This past summer, St. John’s Prep’s Tristan Shelgren met with his cross-country coaches to discuss his goals and game plan for his senior season. He left that meeting and printed out a picture of the FootLocker National Championship logo, and hung it on his door. He wrote on it, “This is what you do it for.”
Months later, at the FootLocker Northeast Regional Championship at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, N.Y., Shelgren not only “did it” for a shot at nationals, but he proved to be the top boy in the region, as he traversed the historic course in 15 minutes, 32 seconds.
With the win, Shelgren qualified for the FootLocker National Championship Dec. 9 in San Diego. The top 10 finishers at each regional qualifier advance to the national stage. Shelgren’s win came just one week removed from an All-State championship at the Wrentham Developmental Center.
“I probably pushed it to the back of mind,” Shelgren said in regard to his goal as his season progressed. “All the other races had to be like a Bill Belichick, ‘One day at a time. One race at a time.’ ”
Shelgren, of Boxford, placed 14th at last year’s FootLocker Northeast Regional with a time of 16:04, which was 16 seconds shy of qualifying among top 10.
He said having run the race once before helped him prepare for the course, and the competition he faced this year.
“Last year, the guys were pretty rough. We were elbowing back and forth. I wasn’t used to that from all my races back in Massachusetts,” Shelgren said.
“It was always just [Andrew] Mah, or [Marcelo] Rocha, just the three of us. None of us were really elbowing. So I was used to it. I was expecting it.”
With his last career high school cross country race looming in California, Shelgren is looking to carry his momentum with him across the country.
“I don’t really know the course at all. I just know it’s going to be pretty warm in California,” Shelgren said. “I’m just going to try and race and do what I did today. Just try to fit in that top group really, and just go for it.”
Brookline’s Lucas Aramburu finished third (15:37.8) and also qualified for nationals.
“I heard Lucas during the race and I thought, ‘Wow, good for him,’ ” Shelgren said. “Then I turned around and there he was third. Lucas is a great competitor and a great kid. Just having someone I know going [to nationals] is a fantastic experience.”
Damien Dilcher of Brick, N.J., narrowly edged out Aramburu to place second at 15:37.
Dalton Hengst (15:39) from York, Pa., Nathan Lawler (15:40) from Pittsford, N.Y., and Devin Hart (15:42) of Point Pleasant, N.J., rounded out the top five overall.
Among the other Bay State participants, Brandon Hall of Hopedale finished 18th (16:13), Jack Yanko from Amherst finished 23rd (16:24), Ethan Matthews of Ayer was 24th (16:25), and Richard Sturtevant of Leyden was 27th (16:28). John Mariano from Quincy finished 35th (16:35), while Division 2 state champion Sam Acquaviva of Newburyport placed 44th (16:42).
In the girls’ race, Littleton’s Sarah Rothman was the highest local finisher at 13th (18:46). Her twin sister, Kaitlyn, finished 27th (19:22). Watertown’s Emily Koufos finished 36th (19:42).
Pennsylvania sophomore Marlee Starliper was the overall winner at 17:47, followed by New York’s Katherine Lee (17:50) and Jacqueline Gaughan (17:54) of Exeter, N.H.