Henderson Discussion Thread

Realistically speaking I'm not sure I can bang out a quality Henderson preview in time to get discussion brewing so I'll just throw up the discussion thread now.

I will share predictions in the discussion piece interactively as we go. 

Some questions: who wins each event? Who are the top PA performers? How fast does Ritz go? Anyone break 9? What are other top times? Who are the sleepers? Will etrain just keep putting up questions of no one tells him to stop?

As always stay classy, 

Road Race Season

By etrain11

I'm in a post collegiate stage of my running career. I have an actual career to worry about and a few big boy chores to take care of now that I'm paying rent and putting money in a 401k. Without the thrill of competition, I'd never be able to keep myself running on any sort of consistent basis. Just ask winter Jarrett. But now that I'm full set into spring, I'm all on a jam packed road race schedule and working my way back to respectability.

Road races are interesting animals, especially for someone who has been intensely immersed in the sport of competitive distance running. For me when I attend a road race, it's kind of like a college basketball walk-on floating around to join various pick up games. He's going to be near the top of a decent amount of games, certainly holding his own and some games he probably is the clear best player. But every once in a while he will roll through some particularly talented neighborhood and remember why he went and got a real job.

Out here on Long Island, despite the fact that I've been oscillating at various fitness levels, I've managed to have a decent chunk of success. I won a few races and placed highly and others. But to be fair, it's not like I'm strolling up to Rucker Park every week.

When I get to the race site, I'm instantly on the lookout for the other top dudes. Usually you can pick them out based on a few key qualities: age, shoe choice and clothing. My basic "I really don't want to lose to this guy" checklist 
- If you are wearing those feet shoes. 
- If you don't race in short shorts
- If you run a 5k in a GPS watch
- If you went to Wissahickon HS
- If you run with an iPod 
- If you are a girl
(for the record I've lost to all these types of dudes...)

Look, I'm not trying to be offensive, but as a man and a competitor, it's kinda hard to swallow getting your butt kicked by a girl. Trust me, I've gotten my butt kicked by girls and will continue to do so in the future. My current PRs in my best distance events would make me an average professional and my current PRs in my worst distance events would make me an above average 10th grade high school girl. 

Once, I was coming down the final straightaway at the Phil's Tavern 5k and was trying valiantly to outkick the top girl. Meanwhile, the meet officials were trying to bring out the tape for the top girl to break as champion. You know what happened? I outkicked her barely and ended up accidentally breaking her winners tape in 32nd overall. Not my proudest moment of chivalry. 

My friends are eagerly awaiting the day when my girlfriend (national qualifier in college for XC) beats me in a race. That's happening sometime within the next 3-5 years I'm sure. Eventually I'll get married and have kids. That's what I'm more dreading, the day long in the future when my daughter blows my doors off in a race for the first time. Assuming that she even wants to be a runner. Who am I kidding she is going to be half me?

Regardless, I scope out those runners, look around for kids doing drills or real jogging in sweats and start to keep a mental count of what place I'm in and who I have to beat out. If I can see your bib number a half hour out from race time I'm not too concerned about you. If you're super muscular and bulky I'm not afraid of you. Well, literally speaking I am definitely afraid of you, but race wise I'm more intimidated by the wiry kid who barely fills out his singlet.

Then we get out there and race. A 5k road race is just like any other race I've done. You have the kids who go out way over their head. You have the dudes who wait in the back and pick everyone off. You have that dude who after your done you think, how the heck is that guy good? And you have that dude who after the race, you gotta shake his hand because you just battled it out. I always try to shake hands with the guys around me win or lose ... But I hate losing and have been a sore loser since my 1st grade birthday party so I mean ....

Then you have awards. Look, at this point in my life medals and trophies and stuff just take up space in my already small apartment. That may sound cocky or something like that, but you will see what I'm talking about one day, I promise. Medals are only cool when they are tied to a great memory. That's because the memory is important, not the medal.

But all the same, if I can get some money or some gift cards or a hook up like that I'm all about it. I got a 100 dollar gift card to whole foods last time out. Your welcome mom.

My favorite part is when they announce times. If it's a race like the ones I've been in lately, when they announce "18:15" as the winning time people are gasping and clapping while I shamefully walk up and get my award more embarrassed that people think that's a big deal than anything else. When you are at a good meet and they announce the winning time is 17:30, people are similarly gasping or clapping for the winning girl who probably is also kinda embarrassed that people are making a big deal out of 17:30.

Road races are kinda a classic example of how running is so relative. What's good for me could be a PR for you but it also could be something you just ran in a workout. Both types of people exist. But what makes running great is when we all get together, everybody is cheering for everybody else like they are all the top dogs. There's a million different stories in a road race, and while some of them are less "finish under 16" and more "finish", it's a constant reminder that the sport is about setting and achieving goals. It's about getting the most out of yourself on a given day. 

So yeah, I'm done wearing jerseys and going to practice, but I'm never done competing. I'm never done enjoying the company of others who want to better themselves and are willing to work for it. So, hopefully, this is the start of a beautiful relationship with road racing. 

The Patented etrain Number Crunch: 4x800m

By etrain11


If you are reading this blog, I hope that at least some part of you likes the various numbers associated with the sport and the power of history, consistency and randomness. I’ve been following the sport since 2007 and, as a huge fan of the 4x8, I decided to crunch some numbers on the AAA 4x800m relay. So here is a little breakdown of some fun facts that I noticed from my study. As always, I’m just throwing out numbers, these are not predictions or opinions, but facts. I will allow you to project what this could or could not mean for the future …


1) District One Dominates at States

Wow, real ground breaking stuff right off the bat from train. But it’s nice to put numbers behind the theory. Since 2007, District One has contributed 52.6% of the finalists in the 4x8 and 57.8% of the medalists. The next best mark is District Three who has contributed 22.7% and 18.8% respectively. And there is depth out of the district as well. In the past 8 years, District One has had 28 different teams make it to the finals at states, providing a wide variety of squads at the top level. District 3 has had 10 different teams and District 7 has had 5. An average state final by the numbers is approximately 6 D1 teams, 3 D3, 1 D7, 1 D12, 1 D6.


North Penn is the only team to win to titles during this time period (2007 and 2008), CB West is the only team to finish in the top three on three different occasions (2008, 2010, 2011) and District One has grabbed 5 of the last 8 titles in the event (North Penn x2, CB South, CB West, Bensalem).


2) Consistency and longevity are program provers

I think like to think of it this way, high schools go through “generations” every four years. Everyone who was at Upper Dublin HS in 2010 is graduated by 2014, meaning the team has completely turned over. If you can make the state finals in multiple generations, that’s an impressive statement about a program developing talent. Here’s a list of schools with multiple generation finalists: North Penn, Cumberland Valley, State College, Henderson, Penncrest, Central Dauphin, Cedar Crest, Carlisle and North Allegheny. Even more impressive, North Penn, Cumberland Valley, State College, Henderson, Penncrest and Carlisle have multiple generation medalists and North Penn, Henderson and Penncrest have multiple generation top 5 teams.


Cumberland Valley and North Penn have made 5 of the last 8 finals, the most of the time period, while State College and Penncrest are next with 4. The past 8 years, there has only been one state final (2010) that didn’t include at least one of North Penn or Cumberland Valley. State College and Pennridge are the only teams to make 3 of the last 4 state finals dating back to 2011, while Central Dauphin and Cedar Crest are the only teams to make 3 finals during this time frame without any back to back appearances. In this paragraph, I’ve mentioned 5 of the last 8 state champions. That’s not a coincidence seeing as each team that won a state championship between 2007 and 2014 made it to at least two other finals during that time span.


North Penn’s 4 top 5 finishes and two state titles puts them in pole position for the best relay school of my era, but State College is ascending as well with 4 medaling squads since 2007 including three straight medal relays dating back to 2012. In fact, State College and North Penn are the only teams to medal in three straight finals dating back to 2007 (Pennsbury is the only squad eligible to join that group this season with a medal at this year’s championships). It’s worth noting that 2007-2008-2009 was at the tail end of an absolute dynasty from North Penn, but recent history shows dominance like that for any team is fading …


3) Consistency and longevity are really hard to achieve

It’s really hard to stay at the top. Since 2009, only one team has made it to the state finals the year after winning the state championship (2012-2013 Cumberland Valley) and no team has won back to back titles since North Penn in 2007-2008, the very edge of this era. No team has made it to 4 straight state finals, meaning no one has sustained success for an entire generation (North Penn, CV, SC, Abington and LaSalle have done 3 straight). 51 different teams have made at least one state final over the past 8 seasons (97 finals spots) and 26 teams, over a quarter of the spots, made just one finals within that 8 year period. Each year there has been at least one team that was a unique one-time qualifier, and on average the number is 3.25 relative newbies.


The generational thing really jumps out when you consider 2015 would be the next generation after 2011 and all 8 medalists from the 2011 finals have not made it back to the finals since, including some squads with nice histories (the full list of squad: CB West, Abington, LaSalle, Hershey, Easton, CB South, Penn Hills and Strath Haven). The 9th place team, North Penn, didn’t climb back to the finals until 2014. What’s particularly interesting is many of those 2011 “drought” teams, seem to be back on the rise this year. CB West was a COA qualifier, LaSalle and Abington had strong showings at Penn, Hershey and Strath Haven were Penn Relays qualifiers and Penn Hills is atop m sleeper picks for this season.


4) Experience never hurts

As hard as it is for teams to maintain dominance, the teams that have good stretches, really take advantage. In an average year during this time span, nearly 3.5 teams from the previous year’s final return the next year, with a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 5. Twenty-five different schools have made multiple state finals and 92% of those schools left with at least one medal. State College has medaled in 4 out of 4 finals that they qualified for with CB West, CB South and Baldwin all going three for three. Teams like LaSalle, Abington and CB West have had stretches of steady improvement each year after making it back to the finals.


And just to reiterate, teams that have won the title dating back to 2007, have all qualified for a prior state finals within that generation and five of the last 7 state champions were medalists the previous year at Shippensburg.


5) This list may surprise you: the list of 3 time finalists

The individuals who drive great relays are not often the names you would expect. From 2007 to 2009, here are the runners who ran in 3 separate state finals for the 4x8 (note that I’m not positive on these, so I starred those I was making an assumption for):


Joe Logue, Pennridge (2011, 2012, 2014), Open PR: 1:51 (best known split 1:51)

Mato Bekelja, Hershey (2008*, 2010, 2011), Open PR: 1:53 (best known split 1:52)

Will Cather, State College (2012, 2013, 2014), Open PR: 1:54 (best known split 1:52)

Brian Quintrell, North Penn (2007, 2008, 2009), Open PR: 1:55 (best known split 1:53)

Mark Fuller, Cumberland Valley (2007, 2008, 2009), Open PR: 1:55 (best known split 1:54)

Kyle Adams, State College (2012, 2013, 2014), Open PR: 1:56 (best known split 1:56)

Chris Muggler, LaSalle (2009*, 2010, 2011), Open PR: 1:57 (best known split 1:55)

Tevin Smith, Abington (2009, 2010, 2011), Open PR: 1:59 (best known split 1:55)


Considering all the amazing 800m talent we have had in the past 8 years, in may surprise you to see some of the names both on and off this list. I think it speaks to a variety of things. First, and perhaps most obviously, it truly takes a team effort to succeed in the 4x8. One runner is important, but a super-star alone won’t carry a team to the finals every year. You also need a special kind of athlete who thrives on the relays and is willing to sacrifice some of his individual glory in exchange for bigger things on the team side. These guys certainly fit that description. And, of course, you need a little bit of luck. The fact that sophomore year Quintrell came along just in time to crack his team’s back to back state title squad is at least a little bit of luck. It’s really hard to be good enough to make a top tier 4x8 as a freshman or sophomore in high school, but these guys pulled it off and now get the pay off of being featured in this post! What a victory!


6) Bonus fun fact!

Since the PCL joined in 2009, they have sent exactly one team to the state 4x8 finals every single year. And those teams each have come in order: LaSalle 3x 2009-2011, O’Hara 2x 2012-2013, St. Joe’s Prep 1x 2014. I found that cool at least …

So there you have it track fans, enjoy your history lesson for the day.

Wait Penn Relays Wasn't the Only Meet This Weekend?

By etrain11

There was plenty of non Penn Relays related action that can't go overlooked among all the hype. So let's take a look at the mass of events that took place outside of my gaze.

Dom Peretta continues to grab the spotlight, dominating a pair of races, including a nearly 10 second victory over XC rival Colten Trimble in the 1600m and, of course, the well publicized 1:53.50. I'm still convinced Peretta is a miler who hasn't gotten in the right race to reach a top PR (it's easier mentally to solo an 8 than a 16 for most runners). Maybe it happens at Baldwin or maybe I'm just wrong, but the lack of 3200ms this year suggests, at the very least, that Peretta sees himself as an 800m.

This was a nice reminder that Nathan Henderson is really good. He took double gold in the 1600m (against up and comer Ethan Gatchell) and the 3200m (against Hershey stand outs Sponaugle and Demko). The times were 4:24 and 9:27, the deuce being a very impressive mark. It's not out of the question to imagine Henderson as district champ this year in the 32. For the record did Sponaugle run Penn in the AM and then come back for this 32 or were they on different days? Could have sworn I saw that this meet was on a Friday ... If so, big props to Will on his 9:37.

Joe Espinal was one of my top sleeper picks in 2014 as a sophomore from Wilson. He hasn't quite blossomed into the mainstream the way I suspected, but he has run 1:55 in a dual meet and added a 4:27 victory over Ryan Paradise and Khai Samuels at ASD. He hung tough against Samuels in the 8 as well, with the 1:54 man ultimately getting the W in 1:57.95. This meet featured a quality late night 32 with Gabe Lamm getting a strong win in 9:48 over Seth Slavin (9:50). Aplaugh and Geiger also had strong showings in the event.

Ben Wilson gets a solid win in 4:29 over 1600m, but what jumps out at me is Theo Kioussis who continues to excel on the track, running a 4:31-9:53 double. I'm not positive where Kioussis is AA or not (thought he was during XC, but can't remember) but if he is, that makes him another factor in the deep 3200m field.

Pine Grove
Jim Thorpe, one of my early teams to watch in the AA 4x8, had winners in the 8, 16 and 32, but Minersville got the best of them in the 4x8. Minersville has some strong legs on that relay to battle Thorpe's depth. Should be a nice match up to watch looking ahead to districts.

Lakeland has a knack for putting it together in the mid distance. Mark Arzie gets the 800m gold in 2 flat, Nate Morgan grabs gold in the 16 in 4:28 (beating an excellent runner in Simon Smith) and their relays took the W in 8:33 for the 4x8 and a 3:25 4x4 to top things off. Morgan ran 4:21 last year and may have been able to grab a top 2 spot in the final if not for his busy relay schedule. The same thing applies this year, but maybe he will be a year stronger this go around. Jack Tidball runs 9:40 in the 32 and Scranton Prep's Ben Evans (excellent race at XC states) finishes second in 9:46. Keep an eye on Evans as another 32 contender.

Mars Invite
Over at the 4th planet from the Sun, Mike Kolor was doing some Martian like things in the 1600m, winning by 10+ seconds in a time of 4:16 over a field that included top tier talents like Heinauer, Mackey and Krist (4:26, 4:27, 4:26). Kolor has already run a 1:55.0 in a strong challenge of Graca at Butler and now adds the state leading 1600m mark, ahead of Jaxson Hoey's Warrior mark. Is anyone ready to crown a 1600m state champ? Because they shouldn't be, the thing is totally up for grabs and that makes me excited. 

In the 3200m Heinauer edged out Mackey 9:33 to 9:34. Mackey has already made a name for himself as a title contender in the AA 32 this spring, but Heinauer is quietly climbing into my top tier of guys in the state. He doesn't have the flashy time (yet), but he has a slew of quality wins and has nice speed at 1600m to couple with it. 

There were quite a few Penn Relays doubles that turned heads this weekend as pointed out by our own RJJLs comments on a previous post. Wills, one of the rising stars from Friday night, came back to add a 4:22 PR in the 16. His former teammate Josh Hoey added a PR in the 800m at 1:58.30 and Josh Coakley from Twin Valley clocked a 1:56.73 for the win in that event. As I mentioned before, Coakley is taking off as an individual for Twin Valley and we will see how long he stays tied to the relay.

Not to repeat too much of what RJJL discussed, but Diestelow had a very nice race for the victory in 1600m in a PR of 4:20. However, his spotlight was likely stolen from him by another West Chester runner in Jimmy Cook who blasted a 4:23 PR for third. I was impressed with Cook's 32 from a few weeks back, but I didn't see this kind of drop coming. That's awesome for him to hit an SQS type mark. Now the question becomes will SQS marks be fast enough to get to states out of D1? Will they even be fastest enough to get to the finals? Sounds like a mailbag question to me ...

Also worth noting was a strong 1600m from Unionville's Hall on his home track (4:26) and a nice run by Ilgenfritz in the 32 at 9:44.

Norwin is on the rise. 8:16 for the 4x8 in a solid win isn't breaking necks, but you can see the pieces starting to come together. Quealy ran an excellent 1:56 in a tight duel with Nick Wagner from Penn Trafford (took gold in 1:56 as well) and looks like a strong leader for his squad's relay. Also impressive was Eric Kennedy's double gold in 4:34-10:11.

It seems like Jeff VanKooten is rounding into killer shape. He likely ran a key leg on PCC's 8:10 1st place relay and then added a 9:30 win in the 3200m to show his range around his best event, the 16. Pitt CC is now a sleeper contender in the WPIAL 4x8 as well.

Mercyhurst Prep burst onto the scene this spring with a strong 8:15 4x8 and a statement day from Sebastian Curtin who ran 4:23 and 2:00 for the win. His brother Noah, a state medalist in XC, added a 4:36/9:54 double to the equation. After their impressive stretch run in XC that included a sub 16 by Seb Cur and a top tier team finish, it's hard to doubt this squad looking ahead. 

South Fayette
Shaun Hay of Winchester Thurston continues to excel and add another dimension to this loaded squad. He runs 4:34 for gold. Todd Gunzenhauser returns to indoor form in a big way, dropping a statement win in 9:38 over a very good runner in Jake Susalla (9:55).

Colin Abert is hitting his zone and much like Kanye the rest of the state does not want to let him get in his zone (see Paul Short for details). Abert adds a dominant 4:19 win to his 9:17 PR and continues to roll as a dangerous sleeper in whatever event he chooses. Personally, I'm hoping he goes 32 this year although history says 16 (seems like his preferred event). Nice run by Sean McGinnis of Phoenixville for 2nd (4:26) and Kevin Lapsansky had a strong showing in the 32 in his own right, running 9:46. 

Ethan Linderman looked great at this meet, clocking 4:26 and 9:43 in a double gold performance, edging out Nick Wolk by .01. Sean Hilverding was the silver medalist in the 32, running 9:45 (another big name to add into the loaded AA 32 crew). Cody Divecchio ran 4:38 and 10:02,  both solid times, but I think there is more to come from him. He hit his stride the last few weeks of XC and I wouldn't be surprised if something similar happens this outdoors.

Lock Haven
Mifflin County wins the 4x8 in 8:14, continuing to showcase some excellent competitiveness and drive. When they meet Altoona and SC at districts, they won't be intimidated. Maybe 3 teams qualify for states out of D6? Lewisburg's 8:22 caught my eye as well as a solid mark.

Dylan Gearinger stole the spotlight in the 16, roaring to a 4:24.1 victory over Quincy Amabile (4:27). Amabile added a 9:40 in the 32 to continue his killer outdoor campaign. But Gearinger should really turn heads with his win, he's an interesting mile wildcard by states.

Griffin Molino added a 1:56.7 to his resume with a convincing 800m victory. I'm curious what Molino plans to do for states as he has run the 32 the past two years but also boasts a 4:12 PR, roughly 7 seconds faster than reigning state champ Dom Peretta has run. We may get a better feel for Griff's plans if he runs Henderson again this weekend.

The real headline from the meet may have been Bryce Descavish's 9:34 3200m victory. That was an excellent run and catapults him to the top tier group of AA runners this spring. Wow this AA 32 is loaded ... Sounds like another made up mailbag question in the making.

Also small shout to John Lewis (absurd 52-47-47.0 triple), Dave Marrington (52 400 hurdles), Donovan St. Louis and others on great sprint performances at Penn. I called 5 straight heats correctly in the 4x4 thanks to you guys and my friends thought I knew way more than k should have.

Friday Night Lights: Penn Relays Recap Continues

By etrain11

Friday night the PA high schoolers get a chance to shine. My friend Charlie Kline and I managed to move down to front row seats as the place began to clear out and that meant we had a pretty nice view for the DMR, mile and 3k. 

The DMR featured 4 PA teams who fought valiantly in the field despite all being ranked at the back of the field. Colin Wills of Malvern Prep ran an awesome 1200m leg and got his team in it early. The rest of his squad did a strong job keeping the team on the hunt up front, but ultimately Daly's anchoring ability was enough to lift St. Joe's in front. 

Hind sight is always 20-20, but I would have been interested in a McDevitt 1200m-Wills 1600m swap. It's not conventional wisdom, but I think it could have paid off with the team picking up top PA honors. Regardless Wills is developing into a strong piece (I believe he came back to run 4:22 Saturday) and McDevitt has been great in open events this year. MP isn't PIAA, so hopefully we see some of this crew at Henderson MoC or maybe relay will ride it out until nationals in June.

The DMR season is over for PIAA teams which means that Stoga and Prep will have to either transition into individual events or switch gears to the speed oriented 4x8. That's a development worth keeping an eye on, especially considering Marston's individual potential in the 32 and Nelson's sleeper status in the 800. I think St. Joe's Prep is going to be dangerous in the 4x8. Fisher is probably a better 800m man than 1200 runner and although Daly is probably better longer, he did split 1:57 last year when he was not anywhere near the 4:15 guy he has become. 

GFS is still a young team and they are learning a lot this year. I felt that they actually had a pretty strong showing. If Hepp could have matched states (easier said than done I know) they would likely have finished as PA's top team. I thought their 800m leg fought well for his spot and Dahl managed to run a solid split despite being out the back.

In the mile, Ritz gave it a good shot as he went for gold in front of a pseudo hometown crowd. Ritz's sub 4:10 mark is quite fast for April and puts him in early position to chase 4:05ish or under this year, officially making him one of PAs best ever (if he isn't already). I think he went a bit too early in the race (I think about 800m out) and that left him vulnerable to get sniped down on the last lap. If he runs conservative he is likely 2 or 3 rather than 4, but he went for the win and fast time and you can't blame a guy for running unafraid like that. No one was beating Hunter Friday, I think that was clear when the dust settled.

The 3k featured a nice array of PA talent, even though Gebhart, Dahl and Marston all ended up off the starting line when things got underway. That left quite the showdown between Jake Brophy (XC state champ), Dom Hockenbury (multi time state champ, with revenge on his mind from indoors), Kevin James (9:03/4:10 and a slew of record breaking runner up marks), and Casey Comber (perhaps the new "best runner to never win a state champ" belt holder with James and Webb grabbing relay gold indoors). That's a sick field.

James got after it hard near the front, mixing it up with the leaders and looking like he wanted to chase a fast time and come away with gold. Brophy got out pretty solid as well and although he didn't quite commit the way James did, he was in a good position for much of the early race. Comber looked like he kind of got boxed early or at least was taking it out on the slower side and Hock was mid pack as well, battling among the bodies.

The fact that James and Brophy stayed out of early traffic was likely an advantage early as they didn't have to do much weaving or running on the outside. I had told my friend before the race that Comber was my pick for top PA guy and early in the race with Comber back a bit my friend was quite confused.

The pace continued to be quick and although conditions weren't great, they were not all that bad, especially compared to the morning/afternoon. James pulled away from Brophy late in the race and the top 3 overall had clearly asserted themselves. But I still had a feeling that Brophy, who had proven his wheels in the end of other big races, was not out of it. On the last lap that came to fruition as he blasted off and hit the gas hardcore over the final 400m as the fast pace caught up to James. Brophy ended up 3rd overall and was closing hard on 2nd over the final 200m. Having the 800m in his legs didn't seem to hurt him too much lactic acid wise (to be fair he had roughly 9 hours of recovery).

Meanwhile, almost directly in front of where we were sitting, Comber came flying around the turn and started picking off his share of runners in the final 200m, which made for a great reaction from my friend Charlie. Comber gave it a strong run to the line and finished in 8:34 which I believe is a PR and probably worth in the 9:11-9:12 range for 3200m. Brophy's mark of 8:29 is in the 9:06-9:07 range and is likely a school record ahead of Izewski's 3k/2 mile from 2008.

The AAA distance events are setting up to be crazy. I'll touch on the mile/800m tomorrow most likely, but let's give the 3200m a brief look now. 

You have Brophy, who is gaining steam rapidly but also has a looming 4x800m role for the second straight year. You have Kevin James who is still searching for an individual gold at states, but has a slew of awesome times and now a little extra motivation (but don't sleep on the possibility of James slipping down to 16 at states, I'd say after indoors and his Abington 800m it's not out of the question). You have Sam Webb who has run 9:08 but has even more 4x8 pressure than James. You have Casey Comber who, as mentioned, desperately wants that state gold and, guess what, he's good enough to get one. And don't forget the indoor state champ at 3k and leader of the XC state champs, Matt McGoey.

Throw in a crew of Marston, Power, Wharrey, Abert and likely more (Jacob Heinauer is an early candidate to make a massive drop, Tidball and Gebhart medaled indoors) and you have a sick field at 3200m.

And oh yeah, for added fun, this weekend between Baldwin and Henderson we will probably see the best 2 mile times of the entire season. 

What a lovely time of year.

Train Talk: The 4xMile

By etrain11

Not sure if this question was addressed to me or Zat on the Discussion Post, but I will weigh in anyway because I thought this race was awesome and would like to talk about ...

First off, you are 100% correct that if Ches runs an honest race there we could have seen the CR. I think Ches only needed the 4:01ish carry that the others had to get to 16:04 and then a bit more crazy of a split in the 3:56ish range to get under 16

It seemed briefly like UofO was going after the record, with Winn making things honest on the opening leg and helping everyone out in the record pursuit. That first leg tends to be where things go up in flames for record attempts, so Winn eliminated that nicely. Then Greogehan made a midrace push on the third leg to take the lead from 800m or so out to keep the pace honest. It all seemed to add up to the fact that Oregon wanted the record.

Meanwhile Nova was content to sit back. It appeared all they cared about was the victory.

When Ches got the baton in front of Williamsyz he was uncomfortable right from the get go. He doesn't like to lead and he probably has had it trained into his mind under the Oregon tutelage by now that the best strategy is to avoid taking the lead until necessary. He does have a fantastic kick and I think it would be silly to think it's not at the top of the list in the NCAA. I am a little surprised, given how the other Ducks raced, that Ches didn't get after it a little bit more. You don't even need to take it through in 57, just take it through in a 61 or something and try and close off the back end.

Ches moved out to lane 2 and Williamsyz just refused to take it from him. McGorty got there and he also refused to take it. No one wanted to lead. I'm not sure how people can throw Ches under the bus for the way he ran when guys like McGorty and even Bile had practically no shot at outkicking Ches or Williamsyz. Why did neither of them go to the front? Why didn't they make things an honest race?Because it's well documented the best way to win these races is to not be in first.

If Cheserek takes this thing from the gun, I'm not sure it ends all that differently. Williamsyz is really good (he ran 3:36ish about 3 years ago and had the fastest split at Nationals and the Penn Relays DMR) and so it's not like Ches could just run him into the ground from out front. Leading for 4 laps and then trying to hold off a final surge from Williamsyz on his home track with all the motivation in the world for a school that puts a ton more value on the Penn Relays than Oregon does? I feel Ches is almost more likely to lose that way. I mean he outkicked Williamsyz the day before, was there much reason to think things would dramatically change the next day?

My final thoughts:
- They completely squandered a record attempt. If somebody gets things out harder, that record is probably taken by whoever wins gold.
- Regardless of strategy, I'm not sure this race ends differently in the 1-2 spots. Yes, I do think Ches probably thought his kick was better than Williamsyz, but I doubt he and Oregon were overconfident. Oregon altered their line up from a glorified "B" squad to a full fledged monster most likely because they were scared of Williamsyz and Nova.
- Penn Relays means more to Nova than it does to Oregon. That win meant more to Williamsyz then it did to Ches. And Williamsyz is good! He's really, really good at running! When you get to a kicker's race it's a glorified coin flip sometimes, but leading from the front and hammering the whole way against similar competition tends to result in a loss for the leader the majority of the time.
- This race was awesome. Easily my favorite of the weekend and the fact that they did get all tactical and Ahmed Bile was going crazy made it that much better. Sometimes it's not about the times, it's about the journey and the story. The fact that we have this controversy makes for a much more exciting Sunday.

Just my thoughts, share your's below!

You Guys Rock: A 4x800m Recap

by etrain11

Real quick before I jump into things, here's a potentially optimistic general plan for the week:
Monday-Tuesday: Bang out a ton of Penn Relays talk (there was a lot to talk about)
Wednesday: Recap the other action from around the state (there was a lot to talk about)
Thursday-Friday: Preview any big meets that I can get my hands on (there could potentially be a lot to talk about)
Saturday-Sunday: Shut off all electronics, sleep for two straight days and try and give you guys a chance to catch up before I do it all over again starting Monday. Good luck

Now let's briefly get this out of the way for those of you who didn't know (which I'm assuming is a very small percentage of people): I was actually at this meet! It's exciting to be able to not have to use the phrases like "I'm assuming" or "This is what I imagine" and instead use phrases like "Wow it's freezing in these stands" and "Sweet, I always wanted to eat overpriced pizza while listening to Ron Lopresti talk about BMW!" But in all seriousness, it was a phenomenal meet, I'm glad I could be there and hopefully it makes for better analysis from me for you readers, which is really what it's all about.

Enough chit-chat, let's get to the races ...

Allow me to set the stage for those of you who may not have been outside. It was pretty cold, pretty windy and pretty early in the morning. The Penn Relays crew makes you strip down and stand in a glorified pig pen with all the other runners in an overcrowded heat, limiting your ability to properly warm up in already difficult and nerve racking situations. Anyone who ran at or near their PR was a champ. Here's a full list of the sub 2 guys according to the Penn Relays results site. Sorry in advance if I miss anyone.

Alek Sauer, Pennsbury 1:54.17
Jaxson Hoey, DT West 1:54.68
Evan Emmanuel, Penncrest 1:56.09
Rock Fortna, CB West 1:56.87
Sam Webb, Pennsbury 1:56.93
Jake Brophy, CB East 1:57.38
Oliver Boucher, CB East 1:57.84
Josh Coakley, Twin Valley 1:57.98
Dan Williams, Pennridge 1:58.12
Alex Milligan, State College 1:58.27
Kyuande Johnson, Wissahickon 1:58.65
Ata Shahideh, CB East 1:58.68
Jordan Neely, Abington 1:58.74
Will Sponaugle, Hershey 1:58.80
Stefan Sutton, LaSalle 1:58.97
Brad Foust, Altooona 1:59.16

Strong showings by all these guys in the conditions. Now get some quick thoughts on each heat.

Small Schools 1
- Hershey ends up as PA's top team running 8:14 and beating out Strath Haven despite the fact that they didn't have Adam Rabon on the roster (2:01ish already this season). Sponaugle has also been doing some quality running leading the way and, based on my early skimming of the rest of the action from the week, doubled back to run in the 9:30s for 3200m as well. Sponaugle is setting up run a quick mile in the not so distant future. Chris Paynter looks like a nice find for them as well.
- Twin Valley's Coakley had the fastest split of the heat and looked killer in other action running 1:56ish if memory serves in the open 8 later in the weekend. He's looking like a legit open 8 contender so we will see what this means for the 4x8. They had Digiacomo run 2:02ish this weekend as well so they may consider some substitutions for the next time around.

Small Schools 2
- Huge split by Emmanuel on the second leg. He's a monster. I was a bit surprised the team didn't lead off Komat who I think has led off some big indoor meets and last year's state championship. Looks like they didn't have Teal on the squad either (their lead off leg from indoor states), but he's healthy as he ran on their 4x4 (which did a great job). I'm sure these guys are probably a little disappointed they didn't make the COA, but I sincerely doubt we have heard the last of this team. They will be back with a vengeance for districts.

Large Schools 1
- This was a fantastic race by Pennsbury. They won their heat and did with some authority. Sauer just broke things open on the 2nd leg (another order change I found interesting, but more on that later) and then Webb did his usual gutsyness and came up big on the anchor. I thought Kersten also held his own nicely on that lead off leg considering his youth and inexperience at the Penn Relays, but I suppose his state experience helped a lot here.
- Abington really did some gutsy running. Neely took it probably a bit over his head, but held on valiantly and set the tone to keep them in it from there. You have to get out well on the first leg to keep your team in contention, so Neely's run was big. Considering their seed, they really overachieved at 8:03 and just 3 seconds out of the COA.
- State College and Altoona just always find each other I guess. Milligan runs down Foust to get SC the nod in the D6 race. Feffer had a nice third leg which set things up. Altoona apparently had a 2:02 split from Kevin Smith this weekend, however, so Toona may be making some changes before their rematch at Districts.

Large Schools 2
- CB West was consistently competitive through their first three legs and then Fortna brought it home to seal what I thought was the most surprising COA qualifier for PA. Fortna did a great job staying competitive and finishing hard even when guys were rolling by on quick opening laps all around him.
- DT West was nearly PA's 4th team into the finals, missing it by 1 spot. But there was nothing to be ashamed of for this squad. You have to keep in mind they are a young team that is still learning a lot about running at this level. Plus they got a huge lift from Jaxson on the anchor who went out blazing fast to try and pull his team back into the race (which he did). Jaxson probably was out a bit too fast, but he still had a good last 200m and didn't really fall apart that much, a great sign of strength considering he's still working his way back to 100%. Also Josh ran 1:58 later in the weekend in the open 8, another positive sign looking forward.
- LaSalle really impressed me this weekend. I felt like they were beginning to get into a bit of a rut, but they broke out in a big way at Penn, running an extremely competitive race and narrowly getting beat out for a spot in the COA by only about 2 seconds. Grant ran a tough lead off leg and Sutton fought well on the anchor leg among a sea of big names and fast times. Also worth noting: the DMR season is officially done for the spring, meaning St. Joe's Prep, Bonner and O'Hara are all switching their focus back to the 4x8 for Districts and state qualifying. LaSalle needs to continue to bring their "A" game if they want to assure themselves a spot on the line at Shipp.

In the end, PA sent 3 teams to the Championships with Pennsbury leading the way followed by an excellent showing by CB East and lastly CB West.

What a great set of teams to make the COA for PA. First you had Pennsbury. Their spot was almost predetermined giving the statistics for indoor state champs, but that didn't mean they didn't have to show up in the prelims. And they certainly did. The impressive season continued for PB as they won their heat and locked down a spot.

Then you had CB East. They have always had solid relay depth as I've harped on in past recaps. They had the heartbreaking 6th place finish at Districts this past fall. They had an arguably disappointing indoor state meet (although maybe expectations from guys like me were just too high). And of course they had last year. Last year, they didn't make it to the COA and were likely PA's best team left of the qualifiers list. Last year's team also didn't include Jake Brophy, who ran the 3k fresh instead.

But this year, CB East put Brophy on the line and he delivered with a big time 1:57 second leg that kept East in it. But the real winner here was Ata Shahideh (who anchored the previous year's team) who ran a phenomenal 1:58 lead off leg that set the tone for the entire race that followed. It was an ultimate redemption story and it made this squad my favorite COA qualifier. (Also worth noting, having Brophy on the 4x8 didn't seem to hurt his 3k performance all that much either).

Finally, there was CB West. They didn't have the stars or the state champs on their roster in the conventional sense. I picked against them this past districts in cross country (mistake) and I picked against them for this Penn Relays (mistake). I've been thinking they're too young or they're a year away, but West has said their time is now.

And in the finals, it was CB West who threw the best first punch. Lead off leg Andrew Baker dropped an impressive 1:57.9 opening carry and handed off in first out of all the PA teams. Baker's a Senior so naturally he won't be waiting around until next year to get things going. West followed it up with another super frosh to add to the long list of super frosh this year in PA as Jake Claricurzio split a killer 1:56.64 on the 2nd leg. Those two running what I believe to be sizeable PRs combined with a strong run by Carter Zerweck in 2 flat, kept this team competitive and ultimately Rock Fortna brought it home with a 1:54.94 split. Fortna has now split 1:54 and 4:16 this year and is becoming a star.

CB East fell out off it early, but still fought valiantly on tired legs from their epic run the day before. Boucher split a strong 1:55.44 on the second leg from the back of the pack which was a nice PR for him. East now has Shahideh at 1:58, Boucher and Brophy at 1:55 and Kettelberger at 2:02 with two of those marks coming in sub-ideal conditions. They are a strong team for states, but Brophy's 2 mile prowess is getting harder and harder to ignore looking ahead. Stay tuned.

But the story of the finals was Pennsbury. Pennsbury made some very interesting relay movements that, given their fantastic 4th place finish and 7:45.42 time, clearly paid off. The most drastic change was Alek Sauer moving from his usual place as anchor, to second leg. Sauer has been running 4th on this relay for as long as I can remember, dating back to his sophomore year days on their 2013 squad. The general philosophy is you throw your best guy on the anchor so he can chase down as many guys as possible or tactically outduel his competitors. It worked well for PB last outdoors when Sauer ran down a slew of guys en route to a 1:52.9 split and it also helped him hold off Penncrest at indoor states.

But, the Orangemen also knew their best shot at success was to stay at or near the front for as long as possible. Kersten gave a strong lead off performance, running 1:58, and then Sauer took over on his leg, blasting a 1:51.98 split that brought Pennsbury into perfect position in the top group. Then Pennsbury threw in another surprise, opting for Sam Webb at the 3 spot rather than his customary 2 spot or his previous day's anchor role. Like Sauer, Webb has been running in the 2 spot for as long as I can recall, but putting Webb on at 3rd allowed him to keep Pennsbury at the front once again. The fact that Webb was running with elite competition brought out the best in him and he split a 1:54.12 for another big PR.

Here's the thing, Sauer anchored so well in the past because he is an excellent chaser. Webb was so effective as a #2 leg in the past because he runs great at the front of the pack. The best order to give those (Pennsbury's best legs) a chance to do what they do best was to set things up as they did.

However, this could all go wrong if your anchor is not ready to handle the spotlight. Pennsbury opted for Zach Yeger in the finals on the anchor leg, a huge, pressure packed spot for a man in what was likely his first Penn Relays appearance. Yeger is a strong runner, but he was getting the baton with monster anchor legs (a ton of 1:52-1:53 types). Despite the fast early pace, Yeger held on strong for Pennsbury and kept them in a great position. His 2 flat anchor carry was enough to give the squad 4th place overall, top PA honors and also top PA-NY honors as they beat Arlington and James Asselmeyer, who split 1:51.68 but had too much ground to make up on the boys in Orange.

So ultimately, big props to Pennsbury. They ran an effective order that got their two top talents to PRs and their other two legs at or near their career best marks. They challenged conventional wisdom for relays, held their own under pressure, and made PA proud.

Pennsbury is the undeniable favorite for the outdoor crown, but a few questions are still swirling around this team, most notably revolving around the team's key #2 piece Sam Webb. Now that Webb isn't running top tier 3200ms immediately before his 4x8 legs, we can see that he has serious wheels. But if he goes back to the 32 this districts/states, will that effect his ability to give their team the 1-2 punch that separates them from their rivals? Or is Webb looking at a 4x8-16 double this outdoors (another brutally tricky double)? And if so, what does this mean for the already complicated outdoor 1600m state title race (remember no Ritz in the PIAA)?

We answered some questions this weekend, but we also opened the door to a few more. Get ready PA.

Penn Relays Predictions

By Garrett Zatlin


Yes, it’s true. I was able to complete some predictions. I wish I was able to get more material in, but this week was busier than I thought it was going to be so this will have to do.


Penn Relays is one of my favorite weekends as a fan of track and field. If you’ve never been, I strongly suggest you go. The atmosphere is outstanding and the races are always entertaining (especially the USA vs Jamaica matchups). I like to call it the March Madness of track and field. I’ve been fortunate enough to go every year of high school and I will unfortunately not be able to go this year. Not gonna lie, I had a great set up in high school. I lacked just enough speed that I would go as an alternate for the 4x800. So I still got access to the track for warm ups, but got to enjoy life as a spectator. It’s awesome to hear the crowd roar when someone is about to get hawked as well as seeing the American and Jamaican flags waving all over the stadium. I actually remember getting chills. 


So yeah…go. 


With all that said, let’s get into the predictions!




3000St. Championship (7:30pm)

Like I said in one of my earlier posts, I don’t know a lot about the steeple chase. Even worse, I don’t know a lot about the guys in this event. BUT! I will try my best. 


The favorite in this race is Isaac Spencer of Texas A&M who has run 8:40.87 in this event. The catch? He ran that time roughly two years ago (2013). Since then, his best time has been 8:50.74 (Most recently run at Stanford). Max Darrah of Georgetown sports a PR of 8:43.71 but that is from 2013 and has yet to have a time recorded for the 3000St. this seasonDarrah’s teammate, Matthew Howard,is another name to keep in mind as he just ran 8:52.83 at the Virginia ChallengeJoshua Roche of Indiana is someone who I’ve actually seen recently. He ran an 8:48.01 at Stanford and was able to bust out a 3:46.49 1500 two weeks ago. He seems like he’s rounding into good shape at a good time. Other names to look out for are Duncan Tomlin (Yale), Connor Martin (Princeton), and Austin McLean (Youngstown St.).


So how do I see it playing out? I’ve been told that the conditions are supposed to be cold and windy. I don’t think the times will be that quick and that it will be pretty tactical considering the field is pretty evenly matched. I imagine by the 1800m-2000m mark that Spencer, Roche, and Howard will break off and the pace will get pretty quick. In this situation, I like Roche and what he has shown in the 1500. He’s got speed and that will work well for him. At the end of the day, I see Roche taking the win. 


1. Joshua Roche (Indiana)- 8:56.11
2. Isaac Spencer (Texas A&M)- 8:58.09
3. Matthew Howard (Georgetown)- 8:58.32
4. Max Darrah (Georgetown)- 8:59.97
5. Duncan Tomlin (Yale)- 9:02.03


Also look out PA alumni Ean DiSilvio (Penn State) and Austin Stecklair (Johns Hopkins) in this race.


5000 Championship (9:20pm) 

This is going to be an interesting race with some interesting names. What better way to start off this event than by mentioning blog-favorite, Craig Lutz. The Texas Longhorn will make the effort to take down a field that is slightly underratedYale’s Kevin Dooney is a favorite of mine. He’s got some speed in him and has some great range. None of his times are spectacular but he has run 13:59 multiple times so if the race gets tactical, Dooney could be in the mix. Jacob Thomson (NC State) is the third seed in this race and rocks a 13:52.71 PR. He can’t be left out of the conversation and will make Lutz work for it. Throw in PA alum Matt Fischer (Penn St.) and you have a sneaky good field. Don’t forget that Fischer has some speed (3:46.95 for 1500). I don’t like to keep throwing around names, but Collin Leibold (Georgetown) is dangerous in this race. He just ran 3:42.80 (1500) at UVA and could make thingsreally interesting if the pace is too easy for too long. I’d also like to mention UVA’s Thomas Madden. If my memory serves me correctly, Madden won the Penn Relayshigh school 3000m in 2013 (might want to fact check that). Assuming that’s true, that’s got to be a great confidence booster for him going into this race. Other guys to watch are Brian Schoepfer (Duke), Mark Derrick (UNC), Ryan Walling (UNC), and Zach Herriot (UVA).


In the end, I don’t see why Lutz can’t win this. Yes, I know how bias that sounds especially with the discovery that he reads the blog. But when you look at the big picture, this is Lutz’s to lose. His 5,000 and 10,000 PR’s are clearly superior to everyone in the field. He just ran his 10k PR at Stanford which indicates he has the fitness to go into the 13:40’s if the race calls for it. However, I don’t think the race will be quite that fast given the conditions. I do believeLutz will have to work for the win with the field he’ll have behind him. However, if he’s smart, he’ll push the pace and try to take the kick out of the quicker guys behind him. This is what I’ve got…


1. Craig Lutz (Texas)- 13:51.27
2. Matt Fischer (Penn St.)- 13:55.22
3. Jacob Thomson (NC State)- 13:57.68
4. Kevin Dooney (Yale)- 14:00.02
5. Thomas Madden (UVA)- 14:00.44


PA alum to watch include Glen Burkhardt (Penn St.), EanDiSilvio (Penn St.), Brendan Shearn (Penn), Dominic DeLuca (Cornell), Ross Wilson (Penn), Max Norris (Columbia), Sean Burke (Lehigh), Kieran Sutton (Shippensburg), and Ryan Cooney (Lehigh).


10,000 Championship (10:55pm)

Aaron Dinzeo (California Pa.) is the man to watch in this race. He has an outstanding PR of 28:40.88 that was run last year. That is straight up talent and there can’t be too much argument about who the favorite in this race isMichael Biwott (American International) has a PR of 29:03.19 in this event. However, that time was run in 2013. He’ll at least make Dinzeo work a little bit. Ty McCormack (Auburn) is another name I’ve seen around the results and I like his consistency. With that said, I can’t find a result for him where he’s run a 10k. That isn’t the most comforting thing ever and I’m not sure how his (assumed) first time will go. Michigan Wolverine August Pappas ran 29:29.16 last year, but ran a very poor 31:55.35 at the Virginia Challenge last week so it’s tough to decide where to put himBrian King (Georgetown) also has a decent 10k of 29:46.66.


It’s tough to really say how the race will play out considering I don’t know the field too well. It seems pretty obvious that Dinzeo shouldn’t have too much trouble and he should win this handily. Luckily for McCormack, the field isn’t overwhelmingly fast and he should have enough confidence to mix it up in the top 5. Here’s what I got


1. Aaron Dinzeo (California Pa.)- 29:19.39
2. Michael Biwott (American International)- 29:26.54
3. August Pappas (Michigan)- 29:37.79
4. Ty McCormack (Auburn)-29:43.00
5. Brian King (Georgetown)- 29:48.21


PA alum to watch include Dillon Farrell (Moravian), Alex Izewski (Temple), Austin Pondel (Penn St.), and Zach Hebda (Navy).



Let me quickly say that the relays are impossible to know without a detailed start list of every relay. Most of this is only speculation as to what people will run. The only idea of relay start lists is what I can get off of Flotrack.


Distance Medley Relay Championship (2:30pm)

The distance medley will open up the real college action that many of us look forward to. The top seed in this event are the Oregon Ducks. According to FlotrackChes, Alexander, Elkaim, and Brewer are all running in the Duck’s 4xMile. That means that Jenkins, Gregorek, and Geohegan are not accounted for. To have those three in the DMR is pretty unlikelyWith that said, I think it’s very likely that two of those names will be on it. 


In an article on thepennrelays.com (http://www.thepennrelays.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=1720&ATCLID=210027394), Gregorekmentions that he’s not sure what he’ll run but that it’ll most likely be the 4xMile or DMR. If the start list on Flotrackstays the same, I think it’s safe to assume Gregorek will be running the DMR (most likely the anchor leg). That leaves Geoghegan and Jenkins to take the 1200. According to Twitter, Geohegan is making the trip with the team to go to the Penn Relays. You’ve got to think that he’ll be running the 1200 leg there. My guess is that Jenkins stays home and continues to prep for whatever the Ducks have next. As for the 800, it makes sense that Niki Franzmair will make an appearance there. 


Now most of you are probably thinking that there is no way Oregon loses this event. However, you might want to reconsider.


Georgetown isn’t racing LedderBartlesmeyer, Manahan, or Williams in the 4xMile. This leaves some very speedy guys at the disposal of the Hoyas. Williams would most likely be the 1200 leg while Manahan fills in at the 800. Bartlesmeyer is definitely bringing it home. That is a relay combination that the Ducks can not fool around with or feel comfortable about. Had Cheserek been on the anchor, things might be a little different. However, I’m imagining a very tactical and exciting battle between these two squad if my assumption for who’s running holds up.


Other teams like Villanova and Stanford have some great pieces and solid depth all around. However, their depth isn’t strong enough to hang with the relays mentionedabove. Also to point out, if Duke runs stacked in this event, we could see them surprise and contend up front. When all is and done, I’m thinking the results will be looking something like this…


1. Oregon- 9:30.88
2. Georgetown- 9:31.42
3. Villanova- 9:34.61
4. Duke- 9:36.75
5. Stanford -9:37.25




4xMile Championship (1:15pm)

This is it. This is the event that everyone is talking about. So many questions are flying around and there are so many different answers. Will there be a sub 16? Will it be fast or tactical? What are the lineups looking like? Who’s the favorite? Who’s going to win? This is why I’m here ladies and gentlemen. Let’s break this down and get those questions answered. 


First off let me just say that Flotrack has done an article on this and did a really solid job. I have to say I agree with a lot of what they’re saying so I apologize if this comes off as very similar to theirs. 


Flotrack gives us the preliminary start lists for five teams: Oregon, Stanford, Villanova, Georgetown, and Penn State. Right off the bat, these are teams that I feel very confident can all be in the top five. There isn’t another team out there with the firepower these teams have. However, I think it’s very fair to say that Penn State and Georgetown don’t have the depth that Oregon, Stanford, and Nova do. 


Penn State has their two aces Kidder and Creese but will struggle with their other legs Fischer and Burkhardt. Let’s not forget to mention that Fischer and Burkhardt will be doubling back from the 5k the night before. With Penn States two weakest legs going on the double, you can’t feel super comfortable with how well they’ll perform. You need to hope that Creese and Kidder can make up for any slack there.


What was surprising was that Georgetown did not stack their relay. I raved about the Hoyas success indoors and when you have four guys under four it’s impossible not to think about the potential of a 4xMile. Alas, G-town will disappoint us and will put in only one of their sub four men from indoors (Bile). While only one of them is on the relayLeibold and Fahy have displayed some very strong 1500’s so far this season. They have some great speed and could keep G-town in contention for a while. However, PA alum Ryan Gil boasts a PR of only 4:09 in the mile and I dont believe he will be able to hold the pace with the guys upfront. 


This is where we dig into the important stuff. Here are the supposed line-ups according to Flotrack (in no particular order)…




















Oregon has decided to run some of their less established runners while Villanova and Stanford have decided to run their full ‘A’ squad. Flotrack continues to keep Stanford in the conversation at this point. Quite honestly, I see them as a no brainer third place team. Korolev simply does not have the speed to keep up with these guys. His 8:13 3k (completely fresh) against Cal worried me that he might still be fatigued from his extended XC season. PA alum Tom Coyle is a great miler but still a bit inexperienced when facing big names like this. Even when you haveMcGorty on the anchor, I still don’t see him sticking around with Cheserek or Williamsz. McGorty has raw talent, but he’s not quite at that level yet. Stanford will get third.


That leaves the two powerhouses remaining. Let’s break it down by leg. This is arguably the hardest part. You’re not sure who’s going where. You can only give your best guess. This is where I differ from Flotrack a little bit.


Lead off

When discussing the lead off leg I’m a strong believer that your second best miler is the way to go. In this case, I give that label to Elkaim and DeNaultDeNault has shown that he can win races and can thrive off of any pace. If it’s fast, he’ll stay around long enough for you to regret it. Keep it conservative, and he’ll burn you with his kick. Keep in mind that he took a win away from Bile at Penn St. during indoorsElkaim has some outstanding talent, but doesn’t seem to have the racing smarts some of his teammates do. I’m not saying Elkaim is going to get blown out, but I believe DeNault has the edge. 


Nova- 3:59.12 (DeNault 3:59.12 split)

Oregon- 4:00.04 (Elkaim 4:00.04 split)


2nd leg

If I’m the coach, I’m sending the weakest link out on the second leg*. There are arguments as to where the weakest link goes on a relay, but that’s an argument for another day.For me, I’m putting McEntee and Brewer there. McEntee is an older guy with experience while Brewer doesn’t quitehave the credentials his fellow Ducks do. While he may not be at the form he was years back, I give McEntee the edge over a guy in the spotlight for the first time.


Nova-7:59.04 (McEntee 3:59.92 split)

Oregon-8:02.28 (Brewer 4:02.24 split)


*Just because I have the weakest link in the second leg doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be the slowest leg. It all depends on how the race plays out.


3rd leg

With the anchor legs being obvious choices, this leaves Alexander and Tiernan to battle it out. While the two milers are relatively equal, I have to give Alexander the edge. The Oregon miler has some recent wins under his belt which is a nice confidence booster. He’s also an experienced veteran who knows how to race. I’m a fan of Tiernan so I’ll predict that Tiernan doesn’t let him get too far away.


Nova- 11:59.62 (Tiernan splits 4:00.58)

Oregon- 12:02.24 (Alexander splits 3:59.96)



If you can’t tell by now, the scenario in my head is that the racing would be pretty quick. I remember telling the writers that I didn’t think sub 16 wouldn’t happen and now I’m seeing two teams doing exactly that. Williamsz and Chesare the two best runners in the NCAA today. I don’t think there’s an argument there. Williamsz just recently ran the NCAA leading 1500 last weekend with a 3:39.53. He alsosplit a 3:55 on Villanova’s DMR at NCAA’s. The guy is an absolute beast. For Nova, this becomes a game of “catch me if you can”. By my predictions, Nova should have a 2.62 second lead over Cheserek. Is that enough for the guy who has run a 3:54.08 (converted) mile? Or will the heat-seeking missile known as Eddy Ches be able to catch and then outkick a guy who hasn’t had to make up any ground?I’m so conflicted but hey someone’s gotta make the tough decisions.


1. Villanova 15:55.79 (Williamsz 3:56.17 split)
2. Oregon 15:57.68 (Cheserek 3:55.44 split)
3. Stanford 16:06.73
4. Georgetown 16:08.98
5. Penn State 16:10.40


It’s such a bold call, but I feel that had it been anyone else on the anchor, Cheserek would be able to catch them.Williamsz is at one of the pinnacles of his career and he has no fear. Will I regret this? Probably. Cheserek always makes me look foolish and I’m sure he’ll do it again. 


-Quick side note: watch out for Columbia. I really likingwhat they have going on and I’m not completely sold on that fifth spot going to Penn St. 



4x800 Championship (4:40pm)

The last big (collegiate) event for the day, is the 4x800. I’m guessing that we wont be seeing some record breaking times. However, I think the field is underrated in regards to the talent it has.


Georgia Tech and Texas A&M are my favorites in this race. Georgia Tech has multiple guys that have been hanging around 1:50 while Texas A&M is led by 1:48 man Josh Hernanedez and a slew of other guys under 1:50. Georgetown is also entered and has been known for it’s excellent depth at the 800. Penn State will look to show the crowd why they are called 800U. I’d like them more in this if Joey Logue wasn’t injured and Kidder wasn’t on the double. This leaves a heavy burden on Zavon Watkins and I’m not sure they’ll be able to keep up with the field. The last team I’m looking at is Indiana. They haven’t had many big races but they hold a lot of depth and I think that will serve them well here. Villanova and Stanford are also entered here. I’m not sure where some of their guys will end up but you can’t ignore top programs like them. Especially with Villanova being the returning champs.


So how do I see it going down?


1. Texas A&M-7:17.85
2. Georgetown- 7:19.06
3. Georgia Tech- 7:19.94
4. Villanova- 7:22.53
5. Indiana- 7:24.32




That’s all I’ve got! Hopefully this wasn’t too overwhelming. So let me hear it. What are you expecting? 


Also, quick S/O to the Great Valley girls 4x800! As I’m writing this, I received word that they will move on to the championship race on Friday. This makes it the third year in a row for them. Good luck ladies!


Keep it real,