Wild, Wild West

by Will Smith
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!

The Running Diaries: Chapter Eleven

Mark Miller, September 2016
            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.

            In a typical cross country invitational, each team is allowed seven runners in the varsity race. The top five finishers from each team are counted as scorers while the final two runners can displace other team’s scorers and serve as insurance in case one of their top runners falters. Manheim Township returned five rising seniors from the varsity team, each of whom were expected to make up the scoring five. But two coveted spots were left up for grabs and Mark, Sam and Ian each had dreams of earning their first varsity letters.
            Of course, only two of the three of them would be able to run at the upcoming Gettysburg Invitational. As a result, the trio was constantly locked in ultra-competitive practices, each refusing to give any ground or hint at any weakness. The last intervals of workouts, or even a typical distance run, could seamlessly transition into a sprint finish where one runner sought to assert their dominance over the other.
            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.”

Mark Miller November 1st, 2016
            “How do I look?”
            “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.

Ocean Breeze and Snowflakes

By Jarrett Felix

After a week of mostly snow-outs, the PA track and field community is geared up to get back at it this weekend. As a result, the entries of the Ocean Breeze Invite are overflowing with talent up and down the performance list. I gave a quick list of PA entrants one post down (also has a link to the full performance list) but this post should act as a meet preview that I hope you will enjoy. 

2 Mile
Arguably PA's most accomplished long distance guy this year has been Methacton's Jeff Kirshenbaum. Although he doesn't have the state's fastest time (that belongs to Nick Dahl), Jeff has run 2 of the fastest 4 times in the state this year when you convert his December 2 mile time of 9:29. He will be PA's top dog in this one and should be hungry for this opportunity after missing Kevin Dare. He recently clocked a very fast solo mile and still has something to prove after he was bested by Neshaminy's Rusty Kujdych in his most recent 3k.

Gunning hard for Kirshenbaum will be a variety of PA up and comers. Seth Slavin leads the group, having run around 9:37 for 2 miles this year and holding a 4:32 mile season best. He was also the top regional finisher in XC out of PA guys in this field. LaSalle will send two guys in this event as well, top 50 XC runners Eddie Goebel and Stephen Paul. Both runners are currently in bubble contention for the state meet, but need a boost down toward 9 flat to feel more comfortable about their position. 

Matt D'Aquila from Lower Merion and Will Griffen from Cheltenham stand out as other sleepers. D'Aquila has been MIA for a while individually, but started his winter with a solid 3k. Griffen has already clocked a very nice 2 mile for himself in New York and is part of a strong Cheltenham distance squad that has a chance for a big statement weekend in the various individual events this weekend.

The 800 is one of the most exciting events of the weekend on paper. In the fast heat, we have PA #1 800 and mile runner Jaxson Hoey who is looking to continue his undefeated winter. But he will get perhaps the strongest challenge in the state from Carlisle's Matt Wisner, who has not lost an indoor race to head to head PA competition in the last two years. We are missing some other big names (most notably Tucker Desko of Pennridge) but these two may be previewing a state championship battle. 

The second heat has plenty of PA talent as well. Cooper Leslie of Camp Hill will likely be doubling off the mile (we will get to that) depending on the order of events, but the heat also features Charlie Scales, Joe Cullen and Stephen McClellan. Scales has already run 1:58 this year in a fast race at the armory and is an early state medalist contender. Meanwhile, McClellan is hoping for his first big break through indoor. He ran 1:54 last outdoors as just a sophomore and won his opening 800 this winter on a slower track than the banked surface he will encounter this weekend. I think he is the guy to watch from this section.

Joe Cullen, just a sophomore I believe, was sub 2 minutes last outdoors and a part of the state champions in the 4x8 last spring. He won't be afraid of this moment and could produce a breakthrough of his own.

The mile is absurdly stacked in its own right. It has a lot of guys I personally have been eager to see contest this event with this kind of competition. Josh Hoey, the 3rd place finisher in XC, stands out as a must watch. He ran 4:17 (full mile) last year as a freshman, one of the fastest times ever by a 9th grader. The last guy to run that fast that young from PA? Craig Miller, who finished his sophomore year outdoors running about 4:06. I'm not saying Josh will be that fast any time soon, but he did run a quick 1:58 opener (might be a PR or at least close to it) and it likely doesn't hurt that his brother is running well considering their training is likely similar.

Cooper Leslie also deserves mention as a top contender in this one. I accidentally snubbed him when talking about top names in my mile podcast, but don't forget about this guy when forecasting the state medals. Leslie ran a solid race at Burdette before dropping a huge mark in Maryland to win (on a flat track) in about 4:25ish. 

Ryan Barton of Downingtown West will be back in action this weekend as well. While his teammates have been active in the individual races this year, we haven't seen much of the 4:18 sophomore. This will be his first chance to make a big statement as an individual. If West feels like they can maximize their team title odds by focusing on the individuals, they will need to pick up a nice chunk from Josh Hoey and Barton. I'm excited to see what kind of shape he's in.

Colin Wills of Malvern Prep is also in the fast heat and should be a major player. Wills was a close second at Burdette in a very quick 4:27 and is a proven, gutsy race. He ran an excellent 1200m leg at Penn Relays last spring and I believe he was at the front of the slow section of the mile a year ago at indoor states. Graduated teammate Billy McDevitt (4th indoors in the mile a year ago) ran about 4:23 at Yale last year, so that's the checkpoint Wills might have in the back of his mind.

But even with all this talent, some could argue the most intriguing part of this race is the 3k runners: Liam Galligan and Dominic Hockenbury. Galligan may or may not consider himself a 3k guy. He was almost exclusively a miler last year as a soph, but he crushed his seasoning opening 3k this year, making him an instant medal contender in the event. Now, he will look to show his stuff in the mile after missing his chance at Kevin Dare.

Meanwhile, Dominic Hockenbury will be in relatively uncharted territory. The long distance specialist is a proven stud at 3200 and 5k, but his leg speed is still, at least a little bit, in question. He's run 4:20 for that distance, but many other top 2 milers in his league have been around 4:15 or faster. After getting outkicked on the last lap for state gold a year ago, Hock seems to be putting a renewed focus on getting his speed up. He raced a 1600 against Seth Slavin last weekend (and won with a time under 4:30 I believe) and now puts himself squarely in the middle of a stacked mile field. I think we could see a big PR from him here (I admittedly don't know his fastest mile off top) and a fast mark would be a good indication of his potential to break 9 this outdoors.

In some of the others sections are guys like Liam Conway, Patrick Grant and Jack DiCintio who have all clocked very fast miles on flat tracks. Conway has been relatively quiet at this distance after crushing his opener in December. If he's progressed well from that race, he could be on the verge of something crazy fast. Patrick Grant led the LaSalle armada that took Haverford by storm earlier this month and Jack DiCintio won at Burdette this past December in one of the quicker times in recent years. 

The field also includes Conestoga's PJ Murray who has already run 3 or 4 miles around 4:30 this winter, Ryan Paradise and Will Alpaugh, a couple of D11's best milers, Joe Angelina of Penncrest, Patrick Donahue of HG Prep and Evan Addison of LaSalle. Any one of those guys could end the day with a sub 4:30 mark and improve their place in the state standings.

The Relays
There are some interesting relays on the schedule for this weekend as well. LaSalle will be running what appears to be an A team in the 4x8, hoping to add a fast 3200 relay to their 4000 relay mark. North Penn, currently fighting to stay off the bubble in their favorite event, is also set to compete and could make noise. Emmaus, Downingtown East and Cheltenham are all entered as well and each team has some very talented guys on the roster.

The meet also has a 4xMile on the schedule. Owen J Roberts is entered in the rarely run event. It should be fun to see a team compete in this off event and maybe they can even get a school record out of it. 

The 4x4 also looks like a fun race. St Joe's Prep, who ran sub 3:20 last year, will be looking for a fast mark. I think they could get involved in the Penn Wood/Abington conversation if things break right. Downingtown West also has a team entered that will include not just the state leader at 400m, Josh McLemore, but also speedster Nate Alleyne and, apparently, both Hoey brothers. If DTW drops anything mammoth in this relay it seems like the odds are against them making any sort of stab at a DMR at states as both the 4x2 and the 4x4 sandwich the DMR.

Wyomissing will also be in the fast heat, featuring Cullen and Colon, the latter of which was extremely impressive in his last performance at the slow Kutztown track.

Ocean Breeze Entries: Preview to Come

The meet looks absolutely stacked. Thanks to whoever posted the link to entries earlier. It can be found here for those who have not yet seen:
I outlined some PA entries I picked off from the list below. Let me know if I'm missing anyone notable and I'll make sure they end up in the preview. Also feel free to use this post as a place to discuss the meet and make predictions.

Boys 2 Mile
Seth Slavin, Pleasant Valley
Will Griffen, Cheltenham
Stephen Paul, LaSalle
Matt D’Aquila, Lower Merion
Eddie Goebel, LaSalle
Jeff Kirshenbaum, Methacton
Matt Allen, Horsham
Connor Irwin, Horsham

Boys 800m (Red Section Only listed, White, Blue Sections not listed here)
Heat 1
Jaxson Hoey, DT West
Matt Wisner, Carlisle
Heat 2
Cooper Leslie, Camp Hill
Charlie Scales, The Haverford School
Joe Cullen, Wyomissing
Stephen McClellan, St. Joe’s Prep
Heat 3
Jack Armand, Garnet Valley
Heat 4
Nick DiFillipis, Methacton
Peter Cooke, Radnor
Wolfgang Schanbacher, Cheltenham
Tim Hogan, DT East
Heat 5
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

Boys Mile (Red Section Only listed, White and Blue sections not listed)
Heat 1
Liam Galligan, Springfield
Ryan Barton, DT West
Josh Hoey, DT West
Colin Wills, Malvern Prep
Cooper Leslie, Camp Hill
Dominic Hockenbury, Lake Lehman
Heat 2
Liam Conway, Owen J Roberts
Patrick Grant, LaSalle
Will Alpaugh, Freedom
Ryan Paradise, Emmaus
PJ Murray, Conestoga
Heat 3
Owen Ritz, GA
Joe Angelina, Penncrest
Jack DiCintio, Wyomissing
Heat 4
Sean Brown, Roman Catholic
Patrick Donahue, HG Prep
Evan Addison, LaSalle

Boys 4x800m
Heat 1
North Penn
Downingtown East
Heat 2
LaSalle B
Spring Ford
Lower Merion

Boys 4x400m
Heat 1
DT West
St. Joe’s

Boys 4x1600/Mile
Owen J Roberts

Poreda Recap

By Jarrett Felix

An Ocean Breeze Preview will be coming this afternoon/tonight, but I figured since I skipped out on last weekend’s recap in exchange for a couple podcasts, I’d get in a quick Poreda recap this morning as a bit of a consolation prize. So let’s jump in …

In the DMR, PA’s top finishers were the boys from Neshaminy, led by Sean Conway and Rusty Kujdych on the two end legs. The relay clocked a 10:43.64 for 2nd place overall with splits of about 3:13-53-2:08-4:28 according to our Dylan Jaklitsch. This marks Neshaminy’s second sub 10:50 of the season and puts them at #6 in the indoor standings. I’d be stunned of this mark wasn’t good enough to clinch a spot at states in the event and now, with their consistently strong marks in the event, you have to start taking Neshaminy serious as a potential all-state candidate (top 4) in the relay. Realistically, with the new order of events, basically every team who contests the DMR will have at least one guy doubling so if Neshaminy is the team that decides to go fresh, that could play a big advantage.

That being said, Rusty Kujdych, their sophomore anchor who has been running excellent marks this year, has run 8:48 for 3k and is currently #2 in PA behind Nick Dahl (who I’m currently speculating will scratch the 3k to help focus on the DM) so is this team really willing to scratch the potential #1 seed in the state? Also throw in the fact that Sean Conway is a sleeper pick to make noise in the 800m and you have some tough choices for this program. Speaking of which, keep a sharp eye on Conway the rest of the way. He’s currently #10 in the indoor standings for 800m when you count in the flat track conversion and I think he has the potential to drop a ton of time down the stretch of the season. He’s still a relative newbie to the longer stuff considering his previous work in the 400m, but after a 3:13 in the 1200 and 4:36 mile effort, it’s hard to deny the kid is hitting another level.

GFS and CB East both raced “B” squads in the DMR and produced strong 11:10 and 11:11 marks in the relay. CB West, with their own “B” squad, clocked an 11:22 to win the slower section.

Jake Brophy’s individual debut did not disappoint as the senior won the mile with a time of 4:22.89 to defeat Rock Fortna of rival CB West (4:24.34). Apparently, the race didn’t get out too fast as the field once again defaulted to Brophy for pacing duties. Considering, more or less, this has happened to Jake in the majority of his races against PA competition, it has to be a bit disheartening. Brophy never struck me as much of a grinder for fast times, but rather a racer and competitor who takes what the race gives him and goes for the win. But still, let’s not undersell this. 4:22.89 is plenty fast (probably around what he ran last year prior to the state meet) and currently would place him as the #4 seed for states, ahead of four time state champ Domenic Peretta, among others.

In his post race interview, Brophy confirmed what I had previously speculated on my podcast: his individual event choice will likely hinge almost solely on his team’s choice for the relay. I think most people (or at least me) feel like he has a better shot at gold in the 3k, but his team may have the best shot at a high medal in the DMR (a 3k-DMR double would be incredibly difficult). The team’s 4x8 is no joke as they ran 8:06 on a flat track and have run 8:17 and 8:16 during their two trips to Lavino with various levels of substitutions or tired legs. But to win the DMR, you often need a transformative leg on either anchor or 1200m and only a few teams have that as of now on paper (GFS, DTW, Pennridge and CB East with potential for you to talk me in to CB West).

To clarify what I mean by “transformative”, here is a list of some of the stars on the indoor state champ DMRs:

2008: LaSalle – Dan Lowry, multiple 4:12s and PCL championships
2009: Upper Dublin – Mike Palmisano 4:13/1:52, 1600m state champ
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

In other words transformative might not be a strong enough word.

Sorry I could a little carried away with the side bar … getting back on track … Rock Fortna’s 4:24 is also an excellent mark and, when combined with his 1:57 split, shows that this guy is a super talent. Since his team is running the 4x8 at states (they basically guaranteed it in their post-race interview and it wasn’t a surprise), the 4x8-mile double would be tricky (I’m guessing he would opt for the open 8), but if he is able to pull of the double he is a serious medal contender. His teammate Brian Iatarola ran a sick 4:34.33 as well and sets himself up nicely for a run at a sub 9 3k before all is said and done. Khayre Ali of the Hill School ran a 4:31 to put himself in the crowded mile qualifying picture (his time is 25th as of now in the standings) and Josh Goetz of CB East crushed the second section of the open mile, clocking a 4:41 to win by over four seconds.

And lastly, we have the 4x8. It was apparently quite the exciting race with CB West running down Union Catholic on the anchor leg to take the victory in 8:02. Even with an anchor leg on tired legs, West was able to get the victory and lower their state seed time down to 8:02, currently PA #2 behind only Abington. Splits were reportedly Zerweck 2:02, Claricurzio 2:00, Hofer 2:02.9 and Fortna 1:57 high (coming from a couple sources, including the athletes themselves). CB West seemed pretty excited after the win (as they should be) and has to be very excited about where Fortna is at. It’s not outlandish to speculate he could manage 1:55 on the anchor with fresh legs and more chasing duties. Hofer dropping to 2:02 on the third leg was also big. Not only does this allow Iatarola to focus on the mile-3k (where he has big upside), but it gives the team a more natural 800m leg with the potential to improve. I’d still slot Abington just ahead of these guys in my “power rankings” but the title picture is wide open. I’d say any of the top 7 teams right now in the state have realistic gold medal possibilities.

GFS was the second PA team to cross the line, taking third overall with a time of 8:05.79. That puts them as the hypothetical six seed for states as things currently stand. According to the entries (which aren’t necessarily correct) GFS clocked that mark without one of their top (indoor) four lappers in Jonnie Plass. My usual go to source for GFS splits (GFS Track & XC on twitter) didn’t post splits this go round, but apparently GFS set their school record at this meet (for indoors). Not too shabby considering the successful teams they have had come through the program. Couple that with their 4x4 school record (3:31 with apparently the same four guys that run the DMR) they recently set at Yale and the speed is clearly there for this roster. If they choose to pursue the 4x8, I think there is still room to drop time, but the more natural fit for this team’s talent is the DMR. Of course considering their individual accolades to this point, it’s hard to say for sure what the strategy will be. As usual, some sacrifices will have to be made.

For the record, most years GFS has loaded up a fresh DMR and scrapped the individual events. That’s usually always the play. However, occasionally they throw us a curve ball. Here’s a quick recap …

2015 - 10:27.31 (4th) – Fresh squad, Dahl and Hepp scratch from some top seeds
2014 - 10:42.55 (10th) – Fresh squad, Dahl and Hepp scratch
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
Sorry, off topic again ….

The point is 7/8 they throw out a completely fresh squad and the exception still featured a couple guys scratching from their best event.

Finally, worth noting was Pennsbury’s domination of the second section of the 4x8. Here comes the defending state champs! Despite still not having Kersten listed in any race results, the team is still producing. They ran 8:23 to run away with their section and put themselves at 13th in the adjusted state indoor standings for the event. That means they are a state bubble team as things currently stand, but they have consistently been making drops in time. Don’t be surprised if these guys find a way to compete for a medal even without their big stars from a year ago. Especially if Kersten comes back and can return to anything like his 1:55 lead off form.



Thank You! And Brief Poreda Thoughts

It was brought to my attention by one of the readers that we officially passed the PADontPlay blog in page views and we are closing in on my old blog, etrain11.blogspot.comas well. Huge thank you to those who have supported our new site and supported us throughout the seasons, different blogs, etc. We also aren't far from 500,000 views, which would be pretty cool.

What should we do to celebrate the moment? Curious on what ideas you guys have. 

In the meantime, I'll be including page view comparisons between this blog and my old one in various posts so we can all keep track of the countdown. Right now it's about 474k to 435k. I'm excited for the 40,000 view adventure.

As an FYI, penntrack previewed the action for tomorrow's Poreda Invitational on their site so you can flip around on their to check it out. I didn't see a performance list but I did find this New Jersey preview that seems to give a slice of some relay entries: http://nj.milesplit.com/articles/174175-poreda-invite-looking-to-heat-up-the-track-in-the-smr-and-4x8-wednesday

What jumps out? Well it looks like CB West, seeded at 7:59.99 and GFS, seeded at 8 flat, will be hoping for fast times and perhaps the first sub 8 of the season for PA. As Beck mentioned in his preview, Hepp and Dahl aren't entered anywhere individually which likely means they are loading up for a fast relay. Hepp just ran 1:55, Plass has run 2:02 this season and Dahl has the potential to be well under 2 minutes as well (he split 4:14 at Yale). Dahl should be a fun watch based on his recent workout he discussed on his milesplit journal (an excellent read for those into that sort of thing). I still think this team will lean towards a fresh DMR, but if they feel they could maybe win both relays that could flip the script a bit. As for CBW, they crushed an 8:06 on this same track a couple weeks ago at Lavino and could get a second straight gold in Lawerenceville. I hope they throw their A team on the track (seed indicates they will). It's a big challenge for them and a big chance to prove they are still in the title mix after Shanahan, CB East, and State College jumped them in the standings. I'm betting they make a statement.

Also, apparently, we are looking at our first individual Brophy sighting. He's apparently contesting the mile. I discussed the loaded mile and 4x8 fields on a podcast last night if you are interested in hearing more, but for now I'm just looking forward to see what Jake has individually.

That's all I've got without a performance lists but feel free to check out penntrack's preview here: http://pa.milesplit.com/articles/174068

Indoor Standings 1/25

Check out the current standings and etrain's current estimates for the state cut off. It's at our stat site lxvplus.blogspot.com or you can click on the specific post links below.


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)

Kiss from a (Mill)Rose: Who will Seal a Victory?

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:

While my good buddy Alex Fox is introducing Aidan Tooker as the winner of this year's Millrose Mile, I feel I must disagree at this point in time. Downingtown West's star miler Jaxson Hoey is in great fitness, and I think this race will be the perfect one to showcase his strengths. But first, let's take a look at the unfamiliar face that is Aidan Tooker.

Aidan Tooker, from upstate New York, ran several eight lap races last indoor season, giving us a look at his racing style and ability. Let's examine the mile races Tooker ran last indoor season.

First, Tooker ran the mile at the New Balance Games, with the top two finishers advancing to Millrose. While Tooker remained very close to the front, he was passed in the last 100m by Luke Gavigan, pushing him to 3rd place.

Two weeks later, Tooker toed the line with several elite runners at the New Balance Grand Prix. This race was much less tactical, with Tooker finishing sixth in a blistering 4:11 mile. While he ran a phenomenal time, he was unable to make the push to the front as the rapid pace played out.

Although Tooker was unable to autoqualify for Millrose, he did receive a bid, as he had run impressively throughout the season. As always, he hung with the lead pack for much of the race. However, with 400m to go, James Burke of NY kicked up the pace, closing in 57 seconds. Tooker was unable to hang with the kick, finishing fifth.

Jaxson Hoey did not do much running during indoor last season. It is to my understanding that he was injured much of the season, and took that time to appropriately recover for a fantastic outdoor season, where he competed at states and nationals.

While this indoor season is young for Hoey, he began the season by running a US #1 800m race, completing four consecutive 28 second laps and winning handily in 1:54.52. He followed that up with a quick turnaround into the Millrose Trials, where he would experience some very strong competition, most notably 4:07 miler Conor Lundy. Hoey ran the perfect race, negative splitting his way to a 4:12.05 mile, where he overtook Lundy on the final lap. Hoey has shown the kind of shape he's in, and is clearly ready to make a big impact at the Millrose Games next month.

Look, there's no doubting that Tooker is game for a historic season. He has run a 4:09 mile himself this season, and an 8:54 3200. But this isn't a 3200; this is the Millrose Mile. A race won by hanging tough for the first 800, matching moves, and closing hard. Real hard. In fact, I think the winner should be prepared to close near 2 minutes, something I think Hoey is capable of doing. Tooker, with a relay split PR of 2:00, would likely struggle mightily to close at that speed, something that could point to his finishes in the mile last year.


This race is certainly going to go down to the wire, and I'm excited to see these top high school runners toe the line in pursuit of the title as Millrose Champion