USA Team At Indoor Worlds

Here's a couple quick facts for those who want to stay up to date on the US Team going to Sopot. Keep in mind is the top 2 runners who have the standard that will make the team to worlds and the alternate is the highest finisher who does have the A standard (which why you don't see Andrews or Vaughn listed as alternates).

US team for Sopot (reserves in parentheses):

Marvin Bracy, Trell Kimmons, (Joseph Morris)
400m: Kyle Clemons, David Verburg, (Kind Butler)
800m: Erik Sowinski, Nick Symmonds, (Michael Rutt)
1500m: Lopez Lomong, Will Leer, (Garrett Heath)
3000m: Bernard Lagat, Galen Rupp, (Ryan Hill)
60m hurdles: Dominic Berger, Omo Osaghae, (Terrence Trammell)
High jump: Dusty Jonas, Erik Kynard
Long jump: Tyron Stewart, Jeff Henderson
Triple jump: Chris Carter
Shot put: Kurt Roberts, Ryan Whiting, (Joe Kovacs)
Heptathlon: Ashton Eaton
4x400m: Ricky Babineaux, Kind Butler, Kyle Clemons, Clayton Parros, Calvin Smith, David Verburg

Tianna Bartoletta, LaKeisha Lawson, (Barbara Pierre)
400m: Joanna Atkins, Francena McCorory, (Natasha Hastings)
800m: Chanelle Price, Ajee Wilson, (Molly Beckwith-Ludlow)
1500m: Mary Cain, Treniere Moser, (Heather Kampf)
3000m: Gabe Grunewald, Shannon Rowbury, (Jordan Hasay)
60m hurdles: Nia Ali, Janay DeLoach Soukup, (Kristi Castlin)
High jump: Inika McPherson
Pole vault: Mary Saxer, Jenn Suhr, (Kylie Hutson)
Long jump: Tori Bowie, Tori Polk, (Funmi Jimoh)
Shot put: Michelle Carter, Jeneva McCall, (Felisha Johnson)
Pentathlon: Sharon Day-Monroe
4x400m: Joanna Atkins, Monica Hargrove, Natasha Hastings, Jernail Hayes, Francena McCorory, Cassandra Tate

Some of the notable distance events will take place on the following days (all times are eastern time):
Women's 3k Heats 3/7 5:25 AM (Big story here with Grunewald and Rowbury competing)
Men's 1500m Heats 3/7 6:25 AM
Women's 800m Heats 3/7 7:00 AM
Men's 800m Heats 3/7 7:30 AM
Women's 1500m Heats 3/7 1:35 PM
Men's 3000m Heats 3/7 2:25 PM

Women's 1500m Final 3/8 1:00 PM
Men's 1500m Final 3/8 2:00 PM

Men's 3k Final 3/9 10:10 AM
Women's 800m Final 3/9 10:35 AM
Women's 3000m Final 3/9 10:50 AM
Men's 800m Final 3/9 11:20 AM

The events will likely feature former world championship medalists like Bernard Lagat and Galen Rupp (3k), Mo Aman and Nick Symmonds (800m) and Genezebe Dibaba (3000m)

This is also Mary Cain's first big moment where she can potentially medal on the world scene. Watch out.

PA HS State: DMR Preview

While I'm sitting here might as well knock everything out right now. This will be my final preview post. I'll put the links to my other previews within this post for easy access.
projected heat sheets

So now let's begin the final distance event: the DMR.

I'm very intrigued to see how Henderson attacks this relay. They have so much depth and have tried so many different combinations it's tough to say exactly what strategy they will employ. They may let Russell lead off and dominate the 1200m leg while leaving Barchet to anchor and Moy to the 8. They may instead try Moy on the 12 and Thompson on the 8. Or they may even just throw in a team of fresh legs let by Stratman who is not entered in the mile and let them go for a medal. I feel the most likely case is the Moy-4 leg- 8 leg- Russell approach where the 8 may end up being someone like Stratman and the 4 someone like Thompson.

The Henderson boys have won the DMR state title twice before (and almost a third time against Wissahickon). The two previous times they won were quite different. The first time, Aldrich, Ferry, Jervis and Shea almost all chased individual glory (Jervis was rested) and despite having a sick Aldrich they still got a quality anchor carry out of Ferry to bring home gold. Then Henderson won again in 2010, with a fresh team besides the doubling Luke Lefebure who grabbed double gold thanks to the team's narrow victory over Wade Endress and the Altoona boys (a fantastic race that we came close to seeing duplicated this year perhaps).

So what's the take away here? Henderson can win it with tired guys, especially if they are the clear cut best team like they were in 2007 (they were national champs the next week). I see this Henderson team the same way I see the 07 team, the 09 Upper Dublin Team and the 13 LaSalle team. They are clearly the best squads so despite a hoard of doubling individuals (Reilly, Palmisano, Stone, Coyle) they could still manage to get the W without all that much fear. Admittedly in 07 and 13 there were  some excellent anchors that made Ferry and Coyle work (Crits, Kaulbach, Zingarini, Huemmler), but in the end those top teams could kick to victory. In 09 UD won without much effort at all really it was never close.

I don't see this one getting close. Henderson can get the baton around to Russell in a good spot and I think he will have no problems anchoring the team home for his second gold of the day. I'm not sold on a fast time, but I think they will be under 10:20 which is an impressive mark with doubling guys.

The other reason I think Henderson can dominate this field is that most of its main competitors are doubling all sorts of guys as well. Lower Dauphin is doubling Groh and Nissley (and Weidner), HGPrep has Kardish in the 3k (really hard double), LaSalle is doubling Bilotta, Radnor is doubling Hanson and Holm, Malvern is doubling Hoey, Willis/McDevitt and Ferraiolo. All of these teams will face similar issues to Henderson without the 4:11 anchor to ease their nerves.

Keep in mind, this leaves the door wide open for the kings of the DMR in years past: GFS! They are somehow always in the mix and this year, despite not having the big name studs on the roster, GFS has managed to fly under the radar with a 10:40 at Yale and no real other stand out marks. But once they get to states GFS has grabbed more DMR medals then anybody else since they reincorporated in back in 07. Watch out for these guys as a sleeper.

CR North may also surprise as well. Rob Simmons is a nice leg and Ross Wilson can follow in Zingarini's footsteps quite nicely if he can power through on the final leg. This CRN team is a lot like last year's squad and the Campbell anchored squad that was up near the front in 11 vs. Wissahickon.

LaSalle is the defending champs. Radnor was one of my favorite sleeper teams for the DMR as well. With tired legs I can't pick them for any sort of upset, but they will still be a factor. Malvern Prep's success has been well documented and they have a great young anchor of their own to help carry the load.

Then we have the likes of WC East, CB South, Quakertown and Great Valley one whom, in all likelihood, will snag a medal. Teams that just edge under the SQS or don't even hit it all still manage to find their way on to the podium every year. It's a trend that these teams hope to continue. East will have a tough time because of the doubling Cummings, but Quakertown and CB South are completely fresh. CB South had a nice performance after not hitting the SQS a few years back with Waddington (amazing 1200m guy) and Gregor who medaled at states and then were second at Penn Relays. I'm not sure this team is that good, but they know how to get results in the relays. Great Valley was DMR state champs not too long ago in 12 and probably have that in mind as they toe the line this weekend.

I worry about doubling guys, especially young doubling guys and guys doubling off the 3k. And this year that makes me worry about a lot of different teams. That makes predictions very tricky. I think Henderson controls this race and wins from outfront behind Russell's dominating anchor leg. I think GFS ends up stay sneaky close through the first few legs and holds on to be in the top group. Most likely LaSalle, Malvern and CRN will be among the teams trying to run them down at the end.

My final predictions are as follows:
1. Henderson 10:16.12
2. GFS 10:25.19
3. LaSalle 10:27.80
4. Malvern Prep 10:29.11
5. CRN 10:29.34
6. Radnor 10:36.69
7. CB South 10:40.15
8. Quakertown 10:42.65

PA HS States: 4x800m Preview

Hopefully these posts aren't coming in too fast, but I'd like to have all the previews up well before states if possible. So I'm going to keep plowing along. I've got all the individual events previewed below and this will start my section on the relays.

The cool think about the relays is we can usually tell which teams are going for it right away. Consider for example State College who held out 3 potential 800m medalists in order to go after the W (and state record in the 4x8). Then you have teams like Altoona who not only elected to keep all their runners fresh for the relays, but chose the 4x8 over the DMR where they were PA #2.

On the flip side you have teams like O'Hara who are doubling a variety of key legs in addition to Henderson and Lower Dauphin in the DM (we will get to them later). Can their legs come back and be a factor in the relays? Or will everybody be too spent?

That is the difficult question I will wrestle with as I move ahead on these predictions. First, it is worth noting that I think the 4x8s will be split into two sections (which is described a few posts down). In the slower section, we have teams like Pennridge, CB East, Bensalem, CR South and Bonner who all will have at least their fastest leg on the double (unless that fastest leg chooses to save up for the 4x4 or something of the sort). It's hard to figure out who to pick in this heat.

It all comes down to who is ready to double and who has the best supporting cast. I think the winner of this heat will likely be either Pennridge (but only if Logue is on the relay, which it's very possible will not be the case), Bensalem or CR South. I think that Francis, Logue and Wiseman will all be pretty tired after the previous 800m final, but one of them should be able to dig down and uncork a monster double running guys down from some of these other teams without the big names. I would bet it most likely ends up being whoever did the worst in the open 8 who has that little extra spark on the 4x8 to try and help the team. If I have to pick I go Bensalem over CR South just because Bensalem is the defending champs. But this may end up being a CR South team like the Dreeman team that did so well a couple years back.

In the fast heat, I think State College is a heavy favorite here, despite an excellent year from the O'Hara team and the lurking sleepers of Altoona, Penncrest, DT East and North Penn. Look, I think O'Hara is a fantastic team and I believe they will give Henderson a run for their money in the DMR whenever the two meet again (Nationals I'd imagine?), but with Belfatto, Smart and James all on the double (James on the double from the 3k!), it's hard to bet on these guys for an upset. I think last year when Savage tried the 3k-4x8 double we all saw how brutally tough that double is. James is one tough son of a gun (definitely on my top 5 toughest runners list), but I'm not sure he can swing anything better than a 1:58ish on the double. That just ain't gonna cut it against State College.

Here is the thing about SC, they have the home track advantage, their slowest leg has an open PR this season under 1:58 (1:57.7h) and they have one of, if not the, best 800m runners in the state on the anchor. Cather will be doubling and that won't be easy, but the rest of the guys will be fresh and ready to drop something fast.

Keep in mind the state record currently sits at 7:45.06 by CB West. The splits on that relay were: 1:56.7, 1:57.1, 1:56.3 and 1:54.7. They had Abington (who at the time were the state record holders) pushing them for part of the race, but most of it was just good old fashion front running.

So do I think SC has a shot at this record? I think the competition needs to be there but in my head I can see splits that average out to about 7:44-7:46 without needing to be all that bold about it. The next best relay I can see is maybe 7:50-52, so I don't know if that will be enough to push SC to the record or not, but it should be fun to watch.

Where will the rest of the pieces fall? I think Altoona is a great team to watch here. They have a similar home track advantage and have had 3 guys already at 2:00 or faster in the open if my memory serves. They are clearly all in for the relay and that will go a long way towards beating some other top tier teams. I think O'Hara will still battle for the #2 spot, despite having a tired squad, but in the end, I can't see them hanging with A-toon.

I like the DT East team and the North Penn squad a lot going into this weekend. I think DT East has proven they have 3 sub 2 legs on the roster based on the individual performances. Caldwell is a fairly strong doubler, and a mile-4x8 double isn't anything too crazy. DT East could definitely be under 8 minutes and in that chase pack behind SC. It will be interesting to see if DTE uses Caldwell on the third leg as they did last year outdoors which proved to be a very smart strategy.

As for North Penn they are ALWAYS good at the 4x8. Without fail they run it and they run it well. This year they have a strong bunch of athletes to go with their strong mid-d training. I think NP will almost definitely run sub 8 minutes and will be very dangerous for 2nd place. Grace will try the double but other than that they kept their pieces fresh for the relay.

You can never truly count out teams like Upper Darby at a meet like this. Plenty of potential to surprise here. They were one of my big sleepers a year ago and they came up short, but I won't hesitate to bet on them again. Abington may be returning to old form as well and be a nice sleeper.

You also have to seriously consider Pennsbury in this race. I'll admit it, I picked against them basically every chance a got a year ago and Sam Webb and Connor Harriman doubled like men out there and proved me wrong consistently for doubting them. Now the pressure is on Sauer and O'Connell to pull of the double with Harriman and Webb (I'm asusming) not on the line up this weekend. I'm doubting they can truely compete with these other teams on those tired legs, but with a state title on their minds, they need every point they can get. Be on the look out.

St. Joe's may be able to surprise as well. They bowed out of the DMR despite having run 10:49 and getting the SQS. They must have a lot of confidence in their 4x8 potential after a solid showing last year and will also have a completely fresh team which is always dangerous.

Here's how I have things shaping up in the end:
1. State College 7:46.77
2. Altoona 7:52.90
3. O'Hara 7:53.40
4. North Penn 7:54.49
5. DT East 7:56.16
6. Penncrest 7:57.87
7. St. Joe's Prep 8:05.66
8. Upper Darby 8:06.50

PA HS States: 3000m Preview

The Mile, 800m and Projected Heat Sheets are all listed out below this post and are definitely worth a read if you are interested in the state meet.

Now that business has been attended to, let's move on.

I'm gonna start this post by letting you on some of my golden rules in predictions. I think they apply fairly nicely to this event this year.

First off, I almost never pick guys who are, for the first time in their life, racing with the confidence that they can win the state title. If you think back on most state champions, it's not their first rodeo. They have had the heartbreak before and they are hungry. Or they have the experience and they are ready. There are definitely exceptions and it's far from a fool proof strategy, but often times guys have to be ready to win. I think Huemmler, Norris and Martin (outdoors) are great examples of this. In the true distance events, experience and age are huge factors at the state championship. I almost always pick seniors, and I never pick sophomores, especially as you move up in distance.

Second, I do not like guys who run the longer races too many weeks in a row. Just ask Ross Wilson last year. He proved me wrong by placing as high as he did, but if you follow my predictions, I was never on the bandwagon for him to win states because of how many 3200m he had run in a row. I think that there is definitely a tiring effect over the weeks and a lot of people fall victim. Again, plenty of exceptions, but it's just one of my rules.

Lastly, I'm not going to pick a guy to win who hasn't won a big race or two before. You have to show evidence that you can rise to the occasion and win at big meets like Meet of Champs, the Carnival, Kevin Dare and the like. If you can't show me you can win those meets, it's hard to pick you to win THE meet.

So now that you know my secrets, allow me to move forward with my predictions for the state 3k race. This race is going to be really fun to watch. I'm a big fan of the field that has been assembled because there are so many guys who I feel lack the proper respect they deserve. Colin Martin has been an absolute stud this year. He has been a tear and has certainly been able to win big races. No one has been able to touch him this season on the track. That being said, he has run a lot of hard 3ks in a row now ... I'm worried about how that will translate to this upcoming state meet.

Dominic Deluca has been strong this year despite only having two real noteworthy meets where he won the 3k handily in an impressive solo effort over Nissley and he won the mile easily over some quality guys at the Carnival. Is Deluca ready to assume the spotlight? This guy has shown he has the potential to do something big at this meet without a doubt.

Those are the big names, then you have a slew of other guys who believe they can win the title. This is where the interesting pieces of racing will unfold. I want to give everyone credit who can be in the medals, but I don't have the time or space to go through everybody individually. Just know, if you are in this field, I think you can place top 5 at this meet.

Here's how I see things playing out. Perhaps not a blazing pace early, but some combination of Martin, Cummings, Reilly and Kardish out front to keep things quick. The second half of the race is where things will really get moving and the pace will break things down to a pack of 5: Martin, Deluca, Brophy, Reilly and James.

There could easily be more in that pack, I like McGoey a lot as a sleeper and I'm glad he is in this field. I also think Nissley, Molino, Marston and certainly Kardish can hang around in that pack. Cummings is a very interesting case here as well who could hang with that pack. He has a nice resume but has not been a factor in the state 3k conversation since December. Don't forget about him in this race, he could be very dangerous.

Comber and Power are two guys who a lot of people overlooked for the medals in XC. We have to be careful if we overlook them too much here. I see both of them as potential 8:48-8:52 guys, especially Power who I think might be the best sleeper of this bunch.

The final couple medal spots will be a mix of guys who are able to hold on after going for it at the beginning, and guys who ran strategic and picked people off over the second half of the race. My boy Francis Ferruzzi hung back in the beginning and picked off half the field to place 5th a few years back because he hung back and laid off the hot pace. He missed out on any shot of the title, but he was able to snag a medal, and a pretty high one at that, because he ran strategically within himself. The guys who grab medals will either be ones who surprise themselves with how well they hold on or guys who understand their abilities as a runner very well.

But in the front I see those 5 guys I mentioned, and I believe one of those 5 will win this race. As things continue to get going over the last few laps I expect things to be still relatively in control. I see James and Martin starting the push to try and break their competitors over the last 800m or so. As we come through the final 400m, Deluca will take over the lead and see who can come with him.

Over the last 200m, I think a big kick will be laid down to allow for an upset victory.

I'm picking Jake Brophy to win this 3k. I'm basically violating every rule in my book by doing this, but I have had a hunch all season that this was going to be Brophy's year. I'm certainly worried he is a little inexperienced at this kind of level to go out and win a state title as just a sophomore in a grueling event like the 3k, but I think his kick is going to carry him home in a big surprise.

Besides, I already picked arguably the biggest favorite in each of my previous two predictions (and I'm likely going to pick the favorites in the 4x8 and the DMR as well) so this will be my bold upset pick of the day.

When the dust settles here is how I have it all going down
1. Jake Brophy 8:36.71
2. Dominic Deluca 8:37.29
3. Kevin James 8:38.00
4. Patrick Reilly 8:38.95
5. Colin Martin 8:39.21
6. Paul Power 8:47.18
7. Andrew Martson 8:48.31
8. Cole Nissley 8:51.90

(I would like to say that if Brophy doesn't win, I think Martin will probably take it. How does that make sense? It doesn't it's just what goes on in my head ...)

This was a really hard one to pick for me as well, I like a lot of these guys as runners and root for a lot of them since I have watched many of them grow into their own over the past few years. I'm very excited to watch everything paly out and I think the battle for the top spots and the last medals is going to be extraordinary stuff.

PA HS States: 800m Preview

The previous post discusses the mile, so if you would like to read what I have to say about that it is below. You can also find my projected heat sheets a couple posts down as well that you may need as a point of reference during this post. I am predicting two heats, one of 8 and one of 11. This is a bit of a bold prediction in itself, but there is a clear drop off in seeding between Wilhoite (1:57.82) and Allen/O'Connell (1:59.00 for both) and I doubt we would see an O'Connell-Allen split considering they are at the exact same seed. Thus I went with my projection of 8 and 11.

With that out of the way, let's begin.

Heat 1 is an interesting assortment of runners led by O'Connell and Allen as mentioned above, but also featuring some sleepers like Meyers, Thompson, Ferraiolo and Holm just to name a few. Cooper is in this heat, but is doubling off the mile. For those of you who have not read much of my stuff before, you probably don't know how strongly I am concerned with doubling individuals. When I am predicting, I have a very hard time picking against fresh legs and thus picking against guys on the double or triple all else equal. Especially in the distance events. So Cooper may surprise here (like he did at Districts on the double last spring with a nice run), but ultimately I see him out of the medals at this event.

Holm is my guy out of this heat if I have to pick a name. I like Thompson and Ferraiolo's ability, but I'm not sure I can see them winning this heat in the same way I can see Holm doing it. I wouldn't sleep on O'Connell in this spot as I think he can definitely make strong improvements since that 1:59 race, but I am worried about him feeling compelled to lead this race out fast to try and land his medal position. Upper Dublin's Andy Stewart is in the race. I feel I ought to give him a mention seeing as he is from my Alma Mater. It will be his first time at the state meet so good luck to him!

Holm is the guy I see winning this heat, probably down around 1:57 with a bunch of guys in the 1:58 range giving chase. Holm may be able to snag a medal, but that top heat of guys is pretty darn deep and that heat will get dragged out to a nice and fast pace which makes it difficult for Holm to sneak into the medals.

The fast heat is going to be something special. I'm really excited to see this guys square off even if the field doesn't include two studs in Lewis and Brehm as we had previously hoped. Francis, Wiseman, Logue and Cather are the big dogs here. Smart has been having a stellar last couple months that included a great finish at XC states and some quality 800m last spring, which indicates to me he is in for a big season best this weekend. That being said, even if he is down in the low 1:55s (a big Season Best kinda mark) he is still going to be 2ish seconds off the leaders. I like Sauer as well and I appreciate the fight he gave against Brehm, but Sauer just might be a year away from hanging with these speedsters. This is Sauer's first real appearence at the top level of the state as an individual rather than a key piece on a relay. He will grow up a lot from this race.

Wilhoite has been a stud 800m runner for a few years in a row now and Penn Hills knows how to produce high quality guys both indoors and out. I see him as a heavy favorite to be on the medal stand but, much like Smart, I can't quite place him in my top 4 guys. Mercado has had a very nice season and is coming off a great day at Lehigh, but again I just don't know if he is ready to run 1:53 low at this point.

So how does this race between the top 4 play out? I go back and forth on who I think will take home Gold. Cather is running phenomenally right now and has helped but this State College relay in all time kind of territory. He goes out hard typically and will fight the whole way to get to the line first. He also has a touch of home track advantage, being from State College. Kyle Francis also is not afraid of getting out hard and looking to hold on. He was the cold blooded killer on the anchor leg for Bensalem last outdoors against Kunzweiler and he has Brad Rivera's advice on how to win from the front in a stacked field to go back to. Jeff Wiseman is a fantastic racer and comes into this state meet with a time much faster than what he had ran going into last year's race. He dropped about 5 seconds off his SB last year at states if he does that again he would absolutely crush the state record (not saying I think that will happen, because it won't but just keep that stat in mind). Wiseman has a nice finish and works very hard to hold off his kickers on the final straight. He finds his way to get his torso across first a lot of times in big races. And finally we have Joe Logue who will likely be able to sit back on all these guys and throw down the gauntlet on the backstretch and try and take down a state gold. He has the best open PR in the field and has a slew of performances at 1:53 or faster on his resume.

This is a brutal one to pick. But in the end, I need to try and back up my 2014 Bold Predictions post I guess and stick with my guy from Day 1, Kyle Francis ( I predicted he would drop a 1:51.59 to win state gold and I guess if nothing else I ought to stay true to myself. I'm going to pick Wiseman to get up for second, Louge for 3rd and Cather for 4th. I see this being a blanket finish at the end and as we watch we won't be able to tell who placed where until everything flashes up on the big board.

In the end my prediction for the medals is the following:
1. Kyle Francis 1:51.59
2. Jeff Wiseman 1:52.17
3. Joe Logue 1:52.33
4. Will Cather 1:52.49
5. Dylin Wilhoite 1:55.88
6. Nick Smart 1:55.95
7. Alek Sauer 1:56.69
8. Connor Holm 1:57.19

Tell me what you think!

PA HS States: Mile Preview

First off, you are following the Gabe Grunewald controversy at USAs this past weekend, things are heating up. The most recent insider story can be found on, I retweeted Nick Symmonds's tweet that had the link attached to it as well if you would like a direct link.

But in the words of Bane, now is not the time for the 3k, that comes later. Let's talk about this year's PA states mile.

In the post below this, I laid out what I think the heats will look like for the upcoming state championship in the mile. It looks like it most likely will be a 3 heat final with some big names spread out throughout the heats. Let's talk about each of my projected heats.

In Heat 1 we have a nice crop of sleepers  to watch for. The thing that you need if a slow heat is going to produce a fast time is somebody willing to take it out hard, a sacrificial lamb of sorts. That doesn't mean that this runner doesn't necessarily keep up this blistering pace (Ed Schrom in 2010), but there needs to at least be someone crazy enough to get things going and not care about whether or not they are risking a blow up. There aren't enough guys with that much guts/boldness to do that out there.

But Colin Abert in Heat 1 is a guy who might do it. Abert is only seeded around 4:30 going into this meet, which likely isn't a good indication of this guys true talent level. Also we know Abert is not afraid to take out the pace. He did it in XC a variety of times and he did it last year indoors. So this race will certainly have a shot at getting a winner down around 4:24. But who can get to the line first in that kind of mark?

Honestly, I'm not sure I expect anyone to be in the medals out of this first heat, but that doesn't mean there isn't talent here. Abert, when fully healthy, is a dynamite XC guy with solid 4:21ish speed and obviously impressive strength (would have loved to have seen him in the 3k). He will be flanked by fellow XC state medalist Jeff Van Kotten, 800m specialist Joe Sullivan, Watson Hanson from Radnor and Seamus Collins from Henderson to name a few out of this field.

Sullivan and Hanson are my sleepers here. Hanson has struggled a tad as of late, but I really like this guy's ability. I think if he can just stick his nose in there off a fast pace, he could come how with a nice PR in the 4:25-4:27 range. If Sullivan hangs on to the bell, he has the wheels at the end to go win the race. The mile might be a touch out of his sweet spot, but he has had great success racing the other top PCL guys and I'm sure he will not be afraid to get after it.

If I have to guess who is winning this heat, I'd say Hanson takes it over a crew that includes Abert, VanKooten and Sullivan.

Heat 2 is intriguing here as well. I think this heat also has a guy willing to keep the pace hot in Groh. Plus Reiny Barchet is in this heat and probably has something to prove running in his off event. Barchet isn't going to wait around and let things be tactical, he doesn't want to see a kicker's race here. This heat is also peppered with talented under the radar guys like Fowler, Kolor, Luoco, Coakley and Grace. And of course, Kevin Moy is the guy to watch. Moy has been the king of under the radar guys this year. Last spring Moy was straight up on fire and was kicking down quality guys back to back weeks. If I'm the other guys in this heat I'm very afraid of Kevin Moy over the last 400m. It's a shame he in all likelihood will not be in the fast heat, unless Coach Kelly manages to use some jedi mind tricks to get the PTFCA to enlarge the field.

With Groh, Barchet, Coakley, Grace and Moy up front in this heat, I'd be quite surprised if the winner of this heat wasn't down around 4:22ish or faster. I think this race will be a great one. I have Moy winning it with Coakley second and Groh third, but there is plenty of wiggle room in this group.

Deep sleeper wise, Pat Hopkins has been to a bunch of indoor state championships by now and this may be the year it all clicks and he has a big day here. If you are looking for a long shot for the medals as a sleeper pick, he might be your guy.

The fast heat has the big guns and it will be quite exciting to watch unfold. There is a very interesting dynamic out front. Tony Russell, formerly notorious for being outkicked, has won a couple big races this year holding off guys over the final 200m. The only race he lost this year came to a blazing fast 4:08 a week after Russell ran a blazing 4:11. And Russell still managed to come across the line about a second off his own state record.

Russell is a heavy favorite in this race with almost 8 seconds on the rest of the field. If he doesn't win this race I will be stunned honestly. If I were Russell's coach (which I am not because I know much, much less than him), I would have him run relatively relaxed at the front through 800m in roughly 2:09-2:11 then just slowly click the pace down over the final 800m to the point where he is running 30s. Think about, you go through in 2:11 and then drop a 62 on this field, I can't imagine anyone will be able to hang. Then he has a virtual victory lap coming home around 62 again. That puts him at a huge negative split 4:15 that would be a massive SB for anyone else in the field.

He also could likely run out front the whole way at 4:12 pace and get the W, but I think that is riskier. If he waits too far into the race he leaves himself vulnerable to somebody who just feels really good that day like Hoey, Bilotta, Ritz or Caldwell who all have some kicking ability. Belfatto too.

But I think certain guys won't be so intimidated by Russell that they just let him control this race his way. I'm very interested to see how Ross Wilson attacks this race. Ross Wilson doesn't want this to be a kicker's race any more than Tony does as Ross is certainly down in distance. But is Wilson willing to hammer out 62-63 type laps at the beginning to take this thing through fast? Are the two boys going to work together to keep it fast and beat out the kickers? I doubt it, but it's something to watch for as the race unfolds. I'm not saying it will be intentional, it may just happen out there with the two pushing the pace and jockeying for position.

It's a very interesting dynamic for sure. Look at all the guys with strong kicks in this field. Jaxson Hoey, the stud soph is the #2 seed and he has wheels down the stretch of races that he has showed up more than once. Belfatto is a 1:54 800m man this year (although he is not afraid to get out hard in the mile or XC). Ritz has speed (and a very fast PR of 4:11 in the mile), Billy Caldwell and James Smith are both 1:55 guys and Mike Becich is a 1:56 man. Cooper also has pretty strong speed, although perhaps not as impressive of a resume as the others kicking wise with "only" a 1:57.04 PR last spring.

Bilotta is a tweener for me. He has strong range up and down and he certainly has a nice kick because of how he beat out Belfatto and James, but he also has serious strength and may want to try and get out hard and ride the wave of momentum rather than risk himself among the big name kickers.

It is a very exciting mix of strategies that I'm really looking forward to seeing.

Most of, if not all, of the medalists ought to come from this heat. I think the pace will be fast and the last medalists will be around that 4:22 mark that I see the winner of Heat 2 putting up. All in all, as I said, I see Russell taking this one down. I like the strength of Ross Wilson in this race, but with all the kickers chasing him down over the last 400m I wonder if he may just end up a sitting duck. Caldwell was one of my favorite sleepers to watch a year ago, but now I'm a little worried about him in this race. He hasn't really been dropping some of the sick times of late that his competitors have been so he is somewhat losing the momentum battle out there if I had to guess.

And who knows with the D7 guys? They have barely even had a season this year so maybe they are fresh enough to throw down something big. Or maybe they are inexperienced and in big trouble this weekend. I think it's more likely the first then the second, but this will be a tactically diverse race that will challenge everyone in the field.

Plus, how do we know Sam Ritz just won't pop off a 4:11 again? I can't say I saw anything like that coming last time out, so who knows?

So wait, after all that I have to predict 8 guys to end up on the podium? Yikes. This is no easy job, I'll tell you that much. But I'll give it my best shot. I'll even put down times, even though I think they have almost no shot at being right.

1. Tony Russell 4:13.47
2. Sam Ritz 4:16.10
3. Jaxson Hoey 4:16.49
4. Ross Wilson 4:17.70
5. James Smith 4:18.88
6. Brendan Bilotta 4:19.55
7. Kevin Moy 4:21.25
8. Mike Becich 4:22.16

Lots and lots of very talented guys I left off my list, but certainly a lot of guys I left off my list who have a fantastic shot at leaving PSU with a mile medal around their neck. I'm excited to watch it all unfold!

Please post your predicts and tell me what you think below!

PA States: Quick Thoughts

I'm hoping to do some preview type stuff in the not too distant future, but for now I would like to just share my gut reactions after a quick, non-indepth review of the accepted entries.

First off, here is what I project the heat situation will look like for all the relevant distance events (keep in mind that all flat track times are converted to banked times for seeding purposes):

Remember that all of the following are merely guesses, not necessarily the actual heats but this is the actual order of seeds.

800m (19 entries, project 2 heats)
Heat 2
1. Kyle Francis 1:53.25
2. Jeff Wiseman 1:53.36
3. Joe Logue 1:53.67
4. Will Cather 1:54.05
5. Alek Sauer 1:57.17
6. Nick Smart 1:57.42
7. Eli Mercardo 1:57.46
8. Dylin Wilhoite 1:57.82
Heat 1
1. Liam O'Connell 1:59.00
2. Garahm Allen 1:59.00
3. Andy Miller 1:59.04
4. Austin Cooper 1:59.38
5. Connor Holm 1:59.38
6. Dan Ferraiolo 1:59.41
7. Steve Thompson 1:59.56
8. Andy Stewart 1:59.81
9. Tre Williams 1:59.82
10. Ryan Meyers 1:59.90
11. Matt Schulverger 2:00.10

Mile (31 entries, project 3 heats)
Heat 3
1. Tony Russell 4:11.56
2. Jaxson Hoey 4:19.24
3. Brendan Bilotta 4:20.58
4. Ross Wilson 4:20.64
5. Jim Belfatto 4:21.46
6. Billy Caldwell 4:23.96
7. Sam Ritz 4:24.03
8. James Smith 4:24.33
9. Michael Becich 4:24.50
10. Austin Cooper 4:25.00
Heat 2
1. Ryan Grace 4:25.57
2. Jeff Groh 4:26.75
3. Kevin Moy 4:26.84
4. Mitchell Coakley 4:26.85
5. Reiny Barchet 4:27.45
6. Cordon Luoco 4:28.55
7. Mike Kolor 4:28.66
8. Pat Hopkins 4:28.69
9. Dave Fowler 4:28.70
10. Ryan Lerda 4:29.13
Heat 1
1. Colin Willis 4:29.58
2. Joe Sullivan 4:29.83
3. Colin Abert 4:30.91
4. Sean Weidner 4:31.08
5. Seamus Collins 4:31.14
6. Alex Milligan 4:31.14
7. Matt Willig 4:31.14
8. Watson Hanson 4:31.28
9. Matt Kravitz 4:31.57
10. Jeff Van Kooten 4:31.59
11. Will Sponaugle 4:31.65

3000m (17 entries, 1 heat)
1. Colin Martin 8:38.95
2. Dominic Deluca 8:43.83
3. Christian Kardish 8:47.81
4. Chris Cummings 8:50.01
5. Jake Brophy 8:52.15
6. Patrick Reilly 8:52.89
7. Matt McGoey 8:54.58
8. Paul Power 8:55.11
9. Will Loevnver 8:55.95
10. Scott Mason 8:56.93
11. Casey Comber 8:56.14
12. Billy McDevitt 8:56.52
13. Kevin James 8:57.07
14. Jonathan Pearlman 8:57.38
15. Andrew Marston 8:57.58
16. Cole Nissley 8:57.88
17. Griffin Molino 8:58.54

4x800m (24 entries, 2 heats)
Heat 2
1. State College 7:47.75
2. O'Hara 7:50.98
3. Penncrest 7:57.86
4. Altoona 8:06.74
5. Dowingtown East 8:07.33
6. North Penn 8:07.39
7. Pennsbury 8:10.07
8. Abington 8:12.10
9. Upper Darby 8:12.20
10. St. Joe's Prep 8:12.81
11. Avon Grove 8:13.73
12. Strath Haven 8:13.88

Heat 1
1. CB East 8:15.64
2. Pennridge 8:16.61
3. Twin Valley 8:17.13
4. CR South 8:17.47
5. DT West 8:17.54
6. Penn Charter 8:17.77
7. West Allegheny 8:17.93
8. Seneca Valley 8:17.85
9. Upper Dublin 8:18.47
10. CB West 8:18.69
11. Bensalem 8:18.78
12. MBAP 8:19.09

DMR, (12 entries, 1 heat)
1. Henderson 10:15.54
2. Lower Dauphin 10:33.94
3. Holy Ghost 10:34.58
4. LaSalle 10:37.07
5. Radnor 10:39.72
6. GFS 10:40.52
7. Malvern Prep 10:42.49
8. CRN 10:45.49
9. Quakertown 10:46.10
10. Great Valley 10:46.79
11. CB South 10:47.61
12. WC East 10:48.64

Quick points after typing out the above
-That took a really long time, I probably should have just left to everyone's imagination ... oh well, just train being train ...
-O'Hara picks to double guys and risk doing well in the relay (which they choose to be the 4x8). I like what they are doing with their guys, letting them chase some solid hardware after sacrificing a year ago and coming up just short. They have very strong individuals, but more than likely their team is going to get swallowed up by fresher squads at the meet's end.
-State College might be able to set the state record if they can get some push. Cather is the only guy doubling which shows great sacrifices from the other legs who all would have had a chance at being medalists in all likelihood. They just need to find a relay to push them towards 7:45 and I don't think it's going to be O'Hara.
-No Brehm or Lewis in the 800m is a real let down. In fact no Brehm at all is a real let down. I would have loved to see the Carlisle relay at indoors surprise some people, but I guess we will wait until outdoors. As for Lewis, his decision makes complete sense for his team, but as a fan I just wanted to see a good race so this was a little sad.
- The Altoona boys going all in the 4x8! That was surprising to see a fresh Altoona squad pick the 4x8 after their recent awesome DMR run. They are going to have a tough time beating district rivals state college, but their relay definitely is a sleeper pick here. District 6 takes 1-2?
-Kevin James in the 3k, Ross Wilson not. James is going to be a real tempting upset pick in that event, not really sure what I'm going to do with that one. I think the 3k is very intriguing at this point. Kardish jumped in there as well. Things are going to be very exciting.
-Looks like only Russell in the fast heat for the Henderson boys. Also looks like no fear about doubling guys back for the relay. They are going to have a lot of tired legs on that squad, but they are just so much better than a field (filled with a lot of other doubling teams) that they should still take the W. The question is will Barchet or Moy manage to score out of the slow heat? And order will they choose with their doubling stars?
-I'm really glad Francis picked the 800m over the mile. That means I have a shot at one of my "2014 predictions" coming true!

USA Champs Controversy

Two 3000m at altitude were run last night to determine the World Indoor Team. The track was crowded to the brim with a field full of guys, way too many bodies flying around on tight turns in tight zones. As a result, we witnessed a couple of races that will lead to possibly the most controversial month of USA indoor track of all time.

19 men and 13 women got out on the track to race for spots on the world team and the Nike Oregon Project would be the center of everyone's attention both before and after everything was said and done.

First, I'll discuss the men's race, less controversial of the two. In a field of 19 runners, there were only a few with the A standard for worlds, and perhaps even fewer with a legit chance of making the team. Early on, teammates Andrew Bumbalough, Lopez Lomong and Ryan Hill assumed the pace out front, with Bumbalough really leading the charge. The pace was very quick early, especially at altitude, and quickly the race thinned out so that Bumbalough was dragging Hill, Lomong, Rupp and Lagat around the track.

Around 2k things began to slow as Bumbalough began to suffer a slow and painful death off the brutal pace he had set in the beginning. He dropped off hard over the final 1k of the race, causing some to speculate he was a sacrificial lamb of a racer acting as a rabbit for the Schumacher guys (Hill and Lomong). Those guys were clearly trying to make Rupp work. Every time Rupp tried to go to the front once Bumbi was out of the picture, Hill and Lomong pushed it from the inside, Hill even cutting Rupp off badly early in the race in a fairly dirty move I would say.

As things headed towards the finish, Rupp finally got to the front and Lomong began to really feel the pace as well. It was down to just Rupp, Lagat and Hill. Rupp's pacing assuming duties began to damage him next as he slipped out of the lead. Lagat went to the front and Hill followed as best he could. On the backstretch they began to lap runners the slew of slow moving athletes confused as to where to run made for a zig-zagging path down the back stretch. It looked as if Hill was going to pull away from Rupp, stunning the London Silver Medalist and multiple American Record holder, but Rupp found one more gear and blew by Hill who struggled mightily over the last 100m despite a very tough run. He finished 3rd and Rupp locked up 2nd and a spot at the world team.

Keep in mind during all of this Bernard Lagat, at 39 years old, sprinted away from a couple guys in their prime to run 7:46.01 and win by over 2 seconds. At altitude. He trains at altitude, but I mean seriously what is that guy on?

So you have a drugged up Lagat and an absurdly large and nearly destructive 3k field already making for quite the ridiculous race, but things were only just getting started.

An outraged Alberto Salazar, Galen Rupp's coach and head of the Nike Oregon Project, was apparently caught yelling at Coach Schumacher after the race was over. He was extremely upset at how the crew had used Bumbalough as a virtual pace maker for the event, causing the pace to be fast enough to really put a beating on his golden boy Galen Rupp to the point where Rupp was forced to scratch from the 1500m the next day.

It wasn't just Rupp who was victimized by that destructive pace. Watch the video of the race. After the runners finish they collapse on the track leaving something out of a war film left to witness for the spectators. Well, at least Bernard Lagat looked fine afterwards ....

So Al Sal's complaining and some review led to a DQ for Bumbi whose work as a pace maker was scene as interference. Not really sure how this can quite be a rule, but apparently it fits and as a result Bumbi was gone. But look, can you blame the other Nike Group in Oregon for trying to clear space for their guys among a 19 guy field? Can you expect them to not try and push it and work hard to make guys like Bernard Lagat try and lose their kicking advantage (even if it completely failed)? Salazar didn't like it one bit and allegedly things almost got pretty physical out in Albuquerque.

Feel free to watch for the video for yourself on Runnerspace and let me know what you think.

But wait there is more! If you thought that plate full of controversy was appetizing, wait until you see what's for dessert.

The women's 3k featured a few more of Al Sal's main gals, Shannon Rowbury and Jordan Hasay. They would be matched up against a slew of Brooks girls and other B list types as Conley and Simpson opted out of the US indoor championships (because honestly are they really that big of a deal?).

Gabe Grunewald (formerly known as Gabe Anderson, always a little confusing when these women get married) was coming off a fantastic outdoor season and came into the race as one of the few women with the A standard for worlds. As the race quickly became a kickers paradise, Grunewald and Rowbury (easily the best 1500m chops in the field) were licking their lips while Jordan Hasay (highly improbable for her to win a kicker's race against these two) was running relaxed and hoping for the Al Sal magic to bring her home in the top 2.

Things finally started to get quick with about 1k-800m to go. There was a rotation through the leaders, everybody but Grunewald taking the helm, and finally it got to be time to kick. Rowbury and Hasay assumed the 1-2 position, looking like they would have the race to themselves when Grunewald found her kick with about 200m to go. Suddenly she just started blasting off at the bell and was catching up to the other runners so quickly it was dangerous.

Very dangerous in fact. She came up on Hasay too fast, the two had their feet tangle slightly, neither went down or were too seriously affected and Grunewald went around. Then Grunewald came up on Rowbury, equally as quickly. She pulled up carefully, it appeared as if she avoided contact with Rowbury on this one and then flew around into the final 200m and straight dominated the race.

Grunewald was the champion going away and, thus, Grunewald and Rowbury would be the world team and Hasay would be the first alternate. But Alberto was having none of that. The Nike conspiracy begins to take place.

According to what I have read on flotrack, the judges reviewed the situation and said there was no foul, just natural incidental conduct. Salazar filed an appeal which was rejected. He filed a further appeal which set up a 3 person jury. They also found nothing wrong. So Grunewald is good to go right?

Wrong. Another appeal led to a sudden change of mind from officials and suddenly Grunewald was out and Hasay was upgraded on to the world team (Note: Hasay ended up falling the 4th in the race but 3rd place finisher Sara Vaughn does not have the A standard.). The Grunewald camp is trying desperately to get this decision overruled, but at the moment the results still show Grunewald as disqualified.

I've now watched the video clip about 5 times over (about the 10:10 mark of this video and I'm not sure I can say this is anything more than incidental. That being said, Grunewald was running recklessly on that last lap and nearly tripped herself and/or Rowbury as well with about 100m to go.

Here is the problem. The USATF has got all sorts of corruption and has made all sorts of stupid decisions in the last year. Now the Nike posse is trying to get their star child Hasay to join Rowbury and represent the USA on the world scene. The conspiracy theorists believe this is Nike's work to get their runners on the team and keep the lesser known women and lesser known brands (Brooks and Grunewald) on the sidelines watching.

I am far from a fan of Al Sal and I really dislike the USATF more and more with each day (really, 2 heats of the 1500m final? No additional 5k entrants in Des Moines? Just two rounds of the 15 last year? Gotta be kidding me ...), but there may be a slight argument for disqualification here. She ran up on the runners and in real time if she had been straight up DQd from the start it's hard to serious argue.

That being said, this smells really fishy. It took a huge slew of appeals to get this movement traction and now all of a sudden a lesser known name is off the team and Nike's own Jordan Hasay is on. IT does not pass the eye test one bit.

I wish the best for Grunewald and I really hope she gets in. She is a fantastic story and a two time cancer survivor. It's hard not to root for her out there. I hate to see the super powers win out and corruption stain our sport.

Regardless of the end result here, the USATF continues to ruin our sport. Controversy after controversy has virtually killed track and field in the US. It's not going to be popular if guys like these are looking for ways to get themselves richer and themselves better off (see the US Marathon trials in LA) rather than looking out for the hard working runners who have earned success. It brings me back to the Prefontaine days where the AAU would basically steal from him and use him as a means to their own personal gain. It's just outrageous.

Our sport will never be as great as it can be unless a change is made.

Let me know what you think about these controversies below and feel free to check out the race videos on Runnerspace.

What This Weekend Means for States

Just a few bullet points to keep an eye as we move towards the biggest meet of indoors. Lots of exciting stuff is going down.

First off, the State College boys are killing it. They now have all four relay members qualified for the state championships and each has run under 1:58.00. That's very impressive and very intimidating for other teams trying to win the 4x8. That being said, does this mean State College is obligated to run all three legs in the open? They all at least have a chance at medaling individually (something like 4 guys in the top 12 converted times in the state), but doubling all 4 of your relay members can leave yourself very vulnerable if O'Hara decides to keep Smart and Belfatto out of the open 8 and save them for a relay title. That being said, if O'Hara goes DMR (an event that I believe is what their team is best fit for, but likely will only run it at Nationals), then State College looks to be a comfortable favorite in the 4x8 and should be able to double their legs in the 8 and 4x8 and still be the favorites to win. Think back to the North Penn team in 2008 for an example.

Also major props to Alex Milligan who qualified for states individually in the mile this weekend. State College is so deep they have a guy on their bench who can run 4:30.9h for the mile, pretty sick stuff.

The State College boys also make things a bit more difficult for Zach Brehm. By my count when you convert his time to 1:57.81 banked for the 800m that puts him 11th in the state. He will need people to pull out from ahead of him and he will need them to put 10 guys in the fast heat. I talked about the potential for Brehm to not get in the fast heat a few posts back, but I think, now that all qualifiers have revealed themselves, he ought to be safe. I expect a few names to pull out of the 800m leaving the door open for a 10 man final that includes Brehm (and also hopefully includes guys like Francis, Logue, Cather, Wiseman, Sauer and Lewis). Also worth noting, Brehm did race this weekend for Carlisle as far as I can tell, despite his team having the potential to either upgrade their relay position with a DMR or 4x8, or he could have upgraded his mile or 800m position in a couple of fast races. Hopefully he is not injured.

37 men have qualified in the 800m, 46 men in the mile! I'm sure lots will pull out from both, but seriously the PTFCA has to consider changing that mile standard. I feel like it is just too easy these days. Henderson could have qualified almost their whole top 7 for the state meet, despite being a team of mostly 2 milers.

Ross Wilson and Kyle Francis made intriguing statements in the mile this weekend. Francis has been a roll as of late, but I really feel like he ought to throw his hat in the 800m ring in a race that will get a lot of guys PRs and probably have one or two down around the 1:51 mark and the state record. Wilson is definitely better suited for the 3k, but he could still be a medalist in the mile and help his relay. He is a selfless guy whose season was cut short indoors by a Footlocker Appearence which usually makes a lot of guys opt mile over 3k (Tarsnane, Furcht, Springer come to mind in recent memory). I would much rather see Wilson in the 3k, but it is looking more and more like the mile.

The 3k is up to 20 names now. They won't be adjusting this field. Thrilled McGoey is in, but Martin racing a lot of 3ks already this season. Deluca quite the opposite, just laying low all year with only two significant races worth noting. Interested to see who's strategy plays out better. Right now I'm leaning towards picking neither of them come states time.

Props to Will Loevner (in the 60s at A states in XC and a 4:31 1600m as a freshman last year) for dropping a bombshell of 8:55 on that field. Nice to see Molino also sneak an SQS in. He has to run a lot of 3ks in a row now, but he is a talent guy so he might be a nice sleeper.

14 DMR teams qualified and GV is the 15th who is literally fractions of a second off the SQS (kind of surprised they didn't try to lower that time, perhaps a little over confident that mark would hold up?)

They may not have to add more teams than that although CB South or WC East would be nice stories. Out of the 14 teams with qualifying times I think just about everyone will compete at this event at states which is bad news for anyone without the time. Here is how I expect to definitely go DMR at states:
Henderson, Altoona, Lower Dauphin, HG Prep, Radnor, GFS, Malvern, CR North, Quakertown, St. Joe's Prep (a total of 10 schools right there)

I also think it is very possible that we could see Bensalem and LaSalle in the event as well. LaSalle ran a nice 4x8 last weekend and that may be an easier double for Bilotta so I think the 4x8 is at the very least equally likely for LaSalle. Bensalem may let Francis try a mile-8 double in which case they might just throw their B squad in the 4x8. However, they also could just easily double Francis back to see what kind of monster anchor leg he could run (or possibly monster 1200m leg, you can't rule that one out).

The only teams I'm relatively sure won't enter are O'Hara and North Penn. I think O'Hara would rather try their luck in the 4x8 with fresh pieces than double guys back for the DMR, but that's just an opinion, I could easily end up being wrong. Meanwhile, North Penn always does the 4x8. ALWAYS. If they pick the DMR I'll be stunned.

So without adding in GV's time (which is not an SQS keep in mind), we are looking at a 10-12 team field. So keep in mind, there is a chance GV does not get in. I think they more than most likely will, but they don't actually have the time and they didn't even try to get faster this weekend. The DMR (before the PTFCA went on a huge adding lots and lots of people spree) used to be strictly the fastest 10 teams, so they shouldn't have a problem with a 10 man field, let alone 12. If I'm Great Valley, I'm sweating at least a tiny bit right now about not getting in. If I'm anybody sitting behind Great Valley, I'm prepping my 4x8 team (if qualified) to go out there and try and take care of business.

Looking ahead:
Lot's of controversy already at the USA indoor track championships, I'm hoping to fill you guys in on the scandal in the near future
Also once the performance list comes out for states there will be lots more to talk about in the HS ranks
Plus some DMR madness in the college ranks leaving the door open for Nova to miss NCAAs!
And the Centennial Conference Championships are coming! One of the best distance conferences in D3 will be on display

Breaking News: MoC Performance List

Preview coming when time allows but here is the link:

USA Championship 1500m

So here is the honest truth of the matter. There is still no word from USATF on if this is going to be a two heat final or they are going to set up a qualifying round (or perhaps they might just even cut the field based on their own discretion, the USATF isn't exactly the most logical of governing bodies sometimes).

It makes it very tough to predict who will win out in a race such as this. If you have a two heat final, you have to throw tactics out the window and just start gunning for the fastest mark. It's very possible a group of the best guys is not going to get out hard enough and our world team ends up being Josh Mcalray and Travis Burkstrand.

When you have assembled a field that includes Rupp, Lomong, Hill, Leer and Mazano (just to name a few) you want to see 2 of those guys sporting the flag overseas.

So I will give you my best bet who I think will win as if they are all running in the same heat. Is this likely? No it's impossible to fit the roughly 20 entrants on the track all at the same time without a fall or push or a Will Leer crying interview afterwards. But I will assume everyone stays up right and we have a typical, tactical championship final. It's my best way to represent this complicated situation with predictions, although it is almost certainly not the real life situation that will unfold (please, USATF, please).

As before, you can find the full list of accepted entries either a few posts down on my blog or on the usatf website. That may help you follow along as I will be picking out a few key names.

Like any race without a rabbit and a title on the line I expect to see a tactical affair over 1500m out in Albuquerque. This combined with the altitude should make for slow times, so really you just throw those out the window and pick who the best racers are. Realistically, the following names are guys with potential to be top 5 in this race:

Galen Rupp, David Torrence, Ryan Hill, Will Leer, Lopez Lomong, Leo Manzano, Riley Masters, Garrett Heath, Patrick Casey, Craig Miller (PA don't play), and Duncan Phillips.

From this group the guys who boast an A standard for the world championships are as follows:
Torrence, Heath, Manzano, Leer and Miller

But I also think, if I understand the rules correctly, anyone who ran sub 3:58.00 last year indoors is also got to go. I think that extends the list to include Lomong, Rupp, and Hill with a chance that Casey and/or Masters got it last year as well (I'd have to check TFRRS to be sure about anything).

I checked, just Casey not Masters for the A standard.

So that may compel some people to push the pace and try and make the race a sub 3:41 type effort. That being said, if it's quick that just plays right into the hands of the guys who have run well under 4 minutes before in their life, so I doubt somebody like David Torrence will be shaking in his boots off fast fractions.

Tentatively, I feel that Phillips, Masters and Miller just aren't quite on the upper echelon of runners. Miller is very, very good but he has never broken through from a "finalist" type to a "contender". He will be in the hunt, and may find a way to squeak out a 3rd or 4th finish if things get crazy, but I doubt see any of these guys being ready to be top 5 in this race.

I really like the roll that both Garrett Heath and Ryan Hill have been on recently. Hill especially. Hill clocked a blazing 7:34 3k putting him #3 on the US AT list behind just Lagat and Rupp. Special group. Meanwhile, Heath has ran some quality miles after a bit of a breakthrough 3:34 performance last spring/summer. He ran a 3:38.89 already indoors (I believe this was en route to his Mile win at the Armory in something around 3:55.

I see Hill as a sleeper type for the win and Heath as a top 5 guy just riding momentum. Hard to pick against some of the savvy vets in this field, but these guys are in my top 5.

Two guys you might be surprised to see me leave out are Leo Manzano and Lopez Lomong. I don't have either of them in my top 5. This is probably stupid for a bunch of reasons. First, these guys have the two best 1500m PBs of anyone in the field (admittedly from a couple years back by now). Secondly, both of them basically ran like garbage all spring/summer last year (no offense) but still managed to have their best races of the season when it counted and get themselves on the world championship team. Unbelievable how that works out sometimes.

That being said, Lopez has looked shaky and injured for a steady couple months now and has been a non factor this indoor season. Leo had a somewhat promising 3:56 showing at Millrose but was still way off the front group. Leo is the streakiest US miler, probably ever, so you never know which Leo will show up at the big meet. He is still unsponsored and that's what worries me. Being unsponsored may be really hurting his training and I think it finally all catches up to him this weekend for the first time in a (somewhat) meaningful race.

Galen Rupp is in my top 5 no doubt. That guy is in absolutely monster shape. Worth noting also is that his rabbit, Taylor Gilland, for each of his recent record assaults is entered in the race at USAs with a 3:58 seed mark. Should be interesting to see if that gives Rupp extra comfort at all after his last mishap in Boston.

Will Leer also is in my top 5. Coming off his 3:52 mark from Millrose he seems on top of his game right now and he has the kick and tactical savvy to perform well in a meet such as this.

Now out of the last two, David Torrence and Patrick Casey, I'm going with the youngster Casey over the established vet in Torrence. I like Torrence a lot as a strong runner, but I think Casey will be more prepared for this race given his recent 3:58 domination up at UW. He is training with a nice group of new and up and coming runners out at OTC and I think we will have a young blood up there mixing it up with some big name pros.

So out of this top 5 how does it shape out? I really like Hill, the guy is clearly very fit and is not afraid of anyone, coming off a battle with a couple of world championship/olympic silver medalists in Boston. He really has the potential to surprise. That being said, I think the 1500m is a bit out of his wheelhouse and he likely will have run the 3k the day before (perhaps he will even end up dropping the 1500m completely if he makes the 3k world team) so for that reason, I don't think he comes out on top.

**Also worth noting the 3k is the day before the 1500m and Rupp, Hill, Leer, Heath, Miller, Lomong Quigley, and Cabral are all names that are slotted down for doubling**

It will be very interesting to see who can bounce back after the 3k the night before, further complicating the picture and leaving room for the upset. I'm not too worried about this top group doubling, but if somebody like Heath or Leer or Hill pulls out of the 3k to focus their efforts more on this event, they could be dangerous (even someone like Miller could seize the opportunity to kick people down on fresh legs if he drops the 3000).

Ultimately, I think 3k or not this is Will Leer's race to lose. He has the best kick and the best qualifying mark by a decent margin. Rupp is strong, but I'm not sure he is quite fast enough. If he tries to run away with it too early, he will be tired for the bell and Leer is fit enough to run at least 3:52 pace with a kick at the end which is probably down around 3:36ish through 1500m. That's very quick. I think Heath is surprising up front, especially if he ditches the 3k, but he won't quite beat out the big names of Leer and Rupp.

If things break right, Casey could be the biggest surprise of them all and sneak even into the top 2 spots. But in all likelihood I just don't see him being on these other guys level right now.

I have:
1. Leer
2. Rupp
3. Heath
4. Hill
5. Casey
6. Manzano
7. Miller
8. Torrence

That whole group could be within 2 seconds or so if one another if things all break right with the top 2 likely pulling away at the end of the race. This race is ripe with spoilers and potential upsets so don't miss out on an exciting distance concluding event this weekend.

Big Names Still Left To Qualify

Here is a quick list of some of the key names that I didn't see on the performance list for states as of my last look through. Hopefully these guys can find a meet this upcoming weekend and jump in somewhere. If anyone has heard anything feel free to post it below.

Also the TFCAofGP performance list is due out in the near future, so I should be able to get a Meet of Champs Preview up at some point in the slightly after that near future. Still planning on finishing up my USA Champs previews as well, got two left to go on that one.

Anyway names to keep an eye out for:
Colin Abert in the 3k? I think he should do it, but he seems bent on being a mile guy this year and just ran a big invite last weekend

Aaron Gebhardt in the 3k? Not too many district 3 teams racing and his opportunity indoors likely just won't happen

Jeff Van Kooten in the distance events? Not sure what his specialty is but his brother was an excellent track runner in the 16 and 3k so if the WPIAL can get a meet of champs in he is a darkhorse

Anybody with a North Allegheny Jersey in a distance event? McGoey is the big name here, he needs to be in this 3k field because he is a big up and coming talent, but odds are we won't get that lucky

Griffin Molino in the mile? He just tried his hand at the 3k and couldn't quite get there, if he can find a meet to hop into and get the easier mile SQS that would be really cool, he is a great talent to have at the state meet

Zach Seiger or Jacob Connors? Haven't seen a sniff of them, but again if you're a D3 guy it's hard to find quality indoor meets

Dominic Hucklebury? Jeremy Parsons? Bryce England? They are all small school guys so they don't have a lot of big race opportunities throughout the indoor season, but if they hop in one somewhere they are dangerous

Sam Webb or Ethan Martin? Any chance these guys will be back from their injuries this indoor campaign? I doubt it at this point, but it would be exciting to see them come back last minute like Chaborek last year for Henderson

Matt Kazanjian, Josh Smith, Dave Fowler, Colin McDonald, Gunnar Sjoreen, Brian Arita, Eric Diestelow, Dan Shalala, Alexander Balla? These guys are all sub 16 5k guys running in District One without an individual SQS mark that I can see looking over the list and most, if not all are likely to be in the meet of champs meet this weekend hunting for a spot. Conestoga has the horses to do something cool in the relays, they were a pleasant surprise in XC

Henderson guy? Any way they will squeeze a few more events out of a few more guys? 3k at all? Doesn't appear to be the case, but you always have to be on the look out

Scott Mason ran 9:00.24 in the 3k. That time will get in if they add anyone at all to the field, but hey they might not. So maybe Mason is one last guy to consider at MOC.

I'm sure there are plenty of names that I forgot or facts that I overlooked so feel free to let me know below.

USA Champs Men's 800m

As a friendly reminder you can see the full list of entries either on or on my post a couple spots down previewing the event.

Based on my research up to this point, I see no signs of a performance list for the event, so this will be highly speculative writing going on for the next couple paragraphs. I'd love to hear other opinions or comments below if you have time to throw something down.

So let's get into predicting shall we!

Last year's results indicate that they will take 6 athletes to the 800m final from a field of what looks like 3 heats of 6-7 (there are a total of 20 entrants, but I'm not sure all will stay entered if they have qualified in other events they would rather run). The final a year ago featured Erik Sowinski (1st), Robby Andrews (2nd) and Tyler Mulder (3rd) who were all under 1:47.5. In order to qualify for the world championships, you must finish in the top 2 of the runners who have the World A Standard (1:47.00 or 1:44.00 last outdoors).

So briefly scanning the entries the following men enter the race with the A standard already in their back pocket: Sowinski, Rutt, Symmonds (outdoors), and Gagnon. Anybody else who wants to punch their ticket to Sopot (city in Poland where World Indoors will be held), better run under 1:47 this weekend at the US champs meet. In other words, if my boy Robby wants to go, he better stick his nose in this one.

Looking down the list of entries, I'd say there is only a select group of guys I could see making the final based on a combination of talent, experience and tactical savvy. The names I have in mind right now are in order by season best:
1. Mike Rutt
2. Erik Sowinski
3. Brian Gagnon
4. Robby Andrews
5. James Gilreath
6. Nick Symmonds
7. Harun Abda
8. Mark Wierzoreck
9. Mark Husted
10. Casmir Loxsom
11. Tyler Mulder
12. Nick Guarino

(Worth noting, Guarino and Waterman are D3 guys mixing it up on the Pro Level, PA's Owen Dawson is listed to compete and Richard Jones was the lead off leg of the recent world record 4x8, I also left him off the list)

Only half of these guys can make the final, and some of them will have their changes seriously damaged depending on which heat they land in. Based on the way the times are spread out it's conceivable to see some type of Rutt, Symmonds, Mulder heat or something like, which would make it a real challenge for anyone else to bust through. There will be one auto qualifier from each heat and 3 total at large bids to the final.

Without knowledge of the heats, you can only do some careful guess work about who has the smarts to make it to Sunday in one piece. Symmonds, Sowinski and Rutt are my three guys I would be stunned to see miss the final. I recently talked about how well Sowinski and Rutt have been running as of late and I don't see their momentum suddenly dropping off.

Rutt has excellent indoor credentials including a second place finish at NCAAs and he made a world championship final in the 800m a few years back. Meanwhile, Sowinski is the US leader at 800m and 1000m this season, with a 600m USR and 4x800m WR on his resume. If these guys stay on their feet and off the rail (ahem, Nick Willis, ahem) then they will be one step closer to Poland.

Symmonds is the most talented guy in the field by a long shot. He has a 1:42 PR and only two other guys have ever broken 1:45 before (Mulder and Andrews). But Symmonds is not known for his strong running indoors. He has put an emphasis on it this season as his one man hype machine has looked to put the Brooks guys on the map, but is this just all talk or serious plans? Symmonds wants the AR outdoors in the 800m so he isn't going to waste peak form on Albuquerque. That being said, the man has self respect and competitiveness. He has gotten it handed to him twice now during his last two marquee races and I doubt he wants to let these guys get the best of him again if he can help it. He is tactically sound, very experience and just flat out faster than everybody else. I expect him in the final.

Three spots left, who has what it takes to lock one up?
Well there is the relative no name guys (Husted, Gilreath, Guarino)
The recent grad 600m specialists (Loxsom, Abda)
The almost big names (Gagnon, Wizzo)
And the bigger names (Andrews, Mulder)

Husted made this list because he skated into the final last year on time in a heat led by Mulder and Sowinski. He can get lucky again, but I doubt you will see him in. Guarino was 7th last year and just missed cracking the top spot. He has been steadily improving, but his PBs don't suggest he belongs in a final like this, he is also out. Abda is a bit of a long shot. He has the talent to be a real factor in this kind of race, he has run around 1:16 for 600m, but ultimately, he hasn't shown superior fitness this season and was never a star at championship races. So Abda is also out for me.

Gilreath comes in at 1:48.20, giving him a faster seed time than even Nick Symmonds. But Gilreath is a relative unknown and perhaps a bit out of his league at this time. I won't put his changes at 0, but I still won't quite jump on the bandwagon.

This leaves me with my big 5 of Loxsom, Gagnon, Wizzo, Andrews and Mulder.

Here's the thing, Andrews has the talent and the speed to kick somebody down and make a final. But the only way he is making a final. He won't be the one to push the pace and he very easily can mistime his jump and end up a few ticks of the last guys in on time. Andrews has super nice upside, but as a betting man I have to go against my fan biases here and pick against him to get in. Way too much risk for a guy like this on an indoor track.

Meanwhile, Andrews' partner Brian Gagnon is doing work this year. He did a nice pace job at Millrose, ran a nice leg on the 4x8 for NJNY and is one of the few guys sitting their with the A standard. He is comfortable at a fast pace and he will go for it out on the track. I think this guy has great odds of getting in on time, so I'm on the bandwagon hardcore. I have both UCONN guys in my final.

Down to 2 spots left and 3 guys to pick from.

I'll make this first part easy to build up the drama. Mulder is in. 1:44 PR, the final last year, not afraid of an pace and consistently performs at the top level. Congrats Tyler.

Which means I can only pick one Brooks guy! Ouch this is tough. A year ago, I definitely would have had Wizzo over Cas. Cas was a time trialing fiend, but he didn't have any sort of luck getting through rounds and making finals. But last year we saw a new Cas Loxsom. He finished the year with 2 hard fought second places and ran some nice rounds at USAs before just missing the final (a very talented final keep in mind). Cas also had a very quick split recently trying to make up Matt Sherer ground.

But that argument seems kinda flawed because so did Wizzo.

Wizzo has been at the top a bit longer than Cas and has been racing the pros longer than Cas as well. He certainly has an edge in experience and even beat Cas the last time the two raced head to head in a Brooks only 800m led by Symmonds. But does Wizzo have the firepower to mix it up off any pace and grab a time qualifer?

This is my toughest pick of the bunch, but I'm taking Cas narrowly. I think at the very least, Cas will help keep the pace quick and that should help him sneak in with one of the last spots in the final.

Cool, now we have a final: Rutt, Gagnon, Sowinski, Mulder, Symmonds and Loxsom

In the final, I think things will stay at least reasonably quick. Sowinski and Mulder should be out front, Mulder needs the standard so he will have a vested interest in keeping it quick. Loxsom, too I'd imagine won't be afraid to get up in the mix. This leaves Rutt and Symmonds licking their chops in the back with big time kicks and Gagnon somewhere in the middle (not really sure if he has a signature racing style). With 200m to go, Sowinski should be at the front looking to drive for home like he did a year ago. If Symmonds is on his game, he and Rutt will be trailing just behind, moving ahead of a fading Mulder and Loxsom.

On the last lap it will be another close battle between Sowinski and Rutt/Symmonds, both of whom remember the last time he just barely beat them out. Can Sowinski continue to edge out these guys, or will they get their revenge? Part of me feels like the revenge factor is too sweet to pass on, but Sowinski's winning streak and defending champion status make him fairly enticing in this spot.

In the end, I'll call it this way:
Sowinski 1:46.88
Rutt 1:46.90
Symmonds 1:47.01
Gagnon 1:47.20
Mulder 1:47.57
Loxsom 1:48.12

The 3k: Unfairly Underrated

Anyone know what Max Norris ran before he dominated the indoor state championships with his 8:28 bombshell of a 3k? 8:48 and 4:26. The 4:26 came in a stacked field at Lehigh, the 8:48 came in the early season against fellow state medalist Dan Savage, fresh off XC fitness.

What has Dominic Deluca done this season? Well I'll tell you one thing, his resume is much more impressive. Deluca dropped a 4:22 to dominate against stud miler Sam Ritz in Deluca's off event. He also dropped an early season 8:44 in another impressive victory over Cole Nissley. Deluca is coming off a season that featured a AA state XC title and has carried his momentum onto flat tracks with little competition for him. He has not yet been pushed to his max ability this season and at states, I think low 8:30s is certainly possible.

Especially when he will be dealing with Colin Martin.

Sure Ethan grabbed headlines last year by rocketing an 8:33 indoors for 2nd place at states and dropping a nice kick outdoors to grab the state title in brutal conditions, but this year has been Colin's year. He had a very strong XC season, finishing with a 12th place finish at the Footlocker Regional, almost making him a surprise Footlocker Finalist. Now Colin has opened up with a dominating 3k win and a stunning 9:13 3200m! 9:13 for 3200m! This is worth about 8:36 for 3k (the state will seed him down around 8:38 because their conversion system is kind of wrong, but it is easy to understand). Nobody, not even super star Tony Russell was in 8:36 shape before the state championship.

Put Martin and Deluca against each other and you got yourself a very interesting race up front. That isn't even accounting for the likes of Ross Wilson (one of the most impressive long distnace race stretches of all time last spring), Kevin James (1:56 to-8:57 range already this indoors and he is still getting back) and newcomers to the top notch group in Patrick Reilly, Paul Power, Chris Cummings, Christian Kardish, and Jake Brophy.

And I still believe more guys will punch qualifying tickets between now and the state championship at Meet of Champs and TSTCA Championships (if they can somehow manage to get that meet together, we can't leave the NA guys at home if we can help it).

But even without the extra qualifiers, we have 16 guys under the SQS this year and only a few of those names won't try their hand at it. Kevin James probably won't run because of his relay obligations. There is a chance Wilson will try the mile, but he is significantly better off at 3000m and I think he should stay there. Christian Kardish will likely drop because of his DMR anchor duties. Kazanjian may pull out in favor of the 4x8. Bilotta is almost certain to go mile-DMR double as well.

Beyond that I don't see anyone for whom it makes sense to jump ship. So worse case scenario we are looking at 11 guys (much more likely to be something like 13) which is a perfectly acceptable field in my mind.

Last year, I think the fan base got a little spoiled thanks to a truly exceptional field at the state championships. Last year it took 8:42 to medal! That's crazy talk right there! 16 guys broke 9 minutes in the race with 9 under 8:50.

2012 took 8:57 to medal and 8:39 to win
2011 took 8:58 to medal and 8:46 got 3rd
2010 took 8:49 to medal and 8:38 to win, just one guy was under 8:42
2009 took 9:02 to medal and 8:44 got you 3rd

So for 4 straight years before 2013, there were a TOTAL of 6 guys under 8:42! Last year we had 8 in one race!

We are spoiled people, just straight spoiled. This year's crop is much more likely to look like a better up front version of the 2010 meet, which up until last year was one of the deepest 3ks of the decade (for the record 2008 was fairly strong with 8:53 being the final medal spot and 5 guys under 8:42).

So yeah maybe this race doesn't appear to have the big superstar name, but Dominic Deluca and Colin Martin are two guys on the verge of super stardom. Ross Wilson and Kevin James are probably 2-3 on my list of long distance guys in the state behind Russell in terms of potential to run the fastest 3200m of the year in PA. And might I just say that Jake Brophy is a straight beast. Let him hang around and he might go ahead and blow someone's doors off at the end. He very well might be the guy to win the darn thing as just a sophomore. Then we will forever remember this meet as his coming out party.

Reilly, Marston, Cummings, Kardish, Power, Comber, Nissley and Kazanjian have XC performances that indicate sub 8:50 is very possible for the whole bunch. Already I'm looking at a field of 10 guys under 8:50. That isn't even including the likes of McDevitt, Pearlman and Bilotta.

And oh yeah, I bet there are still a slew of guys knocking on the door trying to come in.

I'm sorry folks, but a field of about 10 sub 8:50 guys is not only impressive, it is the deepest 3k in state history. We may not see sub 8:30 at states (although I'm not ready to guarentee that at this moment in time if someone is willing to keep the pace fast), but I think when all is said and done the 3k will prove to be anything but a snooze fest.

Wisconsin, Oreos, and giannis antetokounmpo

Right now I'm sitting in my dorm, finished up with night class typing on my phone because my laptop is broken watching the bucks play the magic on league pass. I've spent a solid hour plus reading grantland and my writing idol Bill Simmons so logically I flipped on to the blog and decided to just type out like old times.

Do I know what I'm about to write about? No idea. Is it likely that I'm going to make a ton of type-o s? Incredibly so. But I love this stuff and so I will ramble away for anybody who wants to listen. Or read or whatever.

I've had a craving all night for the new cookie dough Oreos. It's like a combination of all my favorite things. Cookie dough and Oreos. And being a sucker for new ideas designed to appeal to the masses. I'm not quite cynical enough to consider the fact that such a brilliant idea may not have been introduced yet because ... Well ... It's actually not that good.

This optimism is mirrored in my bucks vs magic game. I'm a sixers fan and I want the first overall pick. Ideally both the magic and bucks win tonight but they can't both win. That being said, one of them has to win. And the sixers already lost tonight. Just give us Julius randle now baby!

I think you have to be optimistic if you are going to be a runner. Every time you step on the line you are willing putting yourself in a position where if you do things right, you puke and feel like garbage for hours. I did extra drills today for an entire hour in hopes of dropping a second or two in a month or two. Goodness gracious to somebody else that probably sounds pretty darn depressing.

But this is what I do, this is what I love. So even though I'm waking up at 7:30 tomorrow on a day I don't have any class, I'm pretty excited to go do a workout in lane 4 of a 160m indoor track. I like getting out there and finding something new to drive me and motivate me and keep me coming back.

I've thought about quitting in lots of things and running is no exception. It can be frustrating at times without a doubt. But I always come back. I never really go through with it. Heck I can't even stay away from blogging about running for a month without craving more. It's an addiction and I'm not going to rehab. No no no.

Yeah I'm sorry I regret making that joke, not my best stuff.

So ultimately I'm running my last regular season indoor race I will ever run on Saturday at haverford. I'm gonna live in the moment and even when I get knocked around (like last week at ursinus) I'm gonna stay optimistic.

In the end it's just another race. Let's face it, I'm not quitting any time soon ....

Now back to the important issues .... can we get those Oreos?

USA Indoor World Championship Qualifying Meet

I'll likely be doing a preview later in the week, but I'm going to list off the schedule and entries below for the distance events. You can find the full list of entrants at

Worth noting, there are no guarentees all of these fields will hold up, the USATF website says they want to have 12 guys in a one heat final of the 1500m, 16 in the 3k and 20 total in the 800m prelims. That means there are going to have to be cuts almost across the board or qualifying heats. 

1500m (Final 2/23 2:22 MST)
Garrett HeathBrooks3:38.89qualifieddeclared
William LeerNike3:52.47qualifieddeclared
Leonel Manzano
Duncan Phillips
Pat Casey
Riley MastersBrooks3:58.35qualifieddeclared
Lopez LomongNike3:58.52qualifieddeclared
Taylor Gilland
Ryan HillNike3:59.00qualifieddeclared
Jack BolasNew Balance3:59.35qualifieddeclared
Jacob EdwardsColumbus Running Company3:59.47qualifieddeclared
Daniel QuigleyOregon TC Elite3:59.59qualifieddeclared
Travis BurkstrandTeam USA Minnesota4:00.15qualifieddeclared
Josh McAlary
Donald CabralNike / New Jersey New York Track Club4:01.17qualifieddeclared
Robert Sandlin JrBellarmine4:01.20qualifieddeclared
Galen RuppNikeNTaccepteddeclared
David TorrenceNikeNTaccepteddeclared

 3000m (Final 2/22 3:47 MST)
Galen RuppNike7:34.68qualifieddeclared
Ryan HillNike7:34.87qualifieddeclared
Garrett HeathBrooks7:37.40qualifieddeclared
Andrew BumbaloughNike7:37.62qualifieddeclared
Bernard LagatNike7:38.51qualifieddeclared
William LeerNike7:42.95qualifieddeclared
Ben BlankenshipOregon TC Elite7:46.55qualifieddeclared
Donald CabralNike / New Jersey New York Track Club7:51.47qualifieddeclared
Timothy RitchieBoston Athletic Association7:56.16qualifieddeclared
Zachary Zarda
Nicholas HiltonTeam Run Flagstaff7:57.55qualifieddeclared
Craig ForysNew York Athletic Club (NYAC)7:58.07qualifieddeclared
William Nelson
Jim SpisakDuquesne8:00.22qualifieddeclared
Dan LowryPlaymakers Elite/New Balance8:00.69qualifieddeclared
Adam VessTeam Run Flagstaff8:00.84qualifieddeclared
Daniel QuigleyOregon TC Elite8:01.49qualifieddeclared
Aric Van Halen
Tommy SchmitzSpeed Factory Athletics8:03.15accepteddeclared
(Craig Miller may be a late entry in both the 3k and/or the 1500 as he is qualified among the top few runners)

800m (Round 1 2/22 2:25 MST, Final 2/23 1:33 MST)
Michael RuttNew Jersey New York Track Club1:46.71qualifieddeclared
Erik SowinskiNike1:46.84qualifieddeclared
Brian GagnonNew Jersey New York Track Club1:46.98qualifieddeclared
Robby Andrewsadidas1:47.07qualifieddeclared
James GilreathAdidas Team Green Running1:48.20qualifieddeclared
Nicholas SymmondsBrooks1:48.64qualifieddeclared
Christopher BilbrewAdidas Team Green Running1:49.17qualifieddeclared
Harun AbdaOregon TC Elite1:49.53qualifieddeclared
Mark WieczorekBrooks1:49.66qualifieddeclared
Mark Husted
Jacob WatermanWright Distance Project1:49.98qualifieddeclared
Tetlo Emmen
Casimir Loxsom
Tyler MulderNike / Oregon TC Elite2:21.77qualifieddeclared
Joshua GuarinoSyracuse Chargers Track Club, Inc.2:22.09qualifieddeclared
Nicholas GuarinoSyracuse Chargers Track Club, Inc.2:22.73qualifieddeclared
Owen Dawson
Grant Grosvenor JrMontana St.1:50.24accepteddeclared
Nicholas Thornton

Millrose Games

Thought I'd write a few notes on my thoughts about the Millrose Games this past weekend. Keep in mind that the US Championships are right around the corner now and will serve as the qualifier for the 2014 World Indoor Championships. Should be fun to watch that madness unfold. But for now ....

The Ageless Wonder
As I watched a bunch of US studs run 2000m in a time that would make my early high school mile times shake with fear, I tried to put the thought of Bernard Lagat lapping me out of my mind. Think about it. The guy is 39 and just set another American Record. Admittedly it was at only 2k, a very infrequently run distance, but the Kenyan-American just blasted away from the field with a 4:54 mark that included a 55-56ish closing 400m off sub 4 pace. Did I mention the guy is 39?

Lagat beat out Cam Levins (the Canadian stud who had easily his best race since college with a 4:55 for second), David Torrence (coming off one of his best seasons with a 3:33), Andrew Bumbalough and Evan Jager (steeplechase American Record Holder) with the greatest of ease. It makes you wonder exactly what is going on with this guy. Maybe he keeps himself in great shape and yes he is a rare talent (3:26 1500m PR puts him in only El G territory here), but you have to kind of wonder what else might be going on behind the scenes. It looks like Lagat will continue to stay relevant in the major track scene up until he is in his 40s. The 2016 US team is likely not out of the question for him at this rate which is unreal.

Whatever you want to say about Lagat and what he may or may not be on, you have to respect his racing savvy. He is an extremely well polished racer and a superb tactician. He and Centro are the best right now on US soil no doubt with Lagat being the best, but likely lacking the wheels now a days to get in done against the best in the world at 5k like he used to be able to. I give him props, he knows how to race and that's why he is incredibly accomplished at the highest level. He will be a factor in the 3k at the US trails and the indoor world championships.

So I guess ultimately, I gotta give Lagat a little bit of props for still handling guys in their prime (who also may be on something or another don't forget) with brilliant tactics and smart racing. Put these youngsters in their place Bernie.

A Phenomenal High School Performance .... Oh, and Mary Cain too ....
Mary Cain has been grabbing headlines in the US track and field market all winter, and deservingly so. She has taken off this year as one of the best milers in the nation and, with her recent dominating wins over the likes of US champs Moser and Uceny, she really only has Jenny B standing in her way of being #1. Keep in mind she is still only a high school senior.

We were amazed by what Mary did last year, but indoors this year she has just taken it to another level I did not see possible. Outdoors last year she proved she belonged, making it to the WC final and running 3 straight races that crushed the #2 fastest girl in the HS history at 1500m (current training partner Jordan Hasay). But Cain wasn't quite a world class talent. Now she is getting there. She has phenomenal closing speed and has become a much more tactically strong racer. A year of training and racing at the professional level (she wasn't a pro last spring only by definition, but she was doing everything a pro does), has elevated her to untouchable right now and has landed her a World Junior Record and she came within a fraction of another one. I'm very interested to see how she does at this year's world indoor championships.

But keep in mind people, Mary's marks from a year ago have been matched nicely by Junior in HS Alexa Efraimson. Despite not having the high profile or the big name coach, Alexa the Mother Ef-in Efraimson (probably not my best nickname ever) has run 9 flat for 3k (breaking Cain's record) and now 4:32.15 for the mile off a brutally slow 2:20-21 first half mile. In a less tactical race we definitely could have seen a 4:27 type mark out of Efraimson which would put her just about even with Cain's marks from a year ago when she was second to Shelia Reid at this event.

Think about it. Efraimson is just as good as Cain was last year if not better! But she will have to live in the shadow of Cain's monster of a year from last winter and, more importantly, last spring. If Efraimson can hop on a train outdoors and run something along the lines of 4:08/8:50/15:30 for 15/3k/5k not only will she be up there with the best runner's on Muhlenberg's roster, but she also will be arguably better than Mary Cain was a year ago! And that is certainly saying something!

Efraimson's downfall may be the fact that she is more of a 5k type without the big time kick and wheels of Cain and that may limit what she can do on any type of national and world level. That being said, let's not sell this woman short just because of what Cain did. It's hard to see two one in a million talents come back to back like this, but hey, it's not probabilistically impossible.

US Mid-Distance
The 1k had to be one of the most disappointing races of the night at Millrose. You get talk of an American Record attempt and a French guy runs train on the field. Sowinski moves up well out of his sweet spot and takes down the W on this field. Symmonds is now 0 for 2 in his American Record attempts this year. Not a good sign looking ahead.

And the aftermath of this disappointing 1k leaves us with a crop of question marks in the US mid-distance field. First we have Symmonds who, amid a big transfer and a lot of press, has not been able to cash in on a major victory in a Brooks jersey. He managed just 2:18.87 in a 1k race that is likely right in his sweet spot. He seemed disengaged and put down a kick a little too late in the game to get Sowinski. Fresh of a Silver medal and a heavy burden of expectation, Symmonds will certainly be judged unfairly during an indoor season that, in all likelihood, doesn't mean much to him. Sure he has said he wants records and wants a medal at the World Championships, but he has never been serious about the indoor season. Last year while Rupp chased the big standards and grabbed headlines, Symmonds got beat down in a 600m at Millrose, picked up a few pay checks, lost the US championships Outdoors and then peaked perfectly to flat out dominate when it counted in August. That being said, when you are 30, switch your coaches (maybe) and switch your sponsors there are going to be lingering doubts from me and the fans. Hopefully just no lingering doubts from Symmonds.

My boy Robby has not been able to pull something consistent together. He has the kick and the flash to make something amazing happen and he was just off the record a year ago, but something up in his mental state ain't clicking. He could run 2:20.57 as a freshman in high school, no doubt. I hope he finds the magic again because I really enjoy watching this guy run.

Rutt and Sowinski are the guys now to lead us this indoor season and possibly beyond. Rutt has already clocked a 1:46 in the 800m and ran an excellent leg against Sowinski on the world record 4x8. He has looked very strong and believe it or not he is one of the only guys with a indoor world championship final in the 800m to his name. Very cool. Sowinski, however, is the class of the US right now which I had to check and make sure is true (it is). He has clocked a 1:46 anchor, a world record, and now a win in a 1k that is without a doubt outside his range. His sweet spot to me his roughly 600m. He is on a flat out roll right now going into USAs and has a very dangerous kick in the right race. He will likely defend his US championship at 800m and lead our squad to worlds. That being said, how much can we rely on Erik Sowinski to lead the US in middle distance? His PR is at 1:45 which will not put him at the top of any world class meet. Can he take the next jump to a break through? Hopefully, this is the spring board he needs to answer that question with a yes.

In Defense of Will Leer
To be fair I wasn't cheering for Will Leer on Millrose night because I actually wanted him to win. I just wanted my friend to scream and shout and be angry. And it worked. So my friends and I high-fived and celebrated the upset and we talked briefly about Will Leer.

Look I'm certainly not a big fan of Leer. He is kind of a baby a lot of times after races and gives snarky, mean spirited interviews. He called out Lagat after a US final that seemed like a low blow excuse and he mocked a field of 5k guys that he handled quite impressively last spring. I'm sure he is a good guy at heart, but he is not doing any favors in those interviews. And please, can we stop throwing out the pre comparisons? If someone is going to be forever associated with Pre, I would prefer it to not be Will Leer.

But what bugs me is those who are quick to criticize Leer for not winning when it really counts. Has Leer made a world team? No. But I mean, c'mon look at the guys who have! It's been some combination of Leo, Lagat, Wheating, Centro and Lomong for just about ever (ok Dorian Ulrey slipped in there once, to be fair). Leer puts it on the line every year to make the team, gives it his all on a tactical kickers race, but just can't quite get to the line in the top 3. Here is the thing about Leo, Lagat, Wheating , Centro and Lomong: those guys run 3:32 or faster. Wheating is at 3:30 for a PR and Lagat is at 3:26 PR wise (even though he ain't running that ever again). Centro is tactically brilliant and at 3:31.9. Leo has a sliver medal from London. Morgan Freeman says Lopez Lomong brilliantly in Master Card commercials. It's like, how are you supposed to beat these guys?

Over the past couple years Leer has racked up a strong 5k PR, a huge win at the Oxy 1500m against a field that included Leo, Centro, Rupp, Lomong, and Wheating among others. Now he adds the Wannamaker mile title over Nick Willis, olympic silver medalist and 3:30 guy, who has been on a flat out roll in addition to other silver medalist Manzano, and sub 13 minute guy Lawi Lalang ... not to mention American Record holder at the mile Alan Webb! (sorry couldn't resist)

So yeah, Leer doesn't have the US championship mark or the flashy PR. He has only run 3:35 and in that race just about every body and their mom from the US beat him and run under the A standard. But that's the thing, Leer is maxed out at 3:35 ability. He is not as talented as these other top notch D1 recruits (Leer was a division 3 collegiate like Symmonds) and yet his tactical savvy and heart carry him into the discussion with the big names year in and year out. If you watch his race at Millrose you will notice that he ran it beautifully while the big name and the guy on a tear Nick Willis made a massive tactical mistake.

Guys like David Torrence and Garrett Heath may have some nice flashy PRs and go on the circuit in Europe and drop nice times here or there, but Leer is in the mix every year come US championship time. He gets to the line within a second or so of the leaders and just barely misses out on a trip to the big time. He runs hard and smart and gets his nose in there with the best of them. He makes the big names sweat and take notice of the little guy. And after he misses making the team he is too heart broken and burnt out to do stuff over seas.

Sorry, but I don't see that as a flaw, I see that as something admirable. I see something defensible. I hope Leer somehow finds a way to make a team to shut up some of the haters. But it will probably just be the usual suspects until Leer ultimately retires and moves. Ain't that just the way it is.