The 2009 Columbus boys advanced to Nike Cross Nationals after finishing as the NXNSE runner-up. The team finished 22nd out of 22 teams, but Coach Fleitas says NXN was one of the greatest experiences he's ever been a part of. We caught up with him on the eve of the 2017 Nike Cross Nationals to talk about that 2009 team, the road to Portland, and some of his fondest memories.
Flrunners.com: What do you remember most about your time in Portland?
Coach Fleitas: Nike really put on a show. It was an honor to be one of the lucky teams to make it to the show. I felt on the coaching side a bit unprepared. It was cold like 20 degrees and raining/snowing, but the overall experience is one I will never forget.
FLR: Your number one runner was AJ DelValle who was a stud. Besides him you also had incredible depth with the rest of your line up. Talk about that team and what they meant to you.
CF: AJ was a beast he set the course record and broke Alan Webb's record at Wake Med Park. That year was our back to back title at state. My team that year was stacked Mark, Dominic, Archie, Geoffrey, Andrew and Mo. I believe we are one the best teams in the history of the state. To coach a group like that is unforgettable. It's only a privilege to get a group like that, they pushed me to the limit and I pushed them.
FLR: Their are lots of perks about NXN, the gear, the elite athletes, Nike Headquarters. What was your favorite?
CF: My favorite thing about NXN was how excited those guys were when they got to the hotel and all of the Nike gear was on the bed. Then we go the Center and they get there show fitting. They get to meet great athletes as well.