dan Jaskowak in some exciting races. My friends Tyler Snider and Patrick Miller did come up big (like always) at WPIALs and joined me for states. I carried my WPIAL win into Hershey with some confidence before having my hopes squandered by a CR from Tony Russell, a great guy by the way. The finish was a bit of a letdown and I am for sure being hard on myself, but I do feel like there are a hundred other kids that deserve to be second in the state and I am not going to look past that accomplishment.

I headed into Foot Locker with some feelings of uncertainty. A new course, new competition, even new socks (lost the racing socks). Physically, after a long championship season, I felt sort of run-down. But you don’t want to hear me complain and it wasn’t all negative, believe it or not. I felt like I had a pretty good chance of making top ten with a smart race; my plan was to hang back through the flat first mile, then stay consistent through the woods.

A few minutes before the race, Conner Quinn welcomed me to a spot on the line next to a swarm of fellow Pennsylvania runners, and I heard Brendan Shearn screaming his head off at the other end of the line, “PA don’t play!” That really got me going and I was finally ready to run. The race played out for me like I had hoped. I went through the mile at 5 flat, moved my way into the top 20 by the two mile point, and then hammered the down hills to finish with Austin Pondell. I made that sound pretty easy I guess, but I am looking forward to the yearlong break before hitting the hills at Van Cortlandt again.

Running for a team, in my opinion, is the most inspirational part of any cross country race. Representing Pennsylvania at Regionals was an aspect of the race I hadn’t really thought about before. It is so cool that I get to run for my state and the Northeast Region in San Diego next week. I can’t wait to get these couple weeks of training going and see how I match up against 39 of the top runners in the country.

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