Dylan Jacobs of Sandburg (Orland Park, Ill.,) was the top returning runner at the Foot Locker Nationals and he treated Balboa Park in San Diego like his home course Saturday.
“I was definitely challenged,” Jacobs said. “Danny Kilrea (who is also headed to Notre Dame), came up on me at the two mile and I really had to push it there. They are all great runners, so I knew if I was going to take this home, I had to make a move halfway through to separate from the rest of the field. Fortunately, it worked out the way I hoped it would.”
Jacobs, who is headed to Notre Dame next fall, won the boys portion of the meet in 15 minutes, 19.7 seconds, taking the lead for good with a little over a mile to go. Graydon Morris, a sophomore from Aledo, Texas, passed Kilrea to finish second in 15:23.3. Kilrea, from Lyons Township (La Grange, Ill.), was third in 15:27.3.
Last year, Jacobs finished 11th in 15:21, but this year’s race was more strategic,with poor air quality from the Southern California fires a factor for some runners.
Jacobs wanted to make his move on a crucial downhill after watching video of Reed Brown of Carroll (Southlake, Texas) win last year’s Foot Locker Nationals.
“Reed Brown, I watched that race over and over of him making the move downhill — that was a big key in him winning the race,” Jacobs said. “I went down the hill the way I wanted to and I know using that hill separated me from the rest of the field.”
Jacobs said he prepared for the hills at Balboa Park by running one particularly tough hill on his home course in Illinois.
“I think being in shape was a big key,” Jacobs said. “I was working the hills the week before this race. Fortunately, we have this one hill at home, we call it the C-4 hill. I don’t know how it got that name. It was called that when I came into the program.”