I know I’ve been loading up the blog with XC posts even though the majority of you guys are moving onto track mode, but I like to try and save some of the end of season stuff until literally the end of the season. I think I have one more XC post in the queue for you guys, but I’ll sprinkle in some indoor talk in a moment with this post. Just need to do some quick announcements.
I’ll be doing two special end of year posts that I like to do at the end of December. The first is my favorite posts of 2017 where I share links to all my favorite posts from the year (I know, another self-indulgent post that is just a list of posts! Your favorite!) and I’ll also be doing my Bold Predictions for 2018 post which is always a good time (well, I think so anyway).
Lastly, I’ll just add real quick that if anyone is planning to do anything with any specific post on here for like a scrapbook or a gift or something (I know, incredibly unlikely, but I’ll offer anyway), just let me know and I can edit it, clean it up, fix the errors and try and make it better for you. I know it’s incredibly unlikely that anyone would care that much about the posts, but I’m just throwing it out there in the spirit of the holidays on the very off chance it’s needed.
OK, now let’s talk track.
Now I could jump right in and recap every race from meet, but I’m not going to do that for a variety of reasons. 1) It’s a long season and I don’t want to burn myself out on recaps, 2) It’s December and so it’s still super early, 3) You can get that stuff from Penntrack pretty efficiently and easily and 4) I don’t find it particularly exciting to read.
So let’s talk about my favorite thing to talk about during the indoor season: relays. This year it looks like the PTFCA has given us 18 4x800 squads and 12 DMR squads for the state championship (last year we had 17 4x8s and 12 DMRs) so we should have a nice variety racing around the track (hopefully). Already some teams have emerged from the first weekend of racing that I’ll be keeping my eye on throughout the year to emerge as state medal contenders (and maybe even more).
The first squad to watch has gotta be Pennsbury. I’ll be honest, I haven’t done any sort of deep dive on the 4x8 competition for this upcoming winter, but based on my gut, I think Pennsbury has a shot to contend for a state title this year. The usual suspects will be really tough to surpass (especially CB West), but I think they have a scary strong top 3 that could put them in the mix with anyone.
Jed Scratchard was the star of week #1, running 4:30 and 2 flat at Ursinus, but Javier Linares had an awesome race as well with his own 2 flat mark. Linares has good speed and he was knocking on the door of making his team’s relay all last year and is probably amped to get his shot to contribute this season. Plus, they have Aidan Sauer (1:54 split last spring) who could be a game breaker in the right race. Sauer is coming off his best XC season to date where he snagged one of the individual qualifying spots in District One.
The second team worth mentioning is Boyertown. This program has a lot of depth. They had top guys all over the place this weekend with their most notable individuals being Josh Endy (2:02 800) and Christian McComb (4:32 mile). However, don’t sleep on someone like Dominic Derafelo who was a top 50 guy at states this past fall. I believe Derafelo was anchor on their DMR which won the race at Ursinus with an 11:06.
Historically, Boyertown has a really good record in the DMR. They tend to get their guys engaged in this relay and put up big splits. The Brett Kelly teams in the 2010-2012 range come to mind, but last year’s Boyertown DMR squad was pretty legit as well (plus they had a 4x8 that just missed out on states). They dropped marks of 10:51.49 and 8:17.11 and they’ve only improved since then. Christian McComb, who just missed a surprise medal at XC states, is looking he’s on the verge of becoming a star. Last year, he was better on the track than he was on the grass, so he may just be beginning to scratch the surface of his potential within the state.
The last team is Wyomissing. In recent years, these guys have been really fast on the outdoor oval, storming through the 4x8 at outdoor states. However, their indoor record isn’t as outstanding because, like many district three teams, they haven’t seemed to make the indoor season a real focus. But as we saw with Carlisle a year ago, if Wyomissing decides to use that state championship enthusiasm on the indoor track, they could be lethal. They were the deepest AA team in the state last year and they showcased that early on the track with a DMR win at Maroon and Gold (plus a runner up in the 3k and a win in the 16).
The difference maker here is Joe Cullen who has potential to a super star at the end of a 4x8 or DMR. He has run 1:53 and 4:13, plus he has proven himself as a successful indoor athlete with a state medal in the 800 last winter. However, if Wyomissing really wants to make noise (maybe take down another state gold) they will need other pieces to step up the way they did during XC. Sophomores Ben Kuhn and Thomas Foster as well as 400 specialist Austin Keim could all play a role this winter.
Other teams that are deeper sleepers include: Methacton (Michael Clark is a star, I like Varghese as a young up and comer), Bensalem (always finds a way to contend and took 1-2 at M&G), and Spring Ford (hard to doubt them after XC, just want to see who their speedsters are).