Rock Meets Train: Mile Rankings

Train: I often consider Kevin Dare the “mid-point” of the indoor season and it’s typical a reasonable time to start putting together some rankings on the different events. To do this, I’ve decided to get the original dream team back together and reached out to ForrestCRN of PA Don’t Play to get a google doc conversation going.

We’ll start with a little break down on the mile. Sam Ritz is dominating the event so far, with the state lead by roughly 10 seconds. This is a lot like Russell in 2014, seems like a time trail for the state record is in play with a double looming. What are some of your early thoughts on the mile?

CRN: The Mile seems to be in a similar place to last season: we’ve got a clear front runner and a slowly developing class of runners behind that could make for a special race. Last year we had 4:20.5 take 8th place! It seems a bit out of no where, but lets look at some of the candidates behind Ritz who could really mix things up -- Billy McDevitt and Mike Kolor have both run 4:23 in the mile this season and are looking like some of the stronger runners in the state. Last season Ryan Grace ran 4:25 at Kevin Dare and ran 4:20 at the state meet (for some context -- Kyle Shinn just ran 4:25...). I think there is no question that both of these runners will be in the event. Then there is the question of Kevin James. I’m in the opinion that James will run the Mile/DMR double similar to Ross Wilson did last season. He’s such a team oriented runner. But speaking of top runners in the Mile/3k, Train what are you thoughts on runners such as Paul Power and Jake Brophy?

Train: That’s the biggest question for me right now: trying to figure what the plan is for these guys. There is a crop of studs like Marston, Dahl, Brophy, Webb and James (and some under the radar guys like Wills, Hanna, Arita, Maguire) who have serious potential to place well in the 3k, but also have relay duties looming on the back end of the meet. That’s a ton of guys who are facing some seriously tough choices. Believe it or not, I think the 3k-4x8 double is a bit more doable than the 3k-anchor the DMR double (which I think is incredibly difficult). It’s less rest, but the 3k and 800m are different enough events that I think it’s easier to do.

I’m currently leaning towards Brophy in the 3k (sacrificed for team last outdoors, top returner this year), but after that I’m not sure I see any of this crew jumping in the event (and Brophy is borderline obviously). It seems like Marston and Conestoga have been training very DMR specific which means the 3k doesn’t make a ton of sense. CRs South needs to be as fresh as possible in my eyes and Arita can still have a ton of success in the mile. I’m leaning towards a completely fresh GFS DMR at this point and I think Malvern Prep throws their horses in the mile because they have a little extra something to prove this year on the relay.

The 3k is in play for James and Webb. I still think that James can win a state title in the mile by season’s end (even over Ritz), but running 8:40 and then 4:26 probably puts doubts in your mile capabilities. Plus the team just dropped a solid 4x800m team and they have let James pursue the individual events for the past two years while saving their DMR for nationals. As for Webb, he can pull of the 3k-4x8 double (he’s done in the past two years in track), it’s just a matter of how confident Pennsbury feels in what I expect to be a loaded 4x8.

Power really makes things interesting here. He’s running a lot of Mile races and working on his speed. He could be a medalist in the mile, but if he goes fresh in the 3k there may even be a chance he could win with so many top guys potentially dropping out. What do you see Power doing going ahead? And who are your sleepers for the potential medal spots for the mile?

ForrestCRN: Right now I see Paul Power in a similar position to Max Norris. Obviously Norris was strong and his XC season ended a bit strong (although Power’s 14th place at Regionals shouldn’t totally be over-looked). His 4:24 mile really blew me away and his 8:55 early season 3k time is something that he could probably blow away right now. If James and Webb do choose the 3k/4x800 double things will become more complicated for him, but I think he’s one of the front runners and almost a lock for a place in the top 5. All of this being said, just to be explicit, I believe Paul Power will run the 3k totally fresh. The mile does seem like a good event for him, but with so many question marks elsewhere I think this is the best race for him.

Another potential candidate for the 3k/4x8 double that we haven’t talked about is Jake Brophy. He’s been sparse on racing individual events and I’m not sure where to place him either right now. I’d love to see him, James, and Webb battle it out in the 3k only to return for a leg in a relay. Webb I think is a shoe-in for this double. We’ve see him complete it very successfully before (twice outdoors) and he seems to be in great shape so far this season. James seems more likely to do the Mile/DMR double to me. He’s such a team oriented runner that I think he’d sacrifice his individual goals for a DMR/4x8 team (depending on what seems best). His team isn’t the strongest behind him and he will be able to make the biggest impact on the mile leg, since it’s more his distance and he’d be the top anchor for any team (unless Dahl drops something big or Jaxson comes out of the wood works, but lets not get into that now). James reminds me a lot of Ross Wilson in terms of mindset, so that’s where I see him going.

That being said about James I’ll jump into the potential Mile field. Ritz and James should be up front and if Jaxson Hoey comes back he might be able to join them (but again too much speculation to talk about). I think Nick Dahl will follow for the mile/DMR double with James. I was going to write about John Daly having a potential breakout race, but that seems stupid now considering he split… 4:17?!? They went 10:29 in the DMR!! Are you kidding me St. Joes Prep?? They had an extremely underrated 4x8 last season and Daly has really stepped up his game on the track. I believe that’d be a 7 to 8 second PR for him, although a split, that’s still crazy. Reminds me of the 4:12 nationals race that Belfatto had. If Daly can drop something ~4:20 in an open race in the next few weeks he’ll be one of the medal favorites as well. Two more candidates for the Mile/DMR double are the Malvern Prep boys Billy McDevitt and Colin Wills. Wills split a strong 3:13/14 at Yale and could be a medal sleeper for Malvern Prep, but I think that they will hold him out to be fresh in order to try and win the title. That being said I think McDevitt will double. He’s got the strength to run 8:45ish in my opinion, so I think he can run approximately two 4:20’s within a few hours. It’ll be tough, but he’s capable.

Sappey will be an interesting runner to follow in the coming weeks. He has run solid, but nothing too amazing following his breakout XC season, but I think he puts down something more 3k-esk in the next few weeks, but I would like to see DTW stack a DMR at MoC’s.

I believe Alex Milligan will opt for the 800 instead of the mile, but I do think he’d be capable of a 4:24ish by season’s end. But I think he’ll place 7th or 8th in the open 800. Diestelow seems to be focusing solely on the mile and hopefully this season things will come together for him. He always seems to be on the verge of a breakout when he gets injured, but I’m hoping we see him run around 4:23 at states, which could certainly be a medal time this season.

Kolor is another one of my favorite guys and could be the best Miler from out west this indoor season with Jeff Van Kooten still recovering from his late season XC injury. Kolor made very steady improvement from indoors to outdoors last season and he had a fantastic end of his XC season. Kolor is still only a junior and I could see him going as low as 4:20 indoors. I speculate he’ll be more likely to hit a 4:22, but I have no doubt we will see this young man on the medal stand.

There are 4 more boys I would like to mention -- ‘Stoga’s Murray/Marston combo and the combo from CR South MaGuire/Hanna. With Killian Nelson’s 2:00.09 this team’s DMR is looking very, very strong. I’d love to see them totally fresh and they’re a team centered group. I could very well see them taking this route, but the other chance is that Murray will double the Mile/1200 and Marston will double the Mile/Mile. Murray has looked fantastic this season and I bet he could double very well. Marston ran 15:40 at Hershey and that type of strength could also lead him to a 4:25/4:25 double. Chris Campbell for example ran 4:18 in the open and came back in a 4:17.9 split in the DMR (and he leaned at the 1600m line, which lost him 2nd place). Marston right around Campbell in my opinion in terms of XC runners, and although he doesn’t have Campbells speed he does have his strength (like Wilson as well) and that leads to very even doubles. As for CR South I think they will running the 4x8. They seem to be developing into a North Penn like squad. We shall see at the end of the season, because to me they stack up the best in the DMR. If that is the case I could see Hanna doubling and having MaGuire stay fresh. If they go for the 4x8 then they’ll probably keep everyone fresh or have someone double back from the open 800.

Is there anyone other than Kolor or Van Kooten that you see from out west mixing it up this indoor season in the Mile? NA has yet to open up, but I think we’ll see McGoey and Wharrey running the 3k. Also, do you think that Ritz could get the 4:12.61 Meet Record from Paul Springer? Tony Russell showed just how difficult that time is this past season when he ran 4:12.69 at the state meet.

Train: The West is really tricky to judge because we have seen so little racing from those guys thus far. Most are just getting started and finding momentum. I think Scott Seel’s early win is encouraging. A 4:35 on a tough to pace track is an excellent time for your first race of the year. He has an excellent crop of teammates to train with as well (but I agree I expect Wharrey and McGoey to pursue the 3k). To be fair, Gil and Steiner both chose the mile as a Junior and Senior respectively (and both did quite well) so it’s not a lock McGoey stays 3k, but I’d be surprised by migration.

I feel like many of the best guys out West are thinking 3k (NA, Winchester Thurston, etc), but if Todd Gunzenhauser opts to come down, he is running very well. He has already run 4:33 and 9:00, strong marks in low key meets. I also think Jacob Heinauer of North Hills could be in the mix if chooses to come down from the 3000. Also keep an eye on Noah Smith of Ringgold as a sleeper and maybe Elias Graca will try his hand at a fast mile after his excellent cross season.

As for Ritz, that's a tricky question. Based on what he has run so far, he's in shape to challenge the record (and maybe do something historic in the 1k this weekend). However, Ritz will have to be careful with his pacing at states. If he guns things out in 60, I think he will struggle to come home, racing all alone out front (somewhat like Russell last year). But if he stays within himself for 800m, takes things out in 2:10ish and then closes, it's hard to imagine him being far away. He would really benefit from some extra help (James, Brophy or someone else rising to challenge). Keep in mind when Springer ran that record he was racing Millrose Champ Jason Weller. He also split around 60 for the final 400m after a relaxed opening quarter.

I think Ritz is the #1 guy in this field right now. But it doesn't mean we can't get some rankings! Here is my top 8 as of right now (based on who I think is running in):
1. Sam Ritz
2. Billy McDevitt
3. Jake Brophy (as of now he doesn't have a 3k qualifier so he lands here)
4. Mike Kolor
5. John Daly
6. Kyle Shinn
7. Brian Arita
8. Alex Milligan

Wills, Diestelow, and Hanna were among my toughest exclusions. How about your rankings?

ForrestCRN: I’m really hoping Gunzenhauser runs another Mile in the coming weeks. He’s one of my sleeper picks to make top 12. I think that Ritz will get the win, but I do hope that he runs a smart race like Willig did a few years ago. That being said here are my rankings for the top 8:
1. Sam Ritz
2. Kevin James
3. Billy McDevitt
4. Jake Brophy
5. Mike Kolor
6. John Daly
7. Eric Diestelow
8. Kyle Shinn

My just missed are PJ Murray, Brian Arita, and Alex Milligan in that order (Although I see Milligan choosing the 800) and if that is the case my 3rd guy would be Wills.

Relays: Who is Going Where?

One of the biggest keys to analyzing this season is correctly predicting who is going to run which relays at the indoor state championships: especially this year. With just 12 teams being accepted into both events, it's going to be a tight squeeze and only the most focused runners will survive. Basically, if you want to make the DMR, you are running it at TFCAofGP Last Chance or Meet of Champs. You have to. Same likely goes for the 4x8. It sucks to say this, but it's hard to feel safe. Pennsbury's 7:57 should hold up. St. Joe's 10:29 shouldn't have a problem. But there a ton of bubble teams who will be running for their lives these weekends hoping to get some magic.

It snowed this week for those who haven't noticed and we are fortunate that many teams were still able to get out and race. But just imagine if a hard storm hits before MoC or the Carnival or another important invite. With the current system in place, a cancellation could ruin a season. That's the drawback of having no auto qualifying procedure.

I'm still on the fence about whether or not I'm a fan of the new qualifying system (I feel like I'd be more on board if they hadn't slashed the 4x8 field in half). I'll have to get back to you on that after I see how crazy things get in the final weeks of the season with all the jockeying for position. With that in mind it's time to guess which top teams will choose which events! Here we go ....

4x800m: The Almost Definites who probably should put more stock in the DMR
Pennsbury (PA #1)
Central Bucks East (PA #3)
Altoona (PA #9)

I'm pretty sure these teams will be in on the 4x8 this year thanks to a combination of outdoor success in previous years and key doubles from some of their top legs. Pennsbury could attack a state meet record in the DMR with this team: Sauer is a killer 1200m type on paper and Webb is a gamer on the anchor. However, this team has never run the DMR at states despite having the squad to do so in the past, so I'm not getting my hopes up. East is a little bit more borderline. With Brophy on your team, you have to consider the DMR where you can use his full potential on a longer leg, but they seem to be comfortable as a unit in the 4x8. I'm also not sure they have a clear 1200m leg (I'd say Sands is best on paper) and they probably would be using Boucher in the 400m leg which seems like a bit of an underdistance for him (although he has excelled at that race). Both of these teams will run fantastic in the 4x8, I just hope they run a fast DMR sometime near season's end. I'd rather not have to float around the phrase "what if".

Altoona looks straight loaded for a DMR. With Foust already returning as a strong leg, plus the recent surges from Jerrod Sunderland and Brett George at Kevin Dare, this team is in perfect position to compete for a top spot. They have done it in the past (2010 they were a very close 2nd and 2012 they were in the mix up front as well), but last year they passed up a very good DMR squad to chase the 4x8, which may have ended up being the wrong choice (although it's hard to say for certain). If Stroh can continue to gain momentum as he recovers from injury, this team will be just fine in the 4x8 (they have at least 3 potential sub 2 guys on paper), but I think they could really make their money running a fast DMR.

4x800m: Write it in pen, they are doing it
State College (PA #2)
Pennridge (PA #4)
Abington (PA #5)
Strath Haven (PA #6)
Penncrest (PA #7)
Bensalem (PA #10)

State College is the defending champs and they love the 4x8. No way are they passing this up (for the record they also are a very good squad). Pennridge and Bensalem were the champs in the previous two years and these schools are proven, consistent 4x8 programs. Although Bensalem has a nice DMR on paper, they will likely be stacking this relay in the not too distance future to try and dip into the sub 8:10 range. Abington won a state title in 2010 and a national title in 2011. This is the best relay they have had since that historic group of runners and they could shine over the next few weeks.

Haven and Penncrest are two teams I really like. Haven has a nice consistent squad that should excel in the 4x8. They did run the DMR back in 2013 (and probably should have picked it in 2012), but without a breakaway anchor like Huemmler on board, they will likely stick to the 4x8. As for Penncrest, they are one of the sneaky best programs in the state for this relay. The problem: they haven't won that elusive state gold. This looks like it is developing into one of their best teams ever and although they ran a good DMR this past weekend (and were second in the state back in 2008) this team is clearly hungry for a victory. I'm a fan. They race at the Armory this weekend and I suspect that they will be the second PA team sub 8 minutes this winter.

DMR: If you need to keep your possessions safe, use these locks
St. Joe's Prep (PA #1)
GFS (PA #2)
Malvern Prep (PA #3)
Conestoga (PA #4)
CR North (PA #10)
WCH (PA #14)

Worth noting, when I say "locks", I mean if these teams qualify, they will run the DMR. I'm basically positive. I'm not positive they will all qualify (even though I would bet they all get in), but when you watch these teams and you take a peak at their rosters, you can see the identity. The Prep has been looking to get back to the DMR for a bit after a streak from 08 to 10 where they were in the medals. The emergence of John Daly as a 4:17 leg really transformed the story here and with a few other returners from a 7:53 4x8 a year ago, this team is poised to make noise (although some would argue they are the 3rd best team in the PCL ... scary).

GFS and WCH are the most successful indoor DMR teams of the past decade. Henderson has 3 state titles in the event and if they have the pieces, they rarely choose the 4x8. This year I don't see the pieces for a 4x8, considering many of their top guys best event appears to be the 3k. GFS has never run the 4x8 when they've had a choice and they've consistently produced impressive DMR results despite rarely having flashy individuals or big name runners. This year they do have a few names you should know (this kid Nick Dahl and his 8:44 aren't too shabby) and they are clearly built perfectly for a DMR.

Malvern Prep is also built excellently for the DMR. They could probably swing together a nice 4x8, but their two end legs, Wills and McDevitt, seem most at home in the mile-3k type events so the DMR is the best use of their talents. There is an outside chance they make a change to the shorter relay because Wills (and McDevitt) could compete in the 3k, but I think they are willing to double guys in the DM.

Stoga is a strength team. Excellent during cross and so far strong in the mile/3k. Nelson dropped down to 800m at Kevin Dare and came through big time with his 2 flat. They are developing nicely for a DMR and, not to be offensive, but I don't see the speed on this roster to compete in the 4x8 with the top teams (they may not have a guy on the roster who can break :54). I love that 4 XC guys will likely make up this relay, reminds me of the successful Henderson squads of the past. CRN is a good team. They probably need to drop a few more seconds to be assured a spot, but Arita is becoming a game changing anchor so far with a couple nice scalps and golds already. CRN hasn't seriously pursued a 4x8 in a while (2010?) and, although they could run a nice relay, I can't imagine them lining up and chasing anything but the DM.

DMR: Sleeper squads that I believe in
Twin Valley (PA #9)
CR South (PA #8)

I like both of these rosters. Both teams could end up in the 4x8, but I think they will choose the DM and have the potential to make serious noise. Not too long ago, CR South was battling St. Joe's Prep head to head in the DMR (and winning if I remember correctly). Now Prep is #1 in the state. South's end legs are awesome so far this winter and with their 3k strength, should feel right at home in the DM. As for Twin Valley, they may not have given me the gold medal prediction I had for them last weekend at KD, but they still are owners of one of the top DMR times in the state. Plus, they ran that time on a flat track with little competition. Coakley has been solid in the 800m and mile this season and the Geary's have also turned heads. They could drop some time in the 4x8, but the pieces seem to fit better on the DMR.

So what will the rest do?
Out of the top contenders, O'Hara and LaSalle are among my question marks at this point in the year. Both seem like logical fits for the DMR. O'Hara has the super star anchor to carry the relay in Kev James. James won't have that kind of impact on the 4x8. Meanwhile, LaSalle has run a top notch DMR already this season without any big marks in the 4x8 to note. They have a slew of talented milers and a great 800m leg in Stefan Sutton.

That being said, LaSalle is chasing the 4x8 at the Armory this weekend and will make a push for their own sub 8 mark. A sub 8 mark can't be ignored and may shift the tides in favor of the 4x8. I think the team may be better at this event in the long run because of their supreme balance and depth. If Grant breaks out as a sub 4:20 type, everything changes, but for now we will watch the 4x8 with excitement.

As for O'Hara this is the third straight year they have dangled an excellent DMR, but the past two years they decided to skip out on the DM in favor of the 4x8. They let some longer distance guys double in the 3k (Savage, James) and chose to use tired legs in the shorter 4x800m rather than the riskier DMR. Then at Nationals, they unleashed their All-American, state record setting teams. So do I think O'Hara should run the DMR? Yes. Will they? I'm not convinced. Especially if James runs the 3k (which he probably will/should). Besides, they showed this weekend they can run a competitive time (8:09).

Other teams to watch include DT West (DMR?), Avon Grove (DMR?), CB West (?), HG Prep (DMR), DT East (4x8), Radnor (?), Bonner (DMR), Pleasant Valley (DMR) and many, many more.

Let me know some of your thoughts on the contenders on who will run what and who will surprise in the final weeks of the season. Also feel free to check out the list of top times right now in the state with my predictions for who will run which events here on the blog under indoor qualifying. If you have an opinion/inside scoop, feel free to give me some updates!

Armory Track Invitational

The Armory Track Invitational looks to be one of the best meets in the country this weekend, for high school elites through the pros. (Watch on NBCSN from 4:30 to 6:30).

Let’s start with possibly the most competitive and most likely record-setting race of the weekend, the elite DMR. There are rumors this race will be an attempt at the Indoors DMR world record (9:25.97 by Texas in 2008), if not the overall record as well. These records will most likely be challenged by the teams from the US and Kenya, as well as NJ-NY Track Club, Ireland, Duke, Princeton, Villanova, Mississippi, Wisconsin and Columbia. The US is led by none other than Matthew Centrowitz on a suspected 1600 leg. A lineup of Casey, Berry, and Eric Sowinski should precede him putting him close to record pace. However, the real team to watch for is the Kenyans. Their lineup is stacked, regardless of where they place their legs. With Nkanata at 400, and the trio of Lalang, Mutai, and Kipketer on the true distance legs, I suspect this team will be the true contenders for records this weekend.

On the college scene, Duke, Villanova and Princeton are the clear favorites to emerge as the top university. Villanova has yet to show their pieces this year in this event, but I suspect that we will see a monster anchor leg from Patrick Tiernan to bring home this Philly school. Ben Malone may also appear for a 1200 or 800 leg, but it is yet to be seen as their lineup has not been announced. Princeton on the other hand, has attempted a very fast relay at 10 flat with Garrett O’Toole and Luke Brahm at the longer distance legs. Just remember that the 10 flat is especially impressive when 3 of the legs also ran a 7:25 4x8 that day. The last team to mention is Duke. Duke has run 10:03 this season, without using PA alum, Nate McClafferty who has already dropped a 4:03 mile. Also in their arsenal are PA 800 stars Kunzweiler and Francis. While their appearance in a world class DMR may not come up this year, the future is bright with these athletes in the ACC.

And, before I go to predictions, I guess I would be a horrible reporter if I didn’t mention that Mississippi has 4 milers in the top 16 in the nation currently.

In other races this weekend, Galen Rupp jumps down to the mile to race teammate Cam Levins, Liam Boylan-Pett, Chris O’Hare, and my Penn teammate Thomas Awad. This race should be for leg speed for the Nike Oregon Project team before USATF Indoors in March. I suspect that Rupp will run away with the win here, but expect a myriad of sub 4 minute times from O’Hare, Levins and a few of the other pros.

In the Men’s Two mile, we also expect to see Rupp and Levins leading the way for NIKE OP. Reed Connor and Trevor Dunbar may come to surprise as new pros adjusting to from college, but we know that they both have some major distance legs and could come to surprise a tiring Rupp. Wouldn’t bank on that though.

For the women, Mary Cain, Ajee Wilson and Laura Roesler should be the head of the field in the 800m. While I personally love Mary Cain’s speed, I believe she is better suited for the mile indoors where her kick is more impressive. Roesler is another collegian turn pro, so we should look to see her establish herself with a top 3 finish at the Armory. My prediction for this race though is that Ajee’ Wilson takes the title home for Adidas. Another thing of note in this race is the youth of the top 3. Roesler, Wilson, and Cain are among the future (and current) leaders of American distance running and will be for most likely the next decade.

Finally, the women will take on the Two Mile as well. This race appears to be a three person race just like the 800, with NIKE OP teammates Jordan Hasay and Treniere Moser taking on multiple time Ivy League and NCAA champion Abbey D’Agostino. With possibly a little Ivy League bias, I see D’Agostino taking the win followed closely by Hasay. After having to spend so much energy racing for Dartmouth last year, I suspect D’Agostino will see even more individual success as she gets to focus solely on her own accomplishments and tailor a schedule that fits her exact needs.

TV Schedule:
Women's Two Mile 4:48
Men's One Mile 5:12
Women's 800m 5:24
Men's Two Mile 5:44
Men's DMR 6:17

I’m All About That Race: Cheserek to Run Mile, Deep Field Will Chase Him

My favorite event to watch has to be the mile. It’s a race that requires strategy and has very few lulls in the action. Maybe that’s why I’m “all about that race” (try not to laugh too hard). The mile is a staple event in track and field and it is surely to be an entertaining one this indoor season. 

The biggest name on my mind when I think about this event is Eddy Ches. Yes, the man is a 3k/5k guy, but no one can doubt he’s an ace in the mile. We will see the King run his first mile of the season (not counting his DMR leg) in a few weeks at Millrose. If you watch Cheserek’s interview on Flotrack, he makes it clear he is going for the DMR/Mile/3k triple. Not an easy triple by any means, but if anyone is going to successfully pull it off it’s got to be Ches. Once I heard Oregon had that killer top three in the 5k, I pondered the idea of Cheserek dropping to the mile and I think it’s a great move for Oregon who can maximize their team points with this shift. While he doesn’t have a lot of open mile experience, Cheserek holds a 3:36 1500m PR from outdoors.

With all that said, I’m not completely ready to hand Cheserek the gold medal just yet. Cristian Soratos (Montana State) has already dropped a 3:56.87 and currently holds the fastest mile this season ... sort of. Sorts' mile was actually done at altitude where he ran a 4:05. The NCAA was feeling generous and gave him a nice conversion to put him at 3:56.87. Is it still an impressive performance? Absolutely. Is it as impressive as running 3:56 at regular altitude? Maybe, maybe not. Nonetheless, it’ll be an exciting matchup when him and Cheserek go toe-to-toe. With Cheserek’s kick I imagine it’ll turn into a race of strength rather than becoming too tactical. 

*S/O to Jarrett for pointing out that altitude conversion. Not gonna lie I completely missed that.

Then again, a strength race plays into the hands of another sub-4 miler in Sean McGorty. After hanging on to a fast pace at Washington, McGorty put himself as the number two miler this season with a 3:59.34. He mentioned in his interview with Flotrack afterwards that he considered himself more of a strength runner. It’s a good thing he is because the pace will be fast at NCAA’s. Erik Olson can hopefully feed off of his teammates success and have a shot at the podium.

Remember how Georgetown has five guys under 1:50? Well Ole Miss now has five guys under 4:06 after their weekend at Vanderbilt. A DMR should definitely be in their thoughts. The five names are listed below…

Robert Domanic- 4:00.62
Craig Engels- 4:01.29
Daniel Bulmer- 4:01.49
Trevor Gilley- 4:03.58
Wes Gallagher- 4:05.15

There are still plenty of names I’m looking out for. It’d be great to see Tommy Awad of Penn make an appearance, but he seems to be more of an outdoor guy. Nate McClafferty of Duke has put together some solid races and recently won the Hokie Invitational in a 4:03 effort. Anthony Rotich (UTEP) was last year’s indoor mile champion so I’m positive we’ll be hearing from him soon. Rich Peters of Boise State ran in the finals last year to place fourth so I expect him to take another chance at the mile. Robby Creese (AKA Creese Lightning. He has my vote for best nickname) could play a role in the mile field if it wasn’t for his DMR duties. Craig Lutz (Texas) and Will Geoghegan (Oregon) may take part in the mile but both are most likely on to the 3k and/or 5k. Geoghegan’s teammates however (Alexander and Winn) may sneak into the field. 

The mile is packed this year with still a long way to go until March. The best is yet to come. 

3k is on the way!

Stay classy San Diego,

P.S.- Not sure how I missed this, but some outstanding 800’s were run this past weekend. Alex Amankwah of Alabama makes a name for himself with a 1:46.86!! He was followed by his teammate Jacopo Lahbi in 1:48.28 for third and Dameon Morgan of Ole Miss came in fourth with a 1:49.82 (Furman Elite runner Cory Leslie took second in 1:47.63). Edward Kemboi took the spotlight on his own track with a 1:46.94. He was backed up by his teammate Patrick Peterson with a 1:49.30.

Cas Loxsom and the 600m Sweet Spot

Penn State graduate Casimir Loxsom broke the 600m American Record this past weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico running 1:15.58. The mark broke the old American Record (set by Erik Sowinski) by three hundredths of a second. It's also the third time the record has been broken within the past two years (Duane Soloman briefly held the record in January 2013 before Sowinski knocked him off at Millrose the following month). Not a bad start to the season for Cas, who is now beginning his sophomore season as a professional with the Brooks training group. Especially considering the 600m has become Loxsom's ideal race.

Attending high school in Connecticut, Loxsom grew up racing and excelling at the 600m. He has been quoted before as saying he "LOVES" the race and the numbers back it up. As a high schooler in 2009, Loxsom ran 1:18.72, a mark that was #3 AT when he ran it (then Strymar Livingston came along). When Loxsom graduated and moved to Penn State University, his success continued. During a legendary freshman season, Loxsom clocked 1:16.92 in his favorite event, placing him in the top 5 collegiates ever and giving him a World Junior Record. Two years later, Loxsom lowered his mark to 1:16.66 before finally breaking free in 2013 to run an American Collegiate record of 1:15.79. In fact, Loxsom's mark would have been an American Record in the event if Duane Soloman had not beat him to it by merely a couple of hours. Loxsom ended his indoor 600m campaign running 1:15.42, a mark which would be an American record if not for the fact that it was on an oversized track. Technically speaking, Loxsom has now run 3 of the fastest 5 indoor 600m ever and the top two fastest times.  

But there is no 600m at the National Championships or Olympic Trials. After finishing second at least year's USA Championships in the 800m, Loxsom is hoping to punch a ticket for his first Senior World Championship team in 2015 by duplicating or bettering the result. Although Loxsom grabbed silver, he did in a non-championship year, meaning runners like Nick Symmonds and Brandon Johnson were out of action (plus a fall in the race took out many of Loxsom's top competitor's including rival Elijah Greer). However, Loxsom showed he was not afraid of a fast pace or big name racers.

All the same, Loxsom has not had near the record setting success in either the 4 or the 8 that he has had in his sweet spot middle ground. He has still yet to break 1:45 in the 800m and he failed to grab an NCAA championship as well, finished second both indoors and out his senior season and missing a few finals in surprising fashion. He has gotten better over time (including his last three major championships) at navigating the rounds, but in a loaded US championship he will need to be extra sharp.

The good news? Loxsom hit his stride as a runner in 2010 when he dropped from 1:50 to 1:46 in a year's time. The momentum lasted long into the summer as Cas won a the US Junior Championships at 800m over HS phenom and NCAA Champion Robby Andrews and then grabbed a silver medal at the Junior World Championships, the highest finish for a US runner in the events history. If he is in another groove this year, big things could be on the horizon.

And I mean, an American Record is a pretty nice feather in your cap.

State College: 0 to 800 Real Quick

Last May the men of State College captured the outdoor state championship in the 4x800m. The time of 7:41.99 broke a long standing school record and helped SC defend their indoor gold from earlier in the year. The relay was made up entirely of Seniors and was anchored by three-time individual state medalist Will Cather. Although State College had a couple of 7th place finishes in previous years, 2014 was a huge breakthrough from Cross Country all the way to Track. By the time June had ended, Chris Golembeski, Kyle Adams, Mason Post and Will Cather had finished a long journey to the top of the state and it appeared an era had ended for the program.

But don't tell this year's State College team their time is done. Despite losing their entire state championship squad, the Lions (not actually sure if this is their team name, but I'm just going to go with it) have come storming back to the top of the state in 2015 behind their next wave of talented runners. After performing valiantly in the alternate role, Junior Alex Milligan (4:27 and 1:59 already this winter) has taken over the top position and excelled. In Cross Country he placed higher than Cather did the previous season, grabbing 16th place overall.

It was a testament to State College's tremendous depth in 2014, that Milligan was not on the varsity squad but still qualified individually for both the indoor and outdoor state championships in the 1600m. That's an incredibly rare achievement. Meanwhile, State College was quietly running "B" squads that were beating most teams "A" teams, but, because names are rarely listed on relays, no one could tell the difference. A slew of runners were gaining experience in important races and, perhaps more importantly, training with four state championship caliber athletes.

In 2015, State College got the chance to see the benefits of that incredible depth. This year's team has already produced 6 sub 2:08 runners including three runners (Milligan, Tony Degleris, and Nick Feffer who are in the top 50 or so of the event). The 4th member of the relay, Eric Heatwole, clocked a 4:39.90 in the same meet as his season best of 2:05.5. Together, these four runners combined to run 8:05.64 at the Kevin Dare Invitational, earning gold medal honors and a #2 time in the state behind Pennsbury (who ran 7:57 this weekend at the Armory).

The 4x8 relay is typically one of the most difficult title defenses at either state meet. Bensalem won the state titles in 2013, but finished just 9th indoors before missing the finals outdoors. In fact you would have to go back to 2007-2008 to find a successful title defense: North Penn won back to back titles both indoors and out. That was at the end of a dynasty period for the Knights and in 2008 they returned all four members of their championship squad from 2007. State College is returning 0.

There have been some close calls repeat wise in recent years besides North Penn. In 2013, Cumberland Valley finished a hard fought 2nd to Bensalem in their title defense efforts. In 2011, defending champions Abington set a state record during the regular season and won a national championship indoors. However, they lost the state meet to a legendary run by Central Bucks West (who broke Abington's state record in the process). But again Abington and CV each returned three members from their championship team.

Ironically that Central Bucks West team may be closest to State College on paper. CB West lost all four members of their indoor state championship team to graduation in 2011, but in 2012 the CB West team battled back to a sub 8 time and found itself on the medal stand again in one of the deeper fields in state history. The key may have been Nico Metzler, the alternate for the relay the year before. He filled in for one of the injured Seniors, learned and contributed to an outdoor state title team and, with gold around his neck, had the confidence to put together an excellent 2012. He ran a great anchor leg on the indoor relay and was an individual medalist in the 1600m during outdoors.

But State College isn't just looking to mix it up and surprise for a medal this indoors. They want to go back to back on their home track in front of their home fans. There is no rebuilding window for SC, there is simply a reloading window.

And the first shots have been fired.

Breaking Down a Record Relay

Cheltenham set the SMR indoor state record this week (a result which I somehow missed the first time through), running 3:26.11 and getting a huge carry from Jon Lewis (1:51.3 reported split). 

When Lewis ran his initial 1:52.8 against Ritz and the 4x4 dropped to 3:20, the potential for a legendary SMR was there, but a state record and #7 AT mark before February even begins is more than I could have predicted.

Keep in mind the record used to belong to Simon Gratz, a team that ended up winning the 4x8, 4x1 and 4x4 at the same state championships the following indoors (2006). The key piece there was Khaliff Featherstone, only a sophomore, who ran anchor on the two longer relays and key leg on the 4x1. He also anchored that record setting SMR indoors.

Lewis doesn't have quite the game breaking speed that Featherstone had, but he is a better 800m (as proven by his mind numbing 1:51.3 split) who still probably has room to drop with nationals still almost 2 months away. In theory, if Lewis decides to take a shot at either states or nationals, he could become the 5th different 800m indoor state record holder in the past 7 years! 

The SMR 800m leg is arguably the most important relay leg in the sport, so having one of the best ever at that position immeaditley puts you in record territory. The state record is gone, so what of the national record?

The record listed is 3:24.69 from Muir in California, about 1.5 seconds faster than the Panthers ran this past weekend. That's a feasible amount of time to drop. The 200m legs were excellent (21 high and 22 low), but I get the feeling Chelt could swing the 400m leg (50.9 or so) down a bit by Nationals, the next logical time to run the SMR. I would certainly consider moving Brissett to the 400m leg. I have always felt you have to get your best talents on the longest possible legs and this relay is no exception. 

What kind of splits could get you a record? Well 3:24.5 is 49.5-22.0-22.0-1:51.0, so play with the tenths how you like and you are within record range. It takes the right kind of day no doubt, but we could certainly see it happen. 

O'Hara nearly got us a record last winter. Maybe this is the year we get over the hump. Good luck to the Cheltenham boys and congrats on your state record.

Crazy Eight(s): Trying to Sort Out the 800m Field

I’m sure my Breaking Bad fans will get the “Crazy Eight” reference. Or you can just tell yourself it’s a reference to the card game. Whatever works really…let’s move on.

If there was ever a race I hated the most, it was definitely the 800m. It’s short enough for it to be a little under a sprint, and long enough to make your lungs completely depleted of oxygen. In brief, it’s a brutal event.

Well don’t tell that to the Georgetown Hoyas. The Georgetown Hoyas have five men already under 1:50. Yes, you read that right. FIVE men under 1:50. It also doesn’t hurt to mention that number six is at 1:50.37. I can’t necessarily remember a time that any team had depth like this especially this early. It’s hard not to think of the relay potential they have. It’s actually scary to think about. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We can discuss that later. It’ll be interesting to see what else Georgetown has in store for us leading up to the third of March (the deadline for national championship qualifying). I would like to see what they can do in the DMR. The six Hoyas are listed below.

Billy Ledder- 1:48.46
Joseph White- 1:48.71
Cole Williams- 1:49.00
Ryan Manahan- 1:49.17
Ahmed Bile- 1:49.98
Amos Bartelsmyer- 1:50.37

This isn’t just about Georgetown though. Penn State has a nice duo themselves in Brandon Kidder and Zavon Watkins. Kidder should be in the talks for a title but may have to consider team points and relay duties. As for Watkins, I watched him quite a bit throughout my high school days as he often raced my high school teammate Ned Willig, so I have a bit of a bias. Watkins did place seventh at NCAA’s last year so I’m confident he can be competitive in what is sure to be a stacked field.

It would be ignorant not to mention the star of the show Brandon McBride. McBride went undefeated all of 2014. Although, his streak is all but secure with the entire 800m field from last year’s outdoor championship returning. Rono of Arkansas and Edward Kemboi of Iowa State will most likely continue their push to beat out McBride. Kemboi and Rono make up some of the most consistent competitors in the NCAA. Outdoor silver and bronze medalists Ryan Schulle (Florida) and Keffri Neal (Kentucky) may step to the line this winter. Although Neal already has a solid win under his belt just this past weekend, he was basically nonexistent at indoor NCAA’s last year (unsure why). If anyone is going to take down McBride, I feel that it’s going to be Schulle who has put together some great races. Even with his third place at Rod McCravy this past weekend (behind Neal and McAsey), Schulle will be hungry to grab a title and make it interesting up front.

Thanks for reading! Please let me know if I made an error or maybe missed a major name. My background on the NCAA should continue to get better as time goes by. Mile preview up next!

Run on,

Weekend Recap

So LXV is now officially here! If you're new to the site and hoping to learn about the new features you can either scroll down a bit or click on the picture of Matt Centrowitz up above and it will take you to an LXV centric page with all posts related to the new platform.  Do some exploring and feel free to make suggestions!

But in the mean time, we have to focus up on an exciting weekend of running in the state of Pennsylvania. I'll be creating this post and then updating the state rankings page of the site today. Also, I've been discussing some ideas with a few contributors, including a midseason rankings show for indoors which will hopefully be coming next week!

For now, let's recap the action.

Kevin Dare
Brett George took a surprising (for me at least) upset win in the 800m over Dan Williams of Pennridge, winning 1:59.01 to 1:59.31. That kind of mark is strong for both runners, but is close to what I expected from the talented relay man Williams. This is a big development for an Altoona squad that is always competitive in the relays. I like what George was able to show.

Behind these two, Killian Nelson showed an excellent bit of speed, running 2:00.09. That's an excellent sign for Stoga's DMR as they try to increase their speed over the course of this season. Ethan Gatchell doubled back from the mile in 2:00.28, a great sign for him looking ahead. Mike Strosko ran 2:01.05 for Canon-Mac, a nice improvement off his season opener. Pennridge also added a strong performance from Alec Nahas (2:04). He wasn't listed on their 4x8 later in the day, so he adds some nice depth to a potential top squad in the relay.

In the mile, Billy McDevitt continues to roll for Malvern Prep. He won in 4:23 over Kyle Shinn and Brad Foust, who each ran 4:25. Shinn has been really strong this year, especially at the mile. I'm still thinking the 3k is his best event, but he's a medal contender at the mile if he stays there. Foust and George (and later Sunderland) combined for a couple of big runs for Altoona. This team has the pieces for a nice 4x8 but may have a chance to throw down a very impressive DMR. They passed on the DM in a surprise move last year, but they have had success in the past throwing out a DMR (2010 and 2012) so it's something to be on the lookout for.

As for McDevitt, winning races is important. If you learn how to win, race hard and compete, good things happen to you at the state meet. He's probably at #2 right now in my rankings for the mile behind only Sam Ritz and his absurd start.

Stoga gets a pair of 4:26 milers in Murray and Marston and with Killian Nelson running 2 flat in the 800m, they put the pieces together for a really nice DMR. These guys are rapidly improving at the quicker stuff and I'm thinking a completely fresh Conestoga DMR is on the table. Marston and Murray are both possible medal contenders in the mile and 3k, but I get the feeling this team may be willing to sacrifice this indoors. Outdoors I'm not convinced they have the raw speed for a 4x8 (although they are steadily improving) so individual events are more likely.

With Webb bowing out of the 3k (as well as a ton of other big names), it opened the door for an easy victory for Casey Comber in 9:02. He'll likely need to drop that a decent chunk to get a spot on the line at states, but I think this was a perfect first race back opportunity. Behind him, we saw great runs from Jerrod Sunderland of Altoona (9:07), Matt Beyerle of State College (9:14) and Tucker Desko of Pennridge (9:16). Seiger also had a strong run in 9:16. Quite frankly, Altoona had a big weekend and Sunderland is rapidly improving for them. I think they have to find a way to get him on a relay because the kid seems like a gamer. I'm seeing a big Altoona DMR coming (possibly in a showdown against a State College DMR, which could be fun).

Speaking of State College, they rolled in the 4x8 with a motivated Milligan (4:27 mile earlier in the day) to get the win over Pennridge and Strath Haven with an 8:05. I've been expressing my opinion that State College should be in the repeat title conversation and what I think is most impressive is their incredible depth. I like this team and that's all I will say for now (I've got a post on these guys lined up for mid week).

Pennridge ran 8:07 and Strath Haven, completely fresh, ran 8:08. Both of these teams are excellently coached relay squads and I love the balance of the Haven team. They don't have a breakout star just yet, but they have consistency and it doesn't appear that any of their legs will put them out of position. When you are racing near the front for an entire relay, it makes things easy for someone to have breakthrough. This is still a younger, inexperienced team with room to grow. As for Pennridge, there state title run in 2012 where they upset Penncrest is fresh in my mind (I wanted to pick Pennridge to win so badly, but ended up picking them for second). Keep an eye on these guys, especially if they stack the deck with a fresh relay at states.

Altoona ran an 8:11 and all of their guys were doubling back. George was awesome in the open 8 and Foust was quality in the mile so it's nice to see both those guys produce strong doubles. Like I said, I see a DMR in this team's future, but they can have a ton of success at the 4x8 as well if they stick to it.

Twin Valley (8:20) and Holy Ghost Prep (8:24) each had strong days. I think both squads have potential to continue to drop looking ahead.

New Balance
At the New Balance Games, Kev James's Millrose bid came up a bit short as he ran 4:26. The pace was slower towards the beginning and left things open for a kick. This was the first real challenge James faced all season, but it could be an important moment for him going ahead (like Willig's race at the Millrose Games in 2012). I'm not worried about KJ, he just ran 8:40 in the 3k. He'll be fine.

I like Khai Samuel's 4:31 run. This was his first real test at the mile and 4:31 is a pretty strong time. His focus is likely going to be the 800m this season, so for me this is an encouraging strength run. Still keep an eye on the Pleasant Valley DMR if they can find the right meet to run it.

Pennsbury passed on the 4x8 up at Kevin Dare and instead dropped a major bomb on the state at the Armory. They won the 4x8 in a state leading 7:57 time to dominate the race by 7 seconds. This team is loaded and has cemented themselves as favorites for the event. I still think they could run a nasty DMR, but with the doubling that we will likely see from their camp, the 4x8 makes a ton of sense. If anyone has splits on this (or any) relay, post them up!

Behind them, Abington broke through for an 8:07 and O'Hara ran an 8:09 (not sure if James was on the relay). That's great for Abington who I've had my eye on as a possible sleeper medal contender. This is a strong program historically and 8:07 puts them right in the thick of things with the other state leaders. As for O'Hara, this is a nice display of speed for them. I'm not sure they have had anyone under 2:07ish in the opens so far this year, so this is an encouraging run. They have to keep the 4x8 option open because we aren't sure what James will be doing at the state meet, but this speed should be a good sign of things to come in the DMR as well.

Nice runs by Quakertown (8:22), Avon Grove (8:29) and GFS (8:30). Quakertown has a stud leg in Wolfinger who will hopefully bring out the best in his teammates looking ahead. In a normal year, these teams are all potential state qualifiers, but with only 12 spots on the line, they will have some work to do.

Another top 4x8 team in Penncrest, opted to throw some legs in the 600m and load a DMR. I'm not sure which came first, but Penncrest had Evan Emmanuel at 1:23 and Soham Kamat at 1:25, both blazing times for this event. It's hard to say exactly what this translates to, but I'd guesstimate 1:55 and 1:57 are in play. Brendan Hanna added a 1:27 and Nick Moscatelli ran 1:28, indicating those guys are within the 2 flat or under range by the state meet. That's a relay that rivals the 7:57 that Pennsbury threw down. When I was in 2:01 shape in high school, I time trialed 1:28 outdoors, just for the sake of reference.

Penncrest also ran the DMR (again not sure of order) and notched a 10:48.36. That's among the state leaders despite having no clear mile or 1200m legs given their crop of speedsters. That's a great stretch run for those guys on the upper and over distances and they will be serious contenders in the 4x8. Maybe Pennsbury isn't as much of the favorite as I thought 35 seconds ago?

The big run in the DMR was St. Joe's Prep, who clocked a 10:29 for 2nd. This is a killer time for this relay and puts them in the state title conversation. Daly is developing into a strong anchor and Isiah Fisher likely provided a big leg as well. I thought this team's sweet spot would be the DM and I think this race proves it. The DMR at states is still reasonably wide open, but Prep made a nice statement today.

For the record, the DMR is loaded and 12 teams is a low number considering the quality this year. And the times are only going to get faster in the last month of the year. The fight for relay spots will be absurd. Nice run by Avon Grove as well (10:54) who put up a pair of solid relays with their squad.

I've been in discussions with Evan Hatton (among others) about getting him to help on the blog, particularly with some coverage out west. Without stepping on his toes too much, I'll talk high level about some of the results we saw from that part of the state.

Edinboro (where the TSTCA meet was held) is technically considered an oversized track (I think it's like 234 meters or something random) so all of the marks count as banked track times for state qualifying purposes. This is a bummer for the western guys without a doubt and their times are probably being undersold as a result.

In the 800m, we saw Elias Graca make a season debut in the 800m, running 2:00.72 to edge out the 2:01.33 from Penn Trafford's Nick Wagner (considering his seed mark was 2:04, that may have been a big time PR). Sophomore Eric Kennedy added a solid 2:04 for third. This is a nice start for Graca who will obviously have to drop a decent amount more to get himself into the state title conversation (and probably more importantly a faster heat/spot on the line at states) but this is an excellent first race back kind of time. He ran excellent during cross and has a 1:53.9 PR to his name, a mark that few can boast out of current high schoolers.

North Allegheny's first gold of the season came from Scott Seel, the team's third man during their state title run in cross. He ran 4:35 to take the victory over state XC medalist Jake Susalla (4:37). Tanner Quiggle was third in 4:39 and Nick Wolk ran 4:40 for 4th. Worth noting, A state runner Sebastian Curtin was in the ran, clocking a time of 4:43. In addition, Logan Caruso, the excellent frosh from Bradford, ran 4:44.

The 3k belonged to Todd Gunzenhauser of Mount Lebanon, who is off a fantastic start this winter. He ran 9:00.01 to take the victory over Will Loevner, a state qualifier in the 3k last year, who ran 9:06. Jacob Heinauer of North Hills ran 9:08 to finish third.

In other news around the western part of the state, in Youngstown, OH Bryce Descavish ran 4:39.97 for 1600m beating out fellow PA runner Ryan Thrush (4:40) and Aaron Benka (4:41.76). In the 3200m at the same meet, Brent Leber of Shenango ran a 9:51 to beat out Shaun Hay of state champion Winchester Thurston (9:54). The marks convert down to 9:16 and 9:19 by PTFCA standards, but are probably worth closer to 9:10 by milesplit conversions.


A Little Insight into LXV

When I first became obsessed with running (probably mid-way through my sophomore year) and things really began to click, I ended up glued to the website "penntrackxc". My dad had already made an account under our email under the pseudo-name etrain11 (his nickname was "Earl" which eventually became shortened to "e", the "train" is from the weight training he does and the 11 is for his (and my) birth month of November) and I was fortunate enough to be given access.

For those of you who haven't been around the sport as long as I have, believe it or not there was a time when the penntrack forums were littered with athletes and discussion of the sport rather than mainly people complaining about databases or asking for meet information. In fact, on my team alone there were a slew of penntrack users. I think there were at least 10 or so people from our team posting quite frequently online in forums: making predictions, trolling, all sorts of things. And there were tons of teams like that online to the point where the forums were really popular.

As time went on I became more and more consistent with my posts and became a frequent predictor, forum starter, etc. I learned as much as I could, studied the stats, and tried to think of creative conversations. Soon, the Top 50 rankings that I did on my own for fun during study hall were asked for by others and I began posting them straight to penntrack for discussion. Unknown to me at the time, I developed a bit of a following. We had fun with it and created a facebook fan page for my alter ego to see who would join. It was surprisingly popular and when I was blessed enough to attend states as an alternate in 2009, I learned that guys like Tom Mallon and Brady Gehret (guys I practically worshiped back then) knew who I was  and that was super exciting.

It wasn't long before my brother suggested I start a blog for others to read. It would be a fun side project and I would be able to talk about whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I felt it was a way to get closer with the readers and my peers and make for a better overall experience for fellow runners. It was just a fun side hobby. My friends and I started advertising and talking to other people about it, trying to gain some viewership, but things were pretty slow. I retired and unretired from posting on penntrack. That was still the main place for discussion and the blog still had some work to do.

But at some point (and there is no chance I could pinpoint when exactly) the blog started to become pretty popular. I started to get triple digit views a day and then quadruple digit views a day. It was unbelievable. So I continued to advertise and try and come up with new ideas and of course I posted on penntrack to build the brand. One day, my account was deleted. I had a ton of posts from that account and so many ideas and memories and predictions were gone. It was heartbreaking honestly.

I'm not sure what exactly I said after that, but I'd bet it wasn't too positive and I probably said some things I regret now. At the time, all I wanted to do was write for that site, to be a part of it. It was what had made me who I was. But they cast me out and they deleted my information and, honestly, that stung. I just couldn't understand why they didn't like me. Why they insisted on ignoring my work. I mean things were going well at the blog. People seemed to like it. So why wasn't penntrack interested in what I had to say?

At some point I decided, whether accurate or not, that penntrack was ignoring me because they thought I was competition. Me? Competition? I was just some kid with a blog, what was there to be afraid of? But thinking back on it, I think they were scared. Scared of this new style, this new approach. The evolution of the coverage. And most of all, I think they were afraid of the community that the blog was growing.

You see what made penntrack great and now what makes the blog so great, is the conversations, the forums, the predictions and most importantly, the people. That's what I love about doing this. Interacting and discussing with so many different types of runners and fans.

Although running is individual in nature, I think it has the best sense of community out of any sport that I have participated in. You struggle and bleed in battle with great friends. Everyone understands a PR and the work it takes to get there. I can PR in the same race that my competitor PRs and we can both root for each other to succeed in our own way. It's amazing really, the brotherhood that the sport brings.

And that is what inspired me to try and push this blog another step. We are a brotherhood. We are the best community of athletes in the world. I love the spirit of a runner. It's why I couldn't quit running even after I graduated and I couldn't quit blogging even after it was time to hang it up. This is who I am. This is who we are.

I think that we are beginning to change the game. Whether penntrack will admit it or not, the work that we have done on the various blogs has changed their approach to the site. They've expanded their twitter usage and social media outreach. They've added various articles and posts that have more of a "blogger" feel to them. They are getting closer to predictions and analysis. Heck, they've even had top 50 rankings, a video show and "takes from the week".

I'm not sure when exactly I stopped secretly wanting to work for penntrack. It wasn't that long ago honestly, probably only a couple months. But now I realize I could never do it. It would be a bigger platform and allow me to reach more of an audience, but it would never be my vision. I like to do things my way and write whatever I want, whenever I want.

I think we each have a vision for how this sport should be covered. We each have different things we want to discuss and share with the community. And that's what I hope LXV becomes. I want it to not only be my vision, but our vision.

So if you have ideas, suggestions, posts or anything at all, get involved. We are a community. We are a brotherhood. And together, we can create something worth celebrating.

Train harder. 

Presenting etrainLXV

Welcome to LXV
LXV represents a transformation of into a more complete site. Coverage on this site will be expanding and hopefully also increasing in quality for the year 2015 and beyond. As mentioned LXV is the Roman numeral 65. I have seen 65 different individual state champions crowned during my time. But E65 in combination with the 1/24 @ 7 release time is also meant to represent 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In other words etrainLXV is meant to both honor the past, present and future history of our sport and also to expand into a larger role of the general running lifestyle.

I am hoping to expand into fields like Professional and Collegiate athletics in addition to other, non-distance running areas of high school. As a result, I am going to need to increase my writing staff. If you are interested in being a part of this transition process and contributing to the site, please get in touch with me. I will accept anonymous writers, part-time writers, one-time writers, etc. My email is if you would like to hear more.

In addition to expansion, the goal is also to legitimize the site and increase credibility. Hopefully, this will expand the possibilities for what we can accomplish as a community and will increase the quality of coverage with things like interviews, video coverage and more. I'm looking to get people involved immediately for various levels of onsite coverage. If you are going to be at a meet and want to tweet about it, leave your twitter handle below a post about said meet. If you are willing to film races, post summaries/splits or conduct interviews, even better! I'm all ears for ideas and would love to hear from you as LXV is only in it's beginning stage.

This will not all be possible without additional volunteers and other great minds of the sport getting involved. I want to ensure that the increase in volume/subject matter does not decrease the quality of my posts which I feel is essential to continued enjoyment for my readers. 

If you have any questions on the new site structure, a guide has been created. Also you can always feel free to reach out to me and ask questions.

Editors Note: I've temporarily turned off the mobile platform so people can navigate the sight and get used to the new format. Within a few days I'll reactivate the mobile design as well.

A Basic Guide

A Basic Guide To LXV
With the site expanding, it will be a tiny bit more complicated to navigate the site. To help with the transition I have written this guide to introduce you to everything. If you have any questions, feel free to get in contact with me.

Editors Note: I have temporarily stopped the mobile template from displaying so people can learn to navigate the site. All the posts show up on one page in the mobile template so it may be trickier for some to use. There are instructions below for how it works on both templates.

There are two ways readers tend to access my blog: the web version and the mobile version. It’s important to note that the nifty sorting tabs I’ve used won’t show up quite the same way on a mobile device as they will on the web version. I suggest you try both versions to see which you prefer.

A valuable tool to recognize will be the labels gadget at the bottom of all posts. If you click on a label it will bring you to all the posts that have said label. I will be labeling everything by author and subject matter so that you can easily click around the site and read what you like to read.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that every single post that goes up on the blog will be tracked by month on the side of the web version of the page on the far right. This way, you can easily keep track of all the new posts going up on the blog in chronological order, without having to flip across all the different tabs.

The final important feature to understand is the tabs. If you are a web browser you should see the tabs across the top of the page. If you are a mobile browser, they should be in a drop down link at the very top of your site.

The tabs are listed as follows:
-Etrain’s Blog
-she train
-State Rankings
-All-Time List

Etrain’s Blog is basically the home page for the site. This page will continue to focus on the classic subject matter of the site: high school distance running. If you only wish to view this information, then you won’t need to change anything about how you normally use the blog.

All other posts will be sorted with the label “hide” (to keep it off the home page) and also the label with the same title as the page. However, it is important to realize if you are accessing the blog from the mobile template, it will not hide the posts from the home page, meaning all recent posts will show up on your device. If you do not like this formatting, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click to view as a web version. You also can also filter on the label “Etrain’s Blog” and your mobile platform will be only the posts on the home page.

Here are some descriptions of what you can access on the new pages.

This page will cover Collegiate Track and Field and Cross Country at the Division I, Division II and Division III levels. My own personal posts will likely focus on distance running and the top level competition in Division I. I also hope to fill everyone in on PA alumni and create additional posts on the Mideast Region and Centennial Conference in Division III.

This page will cover both national and international cross country, track and field and road racing. It will be mainly focused on USA athletes and distance running on the world scene.

This section will cover high school athletics, similar to the etrain’s blog page. However, I am hoping to expand coverage to sprinters and field athletes in this section. My knowledge is somewhat limited in this arena so I hope others will be excited and willing to get involved in the writing process.

As mentioned, I’m looking to get new writers involved on the site and to expand the coverage. One of the ways I plan to expand is by including female running in addition to males at the high school level. My knowledge here is fairly limited, so get in contact with me if you are interested in getting involved!

This will be a section for general, every day running posts. I may use it for short stories, posts about my own running, or book ideas. In addition, I hope others will consider sharing their own running stories in this section. It’s also a great place for people to advertise competitions, road races or events that they would like the blog’s viewership to be aware of.

This will be the same as the current “playground” set up. It’s a fairly limited forum at the moment until I can play around with things and figure out a better format. If other’s have ideas please let me know. This section is a good place to discuss various topics without being limited to a specific idea or post. I also give a bit more wiggle room to commenters in this section as opposed to the main pages of the blog.

State Rankings
Currently, this will be used to house the rankings for the current indoor season and PTFCA Championship cut-off list. Come outdoors, it will be used mainly to keep track of the Henderson Meet of Champs Qualifiers/Leaders.

All-Time List
This is a list of the fastest times I have recorded in state history. If anyone has additional marks to be added to the list, please let me know. The cut offs for the list are 9:20.00, 4:17.00 and 1:55.0. Splits are included. The full document has all individuals that I have found who have hit these marks, but for the sake of space I have posted up the top 50 in each event. If you would like me to post the full list or send you the full list, I can do that as well.

This is a link to my old blog from circa 2010-2013. It can be used as reference for old posts and a touch of history. I had to get rid of it because some bots ended up infiltrating the comment sections and making it unusable, but if you are bored and looking for older information it’s not a bad place to search.

Hopefully this gives you an idea of what is available for you now here at the realtrain. If you have any questions, comments or concerns please don’t hesitate to let me know!

Welcome to SheTrain

Welcome to shetrain! This section will focus on female running, particularly distance running and will hopefully become a female equivalent of etrain's original blog! This is outside of my particularly area of knowledge, so I would love to get some additional writers and contributors involved with the site! Hope to hear from some people soon. Please contact me at if you would like to join the team!

Welcome to etank

Welcome to etank! This will focus on the sprints, jumps and throws for PA high schoolers. As this is outside of etrain's area of expertise, additional writers and contributors are a must! Please contact Jarrett Felix on Facebook or by email at if you would like to join the team!

Welcome to NCAA Coverage

Welcome to your home for NCAA coverage. This section of the blog will mainly focus on NCAA Division I and Division III running particularly distance running. The Mideast Region and Centennial Conference will be the primary Division III focus as well. This also will be a place to discuss PA graduates who have taken their talents to the next level. If you feel you can add another dimension to this section of the blog or would like to become apart of the team please contact Jarrett Felix on Facebook or by email at

Welcome to the World of Professional Running

This is your home for Professional running. This includes United States focused and world focused discussion, mainly focusing on distance running. If you would like to get involved in contributing to this section of the blog contact Jarrett Felix on Facebook or by email at

Who Run the World?

I won’t pretend I have been following women’s running particularly closely the past few years, but it’s hard not to take notice of some of the fantastic performances by US women at the high school, collegiate and professional level. 

Jenny Simpson is coming off a fantastic season at 1500m. She was consistently at or around 4 minutes flat and nearly took down Mary Slaney’s American Record. In the final meet of the year on the Diamond League circuit, she won the race and won herself the overall Diamond League title in the process (giving her an automatic bid to the 2015 World Championships). This will be the second world championships in a row Simpson for which Simpson has an auto bid in her back pocket after her Gold medal performance at the 2011 Worlds clinched her spot in the 2013 rendition of the event (where she earned a silver). Not only is it fantastic that Simpson can relax at U.S.A.’s knowing that her spot is assured, but it is also great news for the American team: now we can send four women for the 1500m for the second year in a row, giving valuable experience to a young, up and coming wave of talent.

The leader of that new wave is Mary Cain, formerly of Bronxville, New York and currently a freshman at the University of Portland. Of course she won’t be wearing a Pilots uniform anytime soon as she has been locked up under contract by Nike among the professional ranks, training under Alberto Salazar. Cain chased a variety of indoor records this past winter and appears to be chasing a few more this year. She is still a Junior (still just 18 years old), meaning she is eligible to break American and World Junior Records at a variety of events. She started out her season recently with a 600m and 800m (1:30.03/2:07.21), essentially back to back at University of Washington. After breaking just about every high school record in the books in 2013 and making the world championship final, Cain’s 2014 was relatively underwhelming by most people’s high standards. She passed on her spring/summer season and chose to prepare for her first semester of college instead. However, she did find time to dominate the world junior championships in the 3000m and give the hometown crowd at Hayward Field a Gold Medalist to cheer. 

The US women are rolling right now across the board. Molly Huddle recently broke her own American Record at 5,000m (running 14:42.64). Emma Coburn broke the American Record in the Steeplechase this summer as well (9:11.42). Shannon Rowbury had a barrier breaking year after joining the NOP team. She broke 4 minutes in the 1500m and 15 minutes in the 5k for the first time in her career. She could be a force on either team this year at the world championships. Jordan Hasay is doing some fantastic running at the shorter distances which should hopefully translate to the 10,000 this spring, her new specialty event. Chanelle Price (from Easton, PA) is the reigning indoor world champion at 800m and will look to qualify for her first outdoor team this spring. Ajee Wilson, another high flying youngster, won a Diamond League meet this past summer at 800m and now has a PR of 1:58. Couple that with professional debuts for Lauren Roesler, Abby D’Agostino and Alexa Efraimson and the future of women’s distance running is equally bright.

PA will hope to make their contribution to the future of distance running as well. With Angel Piccirillo, Tessa Barrett and Brianna Schwartz all winning Foot Locker Regional Championships (and Barrett winning the national championship) it’s clear that PA is full of talent. We already have multiple Millrose Games qualifiers on the women’s side (Sheva, Chalane) and we had four footlocker finalists and another regional champ at NXN. Hopefully we continue to see excellent racing from these girls and more as 2015 rolls on.

State of the Union

State of the Union Address
After Barack shared his insights on the Country this past week, I figured it was appropriate for me to do the same. With the 2015 World Championships in the not so far off future, let’s take a look at the United States hopefuls for a spot on the line in Beijing.

In 2012, Duane Soloman and Nick Symmonds each ran 1:42 in the 800m, putting themselves 2nd and 3rd in US history and securing 4th and 5th in the Olympic Games. In 2013, the US came within a fraction of a second of sending three runners to the World Championship final (Brandon Johnson just missed) and ended up leaving the championships with the Silver medalist (Nick Symmonds). However, after a so-so 2014, there is a chance that the 800m could take a dramatic dip in quality this season. 

Symmonds, the #2 800m runner in the world in 2013, was out of action for almost all of 2014 after making the high profile switch from Nike to Brooks. He’s getting older and after over a half decade of dominance on the US scene, his best years appear to be behind him. It’s hard to read too much into a non-championship year, but Symmonds had a dream season in 2013 and finally won a long coveted world championship medal. He has talked about some big goals for the future, including a 1500m-800m double in Rio, but it remains to be seen if he still has his past fire. 

His running mate Duane Soloman did race in 2014 and came out the gates flying in the early spring. However, by the time summer rolled around, he looked burned out and out of place in the loaded Diamond League fields. Soloman has won back to back US championships at 800m, but his performance seems to be slipping relative to his mammoth 2012 campaign. He seems to have some timing issues with his peaking that hopefully he can address looking ahead.

Those two have combined for nearly a decade’s worth of titles, but is their reign on the verge of ending in 2015? Brandon Johnson, who ran 1:43 in 2013 in a breakout season, was basically completely absent from the 2014 scene. The former 400m hurdler will have to prove he can be consistent and duplicate his past success for a second year, otherwise he will be written off as a fluke. Erik Sowinski seems to be the man in waiting after a strong indoor and outdoor campaign in 2014, however, outside of the US he hasn’t shown much. He’s got strong odds of making it onto the World Championship team, but his prospects of making noise once he gets to Beijing are slim. Casmir Loxsom (editors note: set the 600m AR this weekend), Tyler Mulder, Mike Rutt and Elijah Greer are a few of the other names who feel like they can mix it up for a chance at the world championship team. Each has had success at the US level, but none of broken through to make the team. 

The lack of depth in the 800m, may cause a few men to shift down in distance to avoid a loaded 1500m field. The 15 has been stacked in recent years thanks to Matt Centrowitz (3rd, 4th and 2nd at the last three championships) and Leo Manzano (2nd at the 2012 Olympics) who are both master tacticians and are excellent at making teams. Manzano is the shakier of the two. He’s been inconsistent his entire career, but when he is on his game, few can touch him. He has a sponsorship again and that should help his training looking ahead. Both men ran personal bests over the summer so they have the potential to be back on the medal stand in 2015.

Andrew Wheating and Lopez Lomong have been featured players in recent world championship teams as well. Lomong is long overdue for the move to the 5k, but he still has the speed to mix it up in the 15 and the savvy tactics to survive a kickers race. He was indoor champion at the mile this past year and is a former indoor record holder at 5000m. Wheating made the 2012 Olympic team and boasts a 3:30 PR, but it’s been a rocky road for him since graduating from Oregon and injuries have been a problem. He has a ton of talent, but who knows if he can utilize it.

Mac Fleet has now graduated from Oregon after back to back NCAA titles in the 1500m. He has an excellent kick and has spent the past few years learning to win big races. He doesn’t have the open times to suggest he’s ready to get an “A” standard, but the rookie is one to watch at USAs. Will Leer, a man who has come incredibly close to making the outdoor team, had a fantastic indoor season in 2014 that included a win in the fabled Wannamaker Mile over Nick Willis. Leer will look to finally break through and find a way on a team.

Patrick Casey in the big sleeper. He had a huge 2014 and was probably the nation’s best 1500m guy in the non-championship year. He could do big things this season. Also on the radar are talents like Robby Andrews and Kyle Merber, who’s peak abilities are scary and their finishing kicks are impressive. Inconsistency issues have plagued their careers, but Merber had an impressive 2014 in his rookie year as a pro. Jordan MacNamara and David Torrence have run some of the fastest times of any American outside of Manzano and Centrowitz, but they haven’t been able to navigate the rounds at USAs and punch a ticket for worlds. 

The fact of the matter is there are only three spots and, barring injury, two of them seem already locked in place. That makes for tough sledding for the other men looking for a shot at Worlds.

Long Distance
This is Galen Rupp’s territory. He owns the fastest two 10,000m ever in U.S. history, one of them coming last year at Hayward Field. He is in the prime of his career and dreaming of usurping training partner Mo Farah and chasing gold at Worlds or in Rio. He should capture another US title in the 10k this year and will be out for revenge in the 5k as well.

Every year we think, “Hey, maybe this is the year Bernard Lagat shows signs of being old!” and every year we are wrong. Lagat is still beating out Rupp in the shorter distances like 5k and 3k despite the fact that he is now about 40 years old. He has to slow down sometime, but I don’t think we can write him off this year’s teams. He’s not quite as fleet of foot as he was even a few years back, so on the world stage he doesn’t have the wheels to hang in the medals. That being said, he is tactically brilliant and puts himself in the right spot to make something happen on a regular basis. 

Chris Derrick is rising star of the 10,000m. With Ritz making the move to the marathon, Derrick slides comfortably into the #2 position behind Rupp in the event. Derrick is now in his third season as a professional and after making his first team in 2013, may be ready to make more of an impact internationally in 2015. His training partner, Evan Jager, just broke the American Record in the steeple (again) and knows a thing or two about competing internationally. He’s been close to cracking the medal stand in the steeple, but needs a bit more closing speed to do it. He has now been steepling competitively for almost 4 years so his ability should begin to really hit it’s peak. Keep in mind, despite his long career as a pro, Jager is only a year or so older than Derrick (Class of 2007 v. Class of 2008 for HS) so he is just hitting his prime years.

There is a slew of runners who have had close calls in the past with US teams hoping to make a jump this season. Ben True seems like a logical choice to fill the vacant 10k spot after his 13:02 this past season and his 4th place at USA’s in 2013. True has been excellent on US soil, but was streaky last year overseas. Young talent like Ryan Hill and Hassan Mead will challenge for qualifying spots, particularly in the 5,000m. Hill made the 2013 world championship team and Mead was neck and neck with True this year, running 13:02 as well. Other contenders include Sam Chelenga (excellent 5k indoors last year), Diego Estrada (solid half marathon recently), Luke Puskedra and Trevor Dunbar (the Oregon bias comes out).

In the steeplechase, Don Cabral should be next in line behind Jager. He had a solid 2014, but his 2012 was the year everyone will remember. Jager’s teammate Andy Bayer has had success moving up to the steeple and in his second year in the event, he could be dangerous on the US scene. Dan Huling, another Bowerman TC member, has run under 8:20 on multiple occasions and should contend for the 2015 world team yet again. Corey Leslie is a great speedster who can run 3:34, but hasn’t been able to put it all together in a championship steeple just yet. He’s a name to keep an eye on. Desean Turner is also a name to remember: he was the third member of the 2013 world championship team in the steeple.