Burdette Recap

I usually find things helpful to consider the order of events when I analyze a meet. Since I wasn't at this meet I have no sense for the team in between races or the exact tactics implemented, but I'm thankful I remembered to look up the order briefly before taking to the writing of this piece. I hope you enjoy.

Sneaky good running by the Easton sprinters here in the early season. They qualified for states in the 4x200m on a flat track and now add a sprint medley victory (3:48.78) over CB East (3:49.44). Easton may have had Colin Abert (5th at states in cross country, 5th in the 1600m last outdoors) anchoring them to victory and East may have had 1:55 man Oliver Boucher involved on their anchor leg. Regardless of who was involved, this is a quality win for Easton who will be a very interesting squad for both sprint and distance relay purposes in 2015.

3:48 isn't blowing anyone away (for example 25.0-25.0-50.0-2:08.0 gives you 3:48.0) but it at the very least indicates either solid sprint depth or a very capable 400m/800m leg.

Interestingly enough, Easton won heat 5 and CB East won heat 4 so neither team was in the fastest heat. Roman Catholic beat out Chester for the win in heat 6 3:50.12 to 3:50.87. Again no names are listed, so it's hard to speculate on exactly what these relays looked like. Also interesting to note, St. Joe's Prep was in the fast heat but was DQed for interference. They may have been trying to run fast using Fisher or Daly (more likely Fisher).

As usual, splits and names of those involved in addition to descriptions of the race are appreciated.

(Random side note: saw someone was DQed for a uniform violation. Look, I get that this a rule that we have and it needs to followed. But can't they like ... tell the kids before they run the race, hey you are going to be disqualified so you may want to fix that instead of just DQing them after the fact? Or am I thinking of these DQs wrong? Somebody explain this one to me?)

So I'll come right out and say it: I underestimated Paul Power. I wasn't sure he would have the right speed/strength combination to hold off the kicks of some of the other names in this group. However, Power not only won the race, he cruised to a 4:27.49 (I believe that's a state lead) which gave him 3k-mile PA #1 status. Power was really strong during cross running excellent races at various times during the year and now comes out blazing this indoors. His mark puts him close to Mallon, Palmisano, Scarpello and Hoey in recent years at this meet. Those guys all went on to do special things (everybody has PRs of at least 4:15 for 1600m and some serious state hardware).

John Daly came through for me in his second place effort, barely edging Colin Wills (4:30.16 to 4:30.19). I thought he could win this race in my predictions (he was my big sleeper for this meet) and after being absent from cross country (soccer player?) he gives St. Joe's a very capable anchor leg for a potentially scary good DMR. Wills never quite became the XC stud I thought he might, but he looked really comfortable returning to the track both at the Henderson 2 mile and this meet. Wills and McDevitt keep Malvern Prep in the hunt for a top notch DMR.

I had the right top 5, just in the wrong order as Tung (4:31.29) and Hanna (4:33.76) round out the top five. Tung gets a SQS here in the mile (although with a 20 person cap no mark is safe) and Hanna gets pretty close. I really like Tung's start to the year, especially because I feel his best may be still to come in the 3k. He has shown a nice combination of speed and strength between his sub 16 5k PR and his 2:03 800m mark in the early season.

Lapsansky from Easton runs 4:40 and Brian Hackman drops a 4:41. Hackman ran a really strong race at State College against Milligan in the mile and I suspect he will bounce back to a faster race before this season is over. He is a small school guy (top 15 in A states for XC) so solid racing like this is encouraging looking forward. One of my deeper sleepers (Jeff Montgomery) ran a nice race to win heat 2 in 4:44.97. Keep an eye on his progression this year. Liam Conway runs an excellent time for a freshman, 4:47, for 2nd in his heat and 11th overall.

William Schulz wins Heat 1 of this mile race in 5:00.82! So close to a sub 5! Not sure if he has ever broken the barrier before indoors or out (milesplit doesn't say) but after his 17:14 during cross, in the right race Will should break well free of the 5 flat barrier. Good luck to him going forward this season!

The 800m at the Armory will justly grab the hype for the weekend action, but this race was incredibly fast in it's own right. Alek Sauer and Khai Samuels broke my old teammate Mike Palmisano's meet record of 1:58.2, smashing the mark with a 1:56.53 and 1:57.89 respectively. It was about time for this record to come down considering the new track and how well PA has done in the 800m this past season, but I honestly didn't expect Sauer to get quite enough push to burst free of 1:58.00 (Palmisano ran his fast mark in large part to a sit and kick strategy on excellent 800m man Zack Montijo). Khai Samuels really had a surprising day to make it happen.

I may have predicted Samuels second, but I thought he was a borderline sub 2 flat guy at this point in December. Now he has a 1:57.89 on his resume that puts him into the running for a top 5 spot at states in the 800m and maybe even a sleeper pick for the title. As I mentioned in my 800m Lewis v. Ritz recap below, there is high probability that at least one of the guys in that duo will be doubling or completely skipping the 8 at indoor states. That opens the door for a surprise (like when Willig skipped and Hardy stepped in in 2012).

But Samuels (and the rest of the state) will have their hands full with Sauer. Sauer's 1:56 is excellent for this time of year and he made the kind of break through last outdoors that suggests big things may be coming in 2015. It's still a long way until states, but I believe he could hit a 1:52 type mark this year before all is said and done and that's something few have done in state history (although the last few years make it seem like that's not true).

Not to be overlooked is the breakthrough run by Brett Wolfinger who ran 1:58.99 for Quakertown and took a surprise third. Milesplit has his previous best listed as 2:01.01 for this distance, but he proved himself as a capable 400m man last spring (50.77). He's Qtown's best 800m man since the surprising 1:56.86 outdoors in 2012 of Alex Brulliea so he could break some serious school records before all is said and done.

Connor Holm defends his title valiantly with a 2:00.49 for 4th and Kamil Jihad comes through big time with his own SQS mark (2:00.60). The 800m has a 24 person limit so both guys will probably need something a little quicker, but it's just December. Jihad is just a frosh and he could do big things this year as he continues to learn.

Nice run by Matt Town of Perk Valley, giving this squad another weapon to use towards a DMR/4x8000m. He learned well from training with Dave Garton in previous years while PV had a secretly strong relay. I also have to give a shout out to Cameron Christopher of Wissahickon. He ran 2:05.46 to win his heat at Burdette by a mammoth 5 seconds. Wissahickon just discovered a real mid distance talent and they know how to coach those guys up (think near champ Stellato and state champs Crits, Cho and a DMR). Keep an eye on this guy.

The limited 3k had 13 men line up for the race and when the dust cleared, Colin Abert surprised me with a 8:55.89 (just off Power's state lead). This was huge for Abert who far exceeds his 4:39 mark from a week or so ago. He may also have been doubling off the SMR. The simple fact is Abert is a really talented runner who can do all sorts of events, but I've always believed he was best suited for the longer stuff. His front running grinding style will always leave him a little vulnerable, but I think it is best suited for a 3k where he can crush the spirits of his opponents with a strong run. This is the best indoor mark I've seen from Abert by far and he will be in the state title conversation no doubt at this event (assuming he doesn't end up in the mile as he has in the past).

Now that's not to say that's how it went down exactly. McDevitt has never been afraid to mix it up with a fast pace and give it his all. He came up just a tad short of the SQS with his 9:00.58 in his second place effort and was very impressive in his own right. That's no joke of a time for this early and he and Wills will make for an interesting DMR squad. The 9:03 marks by Maguire and Julian Degroot-Lutzner (4th and 3rd respectively) are also very impressive for this early. I'm really excited about how Maguire has been running. Having Hanna to train with has helped get him to another level and he continues to show massive improvements every week. McMenamin makes a big jump in 3k PR, lowering his time down to 9:09.

Boyertown barely edged out CB West 11:03.17 to 11:03.39, marking yet another nail biter for the CB West relay. Not sure exactly the names involved, but we may have seen a big carry on the lead off/anchor leg for Dylan Eddinger, one of the season's early leaders in the 400m and 800m. CB West has a lot of strong runners so it's unclear exactly who was involved in this relay, but I would bet Fortna was involved and Ian Davies (9:11 strong showing in the 3k) was not. Coatesville did well in this event running 11:13 for 3rd.

Twin Valley won the 4x800m extremely convincingly 8:26 to 8:39. Things didn't pan out to give the TV guys a really fast relay at the meet (8:42 won heat 1, but 9:11 won heat 2). TV likely stacked up their relay with guys like Coakley and the Gearys to try and chase a fast state qualifying type mark and they ran a strong 8:26 despite having little competition (Neumann Goretti grabbed second with that 8:39.99 and CB South was third in 8:42.96). Don't sleep on Twin Valley. When these guys get in the right race they will make a strong statement.

One other small note. The 4x400m looked like it was sick. I imagine the imposing figure of Lewis took to the track fresh of his impressive 1:52.88, upset that he couldn't pull out the win over an instate rival and just threw down a massive split on the relay. Cheltenham runs 3:26 and gets the win over Pennsbury (3:29) and Penwood (the old state leaders, 3:32). Norristown is a team on the rise. They won heat 5 in 3:32.93 and have had strong showings in the 200m and 400m in recent weeks. Also props to Radnor who won heat 4 in 3:35 with what was likely a disappointed Andre Kelly who ended up getting DQed from the open 4 thanks to a false start. Radnor dominated their heat by about 5 seconds.

Legendary 800m

If you haven't watched yet, you may want to take a quick peak: Marine Corps 800m
(thank you very much to the provider of this link in the post below).

The link above shows the first two 800m runners in PA history to ever crack the 1:53 mark in December, Sam Ritz and John Lewis, at the Marine Corps Holiday meet at the Armory on December 29th. As the announcers said, not a bad Monday for a couple of PA's newest legends. 

Lewis ran 1:50.01 this past summer to cement his place in distance lore (currently ranking in the top 10 or so 800m times ever for PA high schoolers). Before that moment his sprinting achievements had outranked his distance ones, thanks to an indoor state title at 400m and another top 5 finish outdoors in the same event. Already sporting multiple golds and a variety of state medals in events like the 400, 4x4, 800 and 4x8, Lewis took to the track this indoors with high expectations. The Clemson recruit was quickest through 600m in the race before Sam Ritz took over with about 100m to go and held off Lewis's best efforts to close, winning the race 1:52.81 to 1:52.88.

Ritz got off to a killer start to his indoor track season after an underrated XC season that included a top PA finish at Manhattan and a top 7 PA finish at the Footlocker Regional meet in addition to an independent league championship. This 1:52.81 caps off a stretch of running that included a 4:14 mile and 2:28 1k and gives him supreme confidence in his speed and sets things up now for the discussion of multiple state records in addition to the difficult mile-800m double at the state championship. Unlike Lewis's 1:52, Ritz's mark is a lifetime best for indoors or outdoors (about 2 seconds better than his previous PR). It also marks Ritz's first sub 2 800m ever during indoor track (according to milesplit). Of course his real first sub 2 may have been en route to his 2:28 1k win last week at the armory. 

There are many things to consider here about the legendary 800m run we just watched unfold in only December. Yes, only December.

1) The Magaha and Willig comparisons from 2011-2012 are flying all over the place and certainly these comparisons are just. I'd agree with others in saying that the 1:55 and 1:54 solo, flat track efforts of Magaha and Willig are at least comparable to the 1:52s that came on the fastest track in the world in fierce competition on Monday, with the 1:52s being more impressive to me because 1:52 is faster than 1:54 and 1:55 and when it doubt I prefer to go by what actually happened rather than what could have been.

But think about Magaha and Willig that year. Willig runs 1:51.25 at Yale and sets a PA state record. Magaha gets mono but by the time he is even remotely healthy again he runs 1:48.82 to take the state record in the outdoor 800m. So Magaha and Willig went on to become state record holders at the 800m (even though the mile was likely each of their best events and the event they won their state championships competing in). Can Lewis and Ritz chase the indoor and outdoor state records this year? It's certainly in play.

2) Notice what I said above. They set those records, even though it wasn't their primary events. Both Lewis and Ritz may pass on the 800m at states this year. Lewis has a state title to think about in the team competition and if he can get 10 points in either the 4 or the 8, the 4 is the one that keeps him fresher for double and triple duty. He may want to defend his title in the 400 as well, a certain amount of honor is on the line. The 400m-800m double is verging on impossible (I've seen some pretty rough attempts including my old teammate Sam Ellison) and Lewis can always chase a national title in the 800m if he wants and give himself the best shot to run fast against the nation's best.

As for Ritz, he's always been a miler (4:11.73y as a sophomore), although he has proven his speed is sharp and he could come down in distance like Magaha, Willig, etc and still excel. The logical comparison is Wade Endress in 2011 who pulled off the mile-800m double gold that included a 1:51.73 state meet record (broken by Franics last year). But the fact is running on the double is difficult and you have to be in really strong shape to run a couple PRs with tired legs. And you need help. Endress got pulled by Moran in 2011 (similar to how Ritz got towed by Lewis this past race) and Mallon got pulled by Palm to his record before Endress in 2009 (although in this race all parties involved were fresh). 

The good news is between Ritz, Lewis and Sauer the competiton needed to produce fast times could definitely be there. Especially considering there are more names on the rise we haven't fully understood the potential of just yet.

3) Underrated piece of this whole puzzle: Cheltenham's relay potential. We knew they were going to have a dangerous 4x4, it's a quality program that you know, won the state title last outdoors in the event. Lewis and Brissett make for a dangerous, potentially record setting, relay that has two guys who could be well under 50 seconds in the right relay. The Cheltenham 4x8 is looking dangerous as well (anytime you have a 1:52 leg things are quite a bit easier). They had 2:01, 2:05 and 2:06 guys in the open at the armory this past weekend and it's still just December. Lewis ran a high quality second leg on Cheltenham's medaling squad back in 2013 in the wind bowl and he loves to deliver on the relays. I wouldn't be surprised at all if a 1:51-1:58-2:02-2:02 relay was on the track by March and that adds up to 7:53-7:55ish which gets you into the conversation.

The event I'm most interested in, however, is the sprint medley relay. With Brissett on the 400m leg and Lewis on the 8, this team could have back legs of 48-1:51, and a program with stud sprinting year after year you could challenge for a national title in addition to maybe a state record. Especially if Lewis continues to drop time. It's still very early and when you have one of the best 200m and 800m runners in state history on the same time, you never know what the ceiling is.

4) Is running this fast this early a good thing? We don't really know for sure because no one has been this good this early before. But if you look back at the history of sub 1:53 guys indoors in general here is what you get for an indoor outdoor comparison.

Indoors then Outdoors
Vandegrift: 1:52.3-1:48.8
Mallon: 1:51.79-1:52.02 (the next year was 1:53.04-1:49.01, split 1:49 in 2009 on record setting 4x800m)
Endress: 1:51.73-1:53.76 (injured for part of outdoors)
Moran: 1:52.81-1:54.42 (split 1:52.3ish on 4x800m at states outdoors)
Willig: 1:51.25-1:52.16 (injured for part of outdoors)
Rivera 1:52.43-1:53.70
Francis 1:50.55-1:49.57
Wiseman 1:51.36-1:50.37
Logue 1:52.02-1:51.09

The good news is that last year all three of the big names dropped time and impressed at the outdoor state championships. However, before that things were somewhat streaky with injuries hitting top guys like Endress, Willig and Sanders and guys like Rivera and Moran not being able to notch a faster open 800m outdoors for a variety of reasons. Ritz and Lewis will have to be careful with their training and effort this winter and also in the early part of next spring if they are going to continue to drop times for the races that are most important.

Let's face it, peaking at the right time is part of the game. Few remember that Kyle Francis looked very unlike himself for the midsection of this past outdoor season because he ran fantastically at the most important meet: the state championships. If these two guys go on to challenge the 1:50 barrier this year (a mark that only 2 men in this history of that nation have eclipsed) this race will be remembered as a stepping stone in a historic season.

All of these marks in December get me very excited for what could be on the horizon in the future. But it's still only 2014. Who knows what is in store for 2015. 

Happy New Year my friends.

Burdette Invitational


1. John Daly, St. Joe's Prep 4:32.69
2. Andrew Hanna, CR South 4:33.11
3. Paul Power, Spring Ford 4:33.19
4. Ryan Tung, North Penn 4:33.87
5. Colin Wills, Malvern Prep 4:34.75

Other notables include: Keelan O'Reilly, Jack Carmody, Liam Conway, Kevin Lapsansky, Joe Previdi, and Sean Sullivan.

This race could be quite deep. I could see a ton of guys under 4:40 in this race, but I'm not sure I see anyone cracking 4:30 or so. I think this race is going to be competitive top to bottom and there should be lots of guys out there pushing the pace. John Daly is my sleeper pick for the win, especially because he is likely out for revenge against Hanna who beat him and his teammates out in the DMR last weekend at TFCAofGP. I think Tung has real sleeper value here after his solid 800m time in the early season. Lots of others not in my top 5 could easily crack the top group and I think this race is quite exciting on paper.

1. Alek Sauer, Pennsbury 1:59.04
2. Khai Samuels, Pleasant Valley 2:00.73
3. Kamil Jihad, Chester 2:00.95
4. Oliver Boucher, CB East 2:01.22
5. Connor Holm, Radnor 2:01.58

Sleepers: Steve Cromity, Ethan Conway, Josh Faber, Riley Hannon, Addison Mueller, Matt Town

I think this field has a ton of compelling names on the entry list. Kamil Jihad grabs your attention right away because he has already become a top runner in the 800m as just a freshman. I'm not sure how he will hang in this big invitational so I put him mid pack. Boucher split 1:55 or so last year on the 4x8 according to my splits file, so he has the potential to compete for the win. I'm just not sure if CB East is in top shape yet, I expect them to be rolling by outdoors but it's still just December. Alek Sauer proved that he was in top shape at the Armory last weekend running 2:31 (probably going through in close to 2 flat on a faster track). If he gets the competition at this meet he may break Palmisano's record that Forrest alluded to in his post. Khai Samuels is my dark horse for the win. I think this guy is super talented and underrated coming out of District 11.

1. Billy McDevitt, Malvern Prep 9:01.81
2. Julian Degroot-Lutzner, Masterman 9:05.74
3. Colin Abert, Easton 9:06.35
4. Lukas Marcelis, Wissahickon 9:07.13
5. Joe Maguire, CR South 9:08.48

Sleepers: Ian Davies, Seth Slavin, Connor McMenamin, Ryan Rasatter, Connor Sands

It's hard not to get too excited about this early season 3k. These guys are solid runners, but running sub 9 flat in December is really difficult. My guess is McDevitt is most ready to roll out of the guys on this entry list, but I'd be surprised if he breaks 9. JDL killed it in the 800m last weekend and now he jumps up to the 3k so I'm not positive how distance oriented he will be. Abert is a huge talent, it remains to be seen just how fit he is after regionals and sickness. Lukas Marcelis and Joe Maguire are real dark horses after really nice starts to the season and a good stretch run to the cross country season. Maguire especially could surprise.

This race is loaded with sleepers including McMenamin (an excellent XC runner as just a sophomore), Sands (a top 50 guy behind Brophy in XC), and Slavin (4:43 double off the DMR last weekend and a top runner at the freshman-sophomore race at Footlocker). Also worth watching is Ian Davies, the top senior on CB West's excellent squad. I'm not convinced this race will be fast, but I am convinced it will be deep and very competitive.

I won't try to predict relays because I just have no clue which relays will be loaded and which will not, but I think Neshaminy and Boyertown seem to be holding back a bit in the individual events. The same is probably true for Twin Valley and possibly Penncrest. I also wouldn't be surprised to see fast relays from CB West, Pennsbury and others.

Let me know your thoughts and who I missed!

Christmas City Relays

At Lehigh yesterday a few top teams and individuals made debuts or statement performances at the fieldhouse against some in state and out of state competition. 

The meet started with a DMR that included a few interesting PA squads. The top in state team was a bit of a surprise as Pleasant Valley ran 11:10 to beat squads like Pennridge (11:11), Springfield Delco (11:16) and Ephrata (11:28).

According to the orders listed online, the 1200 leg was a battle between some strong XC runners. Sophomores Seth Slavin and Liam Galligan (both in the 40s this past fall), Nate Becker from Ephrata (in the 40s at states as well) and Dan Williams (1:57ish runner for district champs in the 4x8 Pennridge). 

What really impressed me going forward was the ability of Pleasant Valley's key runners to put together solid doubles in the early season. Slavin doubled backed shortly after the DMR and ran 4:43. Anchor leg Khai Samuels double back to run 2:02 in the open 8, putting among the early state leaders in the event. Aliem Hoousendave was second in the 400m, running 52.56. That's the makings of a solid early season DMR for a team that was under the radar to say the least during XC.

In other news, Colin Abert made his debut at this meet in the mile, running 4:39 for 3rd overall and the top spot in PA. Some may be surprised by this mark, but I'm not too concerned. 4:39 is a strong mark for December and Abert learned during cross peaking is everything. He still may be dealing with some lingering affects of his sickness in November and is just a month removed from Footlocker so his training is nowhere near ramped up.

I'm unsure how the race played out but it looked like he was up against a runner with brilliant closing speed (Jarod Wilson won the mile in 4:29 and doubled back in 50. to win the 400m). Freshman Zach Smith from Spring Ford ran 4:49 in the mile as well, a fantastic early season mark.

Speaking of Spring Ford, I didn't see Paul Power (just his younger brother Patrick) in results this weekend, which I'm guessing means his fast early season 3k was run off XC fitness and now with a likely state qualifying mark under his belt, he can take some time off and recover for crunch time. I like this strategy personally and hope it pays off (if that is indeed what he is doing).

In the 3k, state XC medalist Kevin Lapsansky was the top PA runner, running 9:30. Geiger of Parkland ran 9:31, Becker 9:34 and Gabe Lamm ran 9:36. All times are solid marks for these runners to build off looking ahead.

Pennridge capped off their day with an 8:31 win in the 4x8 and a 3:38 runner up in the 4x4. Both events were back to back and many runners were involved in both the DMR and a late relay. The 8:31 was a dominating win as well. That's a nice early season showing for Pennridge who is recovering from the graduation of some key pieces including Joey Logue.

Still plenty of meets left on the 2014 schedule, so be on the look out for more fast times before the clock strike midnight.

2015 Teams to Watch: Neshaminy

Neshaminy track and field has been producing impressive sprinting results during the last decade, churning out a slew of sub 50 400m men and an excellent 100m runner in Kevin Steinberg. Last year Neshaminy produced a 53 second 400m hurdler in Dave Marrington, who also ran a blistering 38.0 in the 300 hurdles at states.

But Neshaminy has not established itself as a mid distance power the way Abington did in the 2008-2011 years. Nor has it produced many state qualifying runners in distance. They had one state medalist in the last 10 years (Ted MacDonald in 2007) and have yet to produce a 4x8 that qualified for outdoor states in recent memory (admittedly no easy task in the loaded district one).

This year things are (early on) heading in a different direction. Neshaminy has burst out the gates with an 8:22.0 and a huge win in early December over many other top preseason distance powers. And they did it without 4:40 miler Eric Chapman who was the teams only state qualifier this past year in cross country. 

I'm not sure who was on the relay, but Neshaminy returns some solid, under the radar pieces from a year ago. The big early season change is coming from Dave Marrington, the top tier 300m hurdler who ran an open 2:03 and likely played a key role on Neshaminy's SQS last meet. His move to the 800m is huge for this team and he may be he next breakout star at that position. Another X factor could be Sean Conway, a sub 50 400m runner who may have the stuff to move up to the 8 (or at least be a top tier 4 leg on a competitive DMR).

Many top 800m runners got their start in the quarter. Jon Lewis, 1:50.01 last year, was state champ at 400m. Sam Ellison went from 48 400m man to 1:52 800m man in a years time. Hong Cho, Charles Ross, Will Taylor, Connor Manley and many more were 400 converts. 

And 400m hurdlers are perfect for the switch. No long hurdles indoors makes the 800m ideal. One of the US's best 800m men, Brandon Johnson, was a 400m hurdler in college and now runs 1:43. 

But it takes the right type of runner to make the move up into distance territory. Face it, many sprinters are talent driven rather than work ethic driven and even the most motivated of workers are scared off by the idea of long runs or tempos or 1k repeats. 

Not saying it doesn't take hard work to be good at sprinting (it definitely does) it's just different work and just like many distance runners would shy away from a sprinters routine, many sprinters would do the same. 

It takes a truly special athlete to transcend this barrier and that's what state champion caliber relays like Abington and Bensalem have been so good at doing.

Who knows where Neshaminy will go from here but on paper they have a top DMR and top 4x8 (and maybe a top 4x4) waiting in the wings. This could be a program changing year for this squad.


Merry Christmas too all and too all a good run.

Less than a month until etrainLXV ....

Bishop Loughlin

The Armory had some strong showings for some of PA's top runners in addition to some under the radar quality performances. 

The big performance was Sam Ritz's second straight bombshell, running 2:28 for 1k. He's now run 4:14 and 2:28 in December, which is really quick for this early. Hopefully he can continue to improve from here. 

The 1k is a tricky event to project. Willig ran about 2:22ish in the 1k before his DQ which is right near the national record. Joe Logue ran in the 2:28 range a year ago in February before running 1:52 at states. I believe Rivera was in a similar spot or 1k before winning states in 1:52.4.

In other words I'd guesstimate that Ritz's fitness right now is at least 1:54-1:55 range. He has to seriously consider chasing the mile-800 double gold this year. If Lewis doesn't enter (or possibly even if he does) Ritz becomes the clear favorite. Plus he should be PA's best hope for a Millrose qualifier.

(Additional note, congrats to Sam on joining his brother at Columbia next fall!)

Alek Sauer had a very strong race for second in 2:31. I'd say that roughly equates to 1:57ish, which is right at his indoor PR and a nice place to start your season. Sauer's 1k is also encouraging because Pennsbury has serious DMR potential with him at the 12. No Webb this weekend for PB (hopefully just resting from Regionals and not another serious injury at Bowdoin after pulling out), but the team showcased some really intriguing mid distance pieces.

I don't know the order of events, but I'm assuming Pennsbury was able to run 8:20 in the 4x8 on tired legs from Sauer and crew. Pennsbury had Mulvaney and Yeger at 1:28 and 1:29 respectively in the 600m (putting them as potential sub 2 legs by 2015.

Penn Wood ran a state leading 4x4 time while also having some solid performances in the 600 and 1k. Conestoga too showed some nice pieces. Their varsity from cross has yet to run but they are showing signs that their depth could translate well to the track.

What are some of your thoughts on the early season? What are people looking forward to at Burdette? What did I miss? (Probably a lot)

Share your thoughts below as always

Week 2 Recap (Minus the Armory)

It's still just December, but the action is starting to heat up just a bit here in PA (and for the second straight week I was actually in PA for part of the weekend so the phrase "here in PA" works). Things still aren't quite hot yet as we had an impressive group of regional entrants this November so lots of individuals and teams are resting, recovering and refueling this month. But it doesn't mean we can't start to piece together some early favorites and sleepers.

Let's go through week 2 of the indoor season from start to finish.

Things started off with a DELCO meet on Tuesday night. Sean Sullivan had a nice win in the mile in 4:44 over Kevin Hong from Upper Darby. Kamil Jihad, a frosh from Chester, had the first of two big wins in 2:04 for the 800m. Donovan St Louis, an impressive sprinter for Darby in the past, ran 2:07 for 3rd. Andre Kelly of Radnor was a solid 2:04 for second, a nice piece to the Radnor relay conversation.

It's also worth noting that is meet was run at Glenn Mills, a notoriously slow track, making these marks even more impressive. 

On Wednesday the action switched to Ursinus, one of my personal favorite flat indoor tracks, where Paul Power dropped the first big 3k of the year, winning in 8:55.68. It's easily the fastest early season mark and it looks like he helped Derek Lopez to a nice race, second in 9:19. Lopez was the district one champ in AA for Pottsgrove.

I'm somewhat intrigued with Easton. They have some relay potential this year in the DMR. They took third and fourth in the 400m and 2nd and 3rd in the 800m without Lapansky and Abert, their two state medalists. Now the times weren't anything amazing, but there is sleeper potential here considering it's still only December. Grunwald's win was in the slow heat and after an impressive XC year, he has potential to improve as a relay leg.

Nice win for Unionville's Delvecchio on the mile, running 4:49.

The 18th brought us another meet with some interesting results, especially if you are a fan of State College. Alex Milligan clocked an impressive 4:28.2h, easily one of the best early season marks we have seen. Teammate Eric Heatwole took 3rd in 4:39.9h. Then Heatwole doubled back in the 8 (assuming a tradition order of events) and ran 2:05.5 for 3rd behind two teammates not named Milligan. Feffer (#2 guy in cross) was 2nd and Tony Degleris was 1st, both men in the 2:03ish range. Throw Milligan into the trio and this team already has an 8:10ish 4x8 in just December. They ran on a banked, fast track, but these marks are still very nice for this early. And just remember these guys are the defending champs.

Brian Hackman ran a really solid 4:33 for second in the mile. He was one of the best A XC guys in the state and this is an encouraging early result for the small school runner. 

Flash forward another day and head to Kutztown. This track, in my experience is basically like a Glenn mills 2.0. It's maybe a slight improvement but the basic concept of the track is quite similar. Kyle Shinn got a strong win for 3k there in 9:19 winning by 12 seconds over Derek Lopez (who was probably tired from running 2 3ks in a span of 3 days).

Nick Mahon from Wilson killed it in the 800m, running 2:04 to win by an impressive 9 seconds. This is a guy with great potential to drop time on a faster track with better competition. Just not sure how easy that will be to find if you aren't in the Philly area.

Not too far down the road in Lancaster, teams were flying around the F and M track. Avon Grove ran a sweet 8:28 to win over a pair of Abington teams who ran 8:32 and 8:35. I'm awaiting the moment when Abington returns as a 4x8 monster, and this may be the season. They had Isiah Smith win the 400m in 51.8 and the top teams in the 4x4 (as well as a 2:06 runner up performance in the open 8).

Eric Diestelow had an impressive day as well. Not sure which came first, but he doubled 9:17 in the 3k and then 4:36 for the double gold. He got a real nice push from Nate Becker of Ephrara in the 3k (9:19). He was a top 50 guy in cross and is a name on the rise this year (just a Junior). Rustin's Spencer Voight took second in the mile in a strong 4:41. Also encouraging to see Darien Knudsen, a solid 2 miler who was MIA during cross, back and racing.

At Lehigh on Saturday, the second TFCAOFGP race was contested. In a battle of 800m guys, Eddinger of Boyertown and Boucher of CB East ran 51.9 and 52.3 to win their respective heats and take 1-2 in the race. Boyertown has put together some really impressive indoor marks in the past and Eddinger is the early season speedier version of Brett Kelly in years past. I'm thinking he surprises at Burdette with a fast mile.

We finally got to Kamil Jihad's second win! The Chester frosh ran 2:02 to beat out sub 16 man Ryan Tung of North Penn (2:03) and Keelan O'Reilly from DT East (2:04). 2:02 in December for just a frosh is very impressive and makes Jihad a name to watch. I'm also curious what this showcasing of speed for Tung means going forward.

One of the biggest pleasant surprises of the first two weeks has been CRN's Brian Arita. After a solid cross season, I thought Arita may look to run the Regional meet, but instead he chose to focus on track. It's paying off so far after he grabbed a dominating mile win in 4:33 and ran a strong 800m last weekend. Second was Ian Davies from a team that I'm watching closely, CB West. Chapman, a state qualifier in cross, ran to a solid 3rd 4:39 and 4:40). McMenamin from Souderton ran 4:42 for 4th.

Without 4:40 man Chapman, Neshaminy still dropped an 8:22.0 and got the first state qualifier mark in the 4x8. I have to think Marrington played a role in this. Name to watch for sure and Neshaminy is suddenly a very interesting relay story.

So too is LaSalle. They ran 8:23 without the 3k champ (Paul), their best XC guy (Princivalle who was in the 4:40s this weekend) and an 800m 6th place finisher (Phayre ran 2:08). They have depth, but who will break out?

Also don't look now but Bensalem has pieces for another 4x8. 8:23 right behind LaSalle and Neshaminy. CB West ran 8:29 without Davies as well.

The DMR was real nice as well. CR South and St Joes Prep both ran fantastic with their 10:53 to 10:54 battle. Those marks are quite quick for this early and indicate both teams have strong anchors (Hanna and MaGuire vs Fisher and Daly I'm assuming? 4 really strong somewhat underrated guys). CR South also had a sophomore medal on the open 8 that they may want to incorporate into their relay rotation going forward and see what happens. Wiseman just a year ahead of his time?

Cheltenham killed the 4x4 and Lewis will be money this year again. A very real talent. I'm hoping we see these guys throw down an absurd armory SMR.

In D2, another 800m man moved down in Kelly from Radnor, to win in 52 seconds. The 800 had an awesome battle between Twin Valley's Josh Coakley and Masterman's JDL. Both men ran 2:02 but Coakley edged out Lutzner. This is impressive for me for Coakley who was great in XC and is now showcasing fantastic December speed. Really like his potential. Lutzner has been one of my guys for a while, I'm just waiting to figure out his best track event (I'm thinking mile).

Twin Valley got another nice mark from Colin Geary (second in the mike 4:42). Potential for a cool relay is there. Lukas Marcelis grabbed a nice gold with his 4:41 win in the mile. Dom Digiacomo was second in the 3k behind Sean Sullivan of Bonner, giving Twin Valley either gold or silver in all the individual distance races. 

Radnor wins the 4x8 without one of their best guys in Andre Kelly (400 winner and 2:04 at Glenn Mills). Penncrest was right behind them (both squads ran 8:28) and also had enough guys to win the 4x4 (3:36). So there is really nice middle distance depth on that roster.

Malvern Prep made a nice early season statement running 11:02 to win the DMR.

I'll recap the action from the armory tomorrow but hopefully this gives you something to chew on.

Bold Predictions for 2015

You asked for it (without technically asking for it, I just felt it was something you secretly wanted) and now it's here! Bold Predictions for 2015!

In honor of the L in LXV, I figured I'd drop 50 of em.

1. Kevin James gets his well deserved state title indoors in the mile with a winning time of 4:14.42.

2. Chanelle Price will represent PA on the 2015 World Championship Team at 800m.

3. After winning the 2014 NCAA title while red shorting one of their All-Americans, Colorado will redshirt everyone on their team in 2015.

4. A team ending in "West" will won the District One Championships in XC.

5. I will meet Ben Saarel. Not sure how, not sure where exactly, but it happens.

6. etrain will be offered $1,000 by Penntrack for exclusive rights to etrainLXV, but he will politely turn them down.

7. Colorado will still win the NCAA title in 2015.

8. A different team named "West" will win the XC State Championships.

9. Drake's new album, views from the six, will be awesome. Not even a prediction, more of a fact.

10. The State XC Meet will be moved from Hershey.

11. We will take our first steps towards a meet of champions for Outdoor Track this June.

12. Ritz, James, Brehm, Hoey and Brophy highlight the entries for the Meet of Champs mile. But someone other than those 5 will win.

13. Harry Potter will continue to be a big deal. I'll read all the books again for fun and my friends won't sit with me at lunch anymore.

Wait sorry that was from my predictions for 2009 ... Well I mean it still applies ... 

14. etrain will turn down an $1,000 offer from Flotrack for exclusive rights to LXV. He really believes in himself ....

15. With the future of the 10k in doubt, Galen Rupp will win the 10k at the 2015 World Championships.

16. The seven people watching the race from the US will be super amped.

17. Either West Chester Henderson or CRNorth will miss the state championships in cross county for the first time in nearly a decade.

18. In an unrelated prediction, Forrest will punch me in the face.

19. The LXV hype combined with two contract offers goes straight to etrain's head. He will demand that everyone calls him Trizzy Train (like Drizzy Drake) and begins plans to drop a rap album called Views from the 65.

20. I will confuse the crud out of people by alternating between referring to myself in 1st and 3rd person. That's not even for 2015, that's just the 5 minutes your reading this post.

21. "What is Lukas Verzbicas's middle name?" will be the top searched item on google for a brief period of time.

22. The new State Farm commercials will feature Steph and Jeff Curry alongside Cliff and Chris Paul. You heard it here first. 

If they do Stephen and Steven I'm gonna be upset.

23. Dom Perretta will go for the triple of 3200m-1600m-800m at states in AA. And he will win all three.

24. etrainLXV will finally be released after lots of absurdly ridiculous attempts to create excitement.

For those of you who follow me on twitter you probably realized the numbering here is significant.

25. Ben Furcht and I will go to Rita's Water Ice. My treat. The night will end with an awkward half hug, half handshake.

26. The Kardashians will continue to be a thing for some reason.

27. Indoor states will be on a Sunday this year. Just kidding why the heck would they do that ...

28. It turns out etrainLXV is just a series of 65 pictures of animals wearing running singlets doing running poses. Needless to say it is a colossal failure.

29. The Incredibles 2 will be made.

30. Somewhere at some point someone cool will describe something awesome as being "so Mac and Cheese". And that will become a thing.

31. Race Walking will end up cut from the Olympics. 

32. Surprisingly no one is really that upset. Not even the race walkers.

33. I will sign up for my first marathon.

34. No track and field related events will make Sportscenter's Top 10. 

35. But don't worry there should be plenty of water skiing squirrels. 

36. In massive amounts of debt from the funds it took to produce LXV and to start his own rap label, 050, etrain tries desperately to gain sponsors for the blog.

37. Nothing beats the refreshing taste of Pepsi. It's available in stores nationwide at a great value!

38. Will Kachman has a breakthrough track season. As a result sales of "It's a Wondeful Life" hit the highest marks since the 50s so people can catch up on etrain's references.

39. I will realize signing up for that marathon was a horrible idea.

40. World Junior Record Holder Hagos Gebrewhit (12:47 5k PR) will continue to be younger than me. And have a better mustache.

Sometimes life's not fair kids.

41. Dominic Hockenbury's gloves and Griffin Molino's arm bands will be joined together to create some kind of mega person.

42. German Fernandez. Enough said.

43. I will run the PA Distance Festival at Henderson for the first time and will only lose to three girls.

44. Bernard Lagat will win the US Championship at 5k at the tender age of 40. 

45.Yes, 40. 

46. Amazingly no one will seem that concerned that a masters aged man can out duel the future 10k world champ. They would just be caught up in that beautiful smile ...

47. After the debacle of LXV, etrain turns to a new strategy for viewership: Long Island Distance running. Business is booming.

48. Robby Andrews and I will have a long run on the beach discussing sitting and kicking and sharing a few laughs. 

49. My girlfriend will be perfectly cool with it. It will be pretty Mac and Cheese.

50. PA will never start playing.

Coming Soon: Bold Predictions for 2015

I did this last year for 2014 (link should be right here http://therealtrain.blogspot.com/2013/12/bold-predictions-for-2014_23.html?m=1) in one of my first ever posts on this blog. 

I thought it was a fun time so I'm preparing another year this time around! Feel free to check what I said last year an see what turned out right and wrong.

For the record Mary Cain never beat my 800m PR, but she crushed my 1k and I cried for way more than 32 minutes ...

The 800m

The 800m is seemingly the most up for grabs event this indoors with 7 of last year's medalists pursuing degrees this year, including the entire top 5. Couple that with the fact that many of last years top outdoor runners, including Brehm, Graca and Perretta, have yet to compete an indoor state championship and the field appears prime for an upset or a dramatic mile-800 double gold (the first since Endress in 2011).

The 800m has been red hot for the past 6 years and may finally be calming down. For a while the state record indoors was 1:52.32 (Vandegrift) and the meet record was 1:53.53 but in 2009 Tom Mallon changed that dramatically. 

After Mike Palmisano charged to the front early, attempting to break Mallon's kick, Mallon stormed back on the last lap and blasted a 1:51.79, a mark that was #11 in the history of the nation at the time (and #2 ever for Juniors). It was a jaw dropping performance at the time (especially since Mike was my teammate at the time) and it changed the standard of excellence for 800m indoors.

But it wouldn't be long before someone one upped Mallon. In 2011, just two years later, Wade Endress pulled off a stunning double gold, winning the mile in an impressive 4:13 and following it just an hour and a half later with a 1:51.73, breaking the state record again. Behind him Kyle Moran also broke 1:53, running an impressive 1:52.81 and setting up the race for Endress with the early pace.

But Endress's record didn't even last a year. Ned Willig took a shot at the record at a meet at Yale and clocked an impressive 1:51.25 (#10 AT at that point) just a day after anchoring his DMR with a 4:16. At states Ned chose to pass on the 800m to run the DMR and the mile (both ended up being gold). In his place Haneef Hardy dropped a 1:53.30 to win the title, a mark that was faster than the old meet record yet again.

Ned took a shot at the national record at NBIN and his fast pace set up the race for Ben Malone and Zavon Watkins to take him down and run the #2 and #3 marks ever. Ned settled for third in PAs second fastest performance ever with a 1:51.59.

But it didn't end! In a "down" year, Rivera became PA's 5th fastest ever running 1:52.43 to win the indoor title. Christian Sanders was second in 1:53.50 and 4 men broke 1:54.

Then this past year the fireworks really went off. Kyle Francis took hold of the race and destroyed the track, leading wire to wire in a Mindblowing 1:50.55. Behind him Wiseman dropped a 1:51.36 for the #3 performance in state history and then Logue closed it out in 1:52.02 for #6. 

In a span of just six years, the state record was destroyed, the old state meet record was made into a joke and suddenly 3 guys were running nearly 1:51 indoors! 

After all of that madness, can we expect anything close to that in 2015? The smart answer is no, but you never know. 

The leader on paper is Jon Lewis, who is one now officially one of the best 800m runners in state history after dropping a 1:50.01 last summer. If he chooses to pursue this race, big things could happen.

Interestingly enough the last 5 800m state champs didn't medal the previous year in that event and 6 years ago was Mallon who barely grabbed a medal in 8th the year before he won gold. Maybe Lewis (medalist in 2012, 400m state champ in 2013) is that guy.

But let's not count out the top returners Connot Holm and Andy Stewart. The top returner in the 800m has been all state the next year 6 out of the last 7 years and top 3 five out of the past 7. The #2 returner has also amassed an impressive resume including multiple all states in 2014, 2013, 2011, 2009 and 2008.

The state champ or state runner up have often made names for themselves on relays before breaking out as individuals. I knew Kyle Francis had record potential to second he split 1:51.7 in the wind, solo in the horrible conditions of the 2013 outdoor state meet and last December his record was one of my bold predictions for 2014 that actually came true (another addition is coming soon btw).

Rivera was the anchor for the district one champion Bensalem squad in 2012 before winning his indoor title. Kyle Moran helped Abington win an indoor 4x8 title the year before he blasted his sub 1:53 indoors. Luke Lefebure was the anchor of one of the best relays in Henderson history as a sophomore, splitting 1:54 for the 3rd place squad behind only CB South's record 7:33 and UD's 7:40.0. And of course Mallon, Palmisano and third place finisher Paul Reilly were all key cogs in 4x8s in 2008 before making waves in the open 8 at states in 09.

That makes Alek Sauer's name very relevant. He just split an incredible 1:52 outdoors to help Pennsbury grab another 4x8 medal with his second straight quality anchor leg. Mike Kolor, a member of Seneca Valley's indoor and outdoor medalists 4x8 may also be worth mentioning here. He is probably more of a miler but is a name on the rise. And then there is Dylan Eddinger of Boyertown who made a name for himself last outdoors when he led off in 1st place at states for an up and coming Boyertown relay that included indoor medalist Eli Mercado.

These are just some of the possibilities for 2015 in the 800m (WPIAL due for a champ?). There are some quality names out there in this event, but I can't help but feel like a new superstar is going to emerge this January.

Get your popcorn ready.

The Seeding Question

I found the discussion of seeding earlier this weekend particularly interest because, for the first time in my career, I will be seeding myself in a few weeks in my first post graduate track meet. 

Considering my training has been streaky at best, it's a real challenge to slot myself somewhere on a piece of paper, especially considering I haven't raced a mile in almost a year (by the time I do race it, it will have been over a year). 

Coach's have a very difficult job. If I can't figure out where to seed myself while I've been running and racing the mile for over the decade, I'd love to see a coach try to seed a freshman who has never run an indoor race in his life without giving a 20 second range.

The delicate science of predicting times is something a blogger like myself has tried to master for years and failed at on more occasions than I can even remember. But predicting and seeding are different animals and much be judged as such.

There is a strategy to seeding. Some coaches may see particular potential in an athlete and understand that in the right race they could run a lot faster than their PR. Others may choose a conservative approach, trying to make sure than their athlete doesn't go out too hard and overextend themselves. Still others may feel that their athlete needs to have the experience of being in a fast race and failing to hold on so that at a future date they will be stronger and ready to hang on.

The season is long and lots of coaches have varied approaches for each athlete and each situation. 

Overseeding will always be an issue. Everyone wants to be in a fast race. Everybody is at least a little biased towards their own athlete. It's impossible not to be. It took me a long time to understand what reasonable goals are for a given race or a given season and it takes coaches time to determine their athletes ability.

Kids improve or, unfortunately, go backwards at all sorts of rates. In high school, especially the first meet of December in indoor track, these improvement curves are still be determined.

Plus, there is game theory at work. You can seed your athletes at any time. By now it is well known that coaches have tendencies to overseed their athletes, so there seeding someone at their actual time ends up being the equivalent of seeding someone 10 seconds too slow.

I understand why people are upset when certain runners are clearly overseeded. It feels like more deserving athletes are left out of hears where they would have better competition. Sure, that's fair.

I'm sure there are success stories from being overseeded and an athlete raising to the occasion to run a huge new PR ... But then, was the athlete really overseeded? Or was the potential just properly judged?

Here's the thing, I've been overseeded and underseeded a bunch of times in my 8+ years of invitationals and all my best races came when I was underseeded or correctly seeded. As far as I can remember, when I've been over my head in a race, I've gotten shot out the back and ended up discouraged, tired and slow. 

Meanwhile, when I've been in races where I feel I can win, where I'm running near the front with even splits, staying competitive, I feel better. And more importantly I run faster.

Maybe this is only the way I operate, but I'd imagine runners, who are competitive in their nature, run better when they race the field instead of racing the clock. Get too caught up in times and splits and it never works out well.

Out of my 4 fastest open 800m races of my life, I won 3 heats and was 2nd in the other. I could have been seeded faster in some cases and maybe that would have helped, but I'm a believer that I wouldn't have handled things as well physically or mentally.

Honestly, I think that a coach is doing a huge disservice to the athlete if he overseeds them in a race. As far as I'm concerned there is no advantage. 

I'd bet borderline guys run better in the slower heat than the faster one most of the time. No way to prove it, but in my limited sample size of watching myself and my friends (lots of examples other than me of guys over their heads blowing up) that's what my data shows.

Think of it this way, what's the best rabbit? Someone who runs way out ahead of you, or someone who is just a step ahead of you, inches away that is almost equal to you in ability, but pushes you at all the right moments?

Honestly, I used to get really angry about seeding at these invitationals. I used to be obsessed with getting in the right race so I could just sit in the pack and get dragged to a fast time. But I was in those races and that didn't work. When I said screw the time, I just want to go win: I ran my PRs. 

In my opinion, if you are out there and you see a kid seeded way over his head, don't be angry at him. Don't be jealous. I'd just smile to myself and think: thank goodness my coach knows what he is doing. 

And then I'd go out and run a PR.

Opening Weekend

First off big shout to Comber (20th) and Brophy (25th) representing PA at FL Nats! Great season for both guys and looking forward to seeing them on the track.

Opening weekend here in the PTFCA and we have our first PA leaders. One interesting note (to me anyway) was that nobody chose to pursue an early season fast 3k off XC fitness. The Footlocker guys still may try it, but thanks to James's back injury, nobody was in the right position to chase the standard.

Considering the entries to state are based on rank in the state rather than time (can someone post up the list of how many qualifiers and like an official qualifying procedure of some sort), this means that lots of guys are going to be attacking the 3k the last two weeks of the season. 

At Lehigh, we saw many top teams/individuals resting (considering it is just December and only about 2 weeks after the regional meets), but even without the "big names", there were lots of notable early season performances.

In Division I, Dylan Eddinger of Boyertown got a quality early season win in 2:02.43. Finishing second, in an interesting development, was Dave Marrington of Neshaminy who ran a very solid 2:03. He's been more of a hurdler/sprint type in my recent memory, but this 800 mark is excellent for December. He has such natural speed that he could be a version of Sam Ellison, picks up the 800m and increases his strength gradually over the year, ending with some fantastic 800m marks. In a wide open 800, these two names made strong statements in week one.

Worth noting, Ian Challingsworth from LaSalle ran 2:05.70. He wasn't one of the top 7 guys on this XC squad, meaning they have yet another weapon looming towards a DMR/4x8. He also miscalculated his laps, meaning he probably had a faster performance in him.

Brian Arita, a state XC medalist from CRN this past year, showed impressive early season speed running 2:04. He hasn't had too many significant moments on the track compared to XC and I had the impression his best event was probably the 3200, so we could see a really nice mile from him this indoors, or maybe he continues to surprise at 800m (I used to be convinced Ned Willig was a two miler ... Then he set an indoor state record in the 8).

CR South got a pair of big wins from Joe MaGuire (4:38 mile) and Andrew Hanna (9:13 3k). These guys were money in XC this year, having some really strong performances on the fast course at Lehigh and both juniors look poised to have big time track seasons. I think both guys were a bit disappointed with states and were clearly motivated in the early season. 

Both guys beat some quality runners from St Joe's Prep in Isiah Fisher (4:40) and Jon Daly (9:22). The Prep has produced some really strong relays over the past decade and Daly is going to continue to improve after his 4:20s type makes in the mile last year (he was MIA during Cross so he should improve significantly over the season as he gets more mileage in). 

Both teams have interesting relay potential (DMR perhaps?) so we will have to keep an eye on these boys. 

Running a jaw dropping 3k takes a lot of work, so Hanna's 9:13 this weekend was impressive. It's also solid that he beat out a field that included state qualifiers Connor McMenamin, Tayji Mays, and Eric Chapman. 

The Neshaminy boys had an interesting day on the distance side. It's rare that we talk about Neshaminy's distance because they are usually sprint dominant, but they had medalists in each of the 3 distance events this weekend.

Pennridge won the 4x8 without Tucker Desko while Cheltenham chose to go distance in week one and took gold in the DMR in 11:11. CB East got a 4x4 gold in 3:38, and I'd be interested to see how/if those guys move up and make 4x8/DMR potential with Jake Brophy.

In Division II, Alex Lindsey gets the win in the 800m in 2:08 over Archbishop Ryan's Tom Hammond (also 2:08). In the mile, Eric Diestelow got an impressive early season win, running a quick 4:34 to beat out Josh Coakley from Twin Valley (4:36). We knew Diestelow had potential this year and this win is encouraging early, but this is a big early season statement for Coakley. He had a solid XC season (probably underrated overall) and puts himself on my radar for this track season thanks to a quick run for just December. 

Liam Galligan, top 50 at XC states as just a sophomore, shows interesting early potential with a 4:44.

The 3k was one by A XC stud Julian Degroot Lutzner, who I'm a fan of this year. He ran 9:20 to beat out Harriton harrier Sam Ebby (9:26).

Strath Haven got a dominating 4x8 win in the early going, running 8:32 and winning by 10 seconds. Radnor gets a solid win in the DMR (11:14) after a quiet XC season for Holm and co. Keep in mind this team was a medalist squad in the DM last year. HGPrep got an impressive second place in the DMR without Callahan Lennon, who ran the 3k.

At Dickinson, the Carlisle boys had a nice showing, even without big name Zach Brehm. Matt Wisner got the win in the 1600m in 4:43 over a solid A XC runner in Cooper Leslie (4:47). The duo doubled back to take 1-2 in the 8 with a 2:08 to 2:09 victory for Wisner.

State College got the win in the 4x8 and Matt Beyerle got a quality win in the 3200m in 10:11 (I haven't converted it, but it's probably worth low to mid 9:20s). Owen Wing was second for SC.

What The Experts Are Saying About LXV

Congrats, you have found the secret page! This is a fun little post meant to be a funny bit of run up to the LXV unveiling in January of 2015.

Please know that this is all in jest and none of the following quotes were actually said by the people involved (even the one's by my mom)

"LXV? It's going to be Legen ... Wait for it ... No seriously wait for it. Just keep waiting, he's not releasing it until January." - Barney Stinson, How I Met Your Runner

"etrainLXV is like Machiavelli meets ... Christmas." - Dwight K. Schrute, The USATF Office

"The reason the IOC is considering getting rid of the 200m and 10k in the Olympics is to make room for etrainLXV. Also we have no respect for track and field."- Spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee

"I have a restraining order against you. That means you have to leave me alone." - Robby Andrews, Professional Runner and great friend of Jarrett Felix, regardless of what he or his lawyers try to tell you.

"LXV is probably just an ode to etrain's man crush on the Hoeys. So I don't really care." - Anonymous therealtrain reader

"I am hoping that it is an indepth analysis of the Lebanon-Lancaster League. I think we would all benefit from that." - Penntrack's own Jim Dillner

"Whatever it is I'll read it! I go on his sight everyday and love his stuff!"- the only person who reads therealtrain, AKA Jarrett's Mom

"I'm glad I finally won a state championship, but I would gladly give that up for a sneak preview at etrainLXV."- Ross Wilson, Council Rock North Class of 2014

"Shut up Ross." - Ben Furcht, Jeff Wiseman and Kevin James

"Guys seriously, I'm not Coach Kelly ... wait what was the question?" - RJJL

"I'm super excited for both this hill workout in the snow and the release of etrainLXV!" - said by no one ever

"Considering I have 5 state championships, I'd probably be willing to trade a couple just to learn what the heck the LXV means. Then maybe use another one to figure out where the heck etrain comes from. Seriously, his name is Jarrett Felix, it makes no sense." - Tony Russell, West Chester Henderson Class of 2014

"Already seriously, it's not funny anymore." - Zach Hebda, Rad Gunzenhauser and 95% of runners in general

"I think the LXV stands for how old etrain will be turning in January. Like seriously how old is this kid? Doesn't he have any other hobbies? How does he have a girlfriend ..." - What everyone is wondering

Dickinson Invite

The indoor track season is typically dominated by the philly area squads with many of the TFCAofGP affiliated schools benefiting from weekly meets and good competition as they chase state standards. The Tri State Coaches association has developed it's own series of meets that seem to be improving D7 performances during the indoor season. They've actually had 3 of the last 5 champs at 3000m and another runner up finish in 2013. 

But the district 3 teams often have to pick their spots. Usually the state college invites including Kevin Dare are the best shots for D3 guys to get on a fast track and chase some standards. There has been plenty of talent in d3 which has led to a series of outdoor state championships, but indoors they are still looking for a man to breakthrough for gold. I'm not sure if they've had a gold medal on the distance side since Craig Miller won the 3k in 2006 (in a meet and state record time of 8:22). Considering that since that title during outdoors they have had champs in the 1600m, 800m and 4x800m multiple times each this seems like an odd trend.

The D3 teams are focused on peaking outdoors, which many would agree is a smart goal. The majority of indoor state champs do not repeat outdoors (one out of three individuals last year) and often times the big names indoors struggle to hold form for the entire year. It's a long stretch to be racing hard and dropping PRs. Even Kyle Francis, the indoor and outdoor 800m state champ looked like he was burnt out early outdoors before turning on the jets at states and making me feel incredibly silly for ever doubting him.

But all the same, indoors is a season where state champions are crowned and considering there are few of those crowned each year (I've seen 65 different individuals share the nearly 100 individual state championships since I started covering this sport in the fall of 2007). The early season meets will go a long way towards determining how these mid state squads will treat this difficult stretch of running and how they will navigate the winter.

At the Dickinson Invite this coming weekend, many D3 teams (as well as some quality teams from around the state) will converge to try and get their first taste of indoor racing. Among the teams on Penntrack's entry list are Camp Hill, Carlisle, Cumberland Valley, Gettysburg, Lower Dauphin and Red Land.

Cumby has probably been the most successful of the D3 indoor squads with scattered medalists over the years. Their XC team was an impressive 7th at states, but their skills on the track are relatively unknown. Some of their top kids chose to extend their season to regionals this year including Wasko, Higgins and Soliman so it's unclear if they will race this weekend on XC fitness, rest up, or try and give it a go after a short training block.

LD had an impressive go this past indoors with Groh and Nissley grabbing many headlines, but Weidner was there too to contribute on the DMR that medaled and to mix it up in the open mile. Weidner was a state medalist in XC and should be a contender in the mile this indoors and out. We will see if he can grab one of the talented sophomores (Cassell and Shea) and bring them along to some fast times and maybe another DMR appearance. (For the record can you find me two better names than Kyler Shea and Colton Cassell? That's the teammate duo I want taking 1-2 at states in two years ....)

Red Land has a pair of state medalists on their roster from cross, but it's unclear if either will be on the track this weekend after running regionals. Same rules apply here as the ones that applied to CV. I'd be quite interested to see Seiger chase a sub 9 3k off XC fitness, but ed had a long year and I wouldn't blame him for resting up and refueling.

Carlisle is a big draw because of the potential for two time state champ Zach Brehm to make an appearance. He chose not to run indoor states last year and didn't pursue footlocker regionals this past year. I'm not expecting him to drop anything crazy at this meet (mostly because it's December and no one will be doing anything too jaw dropping) but how hard he and his teammates go in this meet will show if they are finally considering lacing them up for a run at Hershey.

Dan Filler and Blake Beheny are a couple small school runners we could potentially see involved, both guys are coming off excellent XC campaigns.

Although I haven't made it sound this way, there will be other districts involved this weekend. State College, the defending indoor and outdoor 4x8 state champions, will begin their title defense with a complete new squad after graduating all 4 gold medalists. But this team was deep a year ago and Milligan looks like he may ready to have a breakout season this year if he can continue to improve on the track despite losing 4 excellent training partners.

North Pocono is on the entry list which could mean an appearance from Matt Kravitz. Kravitz qualified for states indoors last year as a sophomore and showed low 4:20s ability in the spring. He dropped a huge time sub 15:40 at the always quick Lehigh course which means his speed is just as sharp as ever. 

There are a variety of other interesting entries including Baldwin, Parkland and Ringgold (who has district 7 stud Noah Smith). 

This meet won't get the big time recognition of the meet at Lehigh (where I will be in attendance), but it has plenty of it's own intriguing sub plots that I look forward to dissecting on my Monday morning train ride.

Indoor Week One

So not sure how feasible this/how likely this is because I know lots of teams/coaches/people are tentative to post this sort of thing on the blog but I'll give it a shot.

What's everybody running this weekend? Anybody going after some strong relays? Chasing a standard on XC Fitness?

Post up if you would like or feel free to speculate on what you think will/should go down. 

Meanwhile I'll be listening to drake and planning out some new stuff for LXV.

Also would anybody interested in a post about the upcoming professional running club nationals? Also at Lehigh this weekend. Or a Footlocker Preview? I don't know much but I might be able to convince Forrest to do one.

Let me know.

The New Districts (and States?) Course

XC is basically over, but somehow we can't seem to escape it. Without track races to give me a little extra something to write about I turn my attention back to the big news from the center of the state.

The District 3 championship has moved to Big Spring High School and will now be held on the Saturday before the state championships. (thanks to Sean Collins for breaking this news)

The spring board for the move came when it was revealed a new road was being constructed that bisected the parkview course at Hershey.

The construction and unanimous decision to move by the D3 committee suggests the state location will be the next to move. Considering many have had frustrations with Hershey before this road, it seems probable that if/when the state meet can be moved, it will be.

This is huge news for a variety of reasons. As I have documented in depth here on this site, I am a strong believer that the D3 athletes were put at a disadvantage running the difficult Hershey course back to back weeks. There is clear evidence that this has been the case and although many have either chosen not to make excuses or chose to be optimists, I imagine there are many rising Seniors eager to transition away from the Chocolate Park. 

Another interesting piece of this, is the move from Wednesday to Saturday. As Sean pointed out in our podcast together, placing a championship meet on a Wednesday is very counter intuitive to a runner's typical work weak. It takes careful coaching to navigate what is often a Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday type schedule. The move to Saturday does create a bit of a storm delay problem (the meet would have to be run on a Monday most likely) but overall, it appears to be another positive for D3 harriers.

But it's not all good news. The biggest foreseeable issue is facing Mid Penn schools who will now be looking at back to back races at Big Spring. Big Spring is not quite as lethal as Hershey, but it is certainly a difficult course in it's own right. I don't know exactly how the 5k relates to the 6k and 8k, but both of these college races feature some nasty back hills.

Plus if Hershey does indeed get the state meet pulled out from under them, where is the most likely place to put it? I'd wager Big Spring its probably near the top of the list, having just proved it's capability for hosting a big meet when it hosted the D3 Mideast Regionals for the second time in three years.

That would mean there exists a situation where a team (like one of next years top contenders Cumberland Valley) could run the Big Spring course three straight weeks. (4 straight weeks if you count fake meet of champs)

I'd imagine Mid Penns will have it's championship race a full two weeks out from Districts which should help alleviate the problem, but we could end up with a similar back to back issue for the D3 teams in 2015 or 2016. 

It's also possible that the well known Carlisle course, which hosts one of the biggest invites of the year, could sneak in and take either the MidPenn championships or the state championships (more likely the former in my mind).

The move also opens the door for the rotation ideas that have been proposed by some individuals/teams to rotate the state championship meet to a variety of locations over the years. Maybe a Coopers Lake/Cal, Big Spring, Belmont Plateau type rotation is suddenly in play?

I personally love the move as many are probably not surprised to hear. I love that Big Spring course and just doing a normal run there a month ago was a fun experience. I think it's a great championship course and it makes much more sense than the brutality that was back to back Hershey. 

That's the bottom line here. In my eyes it's a big win for the athletes. Sure the decision was probably made because of the road and not because of complaints from people like me on a blog that no one connected to that meeting reads. But either way, in my eyes the athletes are going to have a much better chance at success. 

And shouldn't what's right for the athletes always be the obvious decision?

Final XC Rankings

So I know I’m a little late on these, but hopefully you guys are still interested. This is my final top 50 (which I stretched to a top 76 in honor of the Sixer’s winning a game) for the 2014 XC season. Hopefully this is still relevant enough for people to enjoy.
Sorry in advance if I mess up anyone’s class year or name or school or anything like that.
76. Will Swart, Sr WC Henderson
75. Dan Filler, Jr Gettysburg
74. Rock Fortna, Jr CB West
73. Killian Nelson, Sr Conestoga
72. Will Sponaugle, Sr Hershey
71. Andrew Maxwell, Jr Slippery Rock
In this first round of runners, we see an interesting mix of names including many of our top 50 individuals in the AAA state meet. Filler had a fantastic D3 Champs race and bounced back very well for a AA medal the next week during back to back Hershey meets (something he won’t have to do next year). Killian Nelson was #2 almost all season on the state runner ups so I felt he deserved a spot on this list.
70. Will Kachman, Jr Bedford
69. Jack Carmody, Jr WC Rustin
68. Ben Evans, Sr Scranton Prep
67. Noah Smith, Sr Ringgold
66. Blake Beheny, Jr Camp Hill
65. Kyler Shea, So Lower Dauphin
64. Matt Kravitz, Jr North Pocono
63. Spencer Smucker, Fr WC Henderson
62. Jeff Van Kooten, Sr Pittsburg CC
61. Brady Wilt, Sr York Suburban
Smucker is one of two freshman to make this list this year and this is one of the first times in my memory that a freshman has made my end of season rankings. Brady Wilt gets bonus points for leading York Suburban to a state title. Kravitz had a very memorable run at Paul Short and strong runs at districts and states. Noah Smith had a killer year as one of the most underrated runners in the WPIAL. Ben Evans ended his season with a massive exclamation point with a fantastic run at the state championship in AA.
60. Connor McMenamin, So Souderton
59. Elias Graca, Sr Fox Chapel
58. Drew Wilkinson, Sr Red Land
57. Quinn Wasko, Sr Cumberland Valley
56. Aaron Benka, Sr Grove City
55. Kyle Shinn, Sr Wyomissing
54. Matt Murray, Jr Dunmore
53. Scott Seel, Sr North Allegheny
52. Mike Kolor, Jr Seneca Valley
51. Jack Tidball, Sr Tunkhannock
The AA picture was very scattered this year. Lots of top guys rotated through the difference results, showing just how close this field was. Tidball, Shinn and Benka all come in just outside the top 50 but you could make strong arguments for placing them higher. Matt Murray had a huge day to break into the top 6 of an extremely competitive group of top A runners.
50. Sean Hilverding, Sr Waynesburg
49. Julian Degroot-Lutzner, Sr Masterman
48. Andrew Hanna, Jr CR South
47. Jacob Heinauer, Sr North Hills
46. Eric Diestelow, Sr West Chester East
45. Dan Quigley, Jr Freedom
44. Colten Trimble, Sr South Side
43. Ethan Linderman, Sr Canon-Mac
42. Rob Morro, Jr O’Hara
41. Cody DiVecchio, Jr Burgettstown
Here we have another strong crop of runners. Although some of these guys may not have been state medalists, their overall body of work was enough to propel them up the rankings. Linderman had a really strong stretch run, including leading his team to an upset of Lebo at Districts. Heinauer was impressive from RWB all the way until season’s end. Hanna and Diestelow had terrific races at leagues and districts as well as a variety of early season meets like Abington and Briarwood. Quigley’s runs at both Carlisle and Paul Short were very encouraging and he will be a name to watch next fall without a doubt. Cody DiVecchio (who I picture looking exactly like Tony DiVecchio from Backyard Sports if anyone is old enough to get that reference) had one of the best stretch run seasons out of anybody with huge runs at Districts and States. He was an under the radar stud at season’s end.
40. Gabriel Allgayer, Jr Mercersburg Academy
39. Domenic Perretta, Jr Beaver Falls
38. Zach Skolonevich, So Quaker Valley
37. Sean Weidner, Sr Lower Dauphin
36. Brian Arita, Sr Council Rock North
35. Brian Delaney, Jr Manheim Township
34. Brad Foust, Sr Altoona
33. Josh Hoey, Fr Malvern Prep
32. Will Loevner, Jr Winchester Thurston
31. Kevin Lapsansky, Jr Easton
Allgayer had a fantastic run at Paul Short and an early season fast performance at Big Spring against Dan Green. He was in the top five of a competitive independent league. Josh Hoey was 2nd overall in that league as just a freshman and had impressive runs at Abington and Briarwood this season as well. It would have been interesting to see how he would have handled the AAA field at states with the other independents. For the record, I think by season’s end the gap between Smucker and Hoey was smaller than these rankings suggest, but Josh’s overall season was very impressive to me for just a freshman. Skolonevich from Quaker Valley had a fantastic season including dominating wins against the AA and A guys throughout the year in the WPIAL. He was only just a sophomore last year in what is shaping up to be an interesting class.
30. Nick Dahl, So GFS
29. Aiden Demko, Sr Hershey
28. Jake Susalla, Jr Plum
27. Simon Smith, Sr Towanda
26. Alex Milligan, Jr State College
Another top sophomore, Nick Dahl, had a very strong season this year including impressive runs in the early season at Belmont, at Paul Short and the independent league championships. He also added a blazing fast time out of state. Milligan made huge strides this season going from SC’s 4x8 alternate to their top notch front runner and district 6 champion.
25. Jack DiCintio, Jr Wyomissing
24. Billy McDevitt, Sr Malvern Prep
23. Ryan James, So O’Hara
22. Nathan Henderson, So JP McCaskey
21. Dan Green, Sr James Buchanon
Fun fact, O’Hara and Malvern Prep are the only teams to get three guys in the top 50 rankings. State champs NA had three in the top 60 and Henderson claimed three of my top 76 spots. James and McDevitt were really good this year despite sometimes having to live in the shadow of their other top runner. Henderson was the top sophomore in the AAA state meet race and was impressive at his league meet and Carlisle. DiCintio had a really impressive stretch run, hitting his stride with a runner-up finish at the state meet after placing third at districts.
20. Zach Seiger, Jr Red Land
19. Griffin Mackey, So Sewickley
18. Aaron Gebhart, Sr New Oxford
17. Alex Knapp, Sr WC Henderson
16. Henry Sappey, Jr DT West
Seiger was fantastic this year. He ran amazingly at Carlisle and was the Mid Penn Champ. He also claimed a silver at the district championships. A little bit higher of a finish at states or footlocker would have jumped him into the top 12 or so runners this season. Gebhart had some tough luck with the District 3 curse at states, but he proved he was a fantastic talent at the NXNE regional meet where he nearly surprised his way into the national meet. That was a fantastic story. Mackey ran the fastest time ever by a sophomore at the state championship and was a fearless leader for the Sewickely squad that won a district title and took silver at states. Knapp and Sappey were rivals all season, alternating places down the stretch at Leagues, Districts, States, Regionals. Sappey gets the edge for his state race and his impressive runs at meets like Carlisle and Abington.
15. Zach Brehm, Sr Carlisle
14. Sebastian Curtin, Sr Mercyhurst Prep
13. Jaxson Hoey, Jr Malvern Prep
12. Hunter Wharrey, Sr North Allegheny
11. Paul Power, Sr Spring Ford
Zach Brehm and his Carlisle squad were careful to peak at the right time. When Brehm unleashed himself, like he did at their home meet and states, he had his best two races of the season. He broke the course record this year at Carlisle and also placed top 10 at states for the second straight year (also the top D3 runner for the second straight year). Power had a fantastic win early in the year at Pre States, ran multiple sub 15:30 races at Lehigh and placed top 15 at Regionals for Footlocker. Hunter Wharrey was the #2 man on the state champs and ran a blazing 15:52at states. Curtin was a top 7 guy for PA’s Footlocker Team and a sub 16 at Hershey man in his own right. Jaxson Hoey ended his season with an unfortunate injury, but before he went down he was a legit contender for the #1 ranking in PA.
10. Sam Webb, Sr Pennsbury
9. Sam Ritz, Sr GA
8. Dom Hockenbury, Jr Lake Lehman
7. Matt McGoey, Sr North Allegheny
6. Casey Comber, Sr Hatboro Horsham
Comber will have a legit chance to flip flop with Marston this weekend if he can place highly at the Footlocker championships, but for now he stays at 6th. He had a fantastic year even before his breakthrough Footlocker regional race, including top sub 15:20s at Lehigh and a variety of invitational golds. McGoey was the #1 guy on the best team in the state, the #1 runner in the WPIAL all season, and placed 4th at states in a blazing15:47. Most years he would be at least #3 on this list with that resume. Hockenbury dominated almost all of his races this year. He was untouchable in AA and was in Footlocker qualifying position for much of the race at Van Cortlandt, but couldn’t quite hang on. He will be back with a vengeance next year. Ritz, known for his track speed, had a really strong XC year, including an Independent League title and a killer Manhattan run as PA’s top male. He never got on a course that would truly have allowed him to utilize his speed. Sam Webb is money. He’s consistently strong in XC and always gives it his all. Many years he’d have been a state champ.
5. Andrew Marston, Sr Conestoga
4. Colin Abert, Sr Easton
3. Kevin James, Sr O’Hara
2. Griffin Molino, Sr South Williamsport
1. Jake Brophy, Jr CB East
What a really good top five. These guys are five of the best the state has ever seen. Marston ran the third fastest time ever at Hershey, was the runner up at Districts, ran15:18, and almost set a meet record at McQuaid. He ran very well at the shorter distances like 3k and 4k despite being a longer distance type and he helped Conestoga to a district championship and runner up status at states. Yes that’s your #5 guy.
Abert struggled a bit at states relative to expectations, but it’s not like the guy raced poorly. He ran 15:47, a time few can manage, and somehow that ended up giving him 5th. He was fantastic in invitationals, running away with the PTXC meet over Hockenbury and dominating Power and Molino in a statement win at Paul Short, hitting the mythical mark of14:55. I was even impressed with his Footlocker run. He was 16th in a sub 16 time despite his sickness and a slow start. He went out conservatively because of his questionable health and picked off a ton of guys in the second half (or at least that’s what the pictures made it look like, I don’t have a milesplit account). Fantastic year for Abert and fantastic career.
Kevin James has had some bad luck. He ran15:38 at states and somehow ended up second by 14 seconds. He had a fantastic season with wins at districts and PCLs in addition to his record setting run at DELCOs. He ran sub 16 twice in the same season at Hershey, the only man in history to do so. He made it to his third straight NXN finals, the only man in PA history to do so. Now this list is only based on the 2014 season, but KJ’s career is probably up there with the top 10 in my posting era, which spans 9 seasons now. But he ends up third on this list for this season because that’s how loaded this year was.
Griff Molino is second on this list after winning his second straight A title. His winning time, a near record 15:46, would have been the highlight of the meet if the AAA race had never happened. He ran 15:18 at Lehigh this year, driving out of his way to face top competition at Paul Short and only losing to a guy in his own backyard on a mission to make history in Colin Abert. Molino didn’t end up racing at NXN (hopefully he is healthy) which made the James vs. Molino decision quite difficult, but ultimately, by a fraction of an inch, he gets the nod.
And lastly, Jake Brophy is #1. He holds this spot regardless of what happens this weekend at Footlocker, but on the all time list, he could make some big moves with a statement race in San Diego. He’s in my top 5 or 6 for runners from my era already. He had one “off” day all season (3rd at Pre States in16:01) but otherwise was truly impressive with a near record run at Briarwood, a record run at Leagues, an easy win at Districts and a dominating win at the State Championships (demolishing the course record in 15:24). From what I could see looking at pictures (and that’s not exactly the best basis for analysis), it looked as if Brophy was running very conservatively at Regionals, very concerned with where 10th was and just trying to make sure he didn’t do anything crazy and blow his chance at Nationals. That could mean he has a bit more in the tank to blow some people away at Balboa.
However, it’s been a long season for Brophy considering he started racing in August so it’s not fair to put too big of expectations on him.
That being said, the kid is only a Junior. So I mean … big expectations are going to probably hang around …