NXN Spotlight: 2005 Episcopal School of Jacksonville Girls

Michelle Krueger (Kendall) was the coach of the Episcopal girls, the first and only team ever make Nike Team Nationals, now NXN, in 2005. The squad placed 14th overall. We caught up with her to talk about that team and their road to the sport's largest stage.

What was your road to NXN (then Nike Team Nationals) like?

can remember how exciting that season was! Every race counted and since NXN was such a new concept the race results were analyzed every weekend.

How did your team do during the regular season?

The team did incredible winning the Great American race of champions, scoring a perfect 15 at the District meet and tying for the lowest team total winning the state meet.

Who were the team members on that squad?

Leslie Blackshear - 8th grade
Hadley Ferguson - 11th grade
Emily Ingham - 10th grade
Mary Catherine Ingham - 8th grade
Brooke Hardington - 9th grade
Mariah Loop - 8th grade
Laura Steel - 10th grade
Maggie Traylor - 10th grade
Katie Traylor - 8th grade

2005 was the second year of the meet and back then you received an invitation. There were no qualifying meets. How did the selection process go for the team?

I remember communicating with Nike as to why we deserved to go. Based on race results, the competition we went up against and how young the team was, they extended the invitation.

What was your favorite part about the whole experience from the extracurricular activities to race day?

I remember the excitement of getting the phone call and sharing the good news with the girls and their families. NIKE selected our school (they only chose 4 in the country) to come and do a pep rally and Alan Webb came! They handed t-shirts to the entire student body! They really made the team feel like rock stars. I was so impressed with all that Nike did to make the weekend so special. The hotel stay, the gear, the Q&A with Nike athletes, the race, the facilities, the tour of Nike headquarters... it truly was a weekend to remember! 

No other team from Jacksonville had made NXN until this year when Bolles just qualified as runner-up at the southeast regional. Have you followed them at all or any of the past team's that made it to NXN?

Yes, I follow running and love encouraging and supporting runners no matter what team they run for!

It's a long flight, and the temperatures/weather are total opposite of Florida. What advice do you have for the guys about adapting to those changes?

I took the girls to the trails near Fort Caroline and to the beach for runs. I think this helped simulate the wet, muddy, conditions that were in Portland. Be sure to stand up every 30 minutes or so during the flight to stretch and keep circulation in your legs.

Is there anything else you'd offer up as advice just about the race and the whole weekend?

Take in the moment of every minute. It's such an amazing accomplishment that doesn't happen very often so appreciate the opportunity.