Jenny Barringer (Simpson) and Nicole Schappert (Tully) provided one of the best battles in FLRunners.com Invitational history back in 2004. The duo went 1-2 the year prior at Ed Radice Park with Barringer winning in a personal best time of 17:23. She went onto win her second straight 4A cross country state title and finish third at Foot Locker Nationals while Schappert tallied her first cross country crown.Two of the state's top distance runner, both nationally ranked, set the tone for the 5th edition of the FLRunners.com Invitational and the girls Race of Champions.
"This was the best ladies battle in the history of the meet,"said FLRunners.com and meet founder Jason Byrne. "Coming back from surgery over the summer, Jenny Barringer of Oviedo opened her season at FLR. She and Nicole Schappert of Pope John Paul II proved that cross country is a contact sport."
The pair fought it out the whole 3.1 miles, going at it each other, and even throwing elbows, not maliciously, but in the competitive moment.
"That race was just all out war," he explained. "They both wanted it so badly and put every ounce into it. From about a half mile in until the very finish, neither let up an inch. It wasn't even a race about strategy. it was a race on pure guts and determination."
Barringer gave one last surge at the line to win by 3/10 of a second in 17:54.80 with Schappert right behind her in 17:55.13.
"That's what made it special and different," Byrne said. "Most people these days race with a strategy and a pace.Those girls just raced on pure will."
Nearly 13 years has come and gone since September 25, 2004. Jenny Barringer, now Jenny Simpson went onto have a stellar career at the University of Colorado setting numerous NCAA records in 2009 and winning the Bowerman award that same year. She signed a professional contract with New Balance in 2010 and has represented the USA at two Olympic Games. Simpson recently won bronze in Rio in the 1,500m and is currently in London for her 4th World Championship where she will look to add another medal to her 1,500m gold from Daegu in 2011 and silver from Moscow in 203.
Nicole Schappert, now Nicole Tully, had a successful college career at Villanova an turned professional in 2010 and has run for Hoka One One/NYAC as well as NJ/NY Track Club and was the 2015 USA Outdoor Champion in the 5,000 meters.