What might have been the deepest girls field to compete in the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships Midwest Regional is still going to be quite impressive.
Even without the injured Anna Rohrer, who set a girls course record for this event last season with a time of 16:54, and Jordyn Colter, the fourth-place finisher who recently scratched from the race because of mononucleosis, the talent is deep for Saturday’s races at the Wayne E. Dannehl National Cross Country Course on the UW-Parkside campus in Somers.
Led by runner-up Taylor Werner of Bloomsdale, Mo., six top-20 finishers return, including two in the top seven. Another top contender is Hannah Long of Pacific, Mo., who was 10th at the Foot Locker Nationals last December — three places ahead of Werner.
“The depth of the field is still fabulous,” race director Peter Henkes said. “You’ve got eight of the top 19 that could be back, which is pretty solid. There’s some real talented ladies.”
Another top contender is Jacquelyn Crow of Lebanon, Ohio, who was 16th at the Midwest Regional last season and recently placed second at the Ohio State Meet.
“She’s pretty tough,” Henkes said. “She’s having a real good year.”
The boys field isn’t as deep, but there still is star power.
Patrick Pernier of Ofallon, Ill., placed fourth last year at the Midwest Regional and 19th at the Foot Locker Nationals.
“He’s considered one of the top-five kids in the country,” Henkes said.
Still, Pernier won’t be considered the prohibitive favorite. Jackson Bertoli of Terre Haute, Ind., finished 13th in the Midwest Regional last season and recently won the Indiana State Meet.
“Indiana is the only state in the Union that has one state meet (featuring all divisions),” Henkes said. “It’s just like ‘Hoosiers.’ Everybody toes the line in cross country.”
The top Wisconsin runner entered is Ryan Nameth of Madison, who was 27th in the Midwest Regional last year and recently placed second in the WIAA Division 1 State Meet.