9 Minutes

By etrain11

It's been an out of state bonanza as of late on the blog between the NY injection from Fox and the potential for multiple out of staters to battle at the PA distance classic making the race a true meet of champions.

But the latest news to hit the web is that the Henderson 2 mile on May 1st will once again be fast and out of staters will likely play a role here as well. The recent word from Coach K is that CBA, the dominant program from New Jersey, is looking to send some members of their squad to our neck of the woods for the famed 3200m, leading many to the logical question: is PA ready for another sub 9?

Well naturally, I decided it was about time to investigate. I've discussed ad naseum the names from this years very large talent pool, but perhaps the better idea would be to study the people have already joined the sub 9 club.

I'll tell you one thing: it's a short list. You can see the full list of the top 50 3200m times in state history here on the blog anytime you wish, but for those of you looking for an easy read here's the names:

1. Paul Springer 8:48
2. Chris Spooner 8:53
3. Ross Wilson 8:56
4. Tony Russell 8:57
5. Max Kaulbach 8:58
6. Mike Connelly 8:58
7. Kevin McGarry 8:59
8. Ian Fitzgerald 8:59
9. Colin Martin 8:59

If you count 3ks that convert to sub 9 using the official milesplit converter (which I'm not completely sure I do but I'll list them for fun) you also get these guys

Bo Smart 8:57c
Dom Deluca 8:58c
Jake Walker 8:58c
Craig Miller 8:59c
Chris Dugan 8:59c

For the record, Dugan also ran 9:00 for 3200m, Deluca 9:03, and Walker 9:04. Miller's came indoors his senior year before injury took away his outdoors (but he beat Walker heads up in that record setting 3k pretty handily if memory serves).

So what jumps out from this list? Well first things first, how good was last year's crop of 2 milers? 4 guys at the equivalent of sub 9 in one year? That's absurd.

But that's also an interesting concept, one that I will preach over and over again here on my blog: fast breeds fast. You know what the best way to set a record is? Race somebody else who sets a record. Just ask Ross Wilson, Jake Brophy, or Sam Ritz? How about Brad Miles and Craig Miller before them? And Paul Springer? The list goes on ...

That's why these all star meets/stacked twilight meets/state championships account for basically all the sub 9s on the list. Deluca's 9:03 from D2 last year is arguably the most impressive 3200 of the last couple years simply because he was relatively unchallenged and just dominated his way to 9:03. That's very, very hard to do. And note in only ended in 9:03 and not 8:59.

Here's another fun fact, fast two milers are fast one milers. Again, obvious but let's put some numbers on it just to clarify. Check out the mile PRs of the sub 9 guys:
6 at 4:08 or better
10 at 4:14 or faster 
2 more others (Deluca and Martin).

Deluca, as mentioned, did it for 3k in a loaded Penn Relays race and Martin ran 8:59.9 for third at the best state 3200 ever. But all the same their success proves a fast mile time isn't everything, it just means you have to be ready to strike when the moment is right.

Another thing worth noting, that's Mike Connelly not Mike Conley or Mike Conley, Jr. That's key.

With all of these equally important facts in mind, I will revisit one more time this years crop of talent. But I will try to keep it brief. 

First you have Kevin, KJ, James currently sitting at 9:03.1 and the fastest returning mark in a season since Dustin Wilson in '11 (9:02) and Gil (9:03). Neither of those guys ran faster their senior seasons due to some unfortunate injuries.

But you know what? The top 9 guys on this list all ran their best times as Seniors and the top 15 only includes one junior time. Unlike the mile and the 800, Seniors tend to dominate this event and kids do their best running when they reach 18 year old status. So that gives James solid odds at sub 9.

Plus I kinda see some James, Springer comparisons looming. Springer and James ran basically identical times for the mile at indoor states, both had some record setting runs in XC, both were sub 9:05 as Juniors and both blasted impressive 3ks on flat tracks indoors but skipped that event at states.

I'm not saying James is running 8:48 this year (that time is sooo fast), but sub 9 is 100% in play.

Craig Miller never seriously went after the 2 mile, he set his sights on the mile most years running a 4:05c as a sophomore and a little bit slower as a junior. When he did run the two mile, it was often as part of some elaborate triple at the district 3 state championships.

Tell me, who does that sound like? Zach Brehm anyone? Look Brehm isn't Miller, he's not quite as fast in the mile and doesn't have the XC resume Miller has but he has a nice resume of his own with some similar patterns. But will Brehm ever find the time to chase a sub 9? Not sure I see a logical moment for him to go for it (especially considering the 8 is probably is better secondary distance and easier to double with for states), but he did cruise to sub 9:20 two years ago. 

Last year Tony Russell took the mile by the horns indoor and nearly captured a pair of state records in the process. Sub 9 was always among his goals but he put that off completely during indoors and waited until the right moment to strike outdoors. Then he ran the equivalent of sub 9 for 3200m twice.

Ritz put on an even more dominant clinic this indoor season and has already admitted that he wants sub 9. Even though Ritz ran faster than Russell's best open Mile on 2014 by a strong margin, remember that Russell split 4:07.1 indoors for 1600m to close out his winter. And of course Russell's XC resume is incredible. Ritz, like Brehm, is probably more 8-16 then 16-32, but Ritz was awesome this XC season, beating Marston at Manhattan and winning the independent league title. He also ran 9:10ish during XC season in a winning effort at Henderson's track. Could he be back there again this spring going after sub 9? Ben Ritz's 9:07 PR certainly doesn't hope so ....

Ross Wilson last year had a phenomenal year. After struggling to beat out PAs other top guns and step out of his opponents shadow, he broke free for a legendary 32 win at states and moved to #3 all time. He spent indoors developing a surprising bit of speed, running the equivalent of 4:13 for 1600m. He ran some 4x8 legs and dropped time there as well. 

Yes, I'm going with the Sam Webb comparison here. The old conference rival was very impressive speed wise this indoors and has proven he had the wheels for sub 9. He also ran 9:08.11 last year with barely enough time to round into shape after injury trouble. I've always been on the Webb bandwagon and it will be interesting to see if he can follow in Ross's footsteps. Having Webbed feet can't hurt.

There are many other comparisons I could make here, but some of them I've made like a million times and I feel bad making them again. 

There's McGoey and Gil (even though the more appropriate comparison would honestly be Colin Martin), there's the Hockenbury and Shearn (or Hock and Deluca, both work excellently and I probably prefer the two Dominics) and of course it wouldn't be a post about the 2 mile without the obligatory Comber and Max Norris comparison (fun fact, google tells me what kind of searches lead people to click on my blog and one of them was literally "Casey comber max Norris comparison"). 

I'll throw in a new one that I've been cooking up, Jake Brophy and Junior year Tony Russell. The same epic XC seasons. The same solid mile success indoors. I remember when the Russell buzz took off and Brophy's rise this fall and his subsequent winter lines up with my memory of that season well.

All those guys I'm comparing people to at least got close if they didn't quite get to the promise land of sub 9. 

The truth is, it's really hard to get there. That's why only 9 people have done it. But runners are rapidly improving at this distance more so than any other. This class is loaded and, bottom line, fast breeds fast.

Let the chase begin.

Raleigh Relays Recap

By Caleb Gatchell

One of the bigger meets this past weekend was Raleigh Relays. Typically there aren’t a lot of great D1 results here, but there are usually quite a few D2 national qualifiers, and there were quite a few PA alums running there this past weekend. The times weren’t stellar this year, but the weather was pretty nasty both days. Friday was pretty cold by the time distance races got going, I think it was around 45 degrees when I raced, and Saturday was brutally windy.
I was really excited for this race going into the meet. The slowest seed time was a 1:52.77, and there were a few pretty big names entered, including Pennsylvania’s own Ned Willig. Unfortunately, the race didn’t play out quite as well as I had hoped it would. I think the weather played a large part in this, as well as the fact that a lot of people were doubling back from the 1500. Drew Windle ended up grabbing his second victory of the weekend in 1:49.92, taking control with just over 400 to go and never looking back. Unfortunately, Ned Willig was a no show. The results say he was a DNF, but I don’t remember ever seeing him on the start line, so I don’t think that’s the case. Behind Windle, Ethan Barnes closed well to take second in 1:51.17, and Wake Forest’s Simon Holden rounded out the top three with a 1:51.70.
The top heat of the 1500 featured some pro studs in John Simons and Tyler Pennel, as well as Ashland’s Drew Windle. I was really hoping for a fast time here, but the race turned fairly tactical, coming down to a fast last 400. In the end, Windle had the best closing speed in the field, bringing it home in 56.35 for a 3:45 and the win. Simon Holden of Wake Forest took second in 3:48.55, and Tyler Pennel rounded out the top three with a 3:48.71. John Simons was a disappointing fourth, running 3:49.26. Windle showed some really impressive speed and took down some more big names. He’s now defeated Duane Solomon, Liam Boylan-Pett, Declan Murray, John Simons, and Tyler Pennel this year, not to mention his 1:46.5 800 pb. If you’re looking for the next big name to come from D2, this is the guy you should be watching.
There were several PA alums in this race as well. Dan Jaskowak had a really nice race, leading for the first 1k before Ethan Homan put in a really strong move with 600 to go. Jaskowak held on very nicely though, finishing second in the heat, and running 3:54.73. A couple of Pittsburgh Freshmen had solid races as well. Eric Stratman ran 4:00.50, after leading the first 600 or so of his heat, and Billy Caldwell ran 4:01.06. Pretty solid openers from both guys, and I think they’ll be much faster by the end of the year.
Not much noteworthy here. Willy Fink of Eastern Michigan takes the win in 13:51 after putting in a nice mid-race surge. He did beat Luis Vargas of Elon, who was a regional champion in xc last year, so it’s a solid win. The time isn’t really going to do much for him though. The only PA product I saw in this race was Sam Hibbs, who ran 15:00.
The 10k was really solid, as it usually is at Raleigh. The Campbell duo of Kipkoech and Terer broke away a bit with about 800 to go, and held on to finish 1-2 in 29:20 and 29:22 respectively. Not far behind them was Curtis King, as he rounded out the top three in 29:24. In all, 20 guys broke 30. PA was well represented in Zachary Hebda and Chris Cummings.Hebda ran 30:09, which is just off his pb and a very good opener. Chris Cummings ran 31:17 unattached, which is also quite solid, especially for his first 10k (I think).
Other Notes
Jack Tidball ran 9:26 in the boys 3200, getting his outdoor season off to a great start. I think we can expect big things from him this year. There were also several PA Alums in 4x8’s, and they dropped some pretty solid splits. Alec Kunzweiler led off for Duke with a 1:56.63, and Kyle Francis ran the third leg in 1:54.21. Those are both solid splits, especially considering the conditions. According to the relay card, Ned Willig ran on Brown’s team, although given his no show in the open 800, I’m not sure it was him. (I didn’t see the race because I was warming up for the 4x4) If it was, he had a 1:50.30 split, the fastest of the day. I would have really liked to see him go up against Windle in the open 800, especially given that split. Finally, Stratman and Caldwell doubled back from the 1500 for Pitt, running 1:58.94 and 1:59.18 respectively.

Why PA Would Beat NY In a Dual Meet

by etrain11

The state of New York certainly has a strong program of athletes and my friend Alex has (with only a tiny bit of bias) outlined a very well thought out post on way the great state of New York would beat Pennsylvania in a dual meet. But, unfortunately, my friend has overlooked some incredibly important details when analyzing this contenders. You see unlike New York with, to quote Bane here, "your precious Armory", we PA runners are not constantly running on the fastest track in the world during the winter. In fact half of our top notch runners completely skip the indoor season all together. Last time I checked it's spring now (although the snow seems to disagree with me) and the boys who have been slugging it up on tiny tracks like Lehigh or, I shudder to think, Glenn Mills are now on equal footing to the gangs of New York.

As another great Batman villan once said, "And here ... we ... go ..."

I'll give you the fact that the 400m is loaded this year in New York and this is a bit of a down period for the PA boys at this distance. Raj Benjamin is great and Richard Rose is a stud (not sure how you can reasonable argue for Brown over Rose and both guys in the low 46s, but I suppose that's besides the point). If Lewis were to go in this event, I believe he could hold his own and our 200m and 60m talent shows we have sprint depth, just not quite enough to get things done in this event. I think Snorweah, Tyler Whitmore (barely ran indoors at all and is just learning to run the 400m, keep an eye on him outdoors) and others could certainly hold their own and their is no way this would be a sweep 1-5. However, if I'm being fair, the NY boys take the top three spots in this event.

1. Benjamin
2. Rose
3. Brown

NY - 9, PA - 0

I'm afraid your bias was on full display during this event my friend. Unlike the New York boys who had more than one top guy just skip the state meet entirely, winning state gold actually means something to the PA kids. John Lewis ran the 800m (leading wire to wire), the 4x200m and the 4x400m, winning an impressive 3 gold medals and nearly setting a state record with one of the best individual 800m performances of ALL TIME. So when he hit nationals with tired legs all he did was go for it from the gun and split a 1:51 (his third mark of 1:51 or faster this season and fourth at 1:52 or better).

Meanwhile your boy Asselmeyer with tired legs? Ran a 1:53.1 in the national final at New Balance to finish well out of the running for the title. This race would get out hard and Lewis (who has run 1:50.01, 1:50.57 and low 1:51 3x) would take things out hard and Asselmeyer (who's open PR is sitting right now around 1:52.81, basically the same time Lewis was running all the way back in December) would have no shot at gold. Relay splits are nice at all, but when things are set up to just chase people all day with a running start it's a different story than a real, true 800m race.

Elias Graca, who ran 1:53.1 and 1:50.8 this year already, would come in to pick up the scraps on the back end of this one and get a valuable second place finish. Graca is just getting started by the way as he was a non-factor outdoors before bursting through for a 1:53 last spring. This winter could just be scratching the surface of his potential.

I'll give Asselmeyer third, but by the time this outdoor season finishes up, PA may be in line for the sweep. Domenic Perretta ran 1:52.77 at the end of a 3200m-1600m-800m triple last year as just a sophomore. Then he went ahead and won AA state titles in the 1600m and the 800m. As he makes the sophomore to junior jump, he could make a huge leap. He has still yet to be truly challenged on PA surface. Sauer is no joke either.

1. Lewis
2. Graca
3. Asselmeyer

NY - 10 PA - 8

Burke has been great all indoors. I give complete credit to the pseudo national champ who has run 4:08 for the mile and won NY states and Millrose. He deserves credit for his fantastic running and he would probably win this state meet if things were a flat out rabbit race from the gun. That being said, all too often the races don't pan out that way and the PA boys would be chomping at the bit to run him down.

Your NY milers are mainly strength runners with solid 3200m marks, but we know in the longer stuff it's easier to follow than to lead. And Sam Ritz (1:51 PR and has also clocked 4:08 right next to Burke) as well as Zach Brehm (sub 4:10 miler as a sophomore and PA state champion at 800m) have the blazing closing speed to run down Burke or Spiezio if this thing drags int the middle or late stages. Brehm ran 4:10 last year outdoors at Nationals for a full mile (a time faster than any full mile from an underclassmen from NY a year ago) and is a tactically strong runner who basically skipped indoors for the second straight year to help him peak for the exact right moment. Ritz was right next to Burke at Nationals and was consistently improving all season long, at the very least he's in the mix if he doesn't get the win.

PA also has a recovering Jaxson Hoey (9:05ish and 4:11ish when you convert his 1500m last year as only a sophomore) who could make a big jump this spring if he is healthy. Those three would all be in the mix regardless of how the race tactics play out and I think PA ultimately will take two scorers in this event.

I'll give Burke some respect after his fantastic indoor season, but Brehm and Ritz would clean up the remaining medals with their speed and strength. They can hold on if the pace is quick and kick by the stragglers if any remain.

1. Burke
2. Ritz
3. Brehm

NY - 15, PA - 12

Fun fact: PA's best two milers were no where to be seen during indoors. Kevin James, Sam Webb and Jake Brophy are arguably the states best two milers (James ran 9:03 last year, Webb ran 9:08 and Brophy set a Hershey state record this past fall running in the 15:20s when the old record was 15:40s by sub 9 minute man Tony Russell). Throw in Matt McGoey (state champ at 3000m and 9:12 3200m a year ago) and then likely Dominic Hockenbury (cruised to a pair of state championships with a 9:17 and an XC title in AA) who was the runner up at states and PA has an excellent crop of runners ready to do battle. Keep in mind that PA would be leaving guys like Casey Comber (sub 15 5k that earned All-American honors in said event) on their bench in this scenario because they are so dang deep.

Unfortunately, the incredible depth isn't quite as valuable in a situation like this where NY has such excellent front running. The sub 9 men in Tooker and Brannigan would make things difficult for the PA boys and I know that Brannigan has wheels (although if he celebrates early PA has a 4:10 type man in KJ and a 4:12ish man in Sam Webb ready to hawk them down). PA has their own crop of guys looking to break the 9 minute barrier this year and would compete valiantly in this event, but ultimately, even though in an 8 man scoring system they would do better, I think they would have to settle for just third with likely James taking that spot.

I'm just saying, when the times start dropping this spring the PA boys will be making up ground here. But for now ....

1. Tooker
2. Brannigan
3. James

NY - 23, PA - 13

Cheltenham. It's all Cheltenham. They can win with a hand tied behind their back. Lewis is a stud, Brissett is a stud and these guys have been kings of the 4x4 for quite some time now. They get gold. Then I feel that you are underselling some of the excellent relay depth we have in PA. There is Penn Wood, who finished 3rd at Nationals, winning one of the slower sections with beautifully even splits. If they found their way into the fast section, they likley would have cracked 3:20. Neshaminy High School "only" ran 3:22 this year, but they did it at states after some doubling and tripling with the 4x2, 4x4 and open events. Sean Conway is a stud and Dave Marrington has run 37ish for the 300m hurdles. That's a nice 1-2 punch. We also have squads like Upper Darby who have run with Cheltenham this year and the Pennsbury boys could technically compete well here (although Sauer would likely be saved for the 4x8).

The PA boys don't get the chance to run at a fast track like the Armory very often, and when they do it's usually after the doubling and tripling that comes with going all out at the state championships. The 4x4 at states in PA routinely has a slew of teams under 3:20, sometimes teams have to run under 3:20 just to get in the top 8 and make the finals. By the end of spring, I'd imagine there are least 3 4x400m relays from PA that have 3:17 or faster (Penn Wood ran 3:17.98 last year and they are better this year). But for now I will give some respect to the NY squads who get the chance to run fast all the time at the worlds fastest track and settle letting the national runner ups in Clara Barton get a point.

1. Cheltenham
2. Penn Wood
3. Clara Barton

NY- 24, PA- 22

This event would surely be an exciting way to settle the events of the day. Fortunately for you Asselmeyer gets to come back with virtually fresh legs for this relay which complicates the PA title push a little bit. The New York teams really threw down at Nationals so they have the hot hand as of late, however, the statistical prowess of PA in the 4x8 over the past years can not be overlooked. Here's a look at the top times from PA teams over the last few years:
2014- 7:41.99
2013- 7:47ish (PA states ended up dreadfully windy and Bensalem would have run much faster considering they had a 1:52, 1:51 and 1:55 guy on their team)
2012- 7:43, 7:43, 7:44
2011- Two teams under 7:40
2010- 7:43, 7:44, 7:44 and 10 teams under 7:50
2009- 7:33, 7:40, 9 teams at 7:47 or faster, 7 teams at 7:44 or faster, 10 teams under 7:50
2008- another team under 7:40

So yeah, we've been pretty successful in this event. And Pennsbury looks like next in line to the throne. On tired legs (their best two runners were doubling off big open PRs), Pennsbury still dominated and won in 7:51. Pennsbury would certainly hold their own in this race and is just coming into their own as a relay (they improved consistently throughout the season).

As I've metioned before the depth in PA is outstanding, especially in the middle distance (5 teams in the top 31 a year ago despite O'Hara not truly running an "A" squad), but I think NY would indeed get the job done out front, just enough to end up clinching the meet.

1. Fordham Prep
2. Pennsbury
3. Arlington

NY - 30, PA - 25

So, yes I do agree that New York holds the title for now. That being said, Penn Relays is less than a month away and unlike the countless indoor meets held at the Armory Center, you New York boys will have to come into our house now and the tables certainly will take an interesting turn.

Why New York Would Beat Pennsylvania in an All Star Dual Meet

by Alex Fox

It is without question that both Pennsylvania and New York are two of the strongest states in the country when it comes to talented male high school distance runners. But which state is better? This is a question I’ve pondered, and given New York is my home state; I believe that the talent and depth in the Empire State is superior. I have never been able to prove this belief…until now! In the lull between indoor and outdoor, Jarrett and I collaborated in developing the idea for a hypothetical “granddaddy of them all” distance dual meet between the best of the best from New York and PA (Jarrett will write the piece but from the perspective of a PA supporter). Here are the rules: the distances are 400m, 800m, 1600m, 3200m, 4x400m relay, and 4x800m relay (Jarrett and I opted for these instead of the SMR/DMR). Each state would send five athletes for each event and three teams per relay. Each athlete can only run one open event and one relay (for instance, James Asselmeyer will only be put in the 800 and 4x8 for me), but should an athlete double, we’ll assume they are magically fresh, for the sake of fast times. The top three places for each event score 5, 3, and 1 point respectively, and whichever state scores more points, wins. This would be the best of the best; all distance events, all studs. No waiting around during the 13 heats of the 200. No hairy shot putters finishing all the hot dogs before you’re finished running. Pure, electric, distance running. Without further ado, here are my analyses for each event.


New York would clean up on this event. If all healthy, Izaiah Brown, Rai Benjamin, and Richard Rose are three of the best five or six 400 runners in the country; each have the talent to run sub 47 in an open 400, and no one from Pennsylvania is beating that. Without much debate, they’d finish 1-2-3, the only question would be what order. Moreover, regardless of who Pennsylvania (unless Jarrett wastes John Lewis here instead of the 800, which I don’t aniticipate) would send, I’d argue the five guys I’m sending would finish 1-5, with Infinite Tuck and Luke Germanakos finishing fourth and fifth; Tucker won the EE 400 at Indoor Nats in 48.4. and Germanakos is a two time state champ at 600m. New York takes all the points in this event.
Top 3:
1) Benjamin-45.94
2) Brown-46.36
3) Rose-46.52  


This would be an absolutely awesome race if this meet was real. From PA, I see Jarrett sending a dynamic duo of Lewis and Elias Graca, both of whom ran 1:50.xx at PA’s state meet. From NY, the big dog would be James Asselmeyer, who ran the second fastest 1000m during indoor at 2:25.86. These are my top 3 finishers, but to the chagrin of all you PA fans, Asselmeyer would win. I was left unimpressed by Lewis at Indoor Nats following all the hype Cheltenham built up about their SMR squad, and I don’t think Graca quite matches up with Asselmeyer’s talent; 2:25 is so fast, and Asselmeyer managed to split a 1:49 at Nats without anyone taking notice. During outdoor, I think all of these guys will be breaking 1:50. Behind these guys, another sick race would be playing out; Shamarr Powell and Jake Johnson both came out of nowhere to run 1:52, and Alek Sauer would certainly be mixing it up with them. Man, this would an awesome meet if it actually went down.
Top 3:
1) Asselmeyer-1:49.62
2) Lewis-1:49.93
3) Graca-1:50.20


Another race featuring big names and fast times. From PA, Sam Ritz is the man, with Kevin James not too far behind him, and representing New York, I would send James Burke, , Jeremy Spiezio, and others who wouldn’t be in contention (I’ve given up on Gavigan and I’m saving Lundy for the 3200). Of course many of you want Ritz to win this race given he’s your prodigal son, but I’ve got bad news for you again: Burke wins this race. This prediction isn’t even that biased though.  The two times Burke and Ritz squared off head to head (NB Nats and Millrose), Burke beat Ritz (given he just edged him out at Nats, but it counts). After them, I think a NY guy steals the last point. I really like Kevin James, and I’m pumped that he’ll be running at Syracuse, but I just feel Spiezio is faster than him; 4:09 and 9:07 back this up pretty darn well.   
Top 3:
1) Burke-4:06.71
2) Ritz-4:06.87
3) Spiezio-4:07.48


Much like the 400, this is race where my boys would clean up. Leading the charge are two runners who have gotten a lot of attention across the country in Aidan Tooker and Mikey Brannigan. Tooker is now famous for his screaming-dive at the line to win a state title, but the junior ran 8:56 for a full two miles inside!!!! The kid is a stud, and I couldn’t see anyone from PA sticking with him or Brannigan. I know Brannigan didn’t have a killer indoor season, but 8:53 is 8:53. Taking third in the race could be a number of NY guys in Conor Lundy, Bryce Millar, or John Rice, each of whom will be running close to or breaking 9:00 come outdoor. I held Lundy out of the 1600, so I’ll give him the nod.
Top 3:
1) Tooker-8:54.91
2) Brannigan-8:56.02
3) Lundy-8:58.33

So, heading into relays, the score is New York leading with 29 and Pennsylvania trying admirably with 7. With only 18 total points left up for grabs, New York would clinch the meet at this point, but doesn’t mean we won’t analyze the relays, which would surely be exciting.

4x400m Relay

This would be a race for the ages, as the top two finishers at this distance from Indoor Nats meet again in Cheltenham and Clara Barton. Okay, maybe it wouldn’t be that close. I cannot deny that Cheltenham is the superior team, and would win this race handily. I’d also have Huntington behind them, in front of Clara Barton. Way to go PA! You’re first win!
Top 3:
1) Cheltenham-3:15.77
2) Huntington-3:17.23
3) Clara Barton-3:18.79

4x800m Relay

What a way for the day to finish up, with the boys from Pennsbury squaring off with loaded squads in Fordham, Syosset, and Arlington. Pennsbury won PA’s state title in a blistering 7:51, but for some reason didn’t run the 4x8 at Nats, where the three NY teams I’ve selected all ran 7:46 or faster. I know they haven’t produced for me thus far, but I love Asselmeyer on that anchor for Arlington; they take the win, edging out Conor Lundy and Fordham. Pennsbury snatches third; if they were in that race at Nats, they would’ve run sub 7:50 with the rest of the field.
Top 3:
1) Arlington-7:44.29
2) Fordham Prep-7:46.10
3) Pennsbury- 7:47.56

Final Score
New York- 41
Athlete of the Meet- Asselmeyer

Coach of the Meet- Alex Fox  

Cold Day at the Races

By etrain11

Here's a quick recap of some of the things I noticed from the first meets of "Spring" track.

PTFCA Carnival
Carlisle ran their first DMR of 2015 and it resulted in an 11:02 mark despite the conditions and limited competition (they won by 38 seconds in a field that only included 5 relays). That's a really good start in my opinion so hopefully they can find the right race to get another crack at it. Not sure how feasible that is for a team in the middle of the state at this stage in the game.

Neshaminy got a quality win in the 4x8, running 8:18.91, but the boys from Wilson (district 3) hung tough, running 8:22. I'll be keeping an eye on this Wilson team as, in theory, they have a great deal of potential to drop time as they had a more limited indoor season than Neshaminy. That being said, I've made it no secret that I'm on board with this Neshaminy squad. Must have been tough for Marrington to watch that 300mH from the sidelines, but I'm sure he will get his chance soon to prove himself against that group (worth noting: I believe the 400mH and the 4x8 trials are right next to each other at Penn Relays which would mean, in theory at least, that Marrington will not be able to do both. Just something to keep in mind if Neshaminy can dip down around 8 flat).

Julian Degroot-Lutzner got a solid win over Kyle Shinn with a time of 4:27 to Shinn's 4:29. Lutzner was one of my medal picks this past indoor season, but Shinn outdid at him at states pretty comfortably. This race shows Lutzner is a true talent, but also reminds how important being clutch at states is. And Shinn, with a multiple XC top 5s at the perfect moment, is undeniably clutch. Shinn's teammate, DiCintio, made a solid return winning a relatively empty 3200m against Jeff Kirshenbaum. Running sub 10 (9:58) is pretty solid in a race that was, unfortunately, practically a 1 v 1 in bad weather (and DiCintio ended up winning by over 20 seconds). I'll wait to see a good weather 3200m for these guys before making too big of a judgement.

Meanwhile, Lutzner's teammate, Previdi, won an 800m field that included Ponzo from Penn Wood and Mahon from Wilson (most likely doubling back from the 4x8). Remember that Masterman is AA and they have had success in the 4x8 before. Luztner's already broken 2 minutes in the past and Previdi (although his time was only 2:04) is showing potential that he could be a strong second leg. But Lutzner can't realistically run both the relay and the open 16 and expect to make a huge impact in both (he has struggled in his last couple state meet doubles). That will be an interesting story line to keep tabs on this season.

Altoona Igloo
Altoona represented well at their home meet, winning the 4x4, 4x8, open 8 and the open 16. Brad Foust won the 1600m against Brian Hackman 4:32 to 4:33 in what appeared to be an exciting race. I like both guys potential to move up to the 16 this outdoors after big success at the 800m this past indoors. I think their past success in XC indicates they have the strength to use that speed effectively.

Brett George from Altoona won the 800m in 2:08, winning by roughly 4 seconds over Gino Nicosia of Penn Valley. The third place finisher, Joey Kalik of Kiski Area ran 2:12 to win the slower section by about 8 seconds. Combine Kalik (a sophomore) with Eric Kennedy (another sophomore who won the 3200m in 9:57) and you are looking at some solid builidng blocks for the future for Kiski Area, a school that recently had a footlocker finalist, multiple state qualifiers and team qualifiers in XC and a 4x8 down around 7:50. Hackman doubled back to take 2nd in the 3200m behind Kennedy while his teammate, Eli Urban, took 3rd. Their times were 10:19 and 10:23.

South Hills
At Baldwin, we saw some strong running from Andrew Koryak of Vincentian Academy, who cemented himself among the AA 800m contenders with his 1:59 victory in the event. His 4 second win in the 800, coupled with a 7 second win over Noah Smith in the 1600m (4:34 to 4:41) made for an impressive first meet for Koryak. Top 50 finisher from XC Nick Wolk ran 10:08 to win the 3200m.

Keep an eye on this Penn Hills team this season. They have historically had great success coaching 800m and 400m talent, including Wil Bailey who won a state title in 1:51 and Bradon Bailey who ran low 48s in the open 400m. Now another Bailey, Isiah, is on the horizon for this team after running 2:07 and likely contributing to the winning 4x8. Duwon Terrell was an individual 800m qualifier at indoor states this winter and the team would normally have qualified for states as a relay if not for the gross cutbacks made to the meet schedule. Watch out for this group as contenders out of the WPIAL.

Knoch Relays
I love relay meets, even though it usually makes my job a lot more difficult because I rarely know who was on which relay. It's interesting to see teams that normal don't run big time relays try their hand at it and especially interesting when those teams produce results. Canon Mac won the 4x800m in 8:31, picking up right where they left off during indoors. This squad is one of the front runners for the WPIAL championship in the event considering how often they were at the front of meets this winter. Fox Chapel got a win in the 800m SMR (1-1-2-4) and the names listed do not include Elias Graca. That's a great sign for a team that has produced a couple 3:20ish 4x4s in recent years. In the longer SMR, Avonworth got the win over Seneca Valley 4:08 to 4:14.

Fox Chapel got themselves another impressive win, running 11:07 in the DMR and taking gold by about 42 seconds. FC clearly has some speed and some strength which makes me curious what kind of relays they will try this spring. Although I see a lot of strong teams in the 4x8 in District 7, no one has blown me away yet. Fox Chapel has a 1:50 type anchor which means, realistically, an average of 2:02ish for their other legs gets them to 7:55 and right there for the district title. Plus the DMR could be an interesting event for these guys if they can find the right competition. I'd be curious to see Graca maybe on a 1200m leg with another strong runner in Halasowski on the 16.

Haverford Invitational
Big wow for Dylan Eddinger. He killed it this weekend running 1:57 and winning by roughly 6 seconds over Quentin Francis (2:03 and 53.29 in the same day). Eddinger looks great to start the season after his 1:55.00 this past indoors. Honestly, I think this guy is a 1:53 type talent this year with big potential to drop time looking ahead. He's run lots of fast times when relatively unchallenged, now he just needs to learn to race in the right spots.

Liam Galligan took a dominating win in the 1600m, running 4:32 to beat Kyuande Johnson of Wissahickon who ran 4:40. Keep an eye on Johnson this outdoors at 800m based on the kind of times he was splitting during indoors. His teammate Harmon ran 2:04 in the open 8, holding his own against some guys with 2 flat type PRs from this winter. That's a nice start to a relay for Wiss who also has Marcelis and Christopher along with some deep talent at 400m that could potential try to move up. Galligan is just a soph and looks great to start the year. Also looking good to start the year was Jon Perlman, running 9:48 for the big win in the 3200m.

Radnor's 8:25 win in the 4x8 was very encouraging as well. This team is an early sleeper in the 4x8 out of the always loaded District One, especially if Holm returns to 1:56/4:20 type form.

Tim Cook
So ... I'm a little confused. Looks like Carlisle had a busy Saturday? Matt Wisner and Zach Brehm combined to take 1-2 in the open 800m at Tim Cook in Chambersburg on the same day that their relay ran 11:04 at PW. Take that as you will. Wisner ran 2:00 for the victory and Brehm ran 2:02 for second. Junior Thomas Nicewicz of Mechanicsburg hung nicely in 2:03 for 3rd.

Pumped to see Will Sponaugle back in action for Hershey. The near state medalist in XC has a sub 16 5k PR and has run in the low 4:20s or so. He and teammate Adam Rabon (state qualifier indoors in the mile) took 1-2 at the meet at 4:43. Those two and Aiden Demko (15:40 during cross and a state medalist) make for a dangerous relay. Demko was 4th in the 3200m in 10:15. Scroll down a bit and you can see they did just that, opening the season with a dominating 8:23 4x8 victory over Chambersburg (8:34).

The winner of that 3200m was Dan Filler of Gettysburg. Filler had a very strong XC season and gets an impressive win over guys like Gabriel Allgayer (sub 16 during XC), Demko and Joe Deangelo of Carlisle.

DTWest Invitational
The home team represented well at the invite, led by super frosh Josh Hoey. He ran 1:59 to win the 800m over Sean McGinnis of Phoenixville who also broke the 2 minute barrier. Ryan Barton added a gold in the 1600m, winning in 4:29. Those times were two of the fastest we saw in those events this weekend state wide (although it's important to remember this meet was held on Friday night) and is especially encouraging for Barton. Barton got overlooked this indoors while the team transitioned in the Hoeys and Sappey continued to emerge, but don't forget that Ryan Barton was a stud during XC, finishing in the top 40 at states and providing one of the key breakthroughs in their 4th place finish. Freshman Liam Conway continues to show improvement, running 4:34 for second in that 16 and Shaun Bullock runs 7 seconds faster than his seed to clock 4:35. Adding Matt Farrell's 4:38 gives the DT West boys 3 sub 4:40s for the weekend without Sappey or Hoey. Nice display of depth for West.

Alex Knapp wins the 3200m in 9:48 with teammate Will Swart second in 9:52. Most of the Henderson guys are likely at their best over 3200m and this outdoors they should be able to focus more on that event without the DMR in play. Austin Maxwell, a solid runner from Kennent, has a nice run in 9:53 for third and another one of DTW's key XC contributors Ben Ryherd ran 9:54. Charlie Barton was next behind him in 10:04.

The 4x8 results were solid as well. Twin Valley opted for DTW instead of PW and likely made the right choice, winning with an 8:16. Bishop Shanahan continues their relay excellence, running 8:17 for second. DT East takes third in 8:21. Those are solid marks for this point in the season and all of these teams will hope to continue to drop time if they are going to be come factors in the play off picture.

Paul Power dominated the Mile at Brother Jerome, running a fantastic 4:31 to win by roughly 30 seconds. Nice start to Power's spring after an encouraging indoor campaign that included a sub 8:50 3k and a nice win in the mile at Burdette. The Easton boys had a strong dual meet and are showing nice depth at a variety of distances. An Easton 4x8 could be on the horizon for the future. The District 11 picture is going to be a lot of fun with Easton, Emmaus, Whitehall, and Pleasant Valley among others (like Wilson, D11). That should be a fun battle when things get cranking in an area that I'm quite familiar with thanks to my college days.

One final note. Some of you may heard about the t-shirts I have made. I will be giving some follow up information on the shirts sometime this week. So feel free to be on the lookout for that if you are interested in those. Also feel free to follow me on twitter for the latest updates/pictures. Hopefully they turn out ok.

2:10 AM in China

I won't pretend I'm up to date on the latest talk for the IAAF World Championships in XC, but it doesn't mean I won't watch! Even though if I want to watch it live, I'll have to stay up until 2:10 tonight to account for the 12 hour time difference. It might be worth it to see how well Chris Derrick can do and if he is ready to take a leap at some point this year or continue to be very good and not great on the world stage. As a Derrick fan I'm rooting for that whole leap thing.

Anyway, there's a great preview on let's run for the event and that also has stream information. Assuming I'm still awake (I feel asleep last night in the middle of the Zona v. Xaiver game  with Xaiver leading, woke up as they were interviewing the Arizona coach after the win, I was very confused), I'll probably be flipping through my internet set of links (letsrun, watchathletics, tracktalk) and see if I can find a way to stream it live.

Pumped for the first world championships of 2015!

Let it Snow! With Previews!

By etrain11

Spring track is finally here! And it's nice to get some preview action going on the blog. Big shout to Sean Collins for already putting out the two best posts that the "etank" section as seen in blog history. Click on over and check it out. He does an excellent job previewing the PTFCA Classic action for the short stuff in that section. 

I will be covering the distance events in my own post and although the forecast is calling for potentially more snow this weekend, I remain cautiously optimistic because outdoor track is finally upon us! I took a look at the performance list and here are my thoughts about the potential distance line up for the season's opener.

I'm not sure if they have switched up the schedule, but I believe that this meet usually has the DMR as the first event and the 4x8 as the first event after an early afternoon lunch break, meaning these two events will be the first distance events (and more importantly, I doubt we will see two stacked distance relays from the same team).

Here are the key teams I picked out flipping through the list briefly over lunch:
DMR: Carlisle, CR South, Masterman, Methacton
4x8: Cheltenham, Malvern Prep, Neshaminy, Twin Valley, Masterman, Penn Wood, Methacton, Wilson (3)

For the DM it appears we will see the beginnings of what I believe is the most intriguing sub plot of early spring: can this Carlisle DMR get to Penn? It's a tough question because obviously this team is hoping for district and state glory at the end of May (and perhaps more in June for Brehm), but the window for Penn is small and there are only so many warm weather meets where you can get yourself into position. 

The key here is Wisner, who was one of the biggest break out stars of the year. If memory he serves, he lost one indoor race all year and it was in the middle heat at Nats where he ran low 1:55s in a crowded heat that was won in 1:51. Yikes. And honestly, Wisner might be just as good at the mile in the right race, I think he has the strength. He has potential to get you well under 3:10. Brehm at nats was still a mid to low 4:20s leg on the anchor and that's pretty good. Start a team with 3:10 and 4:20 and you need 52 2:08 to get to 10:30 assuming I can do basic math. The Penn barrier is usually 10:30ish and it probably will be faster this year. Keep in mind PA has already had O'Hara, Stoga, SJ Prep, DTW, and Malvern Prep at or under 10:30 ... Throw in Pennsbury who can get there if they want to and CB East (Brophy looked he killed that anchor leg at states on tired legs and they sacrificed some dudes in the open races indoors) and you have the deepest pool of relays in recent memory (even if no one is 10:00/10:05 good). Plus there inevitably will be a team that surprises their way to a sub 10:30 mark like CB South 2011 who broke 10:20 and nearly stole a PR Wheel from the great CBA thanks to Waddington and Gregor just being straight gutsy dudes.

Look, this isn't gonna be the meet where sub 10:30 is hit (as far as I can tell anyway), but you gotta get reps in at any event to get really good at it, especially the 1200m.

Also in the DMR might be A teams from CR South, Masterman or Methacton. I like this CR South squad. They were quite good last indoors but just got overshadowed in a deep race (I wish there was a DM somewhere at outdoor states ...) They also have some youth with guys still finding themselves on the top stage. This outdoors could be big for Hanna and MaGuire as they get more comfortable as top notch guys. Methacton is my sleeper here depending on if they play their cards here or fold.

As for the 4x8, do you guys mind if I maintain an irrational hope that we see a serious Cheltenham 4x8 this year? Ok awesome thanks. Chelt in 2013 had a sneaky good 4x8 with young Lewis running a huge 2nd leg and that was before he took the leap to multiple 1:50s and state championships. And they have other dudes who can stretch to 800m (Kyle Davis ran 2:01ish indoors in like December). Give them 1:50-1:58-2:02-2:02 and you're looking at 7:52. Give then 1:48-1:57-2:00-2:00 and you are looking at 7:45. 

 But the 4x8 doesn't gel with the team championship motto and probably doesn't make sense for state record pursuits. But it would be fun to see Lewis back on the long relay.

Malvern Prep could potentially be doing 4x8 here (McDevitt and Wills entered in some serious underdistance at 4 and 800) and considering the splits I saw online from nats (Doane clocked in 2 flatish) this team can get to sub 7:50 outdoors in warm weather. At this point however, seeing as they aren't PIAA, I would think the plan is something along the lines of: get a solid 4x8 mark as an assurance for the small school entries, try to boost the DM to make sure we get in at Penn and if not hopefully Billy can toe the line in the open mile. 

McDevitt beat Sauer in the 800m prior to states. He is an excellent miler, but the dude has sneaky good speed. 1:55.1 flat track suggests 1:52ish outdoors (at least considering Sauer ran 1:52 indoors). How would MP feel about a possible McDevitt and Wills switcharoo on the DM legs? Probably wouldn't try it, but it's fun to think about.

Neshaminy and Twin Valley are two teams I'm keeping a close eye on this outdoors. Both were very good indoors but just missed that step from good to great. Sleeper team is definitely Wilson from D3 behind Nick Mahon. 

Kyle Shinn comes in as the likely favorite after an excellent indoor season. He will be matched up with Julian Degroot-Lutzner in a battle of two of the best AA milers in the state. Both men will be trying to get their times under 4:20 this year as they have to deal with a stud in Perretta and strength monster in Curtin this outdoors. That means you gotta be able to kick and you have to be able to run a strength race too.

Shinn, who I kinda thought was a 2 miler last year, is doubling back in the 800m which I find very exciting. Wyomissing had a nice 4x8 last year so Shinn has got speed (and when you can run 4:22ish that also means you got speed) and the down distance should be a valuable training tool looking ahead to states.

The 800m also has the aforementioned Nick Mahon of Wilson, Ahmere Ponzo of Penn Wood and Colin Wills. Ponzo has been strong this year indoors and will look to duplicate a Cristian Hunter type season (1:55ish) as a 4/8 guy who can contribute to a top school in both events. That PW 4x4 at indoor nationals was sick and that training group brings out the best in everyone.

Keep an eye on Joe MaGuire in the mile, especially if his team doesn't run an A squad in the DM. 

The 32 at this meet tends to produce some top marks and some excellent competition. The headliners in that one are Jack DiCintio of Wyomissing and Andrew Hanna of CR South. The big story here will likely be DiCintio's return to the track after a stellar XC season that included an impressive silver at states in AA. With Shinn as a training partner, the junior has strong help in the speed department to couple with his excellent strength. It doesn't look like anyone is beating Hockenbury from the current crop of AA kids (with the exception of a healthy Molino), but DiCintio is a big time sleeper to challenge if he picks up where he left off in the fall. This is the first step towards that goal.

But Andrew Hanna has his own tale to tell as he looks to confirm he is a top tier 2 miler after multiple strong 3ks in the winter including a PR under 9 minutes. For those of you who don't know, D1 is loaded again this year and the 32 is always a grueling SQS to land. I don't expect CR South to be a legit 4x8 contender this outdoors (although if they decided to try they would have a good team) which means Hanna gets his chance to focus on the 32 after making team sacrifices indoors in favor of the medley. 

The sleeper here is Methacton's Jeff Kirshenbaum. He closed out his indoor season impressively, including a clutch run at Meet of Champs and has momentum building in the right direction. He had some brilliant races in the fall as well, showing he has great potential if things are clicking.

PA Track Classic Preview

By Sean Collins


I don’t pretend to be as much of an expert as some of the other writers, but I wanted to give a preview of the Classic at P-W this week. If I forgot you, I apologize and hope that you prove me wrong by winning this weekend.


Girls Sprints/Hurdles:

The Girls 100 appears to be lacking a single indoor state qualifier in the 60m and will likely not be a strong event, especially with the cold expected this weekend. In terms of guessing a winner,  look to someone wearing a Norristown,Methacton, or Neshaminy jersey to cross the line first, as total 14 of the 32 competitors. I know this is weak reporting here, but this is not the event to highlight this weekend.


The 200m, however is stacked much more heavily with Taylor Chapman of Pennridge and Jayana Webb of Norristown, both state medalists from indoor. Chapman is debatably the best sprinter in the state right now and should standout but Webb will provide stiff competition in her first HS outdoor race. Another name to watch is Chapman’s teammate Ariana Przybylowski.Przybylowski is known most for being a stellar long jumper, but is a very good sprinter, and should held Pennridge this season redeem themselves after the DQ fiasco at states in the 4x100m. (Note*: The officials wrongly disqualified them after the exchange happened within the zone). Look to Chapman to come out on top.


400: If you thought the 200m had a big star, think again. The 400 stars with Springside Chestnut Hill’s Brooklyn Broadwater after her amazing runs this indoor season. I expect her to run away with the event. If Broadwater falters, expect UcheNwogwugwu of North Penn to take the gold, as she finished 4that this year’s indoor states.


100H: This race should be a dogfight between NicoletteSerratore of Methacton and Alyssa Zukowski of Neshaminy. Both of these runners advance to PSU in the 60h this winter and should contest a strong hurdle race in the cold weather. Serratorehas been on the national stage before in the heptathlon and that experience may provide a slight edge with the nerves of the first race of the outdoor season.


300H: With there being no long hurdle event indoors, I expected not to recognize too many names in this event. This combined with the lack of practice time over the intermediates should provide tough conditions for a fast time. BUT WAIT! Coming right off the 400m, Brooklyn Broadwater will also be contesting the 300h. I have no prediction for a time, but if she doesn’t win I would be greatly surprised. Would say anything 46 or above is probably a disappointment for her, even after coming off the 400.


Boys Sprints:

100m:  only needed to see one name to know who is going to win this race. Christian Brissett. While the Cheltenham girls are not running, the boys are and I expect Brissett to put the hammer down and set the bar high for people to get this season. Sub 11. I’m calling it.


200m: The men’s 200 is the men’s equivalent to the women’s 100m. There does not appear to be any big names here, allowing someone to really prove themselves on the big stage. That’s all I have to say here… Sorry guys. Provide a result to talk about!


400m: This race features 3 Penn Wood runners and after their 3rdplace at NBIN in the 4x4, I have to imagine that one of these guys is going to run 50.?? . Another interesting addition to the race is Billy McDevitt of Malvern Prep. He has focused on longer distances all of indoor and I expect him to only be getting some speed work in early in the season. I’d be surprised to see anything faster than 50.9 from him, and in the next couple of weeks, we should see him back in the distance races again. Sean Conway of Neshaminy is an outsider for the win as well.


110H: Kornelias Klah of Pennsbury and Malik Jefferson of Swenson Arts and Technology are the two main favorites for the title in my opinion. Swenson knows how to put out amazing hurdlers on the female side and I don’t know why that can’t transition to the men. Klah did not have the best season indoors, but he is still a fantastic hurdler. He is my pick to win the title.


300H: Of all the events, I am most excited about this one. It is absolutely STACKED. John Lewis, Cordell Richardson (both of Cheltenham), Andrew Dillon (Norristown), Malik Jefferson (Swenson), and Kornelias Klah (Pennsbury). If I am correct, all of these athletes have won a state medal at some point and this race is absolutely stacked. I just can’t get over how fast this race is going to be. I would be dumbfounded if a 38 second race isn’t run if the wind is low. My pick is Lewis for the win, but I wouldn’t be surprised if any of these guys took the win.

March Madness

By etrain11

March Madness is one of my favorite times of the year. I love when the bracket comes out and we all analyze and obsess over the match ups. I love filling out my bracket and carefully justifying each pick. I love watching the crazy opening round games and seeing that carefully designed bracket be uncarefully demolished. Even right now when I'm currently in that, "Well if this, this and this happen I can still have a decent bracket" I'm still hooked.

However, the tournament is not the most efficient way to crown the best team. Everybody has off says and if your off day comes at the wrong time, it's game over. How many years does the best team actually win the tourney?  But who cares because it's fun, heartpounding, money making action!

So naturally as I'm watching the thing, I ask myself, how can we get something like this in the running community? We certainly could use the money and the fans. But of course a bracket style championship will never be realistic in our sport. First off all and most obviously, it's too much racing. Top tier proves often can not even be bothered with the US championships when it doesn't mean qualifying for worlds, so how the heck are we gonna convince them to hop in a biweekly bracket? And college is basically the same way. In XC teams wait the entire year to actually race all out half the time. Always saving up for NCAAs and running B squads and blah, blah, blah. No way you are getting a tourney system there.

Plus running doesn't work 1 v 1 in an individual setting. Like imagine a 1 on 1 10k right now or a 1 on 1 marathon. Even a 1 on 1 1500m would be frustrating. Like a Will Leer v Robby Andrews match would probably be 5 minute pace until the last 250m. Yikes. I'll pass on that.

There's other reasons too probably, but, eh, I'm not here to talk about all of our boring facts, I want to talk about the fun stuff! So let's pretend that we could hypothetically do a running bracket? Everyone would sign up and go all out. What's the best way to set it up?

Idea One: Track Dual Meet Bracket
This would be a traditional march madness bracket where two track teams compete in a traditional dual meet. Dual meets can be fun, there a variety of events and you really need to have depth across the board to have success, especially over the course of an entire bracket. Plus there would be fun meet to meet variation. Like one week O'Hara could choose to run KJ in the 16 and 32 and the next the 4x8, 8 and 4x4 all just depending on match ups. John Lewis can decide which hurdles or sprints to do. 

And if they ever made pro track teams how valuable would Ashton Eaton be in that thing? Seems like an easy #1 pick 

I think the WPIAL already has something like this going on for their team title competition in the track? It's a better true representative of how we decide district and state team titles nowadays honestly, it's just more racing and more impractical.

Idea 2: The XC Team Bracket
This one is the #1 will never happen but I wish it would event of all running related ideas. Seriously though, how fantastic would this be? 
A slew of dual meets, often decided by 1 or 2 points were 6th and 7th runners become very valuable rather than just, well on the off chance we tie you better run well (a point that seems incredibly foolish given the fact that we have had two state titles decided on 6th man tie breakers but there is no such thing as a 7th man tie breaker so ...)

Say you think dual meets are too small, you like the feel of a larger meet. Well you can have 4 team match ups and then the final four would be an even bigger deal because the final four is also the championship. 

You can set up 64 teams selected by a selection committee (creating lots of drama and controversy and good blogging material) then you have 4 regions and some awesome match ups. Plus you get rid of classifications and let kids just race to see who is the best.

Throw Malvern Prep, Stoga, NA and O'Hara as one seeds last year give 2 seeds to something like Hempfield, CV, Easton, DTW, 3 seeds to Lebo, Canon Mac, CBW and WCH and 4 seeds to LaSalle, CRN, CBE and York Suburban ... Think about those potential semi final rounds ... Stoga v Lebo v LaSalle v Easton at Carlisle's course? And then a state final at Hershey? 

If you did the seeding prior to districts/states you could get some serious cinderellas. Think about Winchester Thurston emerging as a study squad as say an 11 or 12 and just running train on some unsuspecting teams. I'm hooked!

But will never, ever happen. Too much racing. Too much subjective seeding/qualifying. Too much traveling. And no room for guys like Dom Hockenbury or Griffin Molino to get involved. 

Guess we will just have to settle for that XC meet of champs ...

Idea 3: 4x800m Madness
Here's one of the crazier ideas. Take the top 64 800m times in the state and put them in order from 1 to 64. Then pair them off into groups of 4 based on those marks (for example 1, 32, 33 and 64 would be a squad) and now you have 16 4x8s. Get everybody together at Ship and either make match ups between 4 teams or 8 teams and have a 2 day event to decide a champ. 

I'd be totally in on Francis v Logue v Wiseman v Brehm v Perretta on an anchor leg of a relay. Like think about it, how often does Perretta get to run relays? He's got a small team. But what if you surround him with studs and give him the stick in the thick of things with monsters of the game? It would be phenomenal.

Idea 4: Random Relay Fun
Take some teams that have great distance (or sprint) depth and throw them in the bracket. Each round the relay is randomly chosen (say one round a 4x8, the next a DMR, the next a 4x16 or maybe a super DMR with 2400, 800, 1600, 3200 or who knows go crazy)

Seriously who wins that? I mean 2014 Henderson almost definitely wins that (especially that super DMR holy cow), but in 2015 you wouldn't be interested to see Pennsbury mold their line up into a million shapes. 

And of course any of these ideas could be expanded to collegiates, professionals, or even me and my Robby Andrews action figure collection set.

I know they will never happen, but it can't hurt to dream can it?

Now let's throw these ideas in a bracket and see who wins.

Year of the Vault

By Sean Collins

It’s the #YearoftheVault! Here’s Why?

When it comes to PA track and field, the pole vault is one of the most varying events in terms of talent level. Sometimes, athletes like Chris Williams are attempting state records as the last event of the state meet (was vaulting as the 4x4s finished), while other years a height of 15-0 is far and away the best in the state. On a more general note, pole vault is possibly the most technical event of all in our sport. It requires daring, concentration, strength, body control, and technical precision. In almost all other events, someone can “out-effort” the rest to win the competition. But pole vault is different, which makes it so impressive that 2015 indoor has provided records in almost all high school and collegiate categories.

2015’s first records were set by collegiate duo Demi Payne of Stephen F. Austin and Sandi Morris of Arkansas. After starting the year with the NCAA record around 4.50m (14-11 ish), Payne and Morris both broke the record multiple times during the year. Morris ended with a personal best of 4.66m (15-3.5) as the second best collegiate vaulter in history. This mark was easily overshadowed though by the incredible season of Payne. Payne broke the NCAA at least 4 times this indoor season, ending with a PR of 15-7, 4.75m. What’s even more impressive is Payne not only set the collegiate record, but she also won the USATF indoor championships beating Olympic medalist Jenn Suhr.


Payne wasn’t the only collegiate record holder at the end of 2015 though. University of Akron’s Shawn Barber became the first collegian to ever vault over 5.90m by going 5.91m (19-4.75) and becoming the first collegian ever to attempt 6.00m. While his attempts at 6.00m failed, attempting such a height stop is a huge accomplishment and is a challenge to the collegiatevaulters of the future to break the 6 meter barrier. And sadly we won’t be seeing Shawn Barber in the red, white and blue as he is a Canadian, but expect to see Barber in World Championship and Olympic finals for next 10+ years.


The next men to challenge that 6 meter barrier might just be a trio of high school vaultersDeakin Volz of Indiana and Paulo Benavides of New Mexico who traded the National High School record multiple times this season. Early in the season DeakinVolz stole the national record from then record holder Devin King (now graduated and jumping for Southeast Louisiana) at a height of 17-10.75. A mere 3 hours later, Paulo Benavides took to the runway in New Mexico and beat out Volz’s height by a quarter inch, jumping 17-11 stealing the record away. Finally,Volz and Benavides competed face to face at the Armory at NBIN. That day, Volz got the better of Benavides and the National High School record at 17-11.25.


The final man in this high school trio is Armand Duplantis, a freshman national record holder at 16-9.5. More than Volz and Benavides, Duplantis is the future of USA pole vault. I expect this man to be the first high schooler over 18 feet. He might even do it as a junior. Talking about him as a Superman type in the vault seems extreme, but his freshman year heights are incredible. His heights, and the duo of national record holders have overshadowed the other 17 foot vaulters in a way that’s unfair to these master athletes, but deservedly for those three.

The real question might be: “What in the world does this have to do with PA track and field?”

On the surface, nothing. But, PA had Ryan Wilkes of Valley View jump 16-6 at NBIN and gain zero national attention. Wilkes’ jump appears to be #2 all-time indoors in PA, and tied #2 indoor and outdoor combined. Wilkes and the rest of the #YearoftheVault is inspiring a huge number of vaulters to pick up this sport. We may not see the results in the next year, but just wait until 2018 when the freshmen from this season take the stage as seniors with all the inspiration these athletes have given them.


Vault high. I dare you.