Centennial Conference

The Centennial Conference has had 23 different guys already this year who have run a 3k under 9 minutes, including Haverford's big guns who have run 8:18, 8:18 and 8:24 already. Out of those 23 guys who have broken the mark 7 are from Haverford (including the top 4 guys), 8 are from Johns Hopkins (including 5-8), 5 are from Dickinson and 3 are from Swarthmore. The Centennial Conference is quickly establishing itself as one of the best in Division III. These 4 teams finished in the top 6 spots in the difficult Mideast Region and finished the year as top 35 teams in the nation in cross country. Now there has been a strong roll over effect into track. And honestly, the season is just getting started. Dickinson has a slew of other guys who can go under as does Swat and a couple guys from Gettysburg, F&M or Muhlenberg may be able to break in there. The times in the other events are sure to drop very quickly in the coming weeks as schools really start to gear up into the real meat of the season. Dickinson has 4 other guys at 9:10 or faster out of the addition 9 other runners who have run 9:10 or better. Keep in mind Dickinson has yet to compete on one of the fast banked tracks in the area and did not compete in the unreal 3k recently contested at Haverford. Thanks to the fairly absurd flat to bank conversions, the Haverford guys 8:18 runs at 3k are converted down to 8:12 in the national rankings! That has helped them take 1-2-4-14 in the nation by themselves!

Keep an eye on the Centennial Conference. It is filled with fantastic coaches, high quality runners, and the ability to compete on the national level in the public eye. It's a great place to consider looking at schools if you are a high schooler who wants to compete on the national scene in college.

PSU National Invite: PA Alumni

I won't pretend that I recognize every name, but here are the PA alumns I recognized that will be at the PSU meet on the distance side as well as some other big names worth mentioning

Men's 400m
Bernard Bennent-Green PSU/Cheltenham
Brandon Bennent-Green PSU/Cheltenham
Micah Murray Pitt/Penn Hills
Aaron Nadolsky PSU/Altoona
Chidi Okezie Hampton/can't remember the AA schools name I'm sorry on this one
Alex Shisler PSU/State College
Matt Gilmore (Unattached technically) PSU/Cheltenham

Brycen Spratling of Pitt will also contest

Ryun Holder and Hansel Akers of Chambersburg and Hempfield respectively will contest the 500m.

Women's 800m Invitational
Angel Piccirillo Villanova/Homer Central
Emman Keenan Georgetown/GMA

Also contesting is Amy Weissenbach of Stanford

Men's 800m
Sam Ellison Villanova/Upper Dublin
Luke Lefebure Stanford/Henderson
Andrew Smith UMBC/Garnet Valley? (Fairly common name so may not be the same guy)

Also involved will be Zavon Watkins, Edward Kemboi (current NCAA leader), Billy Ledder, Ahmad Bile, Ryan Brennan

In the slower sections Tom Damiani, Andrew Golato, Will Kellar, Dennis Logan, Zach Moon, Mike Palmisano, and Brad Rivera are involved repping PA.

The men's 1k is led by Josh Lampron of Nova, but LJ Westwood of Quaker Valley and Bucknell will represent PA. AJ Chaborek, Brandon Kryszal,  Matt McGarvey and Joe O'Such will contest the slow section.

Women's Mile
I'm probably missing a few names but between the slow and fast heats we have Margo Malone, Amber Valimont and Rachel Flynn. Aisling Cuffe of Stanford is the big name of the race.

Men's Mile
I bet you recognize a few of these names
Former state champs:
Thomas Coyle Stanford/LaSalle
Owen Dawson Unattached/Coatesville
Wade Endress PSU/Altoona
Ryan Gil Georgetown/NA

State runner up Jim Spisak and also Logan Mohn are involved

That's just the invite mile by the way, which features studs such as Jim Rosa, Robby Creese, Jordan Williamsyz, Mike Atchoo, Brandon Kidder, Robert Denault and Marco Bertollotti

Women's 3k
Again I may miss some but
Leigha Anderson, Tori Gerlach and France Koons will be in the race against big name girls like Cuffe, Kathy Kroger, Emily Lipari and Sam Nadel

Stephanie Aldrich and Emily Gianotti are in the slower section.

Men's 3k
Kyle Dawson, Matt Fischer, and Alex Monroe
Big names: Both Rosa twins, Patrick Tiernan, Sam McEntee, Martin Hehir, Erik Olson

In the slower section we have guys like
Chris Cambell, Quinn Davis, Ean DiSilvio, Matt Kacyon, Dylan Mountain, Conner Quinn, and Dan Savage

The 5ks
Meredith Speakman and Rachel Brown for the gals as well as Montana DiPietrantonio (fantastic name)
The guys have Kyle Dawson, Austin Gregor, Joe Kush and Juris Silenieks, Austin Pondel, Nick Scarpello and Tom Trainer

Tomorrow there will be some stacked DMRs with a lot of these names running on them which should be really cool.

Sorry for anyone who's name I missed I was trying to do this fast during my study break!

Fastest Marks in the US 2014

Just throwing out some interesting stats looking at the U.S. leaders in various events so far in the new year.
PSU's Bernard Bennent-Green (Cheltenham alumn) has run 46.61 so far indoors putting him in the top 5 in the nation for the event. He currently sits ahead of world championship participant David Verburg of George Mason and Brycen Spratling of Pitt (one of the best 500m runners in US history indoors) among various other top 20 performers. Neil Brady of Arkansas leads the US with his 46.36 on January 17th, although Arman Hall ran what was technically the fastest mark at an oversized track in Kentucky (45.84).

In Seattle, Luke Lefebure ran an oversized track time of 1:18.39 in a Stanford singlet. That time would be 5th on the current US leader mark if had been run on a banked track rather than a 300m one. Keep in mind the only guys with faster times are 4 professionals including 600m American Record holder Erik Sowinski and Saucony's poster boy Duane Soloman who have both run 1:16. Not bad company. The New Balance games 600m fielded most of the top 10 performers on the list.

PSU currently has the #1 and #2 times in the USA right now thanks to Brandon Kidder (1:48.34) and Zavon Watkins (1:49.47). Quite the mid distance program over there. Ryan Hill's altitude mark throws him up there among the leaders. Counting oversized track marks, Sean Obinwa is the leader from Florida (1:48.20). Freshman Andres Arroyo (1:47/4:04 last year) ran 1:49.22 in his NCAA 800 debut. The track at Lexington that gave way for both of these marks helped 6 Americans break 1:50. Only 3 total have done it on 200m tracks (all coming at PSU).

PA's own Ned Willig has found a nice little pocket in the 1k at the college level. He dropped a 2:22.35 in his most recent race for the win at BU (where Rupp has taken up his assault on records). The time puts Willig #4 in the nation behind 3 times from PSU's 1k race which was won by Robby Creese in the US #1 time of 2:20.65. Ahmad Bile and Billy Ledder of GTown each ran 2:21 in that race. Tyler Mulder, 1:44 man from OTC ran essentially a solo effort of 2:21 on an oversized track in Seattle. He was followed by Izaic Yorks the sophomore from Washington and Marco Bertollotti and Mike Atchoo of Stanford. Jeremy Rae of Notre Dame, at his home track, ran a 2:22 as well, making all four of the collegians sitting at 2:22. PA's Owen Dawson ran 2:22.94 at PSU, a top 10 time currently in the USA (again excluding oversized marks).

PA's Craig Miller has been doing work in the mile! His 3:57 is currently US #2 just ahead of new Heps record holder Will Geoghegan of Dartmouth (3:58.04). Ryan Hill beat out Lopez Lomong in the mile out in Albuquerque as part of a double win and the altitude mark of 3:59.00 puts him in the top 10. Garrett Heath leads all milers with his 3:54.59 at New Balance.Worth noting: Dartmouth has 3 guys at 4:01 or faster, all from the USA. Indoors. In January.

A fast 3k at BU aided Travis Mahoney, Temple alumn and top steeplechaser, to a 7:52 3k opener. It is only behind Rupp's 3k en route and Bernard Lagat's time in Glasgow (7:34 and 7:49 respectively). Dan Lowry, PA alumn from LaSalle, ran 8:00 which puts him among the US top 10. If you include oversized tracks Ben Blankenship and Dan Quigley of OTC have marks of 7:55 and 8:01 that would place them among the top 10. 

5k: Rupp 13:01. That's about all that really means anything. Maksim Korolev of Harvard ran a sick race but is a distant 2nd at 13:42.56. At #3 is PA's own Jim Spisak! 13:43 from the Duquesne man.

Entries for Upcoming UW Invite

These are the interesting ones I spotted off a quick glance at the performance list

Alan Webb, Bowerman Athletics
Izaic Yorks, Washington

German Fernandez, Nike
Jake Hursyz, Colorado
Evan Jager, Nike
Jordan Schillit, OTC
Dan Quigley, OTC
Alan Webb, Bowerman
Izaic Yorks,Washington

Dustin Fay, UCLA
Lawi Lalang, Arizona
Sean McGorty, Unattached
Chris Solinsky, Nike
Taylor Thatcher, BYU
David Torrence, Nike
Jared Ward, BYU
Jason Witt, BYU

4x8 World Record Attempt

So for those of you who follow the professional ranks, you have probably been watching Galen Rupp go on an all out assault on the record books. That has been truly fun to watch, but I think that record breaking is probably done at this point. If he manages to break 3:50 in the mile I will be quite impressed and surprised. He has been struggling the last 600m or so the last few races and bringing home the mile in 56ish pace is going to be no joke. Plus I'm not sure there is a rabbit in his arsenal who can get him to 1200m under pace. Taylor Gilland has been fantastic on the rabbiting jobs thus far, unbelievable work in that 2 mile, but I don't see him getting Rupp around the track for this next one.

Which is why I have set my 800m biased eyes on the upcoming 4x800m record attempt in Boston (different Boston track) at the New Balance Grand Prix. The event will be taking place on February 8th at the Reggie Lewis center and may end up on ESPN or one of its networks. Pretty sweet!

We don't know all that much about the event, but we do know the Brooks Beast relay squad is highlighting the race. Led by new addition Nick Symmonds and his quest to break records this year, the Beasts squad is looking to beat the 7:13.94 World Record mark from 2000 (also the US record). It has also been announced that Symmonds will be joined by Mark Wieczorek (I will refer to as Wizzo because it is not only an awesome nickname but also much easier to spell), Cas Loxsom (PSU's own) and Matt Sherer (perhaps the world's best rabbit).

But obviously this group can not do it alone, they need some competition. The relay willing to give it to them: the NJ-NY team with big name Robby Andrews. It is essentially a battle of two of the under appreciated track training groups in the nation, with no sign of the Nike Oregon Project or the Oregon Track Club.

So what is it going to take to get the record? Well first off it's going to take really strong indoor fitness for this early. The time suggests you "only" need to average 1:48.485 to get yourself the record. Seems like an easy enough mark, but consider the top times recently. 1:47 won a pretty competitive US championships last year indoors if my memory serves me correctly and if you run 1:48 and change you have a chance to be in the final indoors at USAs.

Besides the pros usually aren't jacked up and in sick shape for indoors. Think about the guys on this world record relay. It includes David Krummenacker who is something around 3:31-1:43 PR wise. It also includes Haverford D3 star Karl Paryna (this isn't really relevant to my point, it's just a small shout out to the Centennial Conference). Who is going to line with Krummenacker out there? Nobody on the NJ-NY roster has the chops and Symmonds seems like the most logical guy from the beasts. However, Symmonds usually stays away from indoors and has had seriously quiet years on the circuit ever since becoming a professional.

But the news is not all negative here folks. In the grand scheme of things besides the star Krummenacker, the current record holders are far from names that you recognize (Woody and Kenah are the remaining two legs). In addition, indoor marks are falling left and right this year. If guys really want it, what's to stop them from being in great shape? It's not like it's a world championship year outdoors and, fittingly, it is a world championship year indoors!

So let's crunch a little bit of numbers.
Brooks Beast squad:
Nick Symmonds is the stud of the group. He has a PR of 1:42 in the 800m and has fantastic strength. He is coming of the best year of his career that included a silver medal in the 800m at the world championships. He also has a bit of extra motivation now that he has jumped from the swoosh to try and bring the Beasts to the forefront of the elite. However, Nick still needs to prove he can produce big times indoors. Who knows what kind of shape he is in, especially considering we have yet to see him a race. I may be a hater here, but I can't see faster than 1:46 on his split. I expect Nick, the big name, to be on the anchor leg of the squad and, if they want to get the record, he may have to race hard rather than race (especially if the other team's anchor is Robby Andrews, the ultimate sit and kick man). Overall, I think Nick wants to represent the neon well and will run a great leg when all is said and done, but don't expect anything mind-blowing out of him.

My projected split from Nick: 1:46.91

Cas Loxsom is the big sleeper here. Think about it, Loxsom is perhaps the best guy in the nation at the indoor 600m and if oversized tracks counted for anything he would have the American Record. He could run 1:15ish at the mark and smash guys like Sowinski and Soloman. We have seen Cas run down in the 1:46ish range indoors before and at Penn State they were not ashamed of getting guys in fast shape really early. Cas has all the speed and the tools to run a fantastic split on a 4x8. He is no stranger to important relay legs from his days at Penn Sate and is coming off his best individual season at PSU. But he is a first time professional and that adjustment may take some time. Ultimately, however, I'm banking on Cas getting out hard and holding on in a big way. I think he is the key piece to the puzzle here. If he pops one off the record is gone.

My projected split from Cas: 1:47.04

Wizzo has a PR of 1:45 and made a final at the Olympic Trails in '12 wearing his American Eagle type outfit. That's pretty cool. He is a strong runner and his sweet spot is definitely at 800m. That being said he doesn't boast any amazing indoor credentials (PR at around 1:48 in the open) and had a kinda rough opening mile at UW recently. I think he certainly can bounce back and provide a nice spark for this relay, but I'm not sure if he will run anything blazing fast out there. He is a tricky leg to predict here overall, especially because I wouldn't be surprised at all if he is the lead-off leg. Ultimately, however, this is a record attempt and Brooks needs this mark to prove their worth. But somebody has to have an off-day out of the 4 of them right?

My projected split from Mark: 1:49.22

Lastly, you have the super wild card: Matt Sherer. As mentioned Matt Sherer is one of the best pacers in the world: he has a resume that is off the charts and has paced guys like Kaki and David Rudisha. But now he has to race? How is he going to react to something like that? Is he going to run lead off and drag someone around the track? Will he sit and kick? Keep in mind Matt's 800m PR is from 2008! It's a 1:46.11. He also boasts a 45.19 open PR in the 400 which is straight up moving. But that mark is from 2006! There is no way I can possibly accurately predict this guys time. He has the wheels, he has the ability, he is clearly trustworthy in record setting situations. But he hasn't been a racer since who knows when. I'll give it a guess but don't expect it to be great.

My projected split from Matt: 1:50.11

That all adds up to ...  7:13.28! Just a shade under the record. Keep in mind that I predicted the times without adding them up to see what that would get us so it's very interesting even to me to see what that adds up to (hopefully I did my math right).

But those splits are going to be way off if the Brooks guys don't get a race from the NJNY crew.

Who do they have at their disposal? Well I think Andrews is definitely on the relay based on the way they have been advertising, and Rutt is probably the best guy on that team right now so he will be featured in there as well. I'd expect Robby on the anchor just because that is what he has been doing his whole life, kicking down guys at Penn, but Rutt would be powerful on the anchor as well and must be considered. Both these guys are coming off somewhat disappointing shows at the Armory in the mile (Rutt around 4 flat which is actually fairly strong for him, and Robby DNFing after falling way off pace which is, unsurprisingly, bad for him). Keep in mind though Robby runs excellent indoors at 800m and 1000m when he gets his mind to it.

To join those two pieces they will have to pick between the following names:
-Kyle Merber (3:35 once in a life time untouchable PR and some strong relay legs from Columbia)
-Russell Brown (not even sure if he is healthy or training or anything, have to talk to coach, but he is one of the most talented guys on the roster)
-Tevan Everett (indoor world champs qualifier at 800m, 1:46.02 PR, consistent guy on the roster, gotta think he will be on the team?)
-Sadiki White (LSU boy with 1:47 PR)
-Ben Scheetz (D3 record holder indoors at 800m, would be a compelling story line between him and Symmonds)
-Declan Murray (All-American last year and strong 800m man, 1:46.77 PR)
-Brian Gagnon (He has a 3:42.9 down-hill mile PR. Not really relevant to his current 800m ability but that is an awesome stat to have at your disposal)

And like five other guys including PA alumn Nick Crits who shares a birthday with yours truly. Again not relevant but it was a great birthday gift to find that out when I was 16.

So who are they gonna pick from that group? No idea! Pick your favorite two! They have so many guys, all of whom could easily put down a 1:48ish split. Heck they could even field two relays and both could stay relatively competitive if everyone is healthy and in shape.

For the sake of argument and to stop all this rambling I'll say we have something like this:
Everett 1:48.37
Rutt 1:47.21 (3:35.58)
Gagnon 1:50.02 (5:25.60)
Andrews 1:47.88 (7:13.48)
Wizzo 1:49.22
Loxsom 1:47.04 (3:36.26)
Sherer 1:50.11 (5:26.37)
Symmonds 1:46.91 (7:13.28)

So a close race! I see it playing out with Everett busting lose from Wizzo down the stretch in a grueling first leg, Loxsom goes out hard and assumes the lead, but Rutt dominates the final 200 as a result. Gagnon handles a rusty Sherer, but it's a bit closer than expected with Robby letting Symmonds go to the lead and work to chase the record. In a surprise pick I do not have Robby outkicking Nick and grabbing the win! Cue the shock and awe! I see Nick holding off Robby's late charge and bringing home a big record for Brooks in his first performance for the team.

Is it a tad ambitious to expect Symmonds to play right into Andrews hands in hopes of getting the record? Yeah probably. But hey, it's my fantasy world and I want to see a record!


PA Great 8

*Note I made these before the results this past weekend, didn't have time to put together explanations but figured I'd get this out there for anyone interested*

1. Ross Wilson, Sr CRNorth
2. Dominic Deluca, Sr Dallas
3. Tony Russell, Sr West Chester Henderson
4. Kevin James, Jr O'Hara
5. Jake Brophy, So CB East
6. Ethan Martin, Sr Fox Chapel
7. Colin Martin, Sr Fox Chapel
8. Chris Kazanjian, Sr Penncrest

Honorable Mention
Reiny Barchet, Sr West Chester Henderson
Chris Cummings, Sr West Chester East

Great 8: etrain Style

1. Tony Russell, Sr West Chester Henderson (4:14.52/4:16.26)
Russell just missed a state title at the mile last year indoors, but consistently ran top times in the state at this event indoors and outdoors. Russell is coming off an XC season during which he defended his individual and team titles at the state championships while also breaking 15 minutes in the 5k. His strength has never really been in question (he ran 9:07 last season for 3200m), but he has needed to prove he has the speed to compete in the mile at the top level. He started out this season with an incredible 3:02 split at Yale, positioning himself well in the speed category. He also managed to have a strong enough kick to hold off a late charge in the open mile where he won in 4:16.26 (despite some on track antics). With Russell's latest mile mark, he has now run 4:16 or faster for the open mile equivalent 4 times in the last two track seasons. If you count his indoor and outdoor relay splits the number goes up to at least 6.

2. Zach Brehm, Jr Carlisle (4:09.27/4:31.71c)
The same arguments about Brehm that I made in the 800m are just as relevant here. Clearly he has a fantastic resume, especially in the mile, but the only question is whether or not he can find enough momentum during a difficult indoor stretch to be prime and fit come states. His kick would be absolutely lethal against this field, but stars like Vince McNally (4:07.55 miler as a Junior) could even win states their senior year. Brehm's progression will be very exciting moving forward as hopefully he will get a fast enough seed time to be in the fast heat at states in whatever he chooses to run.

3. Jaxson Hoey, So Malvern Prep (4:19.24/4:19.24)
Hoey right now is one of the only guys on any of these lists who can say he has run an overall PR already this season indoors. He ran 4:19.24 for the mile at Yale and he also ran 4:26.81 for Burdette, putting him in an elite class of milers already. Factor in that the guy is a sophomore and it is clear we are looking at something special. That being said, sophomores can have a tough time at the state championship level. At the 800m we have seen legends like Mallon and up and coming stars like Brehm win, but the larger distance events tend to take age and experience in addition to talent. Hoey has run considerably faster than the sophomores of year's past already despite the fact that it is only January, so clearly he is someone not afraid to try and rewrite the history books.

4. Kevin James, Jr O'Hara (4:15.73/-)

Last year as a sophomore, James ran some truly gutsy races. He tried the mile/3k double indoors twice in big meets, ran 3:04.4 1200m (beating established 800m guys like Andrew Stone) and finished 5th at states in a brutally windy 3200m. James got a bit of a late start to his indoor track season thanks to his NXN trip so he has only ran a 3k mark, but looking ahead it is very likely he will try his hand at the mile soon. James will have to consider pulling double duties on relays this year, making the mile more enticing than the 3k, even though I believe the 3k is probably his strongest event. James is much like Russell in the fact that he runs his best marks off honest paces and strength without the flashy 800m PRs of many other top guys in the field. He will look to build off his own strong 1200m marks for confidence late in the race.

5. Kyle Francis, Sr Bensalem (4:17.83c/4:26.54)
Kyle Francis easily could be one of the top ranked 800m guys in the state, but in the past year it seems he has worked hard to establish the Mile as his main event. Francis competed at the mile indoors last year and the 1600m outdoors, both in addition to the 4x8. Brad Rivera was the big name on the Bensalem relay coming into the year, but Francis quickly emerged as a star in his own right. Francis can probably run 48-49 on a 4x4 split and has run 1:51 on a 4x8 split. That speed could be lethal in the right race. Often times these miles are tactical and although I don't expect guys like James and Russell to let things get too slow, Francis's kick could get him an upset victory. And he won't be dropped easily by a fast pace, Francis has run 15:46 for 5k.

6. Sam Ritz, Jr Germantown Academy (4:11.73/4:24.03)
Don't sleep on Sam Ritz out of GA! It's been a while since GA had guys at the top of the state indoors (probably Elliot Rhodes and their 4x8 was the last time), but Ritz early in has shown he would be interested in running fast at top meets indoors. His 4:11.73 and 4:24.03 PR and SB marks add up to the fastest total out of anyone short of Tony Russell. The independent schools tend to perform very well indoors, and I would not be surprised at all if Ritz peaked right and finished the season with a surprise.

7. Kevin Moy, Sr West Chester Henderson (4:17.49c/4:26.84)
Think of it this way: Moy ran 4:42.73 last year indoors and dipped all the way down to 4:16.01 by the end of outdoors. Now he is already starting out at 4:26.84! Moy is something of a converted 800m guy who has managed to translate his 1:55 speed into a great kick that earned him a strong finish last outdoors at the state championship (5th) ahead of his teammate Tony Russell. Moy ran a huge leg on the DMR the night before his season best this season in the mile which makes me think he was running on tired legs. I think there is a lot of room for improvement here and Coach Kelly knows how to push the right buttons to make it happen. Moy has a lot more experience being near the top of the big stage than he did last year at this time and he knows on the right day he can hang with anyone in the state.

8. Christian Kardish, Sr Holy Ghost Prep (4:19.99c/4:29.42)
Kardish made the state championships in the 1600m out of the grueling district one each of the last two years. That right there is symbolic of how well this guy can run. Last year indoors, coming off sickness and a health scare, he ran a great time in a slower heat and followed it up with a clutch kick on the DMR (I believe he outkicked UD's own Francis Ferruzzi). Kardish has been racing the best guys in the state for years now and he isn't afraid to stick his nose in there. He recently jumped in a couple of top miles at the Armory, gaining valuable experience in fast, competitive races on banked tracks. In a meet like states where every second counts, this experience will be incredibly valuable.

Honorable Mention
Brendan Billotta, Sr LaSalle
Ross Wilson, Sr Council Rock North

Still more to come! See the 800m below if interested

PA's Great 8: etrain Style

So as you probably now, Penntrack does a nice post about the top 8 times in each event so far this season, so I thought it might be cool to do my own version of it that is purely opinion based rather than purely time based. For the sake of simplicity, I assumed some people who did not yet have qualifying times would get them. In addition, I am comparing all runners at each event as if they were completely fresh. So let's do some analysis.

1. Jeff Wiseman, Sr Council Rock South (1:52.72/1:57.09)
Wiseman is the top returner from last year's indoor state championship and that in itself would be enough to get a lot of people on this list. But this is far from the only reason to slot Wiseman at #1. Last spring Jeff established himself as one of the best runners in the state at mid-distance, running a 1:52.72 at Henderson and a 48.64 in the 400m. Few other guys in this field boast that kind of raw speed. He has continued that trend indoors running a flat track 1:57.09 and 50.73. As an added bonus, in Wiseman's career he has won a slew of incredibly close races, meaning he brings that extra umph necessary to win a state title.
2. Joe Logue, Sr Pennridge (1:51.59/1:58.17)
Logue won a state championship two years back when he anchored his Pennridge squad to an upset victory in the 4x8 and also grabbed state gold in the 4x4 last year indoors. Now he is looking to add an individual gold to his mantle. Logue has built quite an impressive resume for himself over the past few seasons. He notched a 1:51 PR at Henderson, added some quick 4x4 splits and even went up in distance and excelled, running an impressive 3:57.49 for 1500m which earned him a Penn Relays spot. He is a fantastic combination of strength and speed and has experience winning titles. He is no stranger to the big stage and will be ready to compete come states.
3. Zach Brehm, Jr Carlisle (1:54.40/-)
Brehm is easily the hardest guy to place on this list. He is coming off an outdoor season where he ran under 9:20, sub 4:10 in the mile and 1:54 in the 800m to claim the state title. He followed that up with an impressive XC season that included a 15:28 and a top 10 finish at states. Wow! The problem is it will be hard for the guys outside of District One to get in top training and top competition on a weekly basis, which may put Brehm at a disadvantage this indoor season. Carlisle hasn't had a medalist in the past 5 years and Brehm's indoor PR currently sits 2:14.31 (not including any fast splits). There have been top District 3 talents like Rotz and Kunzweiler who haven't been able to grab the title, but Brehm may be able to break the streak and bring the title back to the middle of the state.
4. Will Cather, Sr State College (1:55.53/1:56.9h)
Cather's biggest advantage coming into this race: he has a hometown crowd to support him. With the meet being held at Penn State, Cather will gain extra support from a supportive crowd. But it's not just the crowd that will help Cather, he has also established himself as one of the best up and coming talents on the distance scene. He has already qualified for states this season in the 400 and the 800 (with 1:56.9h that puts him atop the list), but he also has the potential to qualify in the Mile and the 3k (as he did last season). This would be a nearly unprecedented feat. Cather's range is clearly superb and he is clearly a gutsy runner: he fought his way to 25th at XC states, just edging out the last medal spot, and he also ran a strong race out of the slow heats at states last year to grab an indoor medal.
5. Jon Lewis, Jr Cheltenham (1:54.93/1:57.19)
Lewis started off his indoor season by coming within a tenth of a second of our #1 on this list, Jeff Wiseman. He has been on the quiet side since, but he did drop a 49.1 at the Armory in the 400m and ran some power legs on 4x4 and 4x2 relays for the state leaders: Cheltenham. A lot of Lewis's achievements over the years (including a 48.79 PR at 400m) indicate that he may opt for the sprints over the distance, but Lewis has made it clear his true love is the 800m. He ran a huge leg on the Cheltenham 4x8 last year and raced long into the summer to grab a 1:54.93 open 8 PR. Lewis may lack a little experience at the top of the 800m scene in PA, but he is learning quickly and appears to be on the verge of a break out season. He is a sleeper pick for the title come season's end.
6. Billy Caldwell, Sr Downingtown East (1:55.12/2:00.57)
Caldwell has been one to watch ever since he began to emerge on the team's relays last year. He ran a pair of brilliant legs at Districts to get his team to states and once he got there, his third leg brought DTEast on to the medal stand. Caldwell followed it up by finishing 7th outdoors in the 800m for his first individual state medal. He was a sleeper pick last year, but this year he is on everyone's radar and so to his DTEast relay squad. Caldwell has been working hard on improving his mile strength and is among the state leaders in this category as well, so we may not get to see him at this event come states, but if we do, we will see a gutsy runner with a lot of talent and heart.
7. Alek Sauer, Jr Pennsbury (1:56.85/1:57.17)
Sauer opened up his season with a blazing 1:57.17 800m up at the Armory to suddenly catapult himself into the state title conversation. As just a sophomore, Sauer developed into a huge contributor to the Pennsbury relays, running some huge 4x8 legs for the squad as they worked their way to bronze in the 4x8. Although Sauer wasn't the big name on the relay with state medalists like Sam Webb and Connor Harriman on the team, Sauer ended the season as the best 800m man out of them all. Now, as he makes the signature sophomore to junior jump, he is looking to build off a sub 16 XC season and head towards an upset in the 800m.
8. Jim Belfatto, Sr O'Hara (1:55.19/1:59.96)
Belfatto has done it all over his career. He has run on some fantastic XC teams, some great relays indoors, and was a key leg on O'Hara's Penn Relays squad from a year ago. But he is still hungry for more. Belfatto, who has range from in the low 9:20s for 3200m all the way down to 1:55 in the open 800m. He ran a 1:54 split for his DMR at Nationals a year ago as well. Belfatto has always been willing to sacrifice individual glory in pursuit of team achievements, so like our previous couple runners, we may not get to see him compete for a state title this season, but he and the O'Hara boys are always dangerous on the big stage.

Honorable Mention
Dylan Wilhoite, Sr Penn Hills
Frank Brophy, Sr CB East

More to Come!

Strike One

The prediction thing is hard. I had Rupp just missing the record and he smashed the darn thing closing in around 2:01 and 4:03. He ran a 29 lap from like 800m to 600m to go which was crazy but then he really kinda started to tie up and couldn't quite hold that pace, but he wasn't far from sub 13. He is once again in absurdly fast shape indoors which is stunning to me because it is so far away from any major meets! It's January for goodness sake. So it will be interesting to watch his continued development.

It looked like a pretty grueling finish for Rupp who managed to make it to the line and out last old rival Sam Chelenga (who had a phenomenal day by the way) so now with not too much time to recover, the question becomes can he come back and do it again at 2 miles? I'd have to guess no but I've been wrong once ...

As for Cain I was a bit off on her time (and Rowbury didn't even race) but it was really cool to see a World Junior Record. If they had hyped up the race as a bid for that mark (as it most likely should have been hyped) then the race would have been much more exciting. The flotrack guys tend to live in a fantasy world sometimes with these record attempts, gotta just analyze the race as it progresses. Sure the pacing wasn't perfect but Cain is just not an all-time kind of performer yet. She is still just 17 years old and not the best runner in the US for women. She is a fantastic story with a lot of potential whose best even is in the 15-3k range I'd imagine. She made a world champ final and probably could run 4:02 outdoors. Those marks are great but not a resume that suggests anything like 2:34.

All the same I look forward to her chasing more world junior marks going forward! It's really cool to have an american distance runner making any sort of waves on world records. Even if they are just world junior records.

Predictions for Tomorrow Night

For those of you who don't know, Mary Cain and Galen Rupp are chasing some records in the not so distant future. Tomorrow night on Flotrack Pro Cain goes for a slew of different 1k records and Rupp goes for the American record in the 5000m.

I was foolish enough to get sucked into the hype of Flotrack Pro and purchased the sucker for myself so I will be able to watch the race. So if you really want to watch come to Muhlenberg tomorrow night around race time. Unless I don't really know you then that may be awkward.

Cain is joined by Rowbury and Moser in this race, both of whom I seriously doubt are willing to just let Cain walk all over them. I honestly think Cain isn't winning this race out of the American crew, which may be foolish, but I'm not sure that she can beat either of these girls at this distance. My money would be on Rowbury who just jumped on the Salazar plan and is a complete wild card here. I don't think the American Record is falling here. Sorry folks.

But Cain can go after plenty of records in this race, she isn't just limited to the American Record (although that is what the meet directors are hyping her up for).

Here is a list of records she is eligible and the high school record just for fun (she is a pro now so she can officially chase any more USHS records, despite the fact that she is still a senior in HS!)

Note that all of these are indoor track records

HS: 2:43.40
American Junior: 2:40.1
World Junior: 2:40.1 (go USA!)

I think Cain is taking all three of these down (even though only two will count) which is pretty amazing.

Interesting side note: Tirunesh Dibaba owns the world junior indoor record at 3000m with a time of 8:33 which is roughly 2:50 pace per 1k .... so maybe the world junior record is a little soft at 1k?

I'm predicting Rowbury at like 2:36ish maybe and Cain 2:37 right near by, Moser falling of the pace a bit. Hard to say with any sort of certainity on times though because this is far from my area of expertise. But hey I'll give it a shot!

As for Galen, I think he is going to miss the record as well, but just barely. He and his buddy Bernie have been trading indoor american records for the last couple years in a truly dramatic fashion. I love it, even though I'm not a big supporter of either guy.

But then Lopez Lomong said screw you guys and came flying in to steal the record from both of them! Easy to forget that he was the guy who ended up grabbing the record among all the trading between Bernie and Galen.

Bernie originally set the record in that race at Millrose with Ches and Lawi where he was pushed hard the whole way by Lalang. I'm not sure who is going to be out there dragging Galen around the track: Cam Levins is said to be in the race too, but he hasn't looked like a sub 13:20 kinda guy in over a year now.

When Lopez did it he was far from alone either: He had both Evan Jager and my boy Chris Derrick to help him with pacing. Lopez did it with a big time kick at the end.

Look does Galen have skills? Yeah any guy who can run 3:50.92 up to 26:48 is a straight thug on the track.

I'm sorry I have to pause to laugh briefly at the fact that I just said Galen Rupp and straight thug in the same sentence. Back on point.

Galen clearly is taking indoors seriously and after grabbing the 3k record in 7:30.16 indoors last year, I feel that Galen and Alberto are not afraid to put a big emphasis on indoors. But I'm nervous that a guy trying to run 3:49 in the mile in just a few weeks is going to struggle to run 13:07.00. He has the talent, but will the pieces fall in to place for him to break a record that has slowly been becoming more and more impressive? I don't think so.

I'm saying 13:08ish for Galen with Cam not really in the picture.

But what's great about this is I'm wrong a lot so I think anybody who can should find a buddy with Flotrack pro and jump on to watch this because it is going to be exciting. Alberto Salazar is a great coach and he will get his guys ready to chase records if he says they are chasing records.

So as Bane would say,

Let the games begin!

Centennial Conference Rankings 1/13

Hopkins 218
Haverford 137
Ursinus 84
Dickinson 82
F&M 76
McDaniel 29
Muhlenberg 29
Gettysburg 26
Swarthmore 21

60m Team Points
Pannell 6.96 Dickinson 10
McWilliams** 7.21* McDaniel 8
Naticchia 7.25 Hopkins 6
Friend 7.28 F&M 5
Amin** 7.11* F&M 4
Signore 7.31 Hopkins 3
Jebb 7.25* Hopkins 2
Belin 7.35 Gettysburg 1
Grant 7.47 Hopkins -
Ainsley 7.37 Haverford -
Pannell 23.31* Dickinson 10
Jones** 23.32* Ursinus 8
Naticchia 23.06* Hopkins 6
McCormick 23.58 Ursinus 5
Callon** 23.33* Haverford 4
Grant 23.72 Hopkins 3
Amin** 23.36 F&M 2
Ainsley ** Haverford 1
Friend 24.04* F&M -
Rozanski** 23.52 Hopkins -
Jones** 50.91* Ursinus 10
Signore 52.42% Hopkins 8
Rozanski** 51.3 Hopkins 6
Keyser 52.64 Ursinus 5
Poore 52.82% Hopkins 4
Yellets 53.24 Haverford 3
Onimus** 52.07* Muhlenberg 2
Schulz** 51.60* Ursinus 1
Gabriel 53.82 Haverford -
Callon** 51.91* Haverford -
Carey 1:55.87* Hopkins 10
L. Olenginski** 1:57.49* F&M 8
Jackson** 1:56.11* Dickinson 6
Keny 1:58.53. Haverford 5
Mackin 1:58.52. Ursinus 4
Marquardt** 1:56.98* Haverford 3
G. Olenginski** 1:57.41* F&M 2
Hyjek** 1:59.44* Dickinson 1
Rausch** 1:58.02* Gettysburg -
White 2:03.95% Swarthmore -
Stadler** 4:12.65* Haverford 10
Carey 4:20.78% Hopkins 8
Marquardt** 4:13.18* Haverford 6
Oppenheimer 4:25.44. Swarthmore 5
Steinbock** 4:27.72* Dickinson 4
Hyjek** 4:23.32* Dickinson 3
Saliani 4:21.57* Hopkins 2
White 4:29.30. Dickinson 1
Sansevere** 4:22.29* Dickinson -
Butler 4:26.32* Hopkins -
Stadler** 8.31.38* Haverford 10
Steinbock** 8:43.18* Dickinson 8
Robinson** 8:42.40* Hopkins 6
Oppenheimer 8:54.62% Swarthmore 5
Clark** 8:42.09* Dickinson 4
Mynatt** 8:46.22* Dickinson 3
Saliani 9:00.14% Hopkins 2
Bregman** 8:49.80* Haverford 1
Marquardt** 8:36.85* Haverford -
Pavarini 8:55.12. Hopkins -
Stadler** 14:23.36* Haverford 10
Robinson** 14:57.20* Hopkins 8
Bregman** 14:43.17* Haverford 6
Cerruzzi 15:14.87% Hopkins 5
Roza 15:08.63. Haverford 4
Christian** 15:17.30* Haverford 3
Stecklair 15:37.18% Hopkins 2
Ochstein 14:56.70* Hopkins 1
Clark** 15:12.82* Dickinson -
Mynatt** 15:08.22* Dickinson -
Michaelis** 8.52* F&M 10
Ainsley 8.58 Haverford 8
Jebb 8.83 Hopkins 6
Mu** 8.63* Dickinson 5
Keyser 8.96 Ursinus 4
Spadaro 9.05 Hopkins 3
Avino** 8.96* Gettysburg 2
Knight** 9.20* Muhlenberg 1
Stelmach** 9.07* Hopkins -
Heo 9.19 Swarthmore -
F&M F&M 10
Hopkins Hopkins 8
Ursinus Ursinus 6
Haverford Haverford 5
Dickinson Dickinson 4
Muhlenberg Muhlenberg 3
Gettysburg Gettysburg 2
Swarthmore Swarthmore 1
McDaniel McDaniel -
Ursinus Ursinus 10
Hopkins Hopkins 8
Muhlenberg Muhlenberg 6
Haverford Haverford 5
Dickinson Dickinson 4
F&M F&M 3
Gettysburg Gettysburg 2
Swarthmore Swarthmore 1
McDaniel McDaniel -
F&M F&M 10
Hopkins Hopkins 8
Dickinson Dickinson 6
Haverford Haverford 5
Swarthmore Swarthmore 4
Muhlenberg Muhlenberg 3
Gettysburg Gettysburg 2
Ursinus Ursinus 1
McDaniel McDaniel -
Haverford Haverford 10
Dickinson Dickinson 8
Hopkins Hopkins 6
Swarthmore Swarthmore 5
Muhlenberg Muhlenberg 4
Gettysburg Gettysburg 3
F&M F&M 2
Ursinus Ursinus 1
McDaniel McDaniel -
Walsh 6'4.25 Hopkins 10
Jones** 6'4.75* Ursinus 8
Ainsley 6'4.75* Haverford 6
Birden** 6'2.75* McDaniel 5
Graves** ** Haverford 4
Shea** 6'0.75"* Ursinus 3
Uzamere 5'10.75" F&M 2
Tauber** 6'0.75" Muhlenberg 1
Thompson 5'10" Gettysburg -
Avino** 5'11.25"* Gettysburg -
Bartnett 15'1" Hopkins 10
Iannacone 12'5.5" Haverford 8
Vozzo** 13'11.25* Hopkins 6
Pressman 12'5.5" F&M 5
Spadaro 12'5.5"* Hopkins 4
Civetta 11'11.75"* Hopkins 3
Miller-Sobel 11'11.75"* Muhlenberg 2
Mehta 11'5.75"* Hopkins 1
Sato 11'6"* Dickinson -
Rollow 11'11.75" Dickinson -
Kaiser 21'1.25" Gettysburg 10
Naticchia 21'0.75" Hopkins 8
Jebb 20'5" Hopkins 6
Spadaro 21'0.75" Hopkins 5
Graves** ** Haverford 4
Ainsley 20'0.5" Haverford 3
Pannell 19'10.75" Dickinson 2
Evans 19'4.25" Hopkins 1
Thompson 19'5.5" Gettysburg -
Andrews 21'9" Gettysburg -
Jebb 44'4" Hopkins 10
Fromell 43'5.75" F&M 8
Evans 43'3.25" Hopkins 6
Spadaro 41'10"* Hopkins 5
Kaiser 40'0.5" Gettysburg 4
Graves** ** Haverford 3
Bennett** 42'11.75"* Haverford 2
Pannell 42'10.75"* Dickinson 1
Boucher 39'0.5" Hopkins -
Nienius** 38'11.5" Ursinus -
Wilson 45'8" Ursinus 10
Clancy 40'2.25" Ursinus 8
Dunn 42'4.25" McDaniel 6
Acosta** 43'7.5"* F&M 5
Wetherhold** 43'0.5"* McDaniel 4
Cano** 40'1.25"* Muhlenberg 3
Weiner** 42'2.5"* McDaniel 2
Hamden** 43'0.5" Muhlenberg 1
McCarron 39'9.75" F&M -
Vecchio 38'7" Dickinson -
Spadaro Hopkins 10
Ainsley Haverford 8
Jebb Hopkins 6
Walsh Hopkins 5
Smith McDaniel 4
Reutter Muhlenberg 3
Rollow Dickinson 2
Conley Hopkins 1
Stelmach Hopkins -
Tyson Hopkins -

Hopkins 218
Haverford 137
Ursinus 84
Dickinson 82
F&M 76
McDaniel 29
Muhlenberg 29
Gettysburg 26
Swarthmore 21

Nick Symmonds

Coming off what most would argue is the best season of his professional career, Nick Symmonds has decided not to resign with Nike and the Oregon Track Club and instead has opted to sign with Brooks and the Brooks beast training group. Symmonds is giving up living in Oregon and training with Coach Rowland and other top 800m man Tyler Mulder and 2x NCAA champ and newcomer Elijah Greer as potential training partners. Rowland and Symmonds have worked together for the last 5 years culminating in the past two seasons with fantastic results: 1:42.95 and a silver medal at the world championships.

But clearly the decision was not track based for Symmonds. Nike has the top equipment and facilities as well as the best connections and coaches. Ditching them is sure to make things a little more difficult on the track. However, Symmonds has always been a man interested in marketing himself. He is looking for opportunities to grow is brand, to make a living and to have a strong relationship with his sponsors.

In my opinion, Symmonds is one of the greatest figures in our sport right now. He keeps the sport interesting when so many other runners in the US are just boring and bland. I fully support Nick's decision. He has talked about his decision in depth already on multiple sites, and I figure going forward much will come out as he is allowed to talk about the details of the contract. What Nick has been able to say about the contract negotiations is that Nike contracts had a lot of reductions that would cause Nick to lose money if he missed certain goals. They are essentially the opposite of bonuses for good performance. Nike also crippled his ability to market himself to other companies. He felt he was essentially rental spike for the swoosh and just another body in a large Nike empire dominated by basketball and golf (yeah golf is dominating our sport, we got to deal with it folks). Brooks is a company purely devoted to track and Symmonds can be the face of the franchise so to speak.

I think Nick is satisfied with this position moving forward, however, as the ultimate hype machine in American track and field, Nick is putting a lot of pressure on himself to perform. He spent the summer after his fantastic 2013 season calling out a slew of potential American Records. He has put the expectations very high for this outdoor season. And to reach those goals he must now relay on an entirely new supporting cast. His new coach is a relative unknown that Symmonds has confidence in, but sounds like he will rely heavily on his experience as runner in conjuction with his new coach, Danny Mackey. Nick will also begin to train with a new group of mid distance prospects with the biggest names being Cas Loxsom and Riley Masters. Far from the experienced group of vets he had worked with in Oregon.

In addition, it looks like Nick will be throwing himself into the center of controversy and discussion. He wanted to be on the Bachelor last year rumors said. He is an active fisher and drinker, with goals of breaking the Beer Mile world record. And of course he continues to be a face for track and field athlete rights in the sport. As said I think he is a fantastic runner and great for the sport, but it's a lot of pressure for anyone to have on their shoulders.

Overall, we will find out quickly how well Nick adjusts. He has indoor races coming up quickly, including an American record attempt at the 1000m indoors. Fresh off turning 30 years old on December 30th, it will be interesting to see what Nick Symmonds has left in the tank as he enters the biggest year of his entire career trying to lift the Brooks crew to a new level of Beasts.

Burdette Invitational

Before I get into the analysis I just want to say a couple things here. First off, does anyone like the raw results function much better than the new results format on penntrack? It's a cool idea and I like it because you can click directly on runners and analyze them ... but only if you are shelling out the cash for the site which I'd imagine most people probably aren't doing unfortunately.

But moral of the story here is I looked at the results in the raw format and I think it's nicer to look at.

Moving on.

It's now been 4 years since I ran in the Burdette meet and that 800m is faster than most of the 800m I have ran indoors since. It's my flat track indoor PR and arguably the best race of my life. I got 4th place in the race in 2:03.92 a step behind Hong Cho who I remember trying to get down off the final curve. Cho went on to run 1:53 that outdoors. I beat a young Drew Magaha that meet (also ran 1:53 that outdoors) as well as Craig Cassey and Matt Bee who went on to have nice careers for themselves on relays. I went on to run 1:59.8 in a relay split that outdoors. Good times.

Oh well I guess you lose some and win some. As long as the outcome is income.
-Drizzy Drake

Sooo now that I probably just lost half of my 6 person viewership with that boring opening I'll drop in a little analysis of this latest Burdette meet.

Lehigh's new track is definitely faster, especially for the shorter sprint type races and I think that is exciting to see. Lehigh's old turns were fairly tight and these new ones are solid for a flat track at 200m in length.

On to the races themselves (none of which I actually saw in person I should add),

I was intrigued by the 400m, I thought Stellato would win but he was 2nd in not that fast of a time. Maybe an injury thing? Nice win for Eric Jones in 50.83.

In the 800m, there was a nice win out of the slow heat from Joe Sullivan of Bonner, he notched a 2:04.09 mark to win and I think he definitely should have been in the fast heat, watch for him moving forward. Surprised to see Prep's Ferraiolo back at this meet, he's a stud and Malvern has been doing work, so might be a doubling thing of the sprint med. When he rounds into shape Malvern has a very dangerous indoor DMR. I'm talking state title hopes here.

I always like Liam O'Connell's ability. He ended up being a little overshadowed last year with the emergence of Alex Sauer as a certified stud, but he is a sleeper to make noise indoors. He shouldn't have a relay to worry about besides the 4x4 (unless they try and sneak together a DM with Webb but I doubt it with his 3k potential) and he will be able to focus on getting fast and bringing his times towards 1:56 type marks.

Two of the best stories from last outdoor season shined at this meet and that would be Radnor's Connor Holm and Watson Hanson. These guys were incredibly underrated last year and flew under the radar in cross because they didn't have quite the same flashy marks, but watch out for these two and their relay to really develop into something. I'm a big fan of both and it was nice to see Holm get a win in the 800m and of course Hanson grabbed an SQS which is always nice to have this early. It's only December remember.

Jaxson Hoey not only has a cool name but he has major skills. His XC season was quite strong and he is proving that transitions to the track. As mentioned, Ferraiolo was a 1:55 guy last outdoors and now Hoey is a big time 4:26 in December kind of guy. His win puts him in Mallon and Scarpello territority for this meet (and probably Palmisano territory as well). Look up those names and their times. We are talking 4:15ish kinda stuff if this development continues and he gets on a track like the Armory or PSU. And he is just a sophomore.

Those who have read my stuff know I've been on the Caldwell bandwagon for a while, nothing new here, doing strong racing in cross and at the mile which are really over distance type stuff as his true value will be at 800m this season and there is rumbling to add him in with the big dogs for state champion type material. I'll wait a little bit longer before I make a statement that he is level with Wiseman and Logue and Lewis, but he is off to a solid start without a doubt.

Garton was solid, he is also an 800m guy at his best doing solid over distance after a solid XC year. Tung and Grace are both nice pieces for North Penn. Where do they get these guys? Abert should be at 3k no doubt. But he will learn to love it, it just takes times and good results.

Those 3k times are fast. Very fast. I think Willig was maybe down around those marks in his day. Belfatto is running very well when many consider him an 800m man (probably a 12 guy on a very good DM). That is some serious over distance. Brophy is obviously a beast and another top soph to keep an eye on going forward. This kind of mark this early is very strong, especially because he likely took time off. Casey Comber is also proving he belongs next in the long line of Hatboro Horsham stand outs.