Payton Jordan Invite

Already everybody, I'm writing two posts today. This one will be about the up coming Payton Jordan Invite at Stanford and will basically just be a list of entries in the key distance events. You can get a full list of entries at this link:

My other post below this one is about some trends I noticed in the outdoor track and field state championship history (over the etrain era of the past 7 years). Hope you enjoy that as well.

Payton Jordan Key Entries:
Harun Abda, OTC
Ahmed Bile, Georgetown
Ryan Brennan, PSU
Travis Burkstrand
Peter Callahan, New MExico
Aaron Evans, OTC
Brendan Fish, Columbia
Edward Kemboi, Iowa State
Brandon Kidder, PSU
Billy Ledder, Georgetown
Luke Lefebure, Stanford
Casimir Loxsom, Brooks
Harry McFann, Columbia
Patrick Rono, Arkansas
Mike Rutt, NJ-NY
Eliud Rutto, Middle Tennessee St.
Tomas Squella, Arkansas
Za'von Watkins, PSU
Mark Weiczorek, Brooks

Obviously this race is stacked, 48 entries in all which likely indicates 6 heats. It's unclear exactly what the fast heat will look like but it will likely include Abda, Evans, Loxsom, Kemboi, Rutt and Loxsom among others as those guys have the fastest PRs. Kidder may find a way in there as well because I believe he has run in the low 1:47s or high 1:46s before in his career. Wizzo is a 1:45 low guy so he probably is fast heat material as well.

I think that this race should set up nicely for PA's own Luke Lefebure. He is coming off a huge race at Penn and always has had a great kick. If he is in the second fastest heat, that race is likely being won in 1:47 or faster which means Luke can drop his open time substantially. The guy who I think is a sleeper pick to win the whole thing is Peter Callahan if he is in shape. That guy is super dangerous on the kick and is a force to be reckoned with on the NCAA scene.

1500m Key Entries
Mike Atchoo, Stanford
Colby Alexander, Oregon
Marco Bertolotti, Stanford
Ahmed Bile, Georgetown
Travis Burkstrand
Peter Callahan, New Mexico
Tom Coyle
Lee Emanuel
Darren Fahy, Georgetown
John Gregorek, Columbia
Alex Hatz, Wisconsin
Martin Hehir, Syracuse
Henrik Ingebrigtsen, Norway
Brett Johnson, Oregon
Brandon Kidder, PSU
Billy Ledder, GTown
Cory Leslie, Nike
Riley Masters, Brooks
Patrick MacGregor, NJ-NY
Julian Matthews, NZL
Austin Mudd, Wisconsin
Chad Noelle, OK St
Isaac Presson, UNC
Jeremy Rae
John Simons, Minnesota
Tyler Stutzman, Stanford

As you can tell there is a decent chunk of overlap between this race and the 800 which may hurt the quality of both fields, but this group is still pretty loaded.

I'm excited to see Jeremy Rae run as I think he has always been an incredibly dangerous kicker and strong miler out of Canada and Notre Dame. Cory Leslie may steal this race if all breaks right, he is a steepler at heart but has fantastic 1500 ability. Austin Mudd has a big kick and some impressive times to his name as well dating back to high school. Henrik Ingebrigtsen is an excellent tactician who has made multiple world championship finals and was in the top 5 at the Olympics in 2012. Chad Noelle is coming off a big win a couple weeks back at 15 so he might be able to ride that momentum to something big here. Mike Atchoo had a tough anchor leg at Penn and may be hungry to bounce back as well. Lastly, Alex Hatz was a winner here a year ago and may gain momentum at this meet. Lee Emmanuel is dangerous too if this isn't just a rust buster.

3k Steeple Key Entries
Don Cabral, Nike
Darren Fahy, Georgetown
Dan Huling, Nike
Anthony Rotich, UTEP

A bit of a smaller field big name wise but we do have two olympians heading the field with Huling and Cabral. Should be interesting to see how Cabral bounces back after last year. Rotich was the indoor NCAA champ in the mile this year in a bit of a surprise upset and is at his best in the steeple. I think he is going to take down this race against some other strong runners.

5000m Key Entries
Mo Ahmed, Wisconsin
Adam Bitchell, New Mexico
Joe Bosshard, Colorado
Andrew Bumbalough, Nike
Don Cabral, Nike
Matt Centrowitz, Nike
Andrew Colley, NC St
Maverick Darling
Chris Derrick, Nike
Kirubel Erassa, OK ST
Diego Estrada, Asics
Matt Fischer, PSU
Craig Forys, NJ-NY
Mitch Goose
Garret Heath, Brooks
Martin Hehir
Ryan Hill, Nike
Jake Hurysz, Colorado
Evan Jager, Nike
Shadrack Kipchirchir, OK State
Leonard Korir
Lopez Lomong, Nike
Dan Lowry
Travis Mahoney, NJ-NY
Sean McGorty
Hassan Mead, OTC
Ammar Moussa, Colorado
Erik Olson, Stanford
Morgan Pearson, Colorado
Dan Quigley, OTC
Sean Quigley
Joe Rosa, Stanford
Ben Saarel, Colorado
Pat Schellberg, UNC
Brian Shrader, UNA
John Simons, Minnesota
Andrew Springer, Georgetown
Joe Stilin
Parker Stinson, Oregon
Ben True, Saucony
Futsum Zienasellassie, UNA

Holy moly this field is stacked! You have all the Nike guys like Cabral and Jager and Derrick and Lomong and Hill looking to make strong debuts plus you have Ben True thrown in there who won this race a year ago. Ben Saarel is one of my personal favorite young up and comers and if he can find a way into the fast heat he might drop a massive PR. McGorty too has great potential in this field. I'm not sure how the heats will be split but there should be a solid couple of heats with really fast times. I'm most excited to see how Centrowitz does. If he is healthy this could be really cool. I always felt like Centro's best event would ultimately be the 5k. He proved me wrong with his success at 15, but I'd love to see how he handles this 5k.

10k Entries
Juan Luis Barrios, Nike
Luke Caldwell, New Mexico
Bobby Curtis, Brooks Hanson
Solomon Haile, Arkansas
Kennedy Kithuka, Texas Tech
Cam Levins, Nike
Sean Quigley, Saucony
Jake Riley, Brooks Hanson
Jake Robertson
Jim Rosa, Stanford
Ben St. Lawrence

The 10k field is depleted a bit as a result of the utterly stacked 5k but there should be a cool race with Kithuka and Cam Levins going head to head in a clash of styles. You also have to watch out for Ben St. Lawrence who won this race a year ago. Bobby Curtis has a strong PR at this event and Barrios is an Olympic finalist in the 5k in 2012. Should be fun to watch everyone square off.

State Stats

I did a little analysis while I was in Philosophy class yesterday and decided to look over the trends in the outdoor track and field state championship. The quick thing to notice was that District One dominates at the outdoor track and field meet in terms of state champions which is fairly logical seeing it is the biggest district as well. In AAA, no one outside of District 1, 3, 7 and now 12 has won a distance state title outdoors of the 4 events (4x8, 32, 16, 8). Tom Coyle is the lone District 12 gold medalist of that bunch. District 7 has only gotten titles from Wil Baily and Ethan Martin and those came in the last two years. 

In the past 7 years the 800m state champion has not been a state medalist in XC the previous fall. Meanwhile only 4 out of the 14 state champs at the mile and 3200 were not state medalists with two of those men, Burkhardt and Palmisano, having medaled as Juniors and having unfortunate luck as Seniors. 

Out of the state champions in the 4 distance events, just 2 of out the 28 were not top 2 finishers at their District Championship meet the previous weekend (Will Kellar and Zach Brehm). 21 out of the 28 state champs also won a district championship the previous weekend. Cumberland Valley is the only 4x8 squad out of the 7 year window to lose at districts and win at states (and both of those races were by a nose). 

When you take all these factors into consideration, the numbers show the best way to predict who will win the state championship in each distance event is just to pick the District One Champion. A whopping 16/28 (57%) AAA state champions were also AAA District One Champions. In 2009 and 2011, each of the 4 state champions was also the District One champ. 

Just some food for thought as we look ahead. 

I will say this, in the last two years, out of the 8 distance state champs there have been 3 from District 1, 2 from District 7, 2 from District 3 and 1 from District 12. That's a split of 37.5%-25%-25%-12.5%. The previous 5 years had 17 from District One, 0 from District 7, 3 from District 3 and 0 from District 12 giving a spread of 85%-15%-0%-0%. 

FloJack on Facebook

Hey everybody,
Last year's 1600m and Mile state champion Jack Huemmler is also a super talented photographer. After graduating from Strath Haven last year, Jack is now at the University of Pennsylvania. At the Penn Relays this past weekend he took over 1,000 pictures of the action and has been nice enough to upload all the pictures to Facebook on his new Facebook page FloJack (clever stuff Jack).

There are some really great pictures on there from all the events and the best part is that they are all free to access. Excellent opportunity to snag a profile pic or something like that or see how a certain race progressed at different stages of the event. I've already flipped through and saw some really cool stuff.

So I encourage everyone to go on Facebook and like the FloJack page for more information and access to the pictures.


Final Question

If you want to see my high school analysis you can go on down below. If you want to see the top splits of PA guys at Penn Relays then you are at the right place!

5. How'd PA do at the college level?

Special shout out to my boy Sam Ellison for anchoring Villanova to a victory in the 4x8 with his 1:46.58 anchor leg. Dude is the man.

Other splits 4x8:
Wade Endress, PSU Lead Off 1:53.35
Luke Lefebure, Stanford 1:49.40
Hong Cho, Cornell Lead Off 1:55.08
Drew Magaha, Penn 1:50.76
Matt McGarvey, St. Joe's 1:53.76
Nick Rotz, Charlotte 1:53.36
Joe O'Such, Duquesne Lead Off 1:55.92
Brandon Krysal, Duquesne 1:54.65
Bob Gasior, Duquesne 1:57.97
Kevin Day, LaSalle Lead Off 1:57.44
Chris Trimble, LaSalle 1:58.32
Christian Sanders, LaSalle 1:51.32
Charles Ross, Pitt Lead Off 1:55.76
Tyler Castelli, Pitt 1:57.51
AJ Chaborek, Pitt 2:02.70

DMR Splits:
Sam Ellison, Villanova 46.29
Luke Lefebure, Stanford 1:47.20
Christian Sanders, LaSalle 1:48.35
Alfredo Santana, LaSalle 4:04.29
Hansel Akers, Georgetown 47.65
LJ Westwood, Bucknell 3:02.86
Dennis Logan, Bucknell 48.83
Quinn Davis, St. Joe's 3:02.96
Jack Felt, Lock Haven 1:57.26
Alex Monroe, Lock Haven 4:14.61

Also worth noting, a 50+ year old man ran 53.76 in the 400m. That's pretty awesome.

Some More Big Questions

3. Sub 9?
So I made a big long post about the 3200 and then it didn't save. The moral of the story about that one is that the 32 is going to be stacked this year. Deluca's mark puts him in a territory over sub 9 guys and if you convert his 3k to a 3200m he is the 4th fastest guy at that distance in PA history. That's incredibly impressive. Brophy's time converted to 9:20.17 and he ended up at the back of the pack. That's unheard of. Ross Wilson ran a time that converts to about 9 flat. Also incredibly impressive. He is around #12 ever with that kind of time.

At Henderson last year there were 14 sub 9:20 guys. This year that field could include some combination of Russell, Barchet, Stratman, Collins, Knapp, Power, Kazanjian, Kazanjian,  Webb, Hoey, McDevitt, Wills, Marston, Wilson, Deluca, the GFS guys, Billotta, Comber, Perlman and much, much more.

Outside of this race you have guys like Brophy, Kennedy, Martin, Reilly, Abert, James, Belfatto and so many more that can be in the top mix. Plus probably a bunch of dudes I included in the original version that I missed in this one. Hockenbury and Molino are a couple guys who can make the AA race very, very interesting. There are 11 sub 9:20 guys returning and that makes this year's state meet very exciting.

4. There were other meets this weekend?
You bet there were. Here's a brief recap.

Dominic Peretta of Beaver Falls won the 8, 16, 32 and his team won the 4x8 at MAC. He ran 4:28, 1:58, 9:58 and the relay ran 8:24. He is just a sophomore.

Joel Espinal from Wilson, another up and coming sophomore, ran 1:56 split, 4:27 and 1:58 for two silvers and a gold (1600). This race took place right in my back yard. Whitehall got another 4x8 win, running 8:04 and winning by 6 seconds. Sleeper alert people. Serious sleeper alert.

At the Mars Invite, Nate Sloan got another impressive 16 win on his resume. His 4:21 beat out Brett Foster of SV. Foster's teammate, Mike Kolar, was 4th in 4:26 just behind North Hills' Jacob Heinauer. Foster and Kolor took 2-3 in the open 8 behind a man from Fox Chapel, Elias Graca. Graca's winning time of 1:58 makes a Fox Chapel 4x8 an interesting sleeper pick down the road at WPIALs. Luke Regan picked up another solid 3200 win in 9:49 over SV's Tanner Quiggle.

In District 2 news, Brenden Ehert of Dallas ran a 2:00.74 to win the 800m at Wyalusing. He's a nice teammate for Deluca to have looking ahead. Scraton Prep's Ryan Burke beat out Dominic Hockenbury, both runners ran 4:31. Jack Tidball probably had the race of the day as he clocked a 9:29 to dominate the 3200m. We might see him run this race again at Henderson in the coming week. Northeast Bradford is still a 4x8 factor. They ran 8:29 and picked up the victory.

At Unionville, Matt Willig got after a fast 3200m and ran a 9:35 mark. Maybe he will also hop in the Henderson 3200m. We may also see him go after a fast 1600m. Knapp was second in 9:41 beating out sub 9 3k man Billy McDevitt of Malvern Prep who ran 9:46. The 1600m at this meet was very fast as Dave Garton likely tuned up for a fast 800m run at Henderson with a 4:20.11 2nd place finish behind a Delaware man, Ben Boswell. Eric Diestelow continues a positive stretch of momentum with a 4:22 PR run. PRs continued to roll in after Diestelow with Colin McDonald of Unionville (4:23), Colin Wills of Malvern Prep (4:23) and Ricky Waltz of Henderson (4:24). 3 more guys right or under the SQS for the 1600m (2 in the PIAA). And honestly these guys aren't necessarily the ones that come to mind when you think of the top 8 in the district. If you want to get to states you have to bring your absolute A game. These kids aren't messing around.

South Williamsport drops an 8:10 to Williamsport Area's 8:13 and Lewisburg's 8:17. Intriguing group of schools here including a squad likely featuring Griffin Molino. Tyler Vella from Danville ran a solid 4:27 1600m and beat out Vince Fadale's brother Ethan, who ran 4:31. Lewisburg's Nick Scullin beat out Molino in the open 8 for a bit of revenge running 1:58 to Molino's 1:59. Andrew Steely ran 2:00 for 3rd. I think all those guys will cut down a lot of time in the coming weeks as they will probably end the year as 1:55 types. Nice run by Darien Knudsen who ran 9:39 to win the 3200m.

Brent Kennedy picked up another gold medal for his collection with a 4:27 victory in the 1600m. He also won the 3200m in 9:49 with brother finishing second in 10:05. In the 800m Trey Quealy of the 4x8 champs Norwin surprised 1:56 man Marcus Smail. Both men ran 2:01.

Jon Perlman dropped a 4:24 victory in the 1600m to beat out Casey Comber (4:28) and Patrick Dineen of HGPrep (4:30).

Sebastian Curtin beat Jeremy Parsons in a battle of AA studs 4:32 to 4:35 in the 1600m.

Penn Relays: 5 Big Questions

So after the events of the Penn Relays have come and gone, I figured I would do some good old fashioned analysis mixed in with some of the most important questions that emerged once the dust cleared at Franklin Field.

1. Should We Be Talking About Pennridge In the 4x8 State Title Coversation?
I wasn't exactly calling Pennridge to be in the mix for the Championship of America and I certainly didn't see them as a 7:50 squad at the big dance, but after Saturday finished they had run 7:50 and 7:51 on back to back days, edged out the indoor champs at State College and gotten two outstanding 1:52 legs out of Joe Logue.

For Logue this is nothing new, he's been running down around 1:53 for three years in a row and he qualified for the COA as a soph with the Pennridge squad that finished 3rd at states outdoors and first indoors. Logue ran for individual state gold at the last couple state meets and also had a key leg on a 4x4 to worry about so the 4x8 was put on the back burner. However, the squad still was running down around 8 flat without him. Dan Williams has emerged as a 1:57 guy on back to back days and Shulberger and Masgai are both solid legs as well. They ran 1:58 and 2:00 at best at Penn (running lead off at Penn is absolutely brutal by the way so props to Masgai). With Logue on the anchor as long the first three legs keep them in the hunt, I wouldn't be surprised to see the powerful kick and ultra competitivness of Logue lead to a 1:50ish anchor leg at states like Connor Manley a few years ago. 1:59-1:58-1:57-1:51 gets you to 7:45 and that's just off current PRs.

The downside is State College ran 7:45 this past weekend without Cather getting down to his PR. Mason Post is establishing himself very quickly as a stud as he has now lowered his PR to 1:55. Adams added a 1:56 split for good measure and Golembski had to shoulder the lead off load and still ran 1:58 low which is basically a PR because his split indoors was hand time. State College is heading in the right direction and leaves Penn with a time faster than Bensalem or CV ran last year I believe.

Plus the list of 4x8 teams competing for the title stretches far outside what we saw in the COA. Think about this: CB East's anchor ran 2:07 and the team ran without Jake Brophy. Switch Brophy in and give him 2:00ish then that CB East squad is joining Pennridge in the COA. Same could probably be said for Malvern Prep if you switch in Hoey and slot him around 1:56 (but Malvern is not PIAA affiliated).

Then you have O'Hara and Henderson to worry about. O'Hara, although I think it is unlikely, may try and load up a 4x8 at stats and they have a 1:53 stud in Nick Smart to go with Belfatto and James who are both sub 1:56 on their best days in my eyes. If they can get Nolan going on the 4th leg they will have a very capable relay. As for Henderson, I think it's fairly self explanatory. If Henderson really wanted to, they could turn that DMR into a 4x8 and they would be stacked. Russell is worth 1:53 right now in the right race no doubt in my mind. Thompson has run 1:56, Moy has run 1:55 and Stratman just ran a killer 1200 leg. He's in at least 1:57ish shape right now. Add up 1:53-1:55-1:56-1:57 and you are down at 7:41 (without throwing tenths on there), so on paper Henderson is way up there.

This doesn't even account for teams like Cedar Crest, DT East, Penncrest and Altoona who I think are going to be in good shape come states even if they didnt' qualify for the COA at Penn. Oh and North Penn is worth mentioning too although the DMR didn't go as well as they might have hoped. And don't sleep on Pennsbury if we are looking ahead.

Pennridge certainly deserves a lot of credit for emerging as a real threat to upset the favorites at the state meet. But the 4x8 scene is crowded right now at the top. There are no guarentees Pennridge will even load up their relay again as Logue is still highly likely to be featured in the open 8 title talks and 4x4 squads. However, the recent success makes this Pennridge squad a compelling story going forward.

2. Henderson and O'Hara Track and Field, what comes next?
What a rivalry this has been for the last couple years. I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention how awesome this DMR race was. First there was the epic 1200 leg where both PA teams handed off up at the front. Stratman ran fantastic to go after James, he stalked his prey beautifully and set the tone for the rest of the meet. James needed some help outfront if he was going to duplicate some of his impressive 1200 performances of the past. Then after an exciting 400 leg, Nick Smart did his thing but Kevin Moy did not back down. This is one of the best races out of Moy in recent memory and is a strong sign looking ahead (perhaps he will go open 8 over open 16 this year?). Smart has really done a nice job being clutch in the last year. He ran a big time lead off leg outdoors in the 4x8, finished 11th at states in XC, beat out Will Cather in the open 8 for 4th in a great field indoors, ran the breakaway leg indoors on the DM and ran the breakaway leg outdoors at Penn (although it wasn't quite as much of a breakaway). I believe the only PA guys under 1:55 on the weekend were Logue, Cather and Smart. That's it.

The anchor leg was quite unreal. Russell ran really gutsy. Going out in 58 and 2:01 is mind boggling, it's a suicide pace really. The pacing itself was obviously not what made his anchor leg smart. The fact that Russell has been running absurd opening 400 splits all season is what made it smart. Belfatto hasn't been a race a where he has been out sub 60 in 16 I have to imagine. Russell has probably done it 4 or 5 times this year now. Belfatto is fearless and he knew he had to give it everything to hang with his team, but he would have been better off letting Tony go and trying to real him back in with more even splits. But Jim is fearless and he ran that way at Penn and ultimately it was a bit too fast of a pace to handle. Congrats to both squads, they each ran super hard out there and represented PA well. Also for the record PA has dominated the DM at Penn. Coatesville, GFS, Upper Dublin, -, - (CB South 2nd), -, LaSalle, Henderson. 5 titles since 2007 is nice.

So now what happens to these teams? Both squads are clearly super talented and could run a nice 4x8 at states. Both teams also have stud individuals who can run multiple events as individuals at the state championships. Let's begin with the boys from O'Hara. Kev James is a 2 miler at heart and I think he knows that. He will be in the mix for the state title at the event if he chooses to attack it (although that event is stacked depth wise). If he commits to the 32, running the 4x8 so close after is a hard double. I saw Sam Webb pull off a decent one a year ago, but if O'Hara is going to stack their 4x8 they are going all in to try and win and that means you need a 1:56 type leg out of Kevin James to match with Adams. I don't see O'Hara going after the 4x8 at states, maybe they run one at Districts to send a team along (although with LaSalle, St. Joe's Prep and Bonner lurking that might be a bit bold) but I don't see them lining up there A team again until Nats time.

That means James in the 32, Belfatto in the 16 and Smart in the 800 all with shots to win or at least contend for a top medal. Belfatto could maybe switch tactics and go for the 8 to avoid Russell who is a big time favorite in the 16, but I think the 800 doesn't get any easier and Jim was second indoors at the mile. If anything he probably wants another shot at Tony and won't try and dodge him.

As for Henderson their depth further complicates matters. I believe there is a rule against how many guys you can send to states from one team in one event or something like that? I don't know the rule of the top of my head. I will say this, Henderson has 5 milers under 4:20 who could all, in theory qualify for states. But if there are rules against it, that isn't happening. They could spread their guys around with Barchet in the 32, Russell and Stratman in the 16, Thompson and Moy in the 8 and Collins flexing between the 32 and the 16. Knapp I think ought to be a factor in the 3200 by districts time as well.

However, you could easily say let's scrap the individuals and get a strong relay on the track. Collins, Thompson, Moy and Stratman could be state title contenders. Throw Russell on the team you could argue they are state title favorites. If they wanted to, they could seriously chase a 4x8 title.

But I don't see it happening. Especially not with Russell on the relay. Russell may end up considering a 32-16 double, but I think he may just focus on the 16 and attack the state record. He could be 4:05ish on the right day in the right race when the dust clears. The Henderson Invite, always a fantastically stacked meet, will let Henderson see exactly what they have in all events. I'm expecting a 32 featuring Russell, Barchet, Collins, Knapp, Waltz and outside chance of Stratman and Moy being involved. Thompson likely gets another chance to improve his 800m top speed and see how he lines up with the best in the district. After this meet is over we should have a bit better picture of what Kevin Kelly might choose to do.

Coming up next ... The 3200m at States and the Chase for Sub 9, who's got it?

Penn Relays 4x8 Splits

  12 Radnor  (Radnor, PA) 8:13.64 Watson Hanson (2:03.41), Andre Kelly (2:05.89), Pat Dwyer (2:06.11), Connor Holm (1:58.25) 

2 Malvern Prep  (Malvern, PA) 7:58.23 Billy McDevitt (1:59.54), Colin Wills (2:00.25), Brendan Stec (1:58.92), Dan Ferraiolo (1:59.53)
3 Penncrest  (Media, PA) 7:59.00 Soham Kamat (2:00.14), Matt Kazanjian (2:00.81), Chris Kazanjian (2:00.69), Evan Emanuel (1:57.37)
8 Strath Haven  (Wallingford, PA) 8:13.74 David Reeves (2:04.31), Ahmir Gordon (2:04.53), Greg Kotchick (2:04.12), Conan Beckley-Grey (2:00.79) BQ
9 Monsignor Bonner  (Drexel Hill, PA) 8:15.43 Joseph Sullivan (2:01.70), Sean Sullivan (2:02.56), Steve Cromity (2:06.27), Ryan Rastatter (2:04.92) BN
15 Germantown Friends  (Philadelphia, PA) 8:25.91 Grayson Hepp (2:02.71), Nick Dahl (2:04.40), James Finney (2:08.10), Peter Jarka-Sellers (2:10.71)
4 Pennridge  (Perkasie, PA) 7:50.43 Alex Masgai (2:01.59), Dan Williams (1:57.63), Matt Schulberger (1:58.95), Joey Logue (1:52.27)

12 Central Bucks East  (Doylestown, PA) 8:00.57 Oliver Boucher (1:59.08), Mike Donnello (1:57.28), Frank Brophy (1:57.18), Atta Shahideh (2:07.04)
15 Bensalem  (Bensalem, PA) 8:08.43 Alex Ramirez (2:05.66), Rahi Shah (2:03.47), Tyji Mays (2:02.75), Kyle Francis (1:56.56)
7 Downingtown East  (Exton, PA) 7:58.54 Tommy Fitzgerald (1:59.14), Adam Carcella (2:00.51), Keelan O'Reilly (2:03.67), William Caldwell (1:55.23)
10 St. Joseph's  (Philadelphia, PA) 8:00.12 Jack Daly (2:00.83), Isaiah Fisher (1:59.57), Justin Baselice (2:02.61), John Archie (1:57.13)
15 Altoona Area  (Altoona, PA) 8:10.15 Mitch Endress (2:00.76), Brad Foust (2:01.90), Dom Stroh (1:57.98), Brett George (2:09.53)
17 Cedar Crest  (Lebanon, PA) 8:14.44 Jared Glosser (2:02.31), Jesse Cruise (2:08.41), Jordan Cruise (2:03.89), Jarrod Cruise (1:59.83)

5 State College  (State College, PA) 7:50.44 Chris Golembeski (2:01.25), Kyle Adams (1:58.49), Mason Post (1:56.64), Will Cather (1:54.08)  

Penn Relays Preview: The DMR

North Penn
North Penn will naturally get overlooked in this race because of the well deserved hype around Henderson and O'Hara, but the Knights may turn some heads on the big stage with a sub 10:20 time. The boys from NP, who focused on the 4x8 indoors (big surprise) have all the right pieces to succeed in the DM and in a low hype race this year they dropped their time to 10:24, one of the last times into Penn. They won that race by 8 seconds over Quakertown.

North Penn will be anchored by Ryan Grace, a sub 4:20 leg for 1600m. He showed nice range at Shippensburg running under 9:30 in the 3200m and has a 4:25 victory in horrible conditions at PW already this outdoors. He ran fearless on the big stage at indoor states when he grabbed a surprise medal in the open mile. The Knights have a variety of other capable runners on the roster including Ryan Tung, a sub 16 minute 5k man with a 4:29 indoor mile PR and Brian Piscitelli, a sub 2 indoor half miler. They have strong depth as well with guys like Joe LeConey and Tyler Johnston prepared to step in and help bolster their line up.

And so it begins, the Henderson v. O'Hara debate once again. Henderson looks quite sharp heading into the Penn Relays. Almost too sharp, as now they have so many good runners it's hard to pick which guys to even put on the relay. In terms of open PRs they have all of the following guys on their roster:
Tony Russell 4:09/1:56
Reiny Barchet 4:16/1:59
Kevin Moy 4:16/1:55
Eric Stratman 4:17/1:58
Seamus Collins 4:18/1:59
Steve Thompson 1:56

That's an incredibly deep line up they have at their disposal. Originally I figured after Thompson's latest 800m race he was the logical guy to run the 8 leg and then let the debate begin for who should be the 12. However, I forgot about the 400m leg and Henderson may need Thompson to step into that role like he did indoors when he ran very strong at that distance. That leaves the 8 leg open for Kevin Moy and the 1200m leg will then fall to either Reiny Barchet or Eric Stratman, both of whom are very capable runners as exhibited by their early season miles. Barchet ran the 12 last year and that experience could be helpful. I'm not Stratman has run a 1200 at all this year, but he has a better combination of foot speed and strength. Barchet seems hungry and determined now after being left off the indoor DMR squad that won states and that motivation has already paid off in a big 1600 PR.

Russell is clearly the x-factor here. Even if O'Hara can get another 4:11 type leg out of Belfatto, Russell has the potential to make up ground on him if he manage another 4:07 type split which it appears he is in shape to do. I think a 10:05ish mark is within reason and maybe they will even have enough to challenge that mythical 10 flat barrier. There is usually some magic to be found at Penn.

Lot's of great schools in PA history for XC and the DMR have won a championship at Penn Relays. LaSalle, GFS, Upper Dublin and Coatesville all have recent wins. Henderson has done enough over the years that they might be due to for their own wheel.

But then again, maybe it's O'Hara's turn? Can the Wheel stay in the possession of the PCL?

It is interesting to compare O'Hara to Henderson because O'Hara has a clear set of 3 guys who are very, very strong and a pretty clear order after Kevin James and James Belfatto each proved that they belong on the 1200 leg and 1600 leg (the opposite of the order that I was advocating for pre nationals, shows what I know). O'Hara has already run 10 flat indoors. If they match that mark, I'm not sure anyone can beat them. I'm still not convinced that we will see a sub 10 minute mark at Penn considering that would but O'Hara in Alan Webb territory, but O'Hara has the best chance to do it within the last decade or so it appears.

Kevin James is a strong, gutsy 1200m leg. He has a lot of experience running this tricky to master race in high pressure situations and he will get O'Hara in excellent position early in the race. It's hard to imagine a guy who can "only" run 1:56 can hang with 1:51 dudes at 1200m, but James has done that and more in recent years. I can't project anything faster than 3:02ish just because he may not have the raw speed, but you are almost guarenteed that James will give somewhere between 3:03 and 3:05 which is incredibly comforting for a coach.

Nick Smart is a strong 800m guy and he broke the race open for O'Hara at Nationals with his big time 1:53 leg. He had a fantastic stretch run to his indoor season and has some solid over distance performances already this year at 3k and 1600m. As an 800m guy myself, I bet Smart is probably chomping at the bit to get in a fast 800 and stop running this longer stuff.

The key for O'Hara in my mind is still Jim Belfatto. A 4:11 type split was absolutely awesome for Jim indoors and it was a huge PR with no competition. In theory, Belfatto showed signs indoors that he is capable of faster than 4:11 with the right push. Belfatto is likely going to have to match this type of split to get the team to title, but there are definitely scenarios where he could run 4:13ish and still bring home the gold. I think Belfatto has a very capable kick as well considering his 800m speed. That underrated part of his resume may play a big role at Penn.

Small note, I shouldn't overlook the value of Isiah Cooper. He has strong 200m and 100m speed and was under 23 seconds already this year at Council Rock.

Indoors O'Hara was on a roll going into nationals. All their guys peaked perfectly for the indoor national championships and after a very impressive state championship where Smart, Belfatto and James had huge days, they turned right back around and all had even bigger days at the Armory. It is very tough to have a perfect day for 4 guys when you step out on the track. That will be the question for O'Hara to overcome. Henderson seems to have more momentum now. O'Hara is the one with the target on their back. O'Hara has the pressure of being champions and #2 all time indoors.

Man, this is a brutal race to predict. Both of these teams are well coached and have great runners on their roster. I truly believe that either team could win when the dust clears and I believe either team could be under 10 minutes by this time next week. But ultimately ....

I'm predicting O'Hara 10:03.11, Henderson 10:03.86 and PA takes #1-2 at the meet.

Now the only question is, who you got?

Penn Relays 4x8 Final Rankings

I opted for a tier system rather than a full on ranking system. It's really hard to predict exactly who will fall where when there are 4 different heats of varying abilities and lots of teams from outside of the state that I am not familiar with. As always I would like to say these are just my own personal predictions.

If you would like to see a more indepth analysis of each team, feel free to look at my posts below. They should provide insight into what each team has on paper.

The Contenders (7:50-7:55)
State College is my only team I can say with confidence will get into the Championship of America race. They technically should be on their own tier I'd say, but to keep things fun I threw in two of the best up and coming squads in the race. Penncrest is on fire in recent weeks and Malvern Prep looks like they are on the verge of a break out performance.

State College
Malvern Prep

The Sleepers (7:55-7:57)
These teams are all going to be really fun to watch because they have so much potential to sneak their way into the finals. Pennridge and Bensalem each have a superstar leading the way on the anchor leg and when you have Logue and Francis running the anchor anything could happen. DT East rose to the occasion time and time again, I just hope all their guys are healthy. CB East in my mind has a great group of guys and, again, if everyone is healthy they will be hard to beat.

DT East
CB East

The Wild Cards (7:55-8:05)
These are teams that I really can't predict right now. Part of me wants to pick each of them to break out and run well under 8 minutes and part of me worries they may not be ready to run fast in a super competitive race like Penn. I have a soft spot in my heart for lots of these teams so I hope they are all on the faster side of things this weekend.
Cedar Crest
St. Joe's Prep

The Talk To Me In a Couple Weeks (7:57-8:10)
I think these teams all have the potential to break 8 minutes at some point during the season. Bonner is on my shortlist of state qualifying teams for outdoors in the 4x8. However, I'm not ready to pick these teams to be in that exclusive sub 8 minute club at the Penn Relays this year. I do believe that the guys on these squads should leave with some nice PRs and a valuable experience they will never forget.

Worth noting: back in my day my Upper Dublin squad was in that Talk To Me In a Couple Weeks Tier with the boys from CB South. Both of our teams ran somewhere around 8:05ish and that was only thanks to big days by Mallon and Ellison. But at Districts we ran 7:59 and CB South ran close to 7:50 and qualified for the state championship. You just never know.

Happy Penn Relays Week everybody.

Penn Relays Preview: Large Schools Heat 4

Cedar Crest
This is a heat filled with question marks and none is perhaps a more intriguing question mark than the boys from Cedar Crest. About once every 2-4 years Cedar Crest is good for the, wait Cedar Crest has run 7:50? In 2010 they shocked everybody to win states in the 4x8 and in 2008 behind Troxell they were title contenders. Even in 2011 they were one of the best teams to miss the finals in the relay. In all those years, I'm not sure Cedar Crest was ever on the radar this early in the year.

Cedar Crest has already run 7:57! Where did that come from? Here are the names listed on the squad:
Jared Glosser (Junior)
Jordan Cruise (Junior)
Jesse Cruise (Freshman)
Jarrod Cruise (Senior)

This is a family affair over their at Cedar Crest and I think that is a fantastic story. I think that guys play better when they are playing with their siblings, at least I played better in basketball with my brother. Maybe that doesn't translate to running but this a fantastic story to watch unfold. The triple Js are my new fun team to watch. They don't have anyone sub 2 in the open 8 so I suppose that is a bit of a concern but they have a cool storyline and they have some guys on their projected bench like Willy Bragg who can step in and give them a strong leg as well. Good luck to Cedar Crest, I'm rooting for you.

Downingtown East
Dowingtown East has been a great success at the last two state championship meets. Indoors they busted out a 7:58.45 to come in at a somewhat surprising third at the state championship meet after Billy Caldwell ran 4:18 and mixed it up with the best in the state to end up in the medals for the mile. Outdoors, the team skated their way into the finals at districts, skated their way into states, skated their way into the finals at states, and then rose to the occasion in a big way at the state championships behind a nice order swap for Caldwell on the third leg and patient anchor by Fitzgerald and end up a stunning 4th. Caldwell came back and grabbed a medal in the open 8. Clearly this team can handle the pressure of the big stage behind their leader Billy Caldwell.

This outdoors Caldwell has already run 4:16 and 1:55, a massive PR and a near PR in a more tactical affair. Caldwell ran just 4:25 last year in the 1600m, his strength is greatly improved and that's a good sign. The team also has seen Tom Fitzgerald continue to improve as he ran 2:00 recently at the Warrior Invite in a less stacked race than the TFCAofGP meet that so many people grabbed PRs from. Adam Carcella had a nice indoors where he broke 2 in the open and has run 2 flat already this outdoors.

After those three they haven't had many noteworthy times outdoors. They need a healthy return for stud runner Liam McLaughlin from last year's squad. He ran 1:58 a year ago for the squad in the open 8. If you throw him on that relay you 4 sub 2 guys who are gamers and rise to the occasion on the big stage.

Altoona is an interesting story headed into the Penn Relays. They dropped a super fast DMR indoors and then opted to go after the 4x8 at states. At that meet they had a strong showing and dropped their Penn Relays qualifying mark of 7:59 but were perhaps disappointed with where they finished in that close pack at states. Now they have gone outdoors and have had a quiet start to the year. However, they still have lots of strong pieces and the same young squad that ran 7:59 not too long ago.

Altoona really probably should a been a state qualifying team in XC but District 6 only gets one team. They had two guys who could have been state medalists (one who ended up being a state medalist) and they came very close to pulling out the LaSalle move at Districts but came just a bit short. This is a very talented group of distance runners. And it's worth noting, they are unselfish. They gave up individual glory to pursue the 4x8 at states.

Now at Penn they have Brad Foust leading the way (1:59 indoors) with Brett George and Mitch Endress (2 flat indoors) running with him. Dom Stroh, who had a very strong XC season, may also be featured on the relay, although he is probably better at the longer distances than the shorter ones. Stroh has run 4:29 already this outdoors and Foust has dropped to 4:23. There are some very nice pieces on the Altoona roster to make a push back under 8 minutes at Penn and perhaps surprise some people when all is said and done.

St. Joe's
For essentially the entire indoor and outdoor track season St. Joe's has been solid and overloooked. They don't get as much hype as the LaSalles or the O'Haras of the world but quietly they have run consistently strong 4x8s and DMRs. Already this year they have run 8:03 and 10:35 in the same weekend. Their 8:03 also got them first place in the entire race.

St. Joe's has been led this year by John Daly (4:24 1600m man) and Isiah Fisher (4:27). Both men are Juniors. Alongside them they have Justin Baselice (2:03 this year) and Joseph Pisacano (2:06). Certainly on paper those legs don't look much faster than 8:10, but St. Joe's has been a relay driven team all this season.
This time has shown signs they are headed for a sub 8 performance by seasons end. We will see if this comes at Penn.

Penn Relays Preview: 4x8 Large Schools Heat 3

State College
State College is PA's best hope for a 4x8 Championship of America run. They had a very nice indoor season where they dominated a tired O'Hara squad at both states and Nationals and ran one of the top 5 or so times in state history with their 7:46.81. I think State College has proven enough to make me believe they will advance to the finals at the Penn Relays. The question for them is how high up can they finish. In order to take that next step from contender to champ on a national type scene, Will Cather needs to take the next step to a 1:51ish type guy and Mason Post needs to continue to improve to become a 1:55ish type. Plus you need Adams and Golembski to be consistent and running 1:57ish type legs to keep them in it. I believe all of that is possible so get your popcorn ready.

State College is deep and they have a fantastic set of guys. Indoors they had a 1:54.0, 1:57.0, 1:57.2 and 1:57.9 in the open 8 with faster splits for Cather and Post. They have fantastic speed with a 3:21 4x4 to their name already this year. Cather has shown range from 9:25 to 1:54 to whatever he split on the 4x4 in the same meet. Like for real? That's bonkers range. I like this team a lot and can't wait to see if they can take the next step at Penn.

Here's what amazes me about Pennridge. They somewhat can run low 8 minute type 4x8s consistently without Joey Logue. Now you are adding Joey Logue onto the squad and they instantly are a contender. Their 7:53 was against very little competition and you are unleashing Joe Logue to chase a ton of teams at Penn and that could lead to a 1:51ish type mark. Logue has somehow managed to fly under the radar this year despite running 1:52 indoors just because Francis and Wiseman are two of the best we have seen. Logue is a 1:50 guy this outdoors if things break right and he makes this Pennridge squad very dangerous.

And it's important to note this team has other legs. They have run near state qualifying teams without Logue on the line. Matt Schulberger has broken 2 in the open 8 indoors and is a nice running mate for Logue. Noah Trueblood and Dan Williams ran 2:03 and 2:04 already this year and are nice 3-4 guys for a team that has a stud anchor and runs well on relays. Pllus Pennridge has lots of 400 guys that could potentially move up and try their hand on the 4x8 like Nick did a couple years back as a key 1:56 leg.

Bensalem is a lot like this Pennridge team just without the 7:53 mark that makes you feel confident. Bensalem has Kyle Francis on the anchor who no doubt could split under 1:50 at the Penn Relays if he is in anything near the shape he was indoors. This guy won't have to hammer from the lead for once, he can just guys the entire way around the track and see how much ground he can make up in 2 laps. This is a gift for Kyle Francis for sure and I am excited to see if he takes advantage. And oh yeah, Bensalem won the state title indoors and outdoors last year in the 4x8. I know they lost 3 guys from that team, but state championship teams don't usually just fall off the map, they usually have a few quality guys waiting in the wings to rally one more time.

Now the question is which guys are waiting in the wings. I'd love to see Kerron Holley toe the line at 800m and move up (probably wishful thinking). They also have a sub 60 400m hurlder who runs 50.9 in Hamzah Massaquoi. The key to a good 4x8 is probably convincing 400m guys to move up. Ask the great Abington teams of years old. Charles Ross, Will Taylor, Macey Watson and Tevin Smith were all guys that bought into the system and moved up and then became studs at 800m. Ultimately, you need speed to be able to run quality 800m and Bensalem may have a system that can convince these guys to jump up.

In terms of true 800m guys they do have 2:01, 2:04 and 2:06 legs in Rahi Shah, Alex Ramirez and Tyji Mays. And Bensalem was just 12 points away from making states in XC. They are clearly well coached and have pieces that if they all fall together will make a nice team.

CB East
Ah Central Bucks East. This is a cool team to root for. 8:00.34 is the time that they ran to get into the Penn Relays and I think they have major potential to drop. Last year this CB East team maxed up at 7:55 and they return most if not all of those guys and they have been improving nicely.

If you look at this team on paper, you have the Brophy bros (fantastic name), who have both been gamers this year. Frank seems to be sold on the 4, but he is best at 800m and has a PR of 1:58. He ran 50.11 indoors and has broken 2 each year for the last 3 years. He's an underrated piece in my mind. Then you have Jake who is quite good in his own right but just doesn't have quite the same speed as his brother. He does, however, have amazing strength (which he will showcase in the 3k Friday night). He could be a Sam Webb type sophomore for CB East this year and I think he is probably actually a bit faster foot speed wise considering the kick he has showcased in recent races. I think Brophy is a sub 2 leg at Penn.

Then you return 1:58 man Donello (although he hasn't raced much so might be suffering from injury) and their new best 800m leg is Oliver Boucher who ran 1:57 not too long ago in a great race at Coatesville. If Donello isn't 100% there is a bit of a drop off but if this team can click on the right day I believe they have 1:56, 1:57, 1:58, 1:59 within their reach and that puts them in the 7:51ish with the decimals in there and that is no slouch of a mark. I'm not saying it will happen, but don't sleep on CB East.

Penn Relays Preview: 4x8 Small School Heat 1 and Heat 2

So I'm going to be breaking down every PA relay squad that is entered in the Penn Relays for this upcoming weekend. I'll break it up by heats for the 4x8 and then a separate post for the DMR. Not sure what the timetable will be for each of these as I have a job interview tomorrow to take care of but I ought to have everything up before the Penn Relays begin.

Radnor (Heat 1)
Here's my bold prediction for Radnor: they will be the top PA team in their heat. Admittedly, they will be the only PA team in their heat, but we can overlook that. Here is the thing about Radnor, they are a sneaky good squad. Radnor was a finalist in the district 1 4x8 championships last year outdoors and a strong DMR team indoors with Connor Holm leading the way as an 800m medalist. Radnor has run 8:01 already this year at the Haverford Invite and that puts them in a pretty strong position out of the teams in their heat to begin with.

The relay will likely consist of Holm (1:56.88 indoors), Watson Hanson (4:25 1600m PR and 4:30 indoor mile), and Andre Kelly (2:00.13 this outdoors). Then there is a mystery leg in there to bring the team all together. Kelly has really developed into a strong piece in recent weeks and Holm is a clear stud. The key will be if Hanson can have a strong day at a bit of an underdistance and if their 4th leg can run strong on the big stage at Penn. This is a fun team that I will be excited to watch race at Franklin Field.

Penncrest (Heat 2)
Penncrest has been money in the 4x8 every year forever. They were strong indoors and are consistently in the medal hunt. Plus, their top two runners have made big steps forward in recent weeks. Evan Emmanuel has dropped his PR to 1:56.89 and his running mate Soham Kamat has dropped a 1:57 in a dual meet. Chris Kazanjian has range from a sub 3k to a 2 flat open 8 in another dual meet. He is coming off a 4:27 1600m that got him a victory at Abington. Brendan Hannah, Colin Tyson and Matt Kazanjian will also be in the mix for relay inclusion. Hanna and Tyson ran 2:03 and 2:04 respectively already this year and Kazanjian ran 4:32 on Wednesday and was a near medalist at XC states this past fall.

Hanna boasts a PR of 2:01 at 800m and may end up getting the nod. Matt has great ability at the longer distances with his 15:28 XC PR, but the 800m may be just out of his range. A couple possible sleepers for inclusion are Raj Patil (1:29 600m indoors) and James Teal (51 400m man). Penncrest ran 7:57 indoors and has been improving in recent weeks. I see this team as a squad that get down to 7:52ish if they have a day where is all clicks and that puts them in the sleeper conversation for sure.

Malvern Prep (Heat 2)
If you are looking for a team to impress this weekend, I would consider taking a look at the Malvern Prep squad. Malvern Prep already has 3 guys who have broken two minutes in the 800m this spring. Jaxson Hoey (1:57 indoors and 4:15 this year outdoors) looks like a guy who is on the verge of a big break out performance. I'm thinking something along the lines of Tom Coyle's 1:54 split as a sophomore at Penn for LaSalle. Then there is Colin Wils who has run 4:24 already this year for 1600m and is a gamer considering he is also just a sophomore. The two youngsters are flanked by Billy McDevitt (1:58 this outdoors and sub 9 3k indoors) and Dan Ferraiolo (1:55 PR at 800m).

When looking for teams that can make it into the COA as sleepers, you have to think about teams that, if they have an amazing day, run really, really fast. Malvern Prep is that team. They could no doubt run something in the 1:54-1:57-1:57-1:59 ball park at Penn if they have a dream day and that puts you around 7:50. This team is a better team than most realize because of their location in the independent league, but they can make a big statement at Penn.

Bonner (Heat 2)
Bonner got into the races thanks to 8:06 from down south at William and Mary. The Bonner boys are led by the speed of Joe Sullivan who has developed strong range thanks to an early season 4:24 run at Coatesville. Sullivan ran 1:56.94 last year to get into the state championships out of district 12 and will be a strong anchor for the boys from Bonner. He is joined by Ryan Rastatter who ran 4:30 in the 1600m this spring. Steve Cromity emerged for Bonner in recent weeks as well, running 2:03 in the open 8. Not sure who the other leg is but Sean Sullivan (Joe's little brother?) ran a 4:44 indoors for the mile and has the potential to emerge as a solid 4th leg.

Bonner ran a solid DMR last year with Will McDermott as a mentor for the younger guys. This group has already beat last year's season best of 8:08 in the 4x8 thanks to their early season mark. They beat LaSalle in that early season race as well. It will be interesting to see if these boys continue to keep turning heads on the oval.

GFS (Heat 2)
Germantown Friends has been more of a DMR team than 4x8 team in recent years including grabbing a title in the DMR at Penn in 2008. Last year's GFS squad had Sami Aziz and Lyle Wistar (both sub 9:20 guys at 3200m) and their strong group managed to run a relay just a shade above 8 flat. This year's team has wasted no time trying to get the team back to that mark even without their stud 2 milers. GFS edged their way into this meet as a small school with an 8:09 mark and they have a nice 10:32 DMR for confidence.

GFS journeyed to the Warrior invite and grabbed some nice PRs for youngster Nick Dahl (4:24 1600m as a freshman), and Grayson Hepp (4:28 for the soph). Both of those times could potentially translate to sub 2 minute 800m marks. James Finney adds a nice bit of leadership and speed with his 1:58 PR. It will be interesting to see if this DMR school can translate their DMR type legs into some strong 800m men on the big stage at Penn.

Strath Haven (Heat 2)
Strath Haven was one of the last teams into the Penn Relays for the small schools. No Jack Huemmler on the squad anymore, but they do return some nice pieces from their COA DMR last year and hopefully that experience will benefit them on the big stage. The team has run 8:12 this year outdoors.

They have depth and no clear weak leg on this squad and they are just waiting for a solid break out performance to help them take the next step. James Forbes leads the squad at 2:01 with Greg Kotchick at 2:02 and David Reeves at 2:03. They also have XC state qualifier Dylan Butera who has had some solid spltis in the past and has run 2:05 this year so far outdoors. Butera has run 4:30 for the mile and 2:04 in the open 8 before in the past. I think Haven is going to be a nice sleeper team for Districts this year and they will have a group focused on improving at this event specifically. The question is now, how well can this team do at Penn without a clear star to lead them?

4/19 Weekend: Ship Invite

I decided to separate a post for this meet. Not sure if they ran AA and AAA together in these races, but I assumed they were run separately. If you want to read about another meet from this past week, feel free to scroll down to the post immediately below this one.

First let's run through the AA performances.
Dominic Hockenbury followed up the impressive marks from Griffin Molino with a dominating 3200m run that earned him a 26 second victory and a time of 9:22. A Molino v. Hockenbury match up looming in the future makes the AA meet pretty interesting. Will Kachman, another sophomore, ran 9:46 for a solid second place behind DH and was clearly the second best guy in the race, finishing 30 seconds ahead of 3rd.

Jon Goodson won the 16 and the 8 at this meet, winning the 16 in a time of 4:27 over guys like Brady Wilt (4:32) and Cooper Leslie (4:33). Lakeland's Nathan Morgan popped a 4:35 off which makes his Lakeland team intriguing as a 4x8 title contender. They also have Mark Arzie who ran 1:57 a year ago. Arzie was second to Goodson in the open, 1:58-2:01. Arzie was likely very busy with the open 8, the 32 and the 4x8, and the 4x4 (Lakeland won in 3:31).

Not sure exactly where the 4x8 fit into this meet, but the AA 4x8 was hotly contested. Lewisburg took the title in 8:20 edging out Boiling Springs, Goodson's squad, that ran 8:22 and Lakeland who ran 8:25. Trinity who is always a contender in the 4x8, ran 8:29 for fourth.

AAA results were quite exciting as well.
The 3200m was filled with top tier talent. Patrick Reilly, as predicted by correspondent GBC came out on top of the great field with Colin Abert flanking him. Reilly ran a blazing 9:14 time to beat out Abert, who ran 9:20. Both marks cement these names as serious state title contenders at this event. Reilly has been just a notch behind guys like Wilson, James and Martin in recent months, but is slowly bridging the gap to the point where he is on fairly even footing with these guys. Excellent start to his competitive racing season. I'm really excited by what I have seen from Abert in recent weeks as well. He can likely run sub 4:20 and sub 9:20 by seasons end which makes him dangerous at the state level. As I have said before, his best event is most likely 3200m and this is a huge PR for him at that distance. I look forward to watching him continue to develop in this event. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he finishes the year under 9:10 in the ultra competitive state meet race.

Also in this field were Will Cather, who added nice strength to his resume with a 9:25 (Range from 9:25 down to 1:54 in one meet? That's pretty darn impressive), Cole Nissley (9:26), Ryan Grace (9:28), Aaron Gebhardt and Aaron Lauer (9:30 for each). Jeff Groh added a 9:38 for 8th just ahead of Alex Balla. 14 guys finished the race under 9:50 including 3 sophomores.

The 4x8 was a cool race as well as Whitehall helped District 11 represent with a surprise win in a time of 8:07. They beat a State College team that I believe was a complete B squad that still ran 8:13 for 2nd. Very compelling depth.

In the 1600m, Dominic Deluca returned to the track and made a big statement with a 4:17 mark to beat out Zach Brehm who ran 4:23 for 2nd. Austin Stetler of Penn Manor continues to improve, running 4:25 for 3rd. Deluca has really developed some nice speed at 3200m. Although he was clearly strong indoors, I still feel like he may be underrated. He got caught going out a little too fast indoors, but this year outdoors he may be on the verge of some very surprising results. He ran 9:13ish last year and can better than significantly this year if he gets in the right race. Sean Weidner ran a solid 4:26 and Matt Kravitz also ran a 4:26 mark. Carlisle had Brehm (4:23), DeAngelo (4:30) and Wisner (4:34) who are all underclassmen and make a strong 4x8 when combined with Jon Carroll. Whitehall had a pair of underclassmen run 4:31 and 4:33, Gabe Lamm and Calvin Schneck. Dallastown also had 3 guys at 4:35 or faster.

In the open 8, State College made a big statement. Kyle Adams ran the steeplechase and won fairly handily, while his relay mates had big time performances in the open 8. Will Cather ran 1:54.36 to win by 3 seconds over his teammate Mason Post who clocked a 1:57. Brehm's 1:58 broke up the sweep as Golembski ran 1:59 for 3rd. Stetler doubled nicely in 2 flat for Penn Manor. State College finished off the day flat out dominating the 4x4 in 3:21. This 4x4 outdoors has a lot of very strong teams involved. I will be interested to see who can get through to the finals as there is a lot of depth.

Weekend 4/19

So the action from this past weekend stretches back towards Wednesday night. First off I want to point out that as someone who raced on Wednesday night probably 20 minutes from Abington high school, it was cold a bit windy at times out there. It wasn't weather where someone wanted to charge to the front and take the pace. The smart strategy to win was to hang in and time your moves right without being a sacrificial lamb to the field. Despite all that, I managed to run my fastest time of the season on Wednesday night, so things weren't as horrible as they have been in previous weeks.

In a hotly contested 800m, we saw Kyle Francis take a victory over PA's 1600m #1 Tony Russell. Francis came across in 1:54 and change to beat out Russell's 1:56.06 (a fairly sizable open PR). The big race for Henderson came from Steve Thompson who ran 1:56.8 and likely locked up a spot on the DMR team next week at Penn. However, Kevin Kelly will have his hands full choosing from the great performers on his team over the past two weeks. Kevin Moy clocked a 1:57, Stratman a 1:58 and Collins and Barchet were in the 1:59s. Your guess is as good as mine for who will be toeing the line in the 1200 spot. Very tricky to pick one of those guys at 1200m. I'm glad I'm not the one who has to decide.

There were some other very interesting performers in the 800 that included two sub 2 legs for Penncrest. Evan Emmanuel dropped a 1:56.8 and Kamat ran a 1:58.8 (he was in the 1:57ish range in a dual meet if my memory serves me correctly). Chris Kazanjian dropped a 4:27 to win the 16 at this meet and his brother ran 4:32 for 6th. Penncrest's Brendan Hannah also dropped a 2:03 in the open 8. Nice pieces going into Penn.

Ramsey Kerkula ran 1:58.37 to finish in the top 7 of the hotly contested open 800 for Upper Darby. Upper Dublin ran a solid 8:11 and had Andy Stewart sub 2 in the open 8. Cheltenham ran 8:15 with a squad that may have been featuring Jon Lewis.

In District 11 news, Joseph Espinal of Wilson Area dropped a 4:25 to win a fairly strong field at the Red and Black Invite that included some of the Tunkhannock boys Jack Tidball (4:28) and Carson Ayers (4:32). Tidball doubled back to run 9:45 and win the 32 while Espinal won the 8 in 1:59. Espinal is just a sophomore.

Ladies and gentlemen, it appears as if Griffin Molino has found his stride outdoors. He flat out dominated the 1600m at LHU running 4:12.93 to win by over 20 seconds. It is perhaps the most impressive performance at 1600m this outdoor season. Molino also won the 32 in 9:36. He is an early favorite to win both the 16 and the 32 at states although someone out at Ship had something to say about that.

There were some strong relay performances out at Great Valley and CB West. CRN beat their rivals CR South in the 4x16 18:12 to 18:24. The relays likely involved Wilson and Wiseman along with others. Some overdistance for CR South and likely some underdistance for the CRN boys. Meanwhile at Great Valley, O'Hara dropped a massive 17:32 4x16! That is a very, very strong mark. To give you an idea that's just 8 seconds off the mark from Coatesville back in 2007 after they won the national xc title and right before they won the Penn Relays DMR title. Perhaps this is a bit of forshadowing? The impressive thing about this mark for O'Hara is that they probably don't have the same depth through 4 legs that the Coatesville squad did in '07 and they will only run 3 of these 4 legs on their DMR team at Penn. I'd love to hear splits on this relay and any others if they are available.

Pennsbury found themselves back under 8 minutes with a 7:58 mark to beat Penn Wood by 13 seconds. This Pennsbury team with Webb back looks a lot more dangerous. Remember they were a clear cut 3rd best team in the state a year ago and return 3 pieces from that relay including the anchor Alek Sauer. Pennsbury is a real sleeper in the 4x8. I still think we could see Snorweah make an appearance on that relay on the right stage although they have had some pieces emerge to complete the 4 some. Penn Charter also found themselves under 8 minutes at GV. They ran 7:59 with Hoyt likely having a nice split. Boyertown emerged as a strong squad with an 8:05 and Twin Valley continues to stay relevant with their own 8:05. Both of these squads beat out DT East, the indoor state medalists who were 4th last year outdoors. DT East ran 8:06. Pottsgrove ran 8:11 as did Abington. Spring Ford ran a solid 8:16 with what was likely something of a B team.

Pennsbury also took the win in the DMR in 10:46 over CB West's solid 10:48. Nice marks for both teams. Pennsbury looks like they had a solid double out of their guys which, again, is a promising sign. HG Prep came back from solid performances at Abington to win the DMR in 10:48 over St. Joe's Prep who ran 10:58 for 2nd.

Pennridge (3:35) beat out GFS (3:39) in the SMR. Pretty solid times for both squads, likely featuring a Logue anchor. St. Joe's Prep ran a 3:36 to win out at GV in a close race against Boyertown and Radnor who also ran 3:36. Methacton ran 3:38. This was a very nice step forward for the Boyertown Bears in the relays this weekend.

Guest Poster: Shippensburg Preview

I'm happy to present to you this post by GBC on the upcoming Shippensburg meet. It's a great piece of in depth analysis. Hope you enjoy!

So, I’m new at this, but I figured since I’ve run at this meet a few times, I’d try to give a decent preview for it. Looking at the performance list, I’m really excited to see how all the individual distance races play out. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like anyone is putting a great 4x8 team in, but maybe there will be a surprise. This meet has produced some solid 4x8’s the last few years with Red Lion winning last year on their way to a 5th place finish at States, and Chambersburg and CV going 1-2 in 2012 before doing the same at States, except in a different order. Maybe this year we’ll see another team start their run to a state medal. I think if anyone is going to do that, it would be Williamsport. It looks like they only have a few runners from last year’s team on this year’s entry, so we’ll see.
On to the best distance event of the day, in my opinion, the 3200. There are some absolute studs entered, and assuming nobody scratches, I think this will be the race of the day. We have two guys in Abert and Gebhart who aren’t afraid to take things out, which should result in a fast race. To start with, we have the duo from Lower Dauphin, Cole Nissley and Jeff Groh. Now, Groh is entered in every distance event, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him scratch one of them. Honestly, if he is going to scratch anything, I think it would be this. After the speed he showed last week in the 800, I think he is going to focus on the 1600 from here on out. Back to the 3200 though, if he does run it, I could see Groh running around 9:25. Cole Nissley is, in my opinion, one the most underrated runners in the state. He has been very consistent over the last few years, and he’s due for a great time. He’s run some very good times up to this point, but I think he is going to step it up to the next level this weekend. I see him going out with the top group, and running in the 9:15-9:20 range. Next up we have the duo from New Oxford, Jacob Plank and Aaron Gebhart. Gebhart is becoming a well-known name around the state, but very few people know about Jacob Plank. He was on pace for a great season in cross country before he was hurt. I think this could be a breakout weekend for him, and with this field, I see him around 9:30. Now, on to Plank’s teammate, Aaron Gebhart. I think he’s got the potential to mix it up for the win. He is one of the gutsiest runners I’ve ever seen, and I think he’s going to show that this weekend. He’s not afraid to take a race out, and over the last few years, he’s become better and better at finishing these races. I think there will be four people under 9:20, and I think he’ll be one of them. Next up is Aaron Lauer, from Red Land. He’s been consistently improving over the last two years, and is due for some recognition. I think he’ll get that after this weekend. I have said it already, but I’ll say it again, this is a great field if you want a fast race, and I think Lauer is going to be one of the beneficiaries. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him under 9:30. The next guy I want to talk about is Will Cather. I am a little surprised to see him entered in this to be honest, but I think he’s going to run decently. He showed a lot of range during the indoor season, so I think he’ll mix things up. That being said, I think with this field, he’s a bit outclassed. He could prove me very wrong, but I think his focus is, and should be, the 800. If he runs this, I see him around 9:35, which is certainly not a bad time, but with this field, won’t look all that special. The last two guys I want to talk about are the two guys that really have me excited about this field, Colin Abert, and Patrick Reilly. I’ll deal with Abert first. I think he’s going to take this race out fast. He’s never been afraid on the big stage, and I don’t think this will be any different. I think he’ll be the reason this race stays honest, and I see him ending up in the 9:15-9:20 range. Last, but certainly not least, Patrick Reilly. He burst onto the scene his junior year, and has been steadily improving since then. He ran a great race at indoor states, and I think he’s going to keep that roll going, also running somewhere around 9:15-9:20. So, now that I’ve covered the main players, here’s my final prediction:

Reilly: 9:16
Abert: 9:18
Gebhart: 9:19
Nissley: 9:20
Groh: 9:24
Plank: 9:28
Lauer: 9:29
Cather: 9:32

The next best distance race, in my opinion, is going to be the 1600. There are going to be a few people doubling back from the 3200, but also a few fresh studs, namely Brehm and DeLuca. I think this is going to be the meet where we finally see Brehm turned loose. The coaching staff at Carlisle is really smart, they’ve showed that the last few years. Their kids always peak well and at the right time, and I think this is going to be when we start to see their kids drop some big times. With that in mind, I’ll start with Brehm and Jon Carroll. Jon Carroll is an 800 guy at heart, but I think running a 1600 or two will be pretty good for his strength. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him under 4:30, but I don’t think he’ll do it this weekend. I see him being somewhere in the 4:32-35 range. Brehm showed last year that he can double, triple, heck, even quadruple like an animal. After the season he had this fall, I think we’ll see him under 4:20, the only question is how far. The next guy I’m really excited to watch in this race is Dom DeLuca. He’s not running the 3200, so I think we’re about to see him go for a sick time here. When the dust settles, I think he’s going to be under 4:18, possibly as low as 4:15. One of the names in this field that people may not be familiar with, but is worth keeping an eye on, is Austin Stetler. He’s an 800 guy from Penn Manor, but I think he is going to drop a nice time, somewhere around 4:25. After that, we have a bunch of guys doubling back from the 3200, Reilly, Gebhart, Nissley, Groh, and Lauer. I’ve already said a lot about these guys, so I’ll just say one thing, and then give my final prediction. If Groh is fresh in this race, which I’m going to assume he will be, he is going to be a force to be reckoned with. So, here’s how I see this playing out:
Brehm: 4:16
DeLuca: 4:17
Groh: 4:18
Reilly: 4:23
Nissley: 4:25
Stetler: 4:25
Gebhart: 4:28
Lauer: 4:30
Carroll: 4:32

Finally, we have the 800. This is definitely not as deep as some of the other distance events, but there are still some studs worth watching. To start with, we have the State College duo of Cather and Golembski. I think Cather is going to live up to that indoor All-American title, and drop a great time, potentially even under 1:53, but that would depend on how fresh he is. If he runs the 3200, I don’t think he’ll be quite that fast. Golembski showed some serious talent indoors, and I think he’s about to keep that streak going, and tear up an outdoor track too. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him in the 1:54-55 range. Carlisle will counter the State College duo with a stellar duo of their own in Brehm and Carroll. Like I said before, I think Brehm is about to be turned loose this weekend. I see him being right with Cather the whole way in what will be an epic battle. This race is going to come down to the last 100 meters. I think Carroll is also going to begin to establish himself as more than a relay piece. He ran some great relay legs for Carlisle last year, and is due to put down a great open time. I think he’ll be in the 1:56’s somewhere. We also have the North Penn guys entered. I honestly don’t know a whole lot about them, but they had a solid 4x800 indoors, so I would assume they’ve got some pretty solid open 800 runners. Finally, if we see Groh in this race, I think we’ll see him mixing it up with the top 5. So, the big question, who’s going to win? Brehm or Cather? Here’s how I see it playing out:
Cather: 1:52.9
Brehm: 1:53.6
Golembski: 1:55.8
Carroll: 1:56.7
Groh: 1:56.9


4/12 Weekend Continued

This is basically a continuation of my previous post but I didn't feel like going back and editing the previous post to add in. Also worth noting is after this post I will change the comment section so they instantly become visible based on the suggestions I have gotten, however, if things begin to go poorly I will not hesitate to change this setting.

So on to happier topics. Things got real fast real quick this weekend and a lot of that was due to the TFCAofGP stepping up and running a big time meet. 9 guys found a way under 2 minutes in the open 800m. Leading the way was Jim Belfatto of O'Hara who ran 1:55.22 to get a narrow win over Billy Caldwell who ran 1:55.33. Both times are pretty strong marks and although they don't blow me away, they are very strong. That's right near both men's open 800m PRs which just goes to show you how fantastic they have been on relays over the past year. 

Charlie Hoyt made a huge statement for the Penn Charter boys. He was in the "slower" heat with Billy McDevitt and Connor Holm and the crew got things cranked up nicely. Hoyt ran 1:56.86 for the win by a solid margin over Billy McDevitt of Malvern (1:58.15) and Connor Holm (1:59.07). McDevitt has shown excellent range 3k through 800m now and joins Hoey and Dan F. as sub 2 guys in the open on the season. That is a very capable 4x8 when you throw Wills in there as well. 

Oliver Boucher from CB East had a huge run as well to cross the line at 1:57.95. Throw him in with the Brophy bros and there is a nice 4x8 (as they showed running 8 flat not too long ago). I am very impressive by this performance. 

A few other things worth noting from this 800m for me were the step up performances by the "secret" relay legs on a lot of teams. You may not have seen the name Andre Kelly on a lot of other posts but he just ran 2:00.13 and is a very capable piece to go with Holm and Watson. Stefan Sutton from LaSalle ran 2:00 as well to pair with Bilotta and Grant on a relay. Jamir Brown of Penn Charter ran 2:00 to accompany Hoyt. Wissahickon had a 2:01 and 2:02 run and Stellato has run the 8 well before so that would be my pick for a deep, deep sleeper in the 4x8 only if things really break right. 

Nice win also by James Hare in Heat 4 to get under 2 minutes. He will be dangerous at the mile distance when districts roll around. Chappell has been consistently strong for the CB South boys as well. 

In the mile Kevin James dominated the field winning by almost 8 seconds over a nice run by Pat Hopkins and Colin Wills (each ran 4:24). James ran 4:16.86 to set the meet record. He will be ready to roll on that 1200 leg at Penn for sure against whoever Henderson decides to use in that role (Russell perhaps?). I'm very interested to see what O'Hara does in the post season and if James will consider a 32-16 double at outdoor states or not. He is in shape.

We saw some other strong performances out of another "slow" heat as Jake Brophy beat out out connor Holm and Julian Degroot-Lutzner (fantastic name) 4:24 to 4:25 for both others. How this ends up being a slow heat is beyond me as I believe Brophy is in shape to run under 4:20 right now in the right race. Julian from Masterman ran a 4:25 and inserted his name into the AA states conversation quite nicelyl. Patrick Grant from LaSalle added his own 4:25 performance to the mix. St. Joe's Prep showed us where those great relay times were coming from as they had a man at 4:24.85 (John Daly) and another at 4:27.15 (Isiah Fisher). Both men are Juniors. Scott Mason from Penn Charter ran a nice 4:27 as well. I liked the work he did at 3k indoors. 

Here is a name to remember: Matt Scarpill. The freshman from CB South ran 4:28.83 in the hot heat of this race. I think he has room to drop a lot more in the coming weeks. He has run some big time DMR legs and has run some quality dual meet races pushing to stay with guys like Ryan Grace of North Penn. The more experience he gains in these high level races the scarier he will be. 4:28 is just the beginning for this guy.

Pennridge ran a very nice 4x8, launching a 7:53.05 mark that won the race by 19 seconds. Wow. This team is dangerous in the 4x8 if they use all their pieces. We will see them at Penn with a focused Joey Logue and a great group of under the radar 800m guys and see if they can run under 7:50 with real competition. Maybe we will get to see this team actually use their A squad at districts and states this year as they nearly qualified for states last year without their 1:51 man Joey Logue. It will be interesting to say the least. And Masterman is a sleeper here ladies and gents. 8:19 is a decent mark for early in the year for a AA relay. Plus their apparent best leg (the aforementioned Julian Degroot-Lutzner) appears to have been doubling off the 16. '

A pretty cool DMR went down out there as well. North Penn won easily with a 10:24 that may or may not get them into the Penn Relays at this event (if they even choose to run it). I'm a big fan of NP's DMR potential and at Penn they could no doubt break the 10:20 barrier. Maybe this team is a CB South 2011 type team that flies under the radar with an underrated anchor and 1200 leg that has a nice tradition in the mid distance relays. I'm not sure they can beat Henderson or O'Hara, but they can turn heads. Quakertown had a nice race as well. They are a strong team that maybe can turn their DMR success into 4x8 success if they go for it. 

Another meet that we saw out west was the GL Wildcat meet. Penn Hills ran a solid 8:11 to get the win over Norwin's 8:12. NA was buried back in fourth in that race with an 8:22 anchored by McGoey. Right behind the NA boys were the kids from Greater Latrobe, anchored by Marcus Smail to a time of 8:24. 

The NA 4x8 gets a big boost if they decide to throw Michael Becich on the anchor. He has seen what James Smith has thrown down thus far this year and has prepared an eloquent response: 1:54.38 to win by almost 4 seconds over established 800m man Dylin Wilhoite of Penn Hills (1:58.25). Marcus Smail ran 1:58.86 for third. Beicich trained for the mile indoors and the strength has played nicely into his 800 success. He could be dangerous in a Will Bailey type upset role. The problem is, even if he runs an incredible 1:51 type mark that still may only be good enough for 4th or 5th or even 6th. It's that good of a year at 800m. 

At Leonard Stephan Andrew Miller of Wyomissing Area ran 1:55.99 to cement himself as an early favorite for the AA state title at 800m. He won the race by almost 6 seconds. It puts Wyomissing in a nice spot relay wise as well. 

Out at Bensalem, Bensalem had a very good meet. They won the 4x8 out of a good out of state squad in Lawrenceville running 7:59 to beat out the 8:06 of their opponenets. Francis doubled back with teammate Rahi Shah to take 1-2 in the 800m 1:57.39 and 2:01.26. The 4x8 should get into Penn Relays which gives Francis a change to drop something impressive on a fast track, but beyond Penn I'm not sure how much of this relay we will see on the big stage. I'm more intrigued to see what they throw together 4x4 wise and what Francis can do in the open 8 with competition again. Nice win for Brian Arita in the 32 running 9:41. 

Tyler Whitmore runs 48.13 in the 400m this week. Very interesting to see him flexing his longer sprint muscles. I will look forward to seeing that progress. Meanwhile David O'Such and Joe Bush from the up and coming Spring Ford squad took 2nd and 3rd in 49.79 and 50.92. Those are nice pieces on a 4x4 or 4x8 team. Spring Ford also had Josh Tupper in the open 8 who ran 1:59.82 for second behind Eli Mercado, the state medalist from Boyertown (1:59.30). Perk Valley added another 2 flat leg to their apparent relay thanks to Matt Town. Eric Diestelow ran a 2:00.47 for 4th and Joshua Miller, a sophomore from Spring Ford, ran a solid 2:02.64.

The Spring Ford core is a strong group of guys. Paul Power ran 9:51 to get an easy win in the 32 and when combined with the other above pieces, Spring Ford has some very capable legs on their mid distance relays. Austin Cooper added another W to his resume taking down the 16 by 8+ seconds in 4:28.21. Upper Merion's 4x8 also won in 8:23. 

South Williamsport had a nice day at the Molly Dry Invite. Griffin Molino ran a 4:25 to win the 16 by 15+ seconds over Nick Sweet. Molino's 4x8 also ran a dominating 8:24 to win by a fantastic 53 seconds. 

4/12 Weekend

Pretty swamped with work for the front half of this week, so I'm just going to speed through things as best I can. Ideally later in this week, I'll break down the potential for 4x8s state wide and take a deeper look into who is doing what at states. And of course once relays are announced for Penn we will have some more interesting to discussions.

We start out west for this one at the Butler Invite. Seneca Valley stepped up and gave me some solid evidence that they are going to be one of the teams that needs to be mentioned as we look ahead at the 4x8 at states and WPIALs. Great performance by Foster to win this race in 1:57.07 and Kolor ran a strong double to run 1:58.69 (I'm assuming the mile was first as it is at most meets). Cool to see Fox Chapel's Elias Graca drop a 1:58.07 which was a good bit faster than his seed mark. That could make that Fox Chapel 4x8 idea I through out last week a tad more interesting, but I doubt we will see it. Good individual to watch at least going forward.

Nate Sloan got a huge win with a 4:19 mark that got him a 2 second victory over both Brent Kennedy and Colin Martin, two of the best 2 milers in the state right now, who each ran 4:21. It will be interesting to see how Martin translates this 4:21 over to the Penn Relays. Also worth noting was Kolor's 4th place finish in 4:24 for SV. Carter Smith of Eden Chrisitan with a nice sleeper performance in there running 4:33.01 to dominate his heat and beat his seed mark by over 12 seconds. Caleb Wakeley had a solid under distance race and Grove City flexed some muscle with Ryan Budnik running 4:31.

Colin Martin took down the 32 in impressive fashion (not sure if the 32 was first or second here but I'm assuming 2nd). It was a quality double for him has he ran 9:25 and beat out surprise second place finisher Luke Regan who drops a big bomb with his 9:27 (30 seconds faster than his seed!). Will be interesting to see how Regan carries this momentum looking ahead. He beat out Kennedy and Sloan (9:30 and 9:32) who both had solid doubles themselves. Kennedy gets stronger every week after the long layoff with no indoors or XC this year. Will Loevner, surprise indoor state qualifier ran a 9:36, Wakeley ran 9:37, Tanner Quiggle of Seneca ran a 9:36.00 as well. Very nice group of runners there. 13 guys sub 10 with a lot of doubling names.

Interesting to note, Fox Chapel ran a pretty nice 3:28 to win the 4x4 over Seneca's 3:29 (quite the triple for Kolor). Maybe they have guys to move up to 800 from this group and run solid marks. Hampton, Nate Sloan's school, was third in 3:31.

The Warrior Invite was pretty epic. Tony Russell came out the gates blazing and ran an absurd 4:09.53 for 1600m to beat the rest of the field (that included Jaxson Hoey and Sam Ritz who qualified for Penn as well as Billy Caldwell who just missed) by over 6 seconds. Apparently there was a rabbit out there for this race. People are hating on the whole rabbit but from the sounds of things 1) the rabbit didn't help all that much and 2) look at any top race at the world level: they are all rabbitted. If you look at any world record above 800m it was probably rabbited (and the 800m world record was rabbited most years as well, it's just that Rudisha is a beast). Russell has already proven he can win races without rabbits after winning XC twice and indoors in the mile. He wanted a fast time and no one is going to help him out (and really why should they if they aren't as fast as him and they feel like they have better kicks) so they got a rabbit together. Looking through the results I'm sure the 20 kids under 4:30 aren't complaining.

Russell quickly puts himself in an elite conversation. He has to seriously consider Magaha's state meet record, Springer's 32 state record and maybe even Vandegrift's state record in the 16 (although I think this is certainly the hardest of the bunch). I need to see Russell run something in the 1:51 range for me to believe his best even is not 3k/32. Clearly he can win the state title in the mile but long term  I see him as a 5k guy who is going to be quite good if he can stay healthy at PSU. I think in the right race at Henderson with a good rabbit and competition he would 100% be under 9 and around 8:50. Sub 4:10 this early is huge and he is quickly approaching all time great status.

Hoey is doing really strong things a sophomore and Malvern Prep has a really fun to watch team right now. I am curious how their DMR and 4x8 shake out going forward but we won't get to see them do anything big besides Nationals and Penn because of the way the independent league is set up. But keep on eye on Malvern.

Henderson put on a clinic of distance running. Barchet had a huge day dropping to 4:16.04 for 3rd. That is a big time PR. Right now this team just threw down 4 marks under 4:19 (Stratman 4:17, Collins 4:18), Moy has a PR of 4:16 as well, and Russell is under 4:10. That's a squad that can get a national championship in the 4xMile and if things peak right maybe even finish as a top 3 team ever at that distance. That would be huge.

Caldwell gets another nice PR in the 16. He seems to be getting comfortable at that distance. It will be interesting to see if he tries to go back down to 800m this year or just get stronger and run the 16 at states. The problem is that 4x8-16 double is no joke. He is a good doubler, but I prefer to see him get after in the open 8.

Conestoga has a big day as well. They are really rounding into shape nicely. 4:19 from Gunnar and 4:20 from Marston. That's sweet. They have the pieces for a real fun 4xMile at nats if they push it that far (4 guys at 4:30 or better) and they could try a 4x8 (but I sincerely doubt they will). Marston is going to be a serious factor in the 32 outdoors. The list just keeps getting longer ... Also Conestoga is going to have a nice XC team next year.

Sam Webb is back! He was buried in this stacked field but he ran 4:20! That is either a PR or very close and he is coming off serious injury. That is some clutch running from him. Pennsbury is going to have a 4x8 squad worth noting yet again (assuming Sauer isn't injured as he didn't race this meet).

Nice races also by Dahl from GFS (4:24) and Garton from PV (4:23). A lot of really great performers at this meet.

In the open 8 the race wasn't too fast but we did see a couple 2 flat marks from DTEast and an emerging 2:01 leg from Pennsbury in Matt Mulvaney and Strath Haven had 2 guys at 2:02 and 2:01 with a few other guys at 2:03 and 2:05 and 2:06.

At Pan Ram, Cole Nissley and Aaron Lauer ran strong 4:21s to take 1-2 in the 16. They beat out Brad Foust who ran a strong 4:23 and could have been doubling off the 4x8 (don't know how was on Altoona's squad). Altoona is one of the biggest question mark type teams going forward in terms of poential and I am not sure how their relay vs. individuals situation plays out. But Foust is off to a good start. Nissley and Weidner make a nice two-three punch behind Groh (Weidner ran 4:27). Jonathan Goodson asserts himself well on the AA scene with his 4:25 mark for 4th. That is a name to remember as a contender for top medals at 800m or 1600m this spring. Seiger emerges nicely on the track with a 4:35. Seeber from CV gets his own 4:34. Both are young guys making nice starts. In addition soph Thomas Nicewicz ran 4:29 for Mecanicsburg. Stroh of Altoona ran a 4:29 and Ben Wilson from Central Dauphin ran a 4:29 as well.

JD Groff got a huge win beating out Nissley and Lauer on the double. Groff ran 9:35 to get the win over Nissley's 9:42 and Lauer's 9:49. Groff and Regan at different meets made cases for why they were going to be factors in the 32 this year. Groff has a tough district to compete with at 3200, but he is now a name you have to remember going forward.

Ladies and Gents here comes Cedar Crest. This team is very dangerous. The first thing that jumps out at me is they apparently have 3 guys with the same last name on their relay team. It's a family affair over there at Cedar Crest which is pretty cool. And all their names start with J! Jared, Jordan, Jesse and Jarrod! Two versions of my name! And oh yeah they ran 7:57 to beat Milton Hershey (8:05), Altoona (8:06) and CD (8:10). Watch out rest of the state, this is a legit force.

Here comes Patrick Reilly to the outdoor scene. A dominating 9:35 3200m race to start out his year is quite nice. Zach Brehm gets two easy wins. We will have to wait that much longer to see exactly what Brehm can do. I think he is carefully saving himself for season's end, but he will certainly have a target on his back.

I'll be back later to do more analysis (mostly of the district 1 TFCAofGP variety) later on tonight.