3/29 Weekend

I contested my own racing this weekend and the results were pretty unspectacular across the board, so I wasn't surprised to see some of the slow times out there after the dust cleared this weekend. It's cold and it's still just March. Which is why my first point is, I'm not reading too much into anything! If somebody had a bad day it very easily could be some combination of the elements taking a poor effect on performance or a coach telling an athlete to shut it down and run conservative. No one wants to get injured out there in a meet that means basically nothing.

But all the same that doesn't mean some runners can have impressive performances.

I'll get to the track carnival in a bit, but first let's talk about the results up in Altoona. Mitch Endress drops a solid 2:01 and absolutely dominates that field, next closest was 2:06 from Chet Schwoyer of Williamsport (who may be a member of their sub 8 returning 4x8 but I honestly have no idea who was on that relay). Schwoyer was District 4 champion in the 1600m last year outdoors. Brett George of Altoona was 3rd, also in 2:06. Altoona also had the 1600m champ, Brad Foust, who ran a solid 4:31 to outlast established Kiski runner Patrick Miller (who I believe has split down around 1:56 a couple years back as just a sophomore). Eric Kennedy, Brent's younger brother I am assuming, ran a 4:40 for third and, as just a freshman, is making a nice transition to the high school scene.

In the 3200, it was drop out city as the results show just 8 runners finishing the race with a ton being late scratches. Out of the ruckus emerged Brent Kennedy who flat out dominated his return to the track with a 9:31 to win by over 30 seconds. He beat out Will Kachman, sophomore from Bedford with nice XC marks, and Dominc Stroh, Altoona's District 6 XC champion who ran 10:08 and 10:15 respectively.

Very nice relays, Altoona 8:17 over Williamsport 8:20 (don't know how the doubling and such worked here schedule wise) and Altoona had a strong 4x4 win in 3:27.

Now onto the PTFCA meet. First off, David O'Such running 50.32 in that weather? That's a nice for Spring Ford who, as mentioned earlier this week, has some very intriguing relay potential once again. They have nicely developed into a very respectable mid-distance program. The boys opened up in the meet with a huge 10:46 to finish second behind an established Radnor team who ran 10:45. St. Joe's ran 10:49 for third in another solid time.

The 4x8 was also fairly quick (likely because the weather didn't get too bad until later in the day) and as a result Malvern Prep put together a nice relay win in 8:06 going toe to toe with Carlisle (who also ran 8:06). North Penn, a powerhouse in the 4x8 and state medalists in the winter, was third in 8:11. So as far as I see it, if this was a version of NP's A team, then this is a big step forward for Malvern and Carlisle. I believe Malvern is certainly better suited to make a run using their DMR and they clearly have a strong anchor/lead off leg in Jaxson Hoey who once again picked up some community wide respect by helping his team to the win over Brehm and Carlisle.

Ryan Grace really impressed in the 16. I'm assuming he wasn't featured on North Penn's 4x8 (but if somehow he was this is an incredible double), but he really just went out and dominated this field that included Brehm (on that very tough double), Shalala, Diestelow, Hopkins and McDevitt (also possibly on that difficult double from the 4x8). Nice race for Tim Givens of Twin Valley in 4:42. I like the sleeper potential for those chaps.

For Grace, in the past few weeks he has established himself as more than just a good state miler, he is a state medal contender (grabbing one indoors) regardless of how stacked we believe the field can be. 4:15ish by season's end is a time I would throw out as something to shoot for out of him. He can get into that Trimble territory.

John Lewis gets a very nice win the open 8 over a slightly depleted field relative to what we thought. I hope a situation arises where we can see Lewis in a legit race at 800m. I feel he is fairly underrated at this event just because he has so many ties to team title hopes. Not that I feel like he is complaining about grabbing 4x4 gold, individual 400 gold, and overall team gold, but still.

John Carroll second in 2:01 (off the 4x8 double I assume) bolds well for Carlisle. Just about finding some other legs to plug in to get them under 7:50. Hoyt from Penn Charter had a nice 2:01 for 3rd rounding out the most notable marks.

In the 32, with Kevin James out, it was Belfatto time. He easily dominated that 32 field with his 9:37. The guys he was racing are no slouches either. I really like Huckleberry moving forward to have a big spring (he was third in 9:43). The Kazanjian's have always been better outdoors than indoors, and considering their XC season's they are just beginning to brush the surface out here. I think we could see Nick Bonaventure esque times (9:20.00 at Districts) out of these guys which should translate into the state medal conversation. Chris was 2nd in 9:43 and Matt finished 5th in 9:52. Plugging into the missing spot in the top 5 was Casey Comber who ran a tough race to get himself a 9:45 mark (which may actually be a 3200 PR, even if his 3k marks are far superior). Matt Willig had a nice race running 9:55 to edge out Scott Mason (also 9:55). Overall, I'm a big fan of this group of guys. This was a nice chance to see some under the radar types running gutsy races in brutal condition.

The D1 32 will once again be memorable. The Kazanjians, Comber, and Willig all likely will toe the line against anyone Henderson trots out, possibly Kardish, possibly Grace or Tung, Shalala, Marston, Brophy, Power, ... and the list goes on with a bunch of more names who I am sorry to leave out for the sake of time. Sometimes it's just unfair how deep District One can be.

Might try to make a post about what the District fields may look like in the coming weeks as more results come in. Should be fun.

States Splits 2010

The usual applies here. Please send in any updates you have!

Cedar Crest 2010
Darren Dobroski 1:56.9* (1:56.4R)
Shaun Ditzler 1:57.6R
Jon Jackson 1:54.5R
Alex Galli 1:54.6R

Council Rock South 2010
Steve Kandetzke 1:57.9R
Mike Doyle 1:56.9R
Sam Garfield 1:56.3R
Dan Dreeman 1:53.7R

Penn Hills 2010
Dorian Rumble 1:55.0R
Tyree Squires 1:57.2R
Thorn Catlin 1:58.6R
Charles Anderson 1:55.0R

Council Rock North 2010
Phil Whalman 1:59.2R
TJ Iberno 1:58.3R
Armando Salome 1:53.9R
Mike Mahoney 1:54.8R

Penncrest 2010
Brendan Robert 2:01.4 (2:01.0R)
Craig Cassey 1:59.0R
Tres Moore 1:52.5R
Ryan Bushey 1:58.8R

Abington 2010
Macey Watson 1:56.2*
Tevin Smith
Eleazar Cardosa
Charles Ross 1:52.8

Baldwin 2010
Bobby Bishop 1:56.0*
George Crompton 2:05.4*
Arkangelo James 1:52.7
Dennis Logan 1:55.2

Central Dauphin 2010
Gary Flythe
Ed Schrom 1:56.2

CB West 2010
Matt McGarvey 1:59R
Connor Manley 1:55R
Matt Bee 1:53.8R
Nick Scarpello 1:54.8 (1:55R)

LaSalle 2010
Andrew Stone 1:57.2*
Chris Muggler 1:55R
Nick Molloy
Thomas O’Kane 1:53.6

JP McCaskey 2010
Tyler Martin 2:01.4
Quiwane Walker*
Quichawn Walker*
Eric Witmer

Hershey 2010
Kevin DeWille 1:57.8*
- 1:58.6*
- 2:02.2*
Mato Bekelja 1:57.2

The Top 2 Upsets

If you haven't been following along, I could only get up the first 10 before class, so I made one post with the 12-3 ranked upsets (can quickly be found by scrolling down to the post below this) and used this post for the top 2 upsets (in my own opinion). Ironically they come from the very same meet ....

2. Conner Quinn XC 2011
In 2011 the XC individual title was largely seen as up for grabs. Certainly the favorite was 4:07 miler and Penn recruit Drew Magaha of Upper Moreland, who straight up dominated the District One Championships with a 15:16 time (15:34 was second). 

But Magaha was a little new to the top of the XC universe which led many (including myself) to look elsewhere for our picks. There was Logan Steiner of North Allegheny, a proven XC entity who had medaled at states already twice and won a team title the previous season. He won the WPIAL title in absolutely horrible conditions the previous weekend for back to back impressive wins.

Then there was top returner Sam Hibbs who was coming off a bit of an off day at Districts, quick miler Alex Moran from Mt. Lebo, and Ned Willig from Great Valley who was a 4:11 miler with great XC strength (second at districts). 

Behind this group was a slew of new up and comers. Dan Jaskowak out of District 10 was the big name that many were picking for a surprise upset. Tom Coyle and Dan Savage, the lead runner for a very strong O'Hara team with team title hopes, were also up there in the conversation for the title. Surprise District 3 champion, sophomore Jeff Groh, was also tossed around as a potential surprise top 5 finisher.

But none of those guys left the state meet with a title. That honor belonged to the Junior from Hatboro Horsham: Conner Quinn. Going into the season many saw Quinn as a very strong training partner to teammate Sam Hibbs in his quest for a state title (which he would have to wait until outdoors in the 3200m to grab). There was also another man named Quinn, Quinn Devlin from Downingtown West, who many thought would be in the mix for a state title if he could stay healthy (unfortunately he could not).  

Going into districts, Quinn took a big step forward. He was a surprise 3rd at Lehigh running in the 15:30s. He finished only behind true speedsters Ned Willig and Drew Magaha. If he could manage another performance like that at the state championships, he would certainly be in the mix to win?

But Quinn didn't have the flashy track times, the high quality wins in invitationals, or the flashy name that was being thrown around on the message boards. Surely that meant he wasn't a true title contender. 


Quinn broke away from a slew of big names and never looked back. He didn't need a flashy kick or an impressive surge, he just was the strongest runner on that day and used that to his advantage. His 16:03 won him the state title by three seconds over Dan Jaskowak of Grove City who was also a Junior. 

Big congrats to Conner on the W.

1. North Penn XC 2011
When I heard Conner Quinn won the state title in 2011, I was stunned. But when I heard North Penn won the team title, I just straight up thought it was wrong. Sam Bernitt originally asked me about it and I was positive he was just completely wrong. But no, North Penn had ascended one more time to the top of the totem pole in XC. They won their state title since 2007 and they did it without a top 10 guy or a big name. 

Let's back up a moment. North Penn spent the beginning of the year trying to figure out what pieces they had left from the previous season. They were second at Districts in surprise fashion in 2010, despite losing both Brad Miles and Sam Bernitt thanks to the emergence of sophomore Jack MaCauley. MaCauley, Chris Trimble and Dan Davis would be back to try and help the team improve on their finish. At states, the team's inexperience showed big time, only Dan Davis managed to finish in the top 50 of the state. It was a valuable learning experience for the youngsters. 

North Penn didn't show their cards early in the season. I was on the North Penn bandwagon from Day 1. I was a firm believer that with that kind of program and those young talents they could do anything after what I had witnessed the previous year. They didn't rebuild, they reloaded. So I kept saying they were a top 5 team in the state. Even after Henderson once again emerged as a power. Even after North Allegheny and Mount Lebanon showed off some excellent packs.

And then the final nail to the coffin for me that made me think the North Penn dream was over. At Districts, the same place where the previous two seasons they had had such unbelievable races and shocked me so much, they underwhelmed again. Henderson dominated the meet, scoring 89 points. Great Valley had 148 for second and North Penn was a disappointing third in 155. That was it I jumped off the bandwagon.

So then we get to states. The powerhouse team, basically from Day 1 that season was O'Hara. They were so loaded. There were 4 guys on that team who were legit medal threats and all of them had the potential to be up in the top 50 finishers, which is no joke. They had run some really fast times (on some really fast courses admittedly) and were coming off a season where they surprised with their third place finish at states despite a lot of neigh sayers (including myself). So as far as I was concerned O'Hara was in excellent position to take down the title. The only problem was that they lacked a tad of depth. After their 5 there was a fairly reasonable drop off. And the state course usually takes a few victims from every team at states and depth pays off. 

So who would you have picked to sneak up and surprise O'Hara?

 Henderson, title winners in 2009, runner ups in 2010 and now district champions with a ton of strong youngsters, led by then sophomore Tony Russell? They seemed just as good a bet as any. 

North Allegheny? The defending champs had hit their stride with a stunningly dominate victory of Mt. Lebanon (at the time the #2 team in the state in most people's opinion) to win yet another WPIAL title. It seemed as if everything was coming together perfectly for NA to peak beautifully and snag another gold.

Mount Lebanon? Hungry from a tough loss at WPIALs this team was going to be back chasing the win. They had great experience on the course and had three very strong front runners to lead their charge. They were a team with all the right motivation for an upset.

Even Great Valley, the district runner ups who had come on incredibly strong over the course of just a few weeks, looked as if they had more momentum than the Knights from North Penn.

But, alas, that is why they run the races. North Penn runs hard, they run the hills well. MaCauley sneaks into the medals. Dan Davis is back in the top 30. Chris Trimble finishes 35th, just behind O'Hara's third man. A couple of sophomores Ryan Grace and Matt Molloy have huge days and finish 78th and 82nd. It's a big day for North Penn. They exceeding expectations. They are a top 5 team no doubt.

But even after they finished and talked about the race, could they have really thought they won? O'Hara had two in the top 11 and 4 in the top 50. North Allegheny had two medalists, Mt. Lebanon had two guys ahead of Davis, even the boys from CRN had 3 guys up around the top 50 and always run excellent at the state championships. It was likely going to be a battle to sort out who was getting the silver medals.

But the results came in. Tie-score. A tie for the state title! Unheard of! It was basically the closest a state championship could ever be. And in the end, North Penn had the 6th man to do it. It was Hunter Hill's day to shine, beating out O'Hara's #6 by just 13 seconds.

So why did it happen?

I'll tell you why. North Penn changed their game plan. For two years they had surprised everyone at Districts and ran out of their minds at Lehigh to lock a nice cushy seat to states. The goal was to get there and you bet they got there in style those years. 

But you want to know a secret? Nobody runs out of their mind two weeks in a row. Especially not when the second meet is the state championship at Hershey. So North Penn waited a week to unleash their peak. They trained for the hills of Hershey and made it their goal not just to get to states, but to go win.

And although they had a rocky year and don't have the district title trophy to show if in their trophy case, guess what? North Penn got the only gold medals that truly matter. They won the 2011 state championship in dramatic fashion and every second counted. 

Seeing what that O'Hara team has become over the last couple years, a true powerhouse in cross country and track and field, makes you appreciate even more what North Penn accomplished. 

Congrats to them. 

May the madness always continue.

March Madness

In honor of March's NCAA tourney, I figured I would make a small little post this morning about some of the biggest upsets that I have witnessed in my brief window following the sport of track and field at the PA High School level. There were many great ones to choose from, but here are the ones that jumped out to me.

12. Haneef Hardy Indoor 800m 2012
It's rare to see a guy who comes in with the #1 seed pull off the upset, but that is exactly what Haneef Hardy's indoor season was to the hard core followers of the sport. Hardy was seen as a 400m guy with solid skills and decent ability to move up, but not the kind of skills that land you at the top spot in the 800m (his mile PR was just 4:52). He was facing off against guys like Andrew Stone, Ryun Holder (my pick), and Wil Bailey who all went on to be established forces that outdoor season. But Hardy just flat out dominated and stunned a lot of people running 1:53.30, a sizeable PR, and showing everybody he belonged with the best of them.  Worth noting, after a quiet 800m season outdoors in 2012 after his title, he finished the outdoor season running 1:52.58 at Henderson, a very impressive mark.

11. Luke Lefebure Indoor 800m 2010
In 2010 the talk was all about the new state record holder Tom Mallon. Mallon came in with a 1:55 season best, but everyone knew he could drop a ton of time at states considering the previous year he dropped from 1:57 to 1:51. Now in his senior year, Mallon was attempting to grab double gold in the mile and the 800m and that was perhaps what did him in. Things came together beautifully for the unknown Henderson 800m standout. He anchored Henderson's 4x8 in 1:54 the previous spring, but he had limited notable open marks. His season best was around 1:58, which landed him in the second of three heats, outside of the fast heat where things would get interesting.

After Dorian Rumble and Tres Moore helped make things fast, Lefebure unleashed a kick to the finish that brought him home in a 1:53.94. That time was going to be hard to beat. When the fast heat started up (a crew that featured Tom Mallon, Sam Ellison, Andy Flynn and Kyle Moran among others) things dawdled through in a slow first lap and right then it was over. Mallon (and probably Ellison more importantly) were not willing to take it out hard and all the big names just paced off the favorite in hopes of getting the W. Mallon ended up closing like a mad man but ended up running 1:56.17 which was beaten out by 3 men from the fast heat.

Lefebure instantly became a household name and backed up the state title by splitting 1:52 at Penn Relays and coming back to close out the season on his home track in 1:51.08 (which I believe is the school record at a very good Henderson school).

10. Tom Mallon Outdoor 800m 2008
Tom Mallon? Pulling an upset? Well believe it or not there was a brief period of time where Mallon was not the best 800m in state history. Before Mallon grabbed his first of three straight titles as a sophomore at CB South he was an under the radar multi-faceted distance man with good range. He had beaten stud Zack Montijo in a conference battle in the mile and run some key legs on an up and coming 4x8 relay. But Mallon really made a name for himself at states. He came in as the 3 seed behind heavily favored Tom Troxell from Cedar Crest and Nick Crits from Wissahickon. Behind him he had guys like Farina, Montijo, Franks and Capecci who were far more established names in the event at the time and had experience grabbing state medals on the biggest stage.

But Mallon gave 0 about all that. He kicked away from the pack on the final straightaway and got his name in the history books. It was his first of three straight 800m victories, a variety of sub 1:50 splits, sub 1:50 open marks and a couple state records indoors and outdoors. Oh yeah and I think there was a solid 4x8 in there as well? (at one point he held the indoor state meet, indoor state all-time, outdoor state meet, outdoor state all-time, 4x8 outdoor state meet, 4x8 outdoor all-time, and 4x8 NFHS) He finished his career with 7 state championships (4 open 8s, 1 mile, 2 4x8s). In my opinion, he's the greatest 800m man the state has ever seen.

And it all started with one upset back in 2008.

9. Cedar Crest Outdoor 4x800m 2010
After the madness that was the outdoor 2009 4x8 (10 teams under 7:50 with 7:47 not medaling!), the 2010 4x8 was riddled with expectations and compelling story lines. Indoors the state champs were Abington who beat out and up and coming squad from CB West as well as strong teams from LaSalle and Wissahickon. But Henderson loomed as the dominate force, returning all 4 legs from a 7:42 4x8 the previous year that included Will Kellar and Luke Lefebure (who had just won the indoors state title at 800m).

At the Penn Relays, Abington, Henderson, LaSalle and Penn Hills (a surprise squad from District 7) all qualified for the championship of America (with Penn Hills clocking the best time there). CB West regained their momentum from indoors at districts with the return of a healthy Nick Scarpello and won handily. But in a stunning turn of events the boys were disqualified in the prelims of the 4x8! Perhaps the best team in the state was going to miss the state championship!

(Two comments on this, first off that DQ allowed UD to make the finals in the 4x8 at districts which was my only district final ever, so pretty cool, second of all that DQ ended up being a blessing in disguise for Kellar and Lefebure who ended up achieving some pretty significant indivdual results ...)

When Baldwin beat Penn Hills at WPIALs things got even crazier! Who would win? There were so many great teams! Abington, CB West, Baldwin, LaSalle, Penn Hills? Altoona with Wade Endress? CB South with Mallon?

Maybe some people should have taken a look at the District 3 results ....

Cedar Crest, a team completely under the radar all season clocked an unreal 7:49.03 at the district championships, a mark that many waved off as a fluke. The real teams who had been racing strong competition all year would rise to the top. Cedar Crest would be put in their place. Yeah about that ....

Cedar Crest stunned everybody by running 7:50 and qualifying for the finals and then behind the back legs of Jon Jackson and Alex Galli they brought down the hammer against Scarpello, Ross, O'Kane and Anderson and boom Cedar Crest was the surprise state champions in 7:43.64! High quality upset right there.

8. Max Kaulbach Indoor Mile 2008
I'm completely biased here because this was the first distance state championship I ever watched in person. Nick Crits was my boy, he was from our cross town rivals and every time we saw him he was unleashing a furious kick and leaving guys like Joe Dorris and Mike Palmisano, who I practically worshiped as track gods, completely in the dust. Then you had Vince McNally. McNally was a 4:08 miler as a Junior and had closed down in 2:00 the previous year outdoors at the state championship. He was a Footlocker finalist and he was determined to flip the script on what happened to him at XC states.

Those guys were the milers and the kickers and the class of AAA track and field.

But Max Kaulbach wasn't too worried about who was big in AAA track and field. The 2 miler (who went on to be a national champ and penn relays champ in the coming months) sat in on a brutally slow opening couple laps before McNally took over. Slowly they cranked it up and then it was time to kick. This was Crits's time. You leave it to a kick and Crits wins every time.

Except this time. Kaulbach, the 3200m man with no notable 800m PRs, comes blazing back by Crits and outkicks him for the win, running a clutch 4:15 mark. It was pretty awesome. Now Crits had his revenge by unleashing the sickest kick of all time outdoors that year (in a race that didn't feature independent league Max Kaulbach) and there are rumors he was suffering from illness, but Kaulbach's win was still a fantastic one.

7. CB West Indoors 2011
Ok, so maybe this one isn't as big of an upset as I'm hyping it up to be (I did predict the upset before it happened back in the day http://etrain11.blogspot.com/2011_02_01_archive.html) but perhaps it was just the way in which CB West took the title. Abington was coming off two All-Time state records at 4x8 and 4x4. Kyle Moran was in prime form and Will Taylor was beginning to enter top form. Abington was going after a team title and looked like a juggernaut of unstoppable forces. Their 7:45.93 seed time was a whopping 16 seconds better than CB West's previous best time, the #2 seed at 8:01ish.

But CB West kept their entire squad fresh for the relay at the end of the day, Abington doubled some key legs including Moran, who dragged Endress around the track in epic fashion in a really cool 800m race. Then the magic happened. All the legs came together beautifully for CB West and they not only shocked Abington to take the victory, the dropped 16 seconds off their seed time and broke Abington's state record with a 7:45.0 mark! Pure magic and a fantastic twist on the story that nobody could have predicted.

6. Will Kellar Outdoor 1600m 2010
Will Kellar probably wasn't even going to run the 1600m at outdoor states. He sacrificed individual glory to help Henderson win the DMR indoors. He was a key leg on a Henderson team that ran 7:42 the previous year in the 4x8 and Henderson was the state champs in XC that year. They were going for an impressive 3 peat in XC-DMR-4x8, one that I believe has still never been accomplished (?). But then tragedy struck and Henderson was DQd in the 4x8.

Kellar had to pull himself together and he managed to slide his way through to the 1600m finals in a field that lacked a bit of depth. The next day, Kellar skated through the finals and snagged one of the last spots to the state championships. He ran 4:18.52 at Districts and was a clear third behind Magaha and Perozze. Tom Kehl was rooming at states with a 4:09c PR at 1600m and a heck a lot of bad memories from indoor states. There was no Mallon in this race and he knew it. He had split 1:50 in the 4x8 that spring already. He was ready to out kick anybody.

Anybody except Will Kellar. In an unreal display of skill, Kellar, a guy who probably shouldn't have even been in that race in the first place, surprised everyone on the final straightaway, closing down in sub 60 seconds and diving at the line to outkick Tom Kehl 4:12.00 to 4:12.02. It was a massive PR for Kellar run in a pretty unorthodox way. I watched the race on TV a couple times, including once with a house full of non-track people and even they could appreciate the surprise.

That makes it a great upset.

5. Mark Dennin XC 2007
This is going back a ways from my younger readers, but this race was truly unreal at the time it happened. Chris Aldrich was coming off running 15:02 and Vince McNally had run 15:02 at a very difficult course a few weeks earlier. Both men were the clear cut top returners for states. They had really impressive track marks and great speed. It was Aldrich or McNally talks leading up to states.

But Dennin had something to say. He went to the front and instantly began pulverizing the pace at the very difficult state championship course. It was a gutsy and risky run. But in the end he not only broke his competitors spirit, he won the race by almost 30 seconds. It was one of the most dominating wins in state history by a guy who wasn't even supposed to win.

How did it happen? Aldrich, by many sources, was training through for a shot at Footlocker Nationals and it cost him. As for McNally he had to run the District 3 championships about 5-6 days out from the state meet, on the state course thanks to a rain cancellation. That's brutally unfair. Plus he ran it through mud and rough conditions. McNally basically changed the rules up for District 3 singlehandedly and made them push the meet back. Your welcome D3 kids.

But Dennin was no fluke result, let's not get it twisted. He was an All-American at Footlocker and second to Don Cabral at Regionals. Plus he won Penn Relays in the 3k and won the 32 outdoors at states. The dude was legit, but it all started with this stunner at Hershey.

(Worth noting, Jason Weller's upset wins over Paul Springer could have made this list because of how amazing Springer was and how gutsy Weller was but I chose to leave them off. But seriously Weller was super clutch.)

4. Zach Brehm Outdoor 800m 2013
This one you should probably remember well. The state championships in 2013 were in flat out brutal conditions, unlike anything I have seen in my time following the sport. That made for some slow times and some surprising finishes. 

Brehm came into the state meet as an up and coming name in the event, but he was just a sophomore sitting behind some of the biggest names in the game at the time. Kunzweiler was a certified 1:51 man. Brad Rivera was the defending indoors state champ with a 1:52 PR and a couple relay titles on his resume. Joe Logue had run 1:51 before and had a lethal kick. Plus you had Jeff Wiseman looming off his big time 1:52 runs. Andrew Stone had a couple state medals on his resume as well (and he would run 1:51 in matter of weeks after the state championships)

Brehm was the 7th seed, just 3rd in his district finals and his PR was way behind the 1:52-1:51 types he would be facing off against.

But sometimes upsets still strike. Brehm unleashed a kick in the final 100m, taking on the wind and getting by the likes of Logue, Rivera and Kunzweiler (who had that controversial fall). A sophomore snagging the state title in the 800m? Rarely done. Tom Mallon is elite company to have your name associated with.

Brehm went on to run his won blazing sub 4:10 mile at Henderson which completed a very nice resume (he had broken 9:20 in the 3200m at Districts and helped his relay run 7:52).

3. Matt Fischer Outdoor 3200m 2010
The 2010 3200m was the deepest it's been in state history. There were so many talent guys and the weather worked out nicely, meaning it was going to take sub 9:15 to medal. Well sub 9:14 and change as Bernitt was in the 9:14s and left without a medal. Wow.

The big names in the field were certainly guys like Brad Miles from North Penn, the XC state champion and Northeast Regional Champ, his teammate Sam Bernitt who was all-state indoors, Rad Gunzenhauser from Mt. Lebo and Ryan Gil from NA (both Footlocker Finalists) and Glenn Burkhardt who pulled his own big upset at Districts the previous week. You also had the North Hills trio, Tom Trainer, Jacob Kildoo and indoor state runner up Alex Monroe to contend with.

Fischer wasn't even the favorite on his own team, let alone the favorite in this race. But that didn't matter to him. After Miles took it out hard, Rad kept things quick, looking to defend his indoor title. But he couldn't quite hang on as things got faster down the stretch. Fischer was feeling good and assumed the lead to try and kick the final 400m and get the win. He pulled out a 60ish last lap and stunned the field to run an unreal 9:03.01 (his first time ever under 9:20). It was a truly spectacular win for a guy who was forced to drop out of the state finals the previous year due to injury. 

The race featured 13 guys under 9:20. 13! With an extra 3 under 9:22.

Fischer went on to have a pretty impressive career at PSU, especially in XC where he was a national qualifier for the Nittany Lions.

PTFCA Track Classic and Comments Test Run

First off, after put up this post I am going to enable the comments feature of the blog so the comments so up immediately. I am giving it a brief test run to determine if this system will be appropriate. If the comments get out of hand or offensive I will not hesitate to change the system back. Alright enough business let's talk track.

This weekend is usually the first time we get to see people getting out and racing some fairly fast times. This meet, which back in my day was Great Valley and has now made the switch to PW, features some really loaded fields. So I am cautiously optimistic about seeing some strong early season marks. No way I can make any reasonable attempts at predicting times, but I'll try to touch on the big names in each event.

This will be the first event contested of the day which, most likely, means things will be quite cold. Back in the day I ran this event twice, the first time I think I ran about 5:06 on the anchor leg of a DM as a sophomore. The next year I led off the DMR in about a 3:24ish split (I also fell handing off the baton). I don't tell you this because I think you care about my fairly average high school marks, I tell you this so you can note just how much times can fluctuate in this event based on weather. My 5:06 was run in brutal cold while the 3:24 was substantially better conditions. And guess what, early forecasts say rain on Saturday. That's going to make running a strong DMR very tricky.

The problem is teams likely will look to get in a solid DMR or two this time of year in hopes of setting up well for the Penn Relays. The big DMR meet is usually at Coatesville in a couple weeks, but this weekend could be a nice confidence booster or momentum gainer for teams before that meet. Out of the teams on the entry list, here are the names that jump out to me as potential relay medalists in this meet.

Great Valley
HG Prep
Upper Dublin

I'd be stunned if O'Hara trots out a promising relay. They are loaded up in the individuals and will likely be looking to make a statement in those races. GFS, GV, HG Prep and Radnor (especially the last two) seem like very realistic DM squads at this meet. UD is the sleeper if they have the mile leg. I'd bet Stewart on the 12 or 8 could be an interesting piece. That being said if UD doesn't have the mile leg, they likely aren't stacking up the relay so they won't be too far up in contention.

The 4x8 is the first event after lunch and the same rules as the DMR apply, teams may look to be getting momentum for Penn. My Senior year we stacked our 4x8 at this meet with hopes of running a time that would get us in to Penn Relays (thank you Sam Ellison). We ended up winning fairly handily thanks to Ellison on the anchor in about 8:08. We ran 8:04 the next weekend at PW and ended up being one of the last teams in to the relays. If a team is under 8:10 at this meet, they have a shot at Penn by the time they need to get times in. If they aren't under 8:10 they are going to need to have a pretty strong drop to claw their way in.

A cool thing that jumps out at me is seeing GA in the 4x8 and no Ritz in the opens. Does that mean we may get to see him on the relay? Or does that just mean he is resting up after a long indoor season? Probably the later, but would be interesting to see what GA can do with him in the mix. Malvern Prep is also on the list (no Hoey in the individuals) and a bunch of the aforementioned DMR teams like HGPrep, Radnor and UD. There is potential for some really intriguing teams to surface in this race, but most likely, based on the way the individuals are spaced out, we will see underwhelming relay results. I'd love to be proven wrong, however, because I'm very curious about a lot of these teams on the 4x8 list.

55 minutes after the 4x8s comes the 16, a race loaded with some high quality names. Zach Brehm is the favorite, a title he will have in basically any mile race that doesn't feature Tony Russell. Brehm had a quiet indoor campaign to say the least, but the Carlisle boys clearly mean business if they are willing to trek all the way to PW for some strong competition. I don't see Brehm taking this race out, I think he hangs in the pack and kicks to a win if he can, especially with 800m duties looming.

Brehm will likely have his hands full in this race if things are left too slow. Nick Smart, one of the heroes of the national champion O'Hara DMR is set to run a bit of over distance in this race. We watched Belfatto drop from 4:22 to 4:11 in no time at all, so who knows where Smart is at fitness wise. It wouldn't be surprising if the guy is under 4:20 in the right race and right weather, but admittedly that kind of time would be a fairly substantial PR fairly early in the year.

I like a lot of other names in this field as sleepers. Ryan Grace from North Penn proved at states he can run with the best in the state. I believe he has the best indoor PR of anyone in the field. You also can't count out sub 9 3k man Billy McDevitt or sub 16 5k runners like Eric Diestelow and Dan Shalala. Pat Hopkins is also always worth a mention.

From what I read online the 800m is supposed to only be split into 2 heats. That means a roughly 15 man loaded fast heat of the 8 at PW. Hopefully no one gets tripped up out there and everyone makes it through the race cleanly, but I'd be a little nervous about those kind of numbers.

That being said, I do expect a few of the top runners to hopefully separate themselves from the pack. Billy Caldwell, Zach Brehm, Austin Cooper, Eli Mercado and Andy Stewart were top 10 in the state in the 800m either last outdoors or this indoors. A fresh Brehm would be an easy favorite for the win as the defending 800m state champ, but on just an hour and twenty five minutes rest, in a field like this at the beginning of the season, he is going to have his hands full.

I've been a big Caldwell fan for quite some time now, pretty much ever since indoor meet of champs at Lehigh in 2013 I would say. I like how he moved up to the mile to explore his ability there and I think that was a smart move, but he is a very capable 800m man as well. He will be dangerous for the win.

But recently I have really been jumping on the Austin Cooper bandwagon. The guy ran a 1:56 indoors on the double from a very hard mile effort (4:23). The guy can just straight up double. I'm thinking with fresh legs he could be a very capable 800m man. He is used to running on PW's track probably 5-6 times a year so he should be able to step on and drop a nice time. I think he is the sleeper for the win out there.

But wait! You can't forget about John Lewis, the indoor 400m state champion! He is coming off a 47 split at nationals for their 4x4 and is prime form to run something sick in the 800m. I felt that Lewis was in a realm with the Wiseman-Logue-Cather group going into the state championship season (Smart obviously is in that category now as well) which means I think Lewis could have managed somewhere around 1:53 indoors. That makes him an easy favorite in this 800m field. His speed is straight lethal and he has something to prove at 800m after all the crazy marks this indoors.

Worth noting Jon Carroll, Carlisle's #2 man at 800m, is also in this race. I'm standing firm that I think this Carlisle 4x8 is a sleeper this outdoors with a capital S. This weekend will go a long way towards determining what pieces are in place over there in Carlisle.

This race has easily become the main event of this meet and has produced some pretty cool upsets (Ferruzzi and Trama had coming out parties at this meet not too long ago). The 16 kid field this year looks like it will not disappoint. Kevin James, Jim Belfatto, Paul Power, Chris Kazanjian, Matt Kazanjian and Casey Comber were all top 30 guys in XC from AAA. Dominic Huckleberry is a AA stud who spent the XC season rivaling Dominic Deluca ability. As in the #2 guy in the state this past indoors at 3000m. Plus Christian Kardish was a sub 8:50 man for 3k indoors, which is no easy task. Throw in Scott Mason, Ben Szuhaj and Matt Willig and it's a straight party!

Now I hesitate to get too excited about the potential at a meet like this, but seeing all these names and last year's results (Kev James runs 9:15, Ben Ritz runs 9:19, 7 guys are at 9:33 or faster) is pretty encouraging.

Plus the story lines in this race are just so juicy. First you have the O'Hara duo. Kevin James is a very strong longer distance guy who just PRed at 1200m at nationals and the 3k indoors. He is coming off his best XC season ever and last outdoors he ran marks that would have placed him as a state title favorite in most years. He is the meet record holder thanks to his 9:15 last year. He ran 9:13.98 as just a sophomore.

But is he even the favorite out of people wearing the O'Hara jersey? Belfatto has a ton of momentum, a PR in the low 9:20s and now a 1600m PR split of 4:11 completely solo. Wowzers. Belfatto also has 1:54 type closing speed. That's a scary combination of attributes.

Then you have the Kazanjian story line. These guys always run strong in the 32 outdoors and, although we didn't hear their name called very often besides a sort of one of performance by Chris, they sacrificed a lot for the good of the team this indoors. I don't think that's happening outdoors and I think that means we can see some high quality 32s out of these boys.

Paul Power and Casey Comber are two really exciting up and coming youngsters. Both just race with no fear and continue to improve every week. Comber is particularly clutch at states already, despite having very little prior experience at that level. It is amazing to see where he has come from. Power is also a top notch prospect at this point. Both are Juniors with lots of potential this year and next.

Then you have Dominic Huckleberry who spent indoors watching his old rival the other Dominic run some strong 3k marks that gained him some strong publicity. I'm sure Huckleberry wants to show off that he is on his level and is looking towards possibly beating him outdoors this year. He travels out to PW for this meet and will look to notch some good times to put him up there with Griffin Molino in the AA states 3200m state title talks.

Then you have Kardish's story line. He was a top seed indoors in the 3k. He was a top miler in his younger days but now appears to be making a seamless transition to the upper distances and is excelling. He can use his kick to do big things in the right race and he is not afraid of anyone.

All that rambling and I still left out a variety of guys who could run really fast.

Welcome to the PTFCA 3200m folks.

2011 States Splits

A lot of these I am far from certain of but I did my best with the video I had and the few pictures I had. I heard rumblings about a few splits so I just kind of jotted those down in there for the sake of reference, but again a lot of this is word of mouth or rough estimates. If you have any updates or edits I would greatly appreciate it, I think this thing can be pretty solidly improved with your guys help.

LaSalle 2011
Andrew Stone 1:55.7 (1:55.4R)
Tom Coyle 1:57.0 (1:56.8R)
Corey Muggler 1:59.1 (1:59.4R)
Brendan Stone 1:56.0 (1:56.8R)

Abington 2011
Tevin Smith 1:57.8 (1:57.6R)
Kyle Moran 1:52.2 (1:52.3R)
Macey Watson 1:56.1 (1:56.1R)
Will Taylor 1:55.4 (1:55.4R)

Pennridge 2011
Joe Logue 1:58.2*
Nick Olindo 1:57.6*
Craig Benton
Jared Reed

CB West 2011
Nico Metzler 1:58.9 (1:58.9R)
Matt McGarvey 1:55.5 (1:55.7R)
Matt Bee 1:56.2 (1:56.0R)
Connor Manley 1:50.9 (1:51.0R)

CB South 2011
Andrew Bernado 2:00.8
Joey Waddington 1:57.1
Austin Gregor 1:57.3
Ryan Dickson 1:56.9

Easton 2011
Tyler Caul 1:58.0
Andrew Wolfe 1:58.1
Austin Barlow 2:01.1
Bernard England 1:54.6

Hershey 2011
Trevor Kelley 1:59.4
Kevin DeWille 1:55.7
Ben Hauck 2:01.9
Mato Bekelja 1:52.6

ELCO 2011
Drew Gerberich 1:58.8
Robert Schultz*
Serg Grinev*
Michael Harnish 1:56.2*

North Penn 2011
Matt Ross* 2:01.1
Kofi Osei*
Jack Macauley
Chris Trimble 1:53*

Penn Hills 2011
Dylin Wilhoite 2:01.5* (2:01.6R)
Tyree Squires (1:57.1R)
Thorn Catlin (1:59.4R)
Wil Bailey (1:53.7R)

Strath Haven 2011
Jeff Seelaus 1:55*
Jack Huemmler
Manny Collins 1:52*

SpringFord 2011
-          2:00.6
Damien Boham 1:55.8
Joe O’Such 1:59.0*