Gabe Collison takes shot at Foot Locker

With many of the top high school cross-country runners from across the West region ascending upon Mount San Antonio College Saturday morning for the Foot Locker West Regional, Crescenta Valley High junior Gabe Collison will attempt to assert himself as one of the best in the nation.

Taking part in the boys’ seeded race at 10:40 a.m., Collison is aiming to advance to the Foot Locker Cross Country Championships National Finals on Dec. 8 in San Diego.

“I kinda want to go for 10th place,” said Collison, who will be part of a field vying for the top 10 spots that qualify for the nationals. “That’s the goal. I’m a little nervous setting the goal that high. I don’t know, I think I might surprise myself.”

Collison is the first Falcons runner to take part in the seeded race since Zack Torres did it in 2008. Torres also advanced to nationals, where he became an All-American.

Collison, the younger brother of Claire Collison, arguably the greatest girls’ runner in Falcons history, will take part in a field that not only boasts top runners from California, but also Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Collison ran last year at Foot Locker in a frosh/soph race.

“I got blown away by all these out-of-state guys,” he said. “Now I think I have more experience.”

Collison will be running a week after taking 13th overall in the CIF-State Division I Championships in 15 minutes 30 seconds. His last race on the Mt. SAC course came in the Southern Section Division I final, when he nabbed the final division individual qualifying spot, taking ninth in 14:18.

That race was run on Mt. SAC’s shorter and faster rain course. With rain having fallen throughout most of the week and forecasted for Saturday, as well, Collison said he’s preparing to once more run the rain course, which he said is less about strategy with the loss of hills and more about running your fastest from start to finish.

“Everyone’s gonna have to deal with the same course,” he said. “It’s more of a guts-course.

“You just go faster than you think you can hold and at the finish you can surprise yourself.”

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