Just kidding, by Jarrett Felix
I've been eagerly awaiting the return of the official western indoor season in the TSTCA meets so I figured I'd give their recap it's own special section. Keep in mind the meets are contested at Edinboro which is something like a 234 meter track (I swear it's really something that random). Because the track is over 200 meters, the PTFCA is going to count the times as if they were bank tracks. Would you trade a tiny bit tighter turns for the ability to actually have logical lap counts and split points? I would 10 times out of 10, but, as far as I've been told, that's not the consensus the PTFCA has come to in year's past when compiling entries. So just keep that in the back of your mind when taking a peak at results and listening to stories of guys doing extra laps/stopping a lap early. It's bound to happen.
Anyway, pardon my ranting, let's get to the action. I'm not exactly sure on the meet order, although I have a rough idea, but I figured I would just go in order of shortest event to longest event because I got too lazy to look up actual meet order. I apologize in advance on that one.
In the 800m, Penn Trafford's Nick Wagner raced to a commanding victory in 1:58.08 for an impressive win. Sure the time seems a bit slower than all the 1:55-56 type marks we have seen flying down the east coast, but considering Elias Graca ran 1:58.03 at this meet last year and then dropped to 1:50 by indoor states, I'd say this is a pretty darn good place to be for Wagner. The 800m may be the deepest event in the state right now considering all the mile talents have great 800 ability as well. Throw in the guys who may skip the mile because of 4x8 duties and then a couple 800 specialists like Wisner and Hepp and you have yourself a barn burner to get on the medal stand.
In second, Penn Hill's Isaiah Bailey also cracked two minutes with a 1:59.39 mark. That's a great time as well for Bailey who I believe is a junior this season and is the third prominent Bailey to come from the Penn Hills school district. The previous two guys were Brandon and Wil, one of which ran low 48s in the open 400 and the other ran 1:51 to win the outdoor state title. Assuming we are looking at the same gene pool, Isaiah could be in for a big year.
Ryan Thrush and Donovan Myers, both at small schools in small districts, clocked 2 flat in the 800m to add their names into an increasing crowded 800m field. I haven't started adding together all the new times to the state rankings, but it's not crazy to think we are already going to be looking at something like 2 flat for the state cut off. By the time we hit the end of the month, we could be looking at sub 2.
Nick Wolk started his season with a triple gold performance in his indoor opener and followed things up with a 4:28.15 for a victory in the event (also added a 2:06 for 800). Wolk was somewhere around 4:22 last outdoors if memory serves, but he is fresh off a tremendous XC season where he finished tops in the WPIAL in every race he competed in. I think Wolk may have the best shot at placing well at states in the 3k (the 3k is fairly wide open, especially compared to the mile), but there's little reason to doubt he could be competitive in the mile as well. Again, for the sake of reference, Jeff VanKooten ran 4:33 at this meet last year and finished his outdoor season down around 4:10 for 1600m. Meanwhile, Wolk ran 4:38 at this meet last year and, therefore, is 10+ seconds ahead of where he was this time last year. Not a bad place to be.
Sophomore Tristan Forsythe ran a very strong 4:29.14 mile time for second overall behind Wolk. It was part of a very solid day for Winchester Thurston who also won the DMR and had the winner in the 3k (sorry for the spoiler). I believe Forsythe was somewhere around 4:27 last year as a freshman (for 1600m) so you have to like the start he has had combined with XC breakthrough this fall.
Gabe Szalay and Nick Miller of Wadsworth Ohio joined the top two PA runners under 4:30. No word on whether Jess Day was there to support Nick during the event. Just ignore that if you don't watch New Girl.
Brett George added a 4:35 mile for 5th overall just ahead of sophomore Logan Caruso and Casey Conboy who each ran 4:37. Jarrett Boyd of Freedom won both the slower section of the mile and slower section of the 800 in 4:39 and 2:04. Always happy to see guys named Jarrett cleaning up and that was a really nice double victory from Boyd.
Will Loevner picked up where he left off a year ago indoors at 3,000m, dropping a 9 flat time to win at TSTCA by 12 seconds over Marc Migliozzi, one of the breakthrough stars in the WPIAL this XC season. Loevner ran around 8:50 something like three times last indoor season and seems poised for a similar season if things click right this year. Loevner has some killer training partners on the WT roster, including Forsythe who was 2nd in the mile, and he will be highly motivated after last indoors where I think he just missed a medal in 9th place.
As mentioned Migliozzi took 2nd in the 3k at 9:12. From a quick glance, he seemed to be one of the few members of North Allegheny's XC squad to participate. According to milesplit, Migz had PRs around 10:09 for 3200m and 4:46 for 1600m, so a silver and a 9:12 is a killer start. I'm hoping to see Stupak, Blechman, etc. back in results soon as well. Hopefully they are healthy and can all help push each other to success the same way they did on the trails. Marc is definitely trending upwards and it's possible he could end up in the Hunter Wharrey range for times this track season (8:50ish indoors and sub 9:20 outdoors).
Ben Bickerton, a stud during XC in AA, ran a 9:19 for 3rd overall. PA also got strong marks from Grant McCarthy and Noah Curtin, each running 9:31. McCarthy was part of the surprise Seneca Valley team that got 2nd at WPIALs and Noah Curtin finished 2nd in XC at A states this past fall, running a pretty clutch race. I think Curtin has the potential to drop a lot of time by season's end and especially for outdoors. Meanwhile, I'd bet the training group at Seneca Valley will produce a few other notable performances behind Mike Kolor.
Greensburg Salem took gold in the 4x8 with a time of 8:33 just defeating Seneca Valley (8:34) and Mount Lebanon (8:40). I really like this Greensburg Salem team. They qualified for states in XC and had three guys around the top 50 finishers. They've produced a variety of strong performances in the individual events, including some sub 4:40 times from guys like Frankie King and they have really showed promise by winning a couple early season relay races. They were a AA team in XC so they may have gone a bit under the radar, but don't sleep on Greensburg Salem. This is a team on the rise.
Meanwhile, Seneca Valley is lurking. We still haven't seen Kolor on a stacked SV relay yet (he added another 4:18 and a 1:55 to his resume this weekend) and they have the pieces to make noise in either the 4x8 or (more dangerously) in the DMR.
Lebo tried their luck in the 4x8, running 8:40 and, although I'm sure they could post a great relay, I'm more intrigued by their individual potential in the mile/3k type events. Gunzenhauser has already proven himself quite well on the track, but guys like Kalapos and Harris who were top 50 types in XC should also be fun to watch test themselves in some loaded WPIAL distance races.
As alluded to earlier, Winchester Thurston earned gold in the DMR, beating out Penn Hills. WT apparently pulled this out without Will Loevner on the squad (3k-DMR probably would have been way too tight). This is a small school (A in XC), but as I mentioned in my spring track article I wrote on these guys last year, this team packs a AAA type punch with their talent. 11:22 (their winning time, I'm just realizing I didn't clarify that prior to this) is still pretty far away from cracking the top 10 at states, but if there's a weekend where the top WPIAL schools decide to really chase this event, there are teams that could go well under 11 minutes.
Of course the problem is the WPIAL meets (or I guess I should say TSTCA) are limited in number, especially compared to the TFCAofGP meets and guys have to try and get individual qualifiers out of the way in addition to the relay focus. That's a tricky balance in a short time (and one meet is already cancelled let's remember).
Plus, how the heck do you do hand offs for a DMR on a 234 meter track? I need to go to one of things and witness it first hand. Or maybe I'll get Evan to weigh in for me. That may save me some gas mileage ...
Anyway, I'm glad the west is beginning to re-enter the picture. It didn't feel right without these schools racing!
A squirrel stood in the middle of the path, enjoying a patch of sun that had found its way through the high standing trees on either side. Her tiny head darted back and forth, as she sat quiet and, otherwise, motionless. It was a peaceful silence, but it was also short lived. The squirrel dashed across the ground as a distant pounding of footsteps engulfed the air and an army of legs rushed across the soft surface of the Green Valley Trail. Steadily, the swarm of runners traversed the path, running in small clusters, alternating between spurts of intense and relaxed efforts.
Beep beep … beep beep …
The harriers slowed their tempo to a recovery jog at the sound of the alarm. A few of them hit buttons on their wristwatches.
“How long til we go again?” Ian panted, looking to his left at one of his taller teammates.
“Two minutes …” Mark responded, also struggling for air. “Rest is just … half the previous rep.”
“You think I can do math right now?”
“To be fair … I don’t think you can do it anytime.”
A few members of the pack tried to laugh, but instead their strangled noises made them sound like choking victims. After the pseudo laughter died away, only the soft breathing and the pitter-patter of stride on trail broke the silence. As the seconds continued to pass by, the atmosphere around the group changed slightly. Some began to look around at one another in anticipation. Subconsciously, a few runners moved up the pack, poised to strike at a moment’s notice …
Beep beep … beep beep …
Like flipping a switch, the alarm sparked the group back into action, sending them flying across the path in something resembling a relaxed sprint. Ian took charge from the front to set the pace, flanked by his older teammate Sam Berkow. Mark hung tough to Ian’s left shoulder, but was struggling a bit with the pace. He kept checking his watch, hoping more seconds would tick off it. The only thing driving him to push forward was the knowledge that no one else within his training group was wilting. His competitive nature would not let him fall through the back.
With fifteen seconds or so left, Ian put down a mini surge, testing his peers. Only Sam was able to respond in earnest and the two edged a couple steps ahead before, to Mark’s appreciation, the alarm rang out again.
“One rep to go!” Ian said as the group returned to a more conversational pace. “Just four more minutes.”
Sam and Mark shared disgusted looks.
“Seriously, who says that?”
“Don’t tell me you’re the same person who cheers ‘half way there’ 800 in to the mile?”
“People like you are the worst.”
Ian smirked. “You guys feeling a little tired?”
In response, Sam broke from formation and wandered to the side of the path. He stooped down, picking up a short, thick tree branch.
“Here,” he said, extending the stick to a confused looking freshman. “Just hit me with this. Hard. Preferably in the knees.” His tone was remarkably serious and urgent. “I need an excuse to quit this workout.”
Mark shook his head and smiled. “You got thirty seconds there, hot shot.”
“Last chance,” Sam said, flashing one last look at the bewildered freshman, before tossing the branch aside and moving back to the front of the pack for the last rep. Despite his attempt at humor, the atmosphere around the group remained a bit tense and nervous. “Geez, loosen up you’d think we were doing a work-”
Beep beep … beep beep …
Ian took off at the sound of the latest alarm into the quickest pace he had set all workout. Sam, whose head had been turned around while talking to the group, was late to react and now trailed his teammate by a few stride lengths. He swore under his breath before putting his head down and taking off after McPearson’s streaking figure. Mark matched the pair’s efforts as best he could, running as controlled as possible without slipping from Ian’s shoulder. By the one-minute mark, the trio had cleared the rest of the group.
As they pressed on into a small uphill, Mark could feel Ian turnover just a touch faster. He glanced to his right to see if his teammate would follow. There was no quit on Sam’s face. Grimacing slightly, Mark forced his long legs to quicken their cadence. Fighting the urge to check his watch, he tried to take his mind off his suffering. On the side of the path, he watched as a squirrel scampered quickly up a tree.
Mark hated losing to anybody, but he especially hated losing to Ian. The two were great friends, but Ian had a knack for getting under his teammates’ skins. He was cocky, confident and loved to talk smack whenever possible. But after a summer of excellent training, he had had no problems backing up his big mouth. In fact, Ian’ s personality seemed to bring out the best in everyone. Everyone wanted to beat him, but Ian was motivated by the target on his back.
Today’s fartlek workout had been no different. Two minutes into the final interval, Ian continued to hammer away, grinding through the trail. Sam pressed on at his side, unwavering and strong. But Mark was beginning to wilt. His legs had become heavy and, every moment he lost focus, a small gap opened between him and his teammates. As his legs failed him, his breathing began to deteriorate as well. Each breath became increasingly wheezy and labored.
With just over a minute to go in the workout, it was Sam’s turn to make a bid for the lead. But Ian reacted immediately, refusing to hand over the pace for even a second. The jockeying had ratcheted the effort down to another gear that Mark just did not have. Gradually, they drifted away, leaving him alone and struggling. Now he was vulnerable, mentally weak and unable to motivate himself to push on, to brush up against the barriers of his body. Wallowing in self-pity, he ran with his head down into another small up-hill. He was essentially staring at his watch considering how frequently he checked the seconds remaining in the workout.
As Mark struggled along, he could hear something sprinting behind him, rapidly closing in. Instinctively, he tried to react, find another gear to fight off the challenger. In a rush, his pursuer went past, the freshman Francis McNally, and, beyond a momentary, almost unrecognizable, surge it was a clean, effortless pass. Then, to Mark’s surprise, another body went flying by, working hard to hold tight to McNally’s shoulder. His friend and classmate Todd had also usurped him over the interval’s final seconds.
Beep beep … beep beep …
Mark’s newfound trio halted their efforts, changing into a painful trot. They moved at a pace slower than Mark’s mother powerwalked around the neighborhood, but they maintained their best attempt at a jog. His head was spinning, but his thoughts were starting to organize as oxygen returned to his brain. Slowly, the realization that he had finished the workout behind not only Ian and Sam, but also Francis and Todd, washed over him. His main competitors for a spot on varsity suddenly seemed far out of reach.
“Hey … we’re done!” Mark yelled ahead to Sam and Ian who were continuing to duel along the trail. Neither had heard Mark’s final watch alarm go off form their position at the front.
“Maybe keep up next time, Miller?!” Ian called back, out of breath but with a noticeable layer of lighthearted jesting. “Are you trying to get a leg up on me?!”
“Maybe get a watch? At least one of you?”
“I’ll get a watch from your sister, if you know what I mean.” Ian said with a grin as he and Sam adjusted course to regroup with the rest of the pack before their cool-down.
“No one knows what you mean.”
“And I don’t have a sister.”
“How many times do we have to tell you man?”
Eventually, the group returned to a reasonable pace with Ian and Sam at the front, debating who was the bigger pace pusher. Mark, choosing to stay out of things, hung back to talk with Todd and Francis. Although he was frustrated with his own performance, that did not mean he could not appreciate his teammates’ excellent work.
“Nice workout today guys, thanks for helping me out that last stretch. I was falling apart.”
“Thanks,” Todd responded, shuffling along to his right. “Those guys were moving on that rep. How fast do you think we were all going?”
Mark shrugged. “No idea. But we are in great shape. Our JV squad could really make noise at Gettysburg. Didn’t Delaney win there last year?”
“Yeah, last time he ever ran on our JV squad.”
Mark let his mind drift to a future where he, too, ran his last junior varsity race at Gettysburg. It was a future that seemed more farfetched than ever. Meanwhile, Sam and Ian began to pull away from the group. Distracted by their bickering, their focus on controlling the pace had lapsed.
“Should we say something?” Todd asked, gesturing at the increasing gap ahead. Mark smiled and shook his head.
“Nah, just let ‘em go. It’s better this way, I’m not trying to get sucked in to running fast right now.” His stomach was a mess and his body ached from his earlier efforts. Looking to take his mind of running, he changed topics. “Did you do the Bio homework yet, by the way?”
“I started it, yeah. It doesn’t seem like it’s going to be too terrible.”
“Alright sweet, now I know who to go to when I inevitably get stuck.”
Todd looked slightly embarrassed and responded modestly, “Well you also have your brother. Mrs. Galligan said today that he was the best student she’s ever had. Must be nice to have him around.”
Mark bristled. “Yeah … it’s great,” he paused awkwardly. “No pressure or anything.” He forced an uncomfortable laugh.
They were closing in on the inn that marked the end of the trail. A tall blonde figure was stretching on a fence, bordered by four other, wiry-looking boys. They gradually slowed to a stop as they made their approach.
“Nice day today, gents.” Mark extended a hand at both his sides. Todd and Francis each slapped one hand in response. “What did you think of your first workout, Fran?”
“It was … um … pretty good I guess.” He spoke quietly and unsure of himself, still acclimating to being a part of the high school team. The trio dropped to the ground, joining a vague attempt at a stretching circle. Mark half-heartedly reached for his right foot, feeling a gentle tug in his hamstring.
“Hey, can I ask you a question?” Francis asked in barely over a whisper. He was looking in the direction of Ian and Sam who it appeared had finally given up on their pace pushing quarrel.
“Go for it,” Mark responded, switching legs casually.
“Is it … like our workout … is it really called a … a ‘fart lick’?” he looked sheepishly from Todd to Mark. “That’s what Sam told me, but … I wasn’t sure if he was just trying to mess with me.”
“Irish. Maybe like a 6 or 7 out of ten.”
“No I meant, how does my face look? Will everyone be able to tell I’ve been puking?”
“Nah man, there’s no way.”
Mark and Ian walked together across the grass back towards the tent, having finished their review of the course. Each was a little sweaty, partially from their jog, partially from nerves. The group of six runners was gathered together around the tent. Some were sitting on the ground stretching; others were up and pacing back and forth. The atmosphere was tense, yet excited. As the final two members of the team approached, one athlete emerged from the tent to greet them.
“Hey guys, how is – geez Ian, you look terrible,” Sam said in a voice of mock concern.
Mark tried to turn his laugh into a cough. “Sorry, just a little tickle, nothing to worry about … unlike whatever virus, you’ve got there Ian …”
“First … Screw you, you lying piece of-”
“Just get to point two,”
“Two … I’m fine, I’m still gonna kick the crap out of the two of you out there.”
“That’s fine, the farther away from me you are, the better, actually.”
Ian opened his mouth to respond again, but whatever he was going to say died in his throat as something in the distance caught his eye.
“You good Ian, should I get you a bucket?” Mark jested at his friend, pretending to search the tent.
“No … I’m,” his tone changed to a more solemn one, “looks like your family is here, Mark.”
The smile disappeared from Mark’s face in an instant as he whirled around to look for the approaching Millers. A few feet away he spotted a tall boy with blonde hair, flanked on each side by an older man and woman. A pair of crutches was clearly visible under each of his arms.
Will Griffen, Cheltenham
Stephen Paul, LaSalle
Matt D’Aquila, Lower Merion
Eddie Goebel, LaSalle
Jeff Kirshenbaum, Methacton
Matt Allen, Horsham
Connor Irwin, Horsham
Jaxson Hoey, DT West
Matt Wisner, Carlisle
Cooper Leslie, Camp Hill
Charlie Scales, The Haverford School
Joe Cullen, Wyomissing
Stephen McClellan, St. Joe’s Prep
Jack Armand, Garnet Valley
Nick DiFillipis, Methacton
Peter Cooke, Radnor
Wolfgang Schanbacher, Cheltenham
Tim Hogan, DT East
Evan Dewey, DT East
Amir Goodwin, Upper Darby
Jacob Dewey, DT East
Boubacar Diawara, Norristown
Andrew Crosby, Cheltenham
Sean Brown, Roman Catholic
Luke Doughty, Roman Catholic
Liam Galligan, Springfield
Ryan Barton, DT West
Josh Hoey, DT West
Colin Wills, Malvern Prep
Cooper Leslie, Camp Hill
Dominic Hockenbury, Lake Lehman
Liam Conway, Owen J Roberts
Patrick Grant, LaSalle
Will Alpaugh, Freedom
Ryan Paradise, Emmaus
PJ Murray, Conestoga
Owen Ritz, GA
Joe Angelina, Penncrest
Jack DiCintio, Wyomissing
Sean Brown, Roman Catholic
Patrick Donahue, HG Prep
Evan Addison, LaSalle
2010: WC Henderson – Will Kellar 4:12.00, 1600m state champ
2011: Wissahickon – Hong Cho 1:50 800m, 800m state champ (1200m leg), also one of the slowest if not the slowest state championship time
2012: Great Valley – Ned Willig 4:11/1:51, Mile state champ
2013: LaSalle – Tom Coyle 1:51/4:11, 1600m state champ
2014: WC Henderson – Tony Russell 4:09, Mile state champ, (briefly) indoor state record holder
2015: Cardinal O’Hara – Kevin James 8:57/4:10/1:54 Mile state runner up
2013 -10:32.71 (5th) – Aziz and Wistar focus on the mile rather than the 3k, arguably both guy’s better event
2012 -10:45.70 (7th) – Aziz runs the 3k (places 3rd), they run a completely fresh squad in the DMR without him I believe
2011 - 10:32.86 (6th) – Fresh squad
2010 - 10:23.71 (3rd) – Fresh squad, McKenzie and Waterman scratch
2008 - 10:41.00 (7th) – Fresh squad, they ran their top 3 guys in open events (all of whom medaled) and still medaled in the relay
2007 - 10:24.86 (3rd) – Fresh squad, Kaulbach and McKenzie scratch, Ortiz runs 3k but likely wasn’t on DM to begin with
And here are a couple podcasts I made to talk about some of the events. As usual, I'm doing my run while podcasting so there is going to be some background noise and click-clacking. I'll warn you, that noise, plus the sound of my voice, could potentially get annoying. So feel free to give it a listen and then stop if it ain't working for you.
Let me know if these links are working properly, you may have to download it to hear it or something.
Running Down the Train: Mile (I forgot some really obvious names while I was out winging this podcast, apologizes to those who I missed)
Running Down the Train: 4x800m (first 6 minutes or so I talk mostly about the new relay rules, so if you don't want to listen to that rambling, I suggest you skip ahead)
By Alex Fox and Dylan Jaklitsch
Editors Note: this piece was written before Connor Lundy's most recent mile at New Balance in the elite section
Before I get into this argument, I’d like to explain my absence over the past several months: I was in Italy from August until January. Now that I’m back, it is only appropriate that my return contribution is defending a New Yorker. The Milrose Mile is one of the most prestigious crowns for a high schooler to earn during indoor. This year, the two favorites appear to be Jaxson Hoey and Aidan Tooker. Although Hoey was able to take down a different New York star in Conor Lundy, I feel Tooker’s momentum and strength are too much to overcome; meanwhile, my compatriot Dylan Jaklitsch has thrown caution to the wind, and details how the Pennsylvania native can claim the coveted title.
Why Tooker will win:
There are two figures that make up a bulk of my argument in favor of Tooker: 4:09 and 12/19/15. Just in case you missed it or don’t understand the reference, Aidan Tooker ran a 4:09 1600. On December 19th. No one is supposed to run that fast that early. If this isn’t enough evidence to convince you of Tooker’s fitness, he added in a 8:54 3200 earlier this season as well. Tooker is having the best indoor season of any distance runner in the northeast, possibly the entire country. This isn’t to say Hoey is in poor shape or that his feats haven’t been impressive, but Aidan Tooker’s current fitness is unmatched. While I don’t necessarily consider Tooker a miler like Hoey, and there is a strong chance Hoey can best Tooker at a later date should they matchup again (perhaps at Penn Relays), this race is Tooker’s to lose simply because of his incredible current fitness and confidence.
If Tooker’s accomplishments this indoor season are not enough to convince you he should be going into the Millrose Mile as favorite, another factor to consider is his versatility; Tooker can grind out a fast pace and have the strength to win, or he can sit with a slow pace and use his closing speed to clinch a win. Consider his 4:09 splits: Tooker came through in 2:05 and 3:07, and despite this respectable pace, Tooker closed in 62.xx. In route to running 8:54, Tooker was able to close in 4:24. The kid has guts for days. However, like many high-stake races, the Millrose Mile is often determined by a big kick in the last 400 meters. Luckily, Tooker can also close with the best of the best. In order to capture his first state title, Tooker ran down stud Mikey Brannigan on the final stretch in a kick for the ages (I was able to watch it live, and I seriously couldn’t believe it. I highly recommend finding a video if possible). So, whether the race goes out in 2:05 or 2:20, Tooker will be in it until the very end, and should be the first to cross the finish line. A final consideration is history: the last PA native to win the Millrose Mile was Jason Weller in the year 2007. Tooker will be defending his home turf on a track he has always raced well on. Although it isn’t out of the question, a victory for Jaxson Hoey at the Millrose Games would be quite the upset.
How Hoey will win: