Nike XC Team Nationals; Hardt With Strong Finish

While several runners headed over to Mt. Sac in California for the Foot Locker West regionals, Sherod Hardt (Sr., Queen Creek, photo on left by Ron Crocker) headed north to Oregon to compete in the Nike XC Team Nationals.  Hardt had planned on running at the Foot Locker West Regionals but when he placed 3rd at the Nike SW Regionals he had a tough choice to make.  Nike Cross Nationals were on the same day as the Foot Locker West Regionals.  All the other Foot Locker regionals would take place a week before Nike Nationals and runners from all the other regions could run in both but for Hardt it was one or the other.  
He chose Nike.  
And what he did at the Nike meet was nothing short of amazing!
Hardt was in box four on the left side of the field where the race would turn after 200 meters.  He knew he had to get out fast or risk being boxed in when everyone moved to the left.  
"I had a really good start," said Hardt after the race.  "I stayed close to the leaders and kept them in my sight."
Hardt felt very comfortable at the mile mark and as far as he could tell he was in around 15th - 18th place.  "I got into a good rhythm," said Hardt remembering his race, "I also didn't wear a watch so I wasn't worried about my pace.  I just ran."
The lead pack of Craig Lutz (Jr., Marcus, TX),  Elias Gedyon (Jr., Loyola, CA) Joseph Rosa (Jr., W Windsor - Plainsboro No, NJ) and Zachary Wills (Jr., Mason, OH) passed the 2 mile mark in 9:31 with Hardt 5 seconds behind in 7th place.  With 1200 meters to go Hardt started to make his move and found himself in 5th place but with 400 meters to go the lead pack of four took off and Hardt couldn't go with them.   Lutz, Gedyon and Rosa continued to push forward as Wills started to fall back.  With 100 meters to go, Ammar Moussa (Jr., Arcadia, CA) came from behind and passed Hardt and Wills.  Hardt dug in deep and tried to move back into 5th place by trying to catch Wills at the finish line but it was a photo finish with Hardt in 6th place (15:18.7) and Wills in 7th (15:18.5). 
"He did not take it easy," said his mom Ellie, "I have never seen him work so hard!"  Hardt's run moved him into the US #9 spot.
Craig Lutz won the race in 15:09.2 with Elias Gedyon in second (15:09.5) and Joseph Rosa in third (15:09.8).  Finishing fourth was Ammar Moussa in 15:17.6.
For Sherod Hardt the entire trip was a great experience.  "It was the 'funnest' time I have ever had in cross country," said Hardt about the three day trip.  Hardt will take 2 - 3 weeks off before track training begins.  He hasn't decided if he will do any indoor track meets but will probably be taking his last college visit in January.  He has taken trips to the U of A, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and BYU and may take his final visit at UC Davis.
For now some much deserved time off sounds pretty good to him.