Finishing 14th at last year's Foot Locker Northeast Championships didn't leaveTristan Shelgren with a good taste in his mouth. His sole intention was a top-10 placement, a finish that would have earned him a trip to the nationals in San Diego.
Determined to not let history repeat itself, the St. John's Prep standout wrote down on a piece of paper his goal of making it to the nationals and the steps he would need to take to make it a reality.
"(I) posted it on my bedroom door and every time maybe if I didn't want to go on a run, didn't want to stay up late," he said, "I would kind of look at that and would say this is what it's for."
On Nov. 25 at historic Van Cortlandt Park, two days after Thanksgiving, Shelgren's hard work and dedication paid off as he feasted on his competition, winning the race outright to secure a spot at this weekend's Foot Locker Nationals.
"I wasn't trying to win. I was just trying to qualify, to be honest," Shelgren told MileSplit after the race. "I came down the hill, I heard someone say eighth, so I thought that meant someone was close. I didn't want to risk it. I figured if I tried to win it actually, that's the best way to get in. It happened."
Shelgren, the Division 1 state champion, will be among 40 of the best runners in the country this Saturday at Balboa Park. He'll join a talented field that will also include another fellow Bay Stater, Brookline's Lucas Aramburu, who finished third at the regionals.
Aramburu, who was also third to Shelgren at the All State Finals on Nov. 18, admitted he was a bit shocked about his placement.
"This is the biggest surprise of the year," he said. "I had no clue. I thought I was going to get trashed."
According to the recent speed ratings on all four regional meets that were held for Foot Locker, a system that ranks an athlete based on their times and the difficulty of the course, Shelgren ranks No. 2 and Aramburu is No. 9. Keep in mind, these are not predictions as some athletes may have cruised to their top 10 placement.
In a few days, Shelgren and Aramburu will answer the gun for at 1 p.m. (EST) start. Both admit their top priority is to run an honest race out west.
"I have no expectations for myself. I do not know whatsoever," Aramburu said. "I am going to work hard. I am going to give it my all."
"Those guys are really good," Shelgren said. "I really just want to race and just do well."