With all due respect to the other excellent performers in this race, it's hard to argue this was not an example of Domenic Perretta's dominance in this event the past three years. Many are on the train that thinks Perretta is a better 800 runner than miler (I'm very on the fence about this personally), but he has now grabbed 3 state titles in the 1600 and made each look quite easy. Once he turned it up a notch, he glided away on the final straightaway. If not for a late surge from Matt Murray, Perretta may not even have cracked 4:20 as he clearly had his mind set on that 800 later in day. I'm planning to touch more on Dom later (most likely in a couple posts) so for now, I will just say congrats to Domenic on a terrific three peat.
Matt Murray had one heck of a weekend. He ran 4:24 in prelims to indicate he was a top contender for this event and then put on a brilliant finishing kick to run 4:19 for the silver. Coming into the meet, I don't think he had run faster than 4:30 yet this season. Cooper Leslie continued his string of strong doubles, running a 1:53 800 split and then coming back for third in this event, at 4:21. With fresh legs, I think it would have at least been interesting to see Leslie go up against Perretta and maybe push him a bit more to the line. He's got good speed and strength, but he's barely had any chances at a fresh 1600 all season due to the 4x8. The heat made doubling tough on everyone for sure, but we saw some strong 4x8-16 double performances in this meet. Riley Lamison of Beaver Area also pulled off the double, placing 8th in this race after running on Beaver's 8:02 4x8.
Hunter Crawley of Williamsport, Tristan Forsythe of Winchester Thurston and Jarrett Boyd of Freedom will be the top 3 returners for next year's race. Crawley came up with a strong surge down the back stretch in this race and helped push Murray on to his final sprint. That move helped push Crawley down to 4:23 and the 4th place medal. Things get a lot more open in this event next year now that the heavy favorite of the past two-three seasons has graduated. So we could see an injection of a few more 2 mile types moving down or 800 types moving up.
As one commenter already mentioned, this race could have been the biggest surprise of the day. Most predictors for this event were going with either Hoey or Kolor, but only our own Sean Collins had confidence in Alex Milligan to pull out the victory. The 4x8-16 double is a brutal one. There's very little rest and you are moving up in distance for your second race, which I think makes things extra difficult. Milligan did have the luxury of running the 4x8 with a massive lead and, although I doubt he was saving anything for the open event (he ran a PR around 1:52.30), it's hard to push yourself to your limits when running by yourself. That opened the door for something special in his second race.
Milligan went straight to the back early, just trying to stay relaxed and then began to pick guys off as the race continued. The pace was quicker than average early (thanks to Liam Galligan running out to a decisive advantage), but it wasn't back breaking for the top tier of runners and, even in the heat, they really got moving on the last lap. It was crazy impressive that Milligan had the extra gear for a nearly 7 second PR while on the double. But it was one of the most clutch performances we've seen in recent history, given the team title implications of his race. I have to imagine his victory really fired up his teammates and gave them a little extra confidence that they could win this thing.
Some have commented how Milligan's results remind them of Sam Webb last year (one of the best doublers in recent history) who ran 1:53-4:12. To me, it took me back to 2009 when my teammate Mike Palmisano split 1:51.9 and then ran 4:13 to win the 1600 state championship. Similar to this race, there was a runner who took things out hard at the start that no one followed. Meanwhile, Mike sat in the back and gradually moved through the field before dropping the hammer and taking gold.
And Milligan beat strong showings from the 2nd and 3rd place finishers. As you can see in the results, these three were a step above the rest of the field and Mike Kolor and Josh Hoey both finished in the low 4:11s, two of their best performances ever. The silver medal for Kolor is also his highest ever finish at a state championships. The top three runners in this race all finished faster than Jaxson Hoey's gold medal winning time in 2015 and Zach Brehm's winning time in 2014.
Springfield DELCO's Liam Galligan ran a gutsy race, taking on the pace early and showing some real struggle on his face. But he was rewarded for his hard work as he stayed clear of the pack that didn't follow early and grabbed 4th overall in a new PR of 4:15.03. Galligan has now medaled at the last 3 state championships and has become one of the most consistent big meet performers in the state. Indoors, he earned his medal by throwing down a furious kick on the last lap, but he showed his versatility this outdoors with a front-running effort. I'm really impressed by the year this guy had and look forward to him racing next year.
Upper Merion's Noah Falasco peaked at the perfect time this season. Top guys in the program before him like Austin Cooper and Christian Sanders (shout to Sanders for making nationals for LaSalle this year) couldn't find their niche outdoors and navigate to a spring medal. But Falasco, after a big breakthrough during indoors, hit his stride at the perfect time. He ran a PR of 4:16.64 after running a PR at the district meet to qualify for the state meet.
North Allegheny's Jacob Stupak was one of a variety of NA medalists on race day and finished with a PR in his own right, just behind Falasco for 6th. It's his second straight medal at this distance. Junior Eric Kennedy of Kiski rounded out the medals in 8th place, giving the WPIAL a 3rd medalist. He will be the #3 returner for next year's state championship in this event.
It's been a terrific year for Brian Delany of Manheim Township. After some struggles during the fall, Delany came to the outdoor season with some serious fire. Although he finished in the dreaded 9th place position, he has a ton to be proud of. Delany left the meet with a PR at 4:18.92 with one of the best finishes at a state championship for MT since the Miller twins.
Lastly, I have to give a shout out to Henry Sappey. I really didn't think he had the raw speed to match up in this 1600 and wasn't even completely convinced he'd make it to finals. But Sappey ended up 7th in the final, running a very strong 4:17 and scoring critical points for DT West. This came on the heels of Sappey's medal winning performance indoors in the 3k and, of course, his phenomenal 6th place finish at the state championships in XC. Sappey's a consistent and clutch runner who proved me wrong a couple times this year by showing up in the big moments.
More to come. Also in the works, some featured stories similar to what we saw last year in "The Etrain 11". Keep your eye out for those. We already have one special story in the works that I hope you will find interesting. Stay tuned.
Update: All recap posts are up! Next on to the featured stories from the 2015-2016 year!
It's been a long road to this moment for Seneca. Led by the very talented Myers twins, Seneca has been a dangerous team on the state level in both XC and track for a few years in a row. However, there were growing pains at the state level with a young team. But this season, Seneca put together one of their best finishes at the state championship in cross. And now they are state champions in the 4x8. They looked extremely dominate in this race from prelims through finals. Their time of 7:51.07 is one of the fastest in AA history, but what makes things more interesting to me is the fact that this relay is made up of 4 juniors. Could they take a shot at the long standing AA record of 7:44.44 next year?
Shout out to Wyomissing who backed up their stat title with a runner-up finish, giving Seneca the best run of anyone. Their sophomore anchor, Joe Cullen, really rose to the occasion with a 1:54 split and I was impressed with their third leg, Keim, who ran a strong 2:01 to keep them in the race.
The anchor legs must have been fairly crazy across the board as five teams ended up cracking 8 minutes on race day. Seneca's anchor (Donovan Myers) ran about 1:54 according to PCN, Cullen ran 1:54 and Camp Hill's Cooper Leslie split around 1:53.8. That likely means Avonworth's anchor and Harbor Creek's anchor down around that range as well (7:57 times for both of those squads, just ahead of Camp Hill).
While many expected State College to defend their indoor title at Shippensburg, I think few expected them to dominate quite like they did on race day. The Little Lions got a brilliant lead off leg from Owen Wing (1:57 low) just a day after he clocked a big 1:56 PR in the prelims. Wing had to run wide for a decent chunk of the race, but still handed off at the front of the pack, setting up Nick Feffer to roll through the race. From there, it was pretty much over, although Rock Fortna gave a strong challenge on leg two. Feffer's final split (1:52 high) broke things open and Degleris and Milligan added then PR splits of 1:54 and 1:52 low.
The 7:37.25 sits behind only CB South and Wissahickon on the all time list and smashes their own state record. They accomplished this despite the fact that the back half of their relay was doubling/tripling. Apparently, the plan is for SC to extend their season and take one more shot at a fresh run at Nationals. It's definitely possible that the team could finish under the 7:33 state record with proper competition, especially if Alex Milligan bottles whatever magic he had in that 1600 this weekend (we will get to that). However, extending things out to nationals hasn't always been a successful strategy for PA teams as the extra three weeks or so of training is tough on anyone.
Despite State College's thrilling assault on the clock, the most exciting part of this race was the battle for second. Abington-CB West-Pennridge-North Penn-CR North divided up spots 2 through 6 in a span of just 2.45 seconds. It was an incredible run by Abington who appeared to be dead in the water after barely making the finals in Fridays prelims. Well, apparently they had a baton drop in the trials that they were able to overcome just to get to Saturday. Sometimes events like that can put things in perspective and make you truly appreciate the opportunity to compete in the finals. For Abington, they took full advantage of their opportunity.
In an epic rematch on the final straightaway of the indoor state championships, Abington and CB West came head to head in a sprint for the silver medals. It was the same two anchor legs as well as sophomore Jake Claricurzio battled Keion Broadus all the way to the line, both runners toppling at the finish. They finished in the exact same time to the thousands but, this time, Abington flipped the script on their indoor rivals and finished just ahead of West.
Pennridge, the District One champs, grabbed another top 5 medal at states. They finished near the top of the podium in 2012, 2014, 2015 and now 2016. Although they had higher hopes for this season, based on a quick look at the broadcast, it's possible they posted their 7:45 finishing time without their star Tucker Desko. It looked like Austin Howell may have run anchor and, since Desko didn't run the open 800 Saturday afternoon, he may have been hobbled. He reportedly had his anchor taped up at districts and that could have been an issue on race day. Regardless, it looks like Howell anchored in about 1:53 for the Pennridge boys and, as a junior who also boasts a 48 low split from Penn Relays, the kid could have a big future.
North Penn comes through again as a consistent 4x8 powerhouse. Based on my personal research this is at least the 13th different year North Penn has put up a 4x8 sub 7:47. My list that I've been compiling of all the sub 7:47 relays in PA history is currently just 85 teams deep, meaning North Penn accounts for roughly 20% of the teams on the list! That's crazy. I think this squad is fairly young too (certainly on the distance side) and so they should be a fun team to watch next year and even maybe during XC for the first time since their 2011 state title run.
Also in the medals were CR North, LaSalle and North Allegheny, who all had terrific seasons. This was an excellent race for North who has had quite the impressive run of dropping times during the fall, winter and spring. They peaked perfectly to escape D1 in XC, then finished 5th at states. They snuck into the indoor state championships as one of the last teams in for the 4x8 and then got on the medal stand. Now they roll through the final stretch of the season, finishing it off with a 7:46 that just misses what I believe was their school record run in 2010 (7:46.16).
LaSalle was a team I doubted heading into these championships. They decided to sacrifice all their individual goals for a chance at a top time in the relay. It was a selfless decision, especially for senior leader Patrick Grant who had successes at both the 1600 and the 800 this spring. I wasn't sure how they would handle the big stage, but they pulled through impressively with a 7:50.62. I'd have to see splits to say anything definitely, but I think Grant had one of his best ever races on the anchor leg for this team. Strong way to end his career.
Lastly, how about the North Allegheny Tigers? The WPIAL's most famous team decided to run a completely fresh squad at states (i.e. no Stupak, no Migliozzi). And, it was a squad filled with underclassmen. All four of their legs return including a 1:55 leg from junior Caleb Schaelchlin and a 1:57 split from sophomore Zach Ehling. Remember Ehling ran 1:56 low in the open 800 at the district 7 championships.
NA had a really strong weekend (I believe they finished 3rd in the team standings with 29 points, many years that score would be truly notable, but this year it was lost in the madness of the champions) and it comes a year after they graduated 3 absolute studs in McGoey, Wharrey and Seel. You just can't stop these guys.
So I've been working very diligently to find splits and relay info for all these squads, but I've been struggling a bit. So I need help from all of you. If you don't mind, please either comment, email (firstname.lastname@example.org), or direct message (@jfetrain11) us with order and split information for your teams. A huge, huge thank you to those who have already proved this information.
As an alternative, if someone can provide a reasonably high quality video of the two races, I will split all the teams by hand like I have for the past couple state championships. I'm willing to help the cause however possible.
As always, we will share the information we received, but we will keep who provided it to us anonymous unless otherwise specified. Plus we love hearing from fans! You guys are what make the blog go. So don't be shy, help the greater running community and get involved in the site! If you don't reach out, I'll probably bother you anyway with emails, tweets, etc. so just help everyone out now and save yourselves some trouble.
Here's what I've got so far (spoiler alert: it's not that much):
Seneca: Phoenix Myers '17, Gabe Jarema '17, Adam Hanes '17, Donovan Myers '17 1:54
Wyomissing: Jack DiCintio '16 2:01.3, Heriberto Colon '16 1:57.3, Austin Keim '18 2:01.3, Joe Cullen '18 1:54.6
Habor Creek: x, x, x, Dan Kuhn '16
Camp Hill: (Blake Behney '16, Ian Gabig '17, Dan Shank '17, Cooper Leslie '16 1:53.8) - order not specified
State College: Owen Wing '17 1:57.17, Nick Feffer '17 1:52.85, Anthony Degleris '16 1:54.75, Alex Milligan '16 1:52.30
Abington: Jake Good '16, Cameron Mitchell '18, Josh Coleman (?) '18, Keion Broadus '16
CB West: Carter Zerweck '16 1:57.3, Rock Fortna 1:53.9 '16, Luke Fehrman '19 1:59.0, Jake Claricurzio '18 1:53.8
Pennridge: Soloman Araneta '16, Matt Eissler '19, Jeff Espinal '16, Austin Howell '17 1:53
CR North: Bryan Keller '17 1:56.1, Matt Haldeman '16 1:57.6, Sam Early '18 1:58.5, Ben Heintz '16 1:54.1
North Allegheny: Bobby Lutz '17 1:58, Caleb Schaelchlin '17 1:55.5, Christian Parreaguirre '17 1:59, Zach Ehling '18 1:57.5
That's all I've got at the moment and not all of it is even official, so hit us up!
It was a pretty good weekend to be a track and field fan. PA State Championships, Pre Classic, and of course NCAA Regionals gave me plenty to watch. Yet, despite the great variety of track that kept me entertained, myself and the rest of writers were not able to out-predict Flotrack who won the Regionals Prediction Contest with 79 correct picks (out of 120). Check the link below to see the scoring breakdown!
While the prediction contest may not have gone the way I wanted it to, there is still plenty to talk about. Also keep in mind that I'll be talking about PA Alumni and how they did in a post (maybe tomorrow or Tuesday).
For the most part, the favorites in the race were able to advance and qualify for NCAA's. Sampson Laari (Mid. Tenn. State) was a nice surprise to make the cut. He will join his teammate Eliud Rutto at NCAA's.
Holland Sherrer (Mississippi) was another name that I should've paid more attention to. Sherrer qualified for NCAA's last year and did so again this past weekend. Clearly, that experience paid off for him.
Of course, there were also plenty of big names that did NOT make it. Blair Henderson (LSU) and Jacopo Lahbi (Alabama) were two runners that had been pumping out solid times all season, but failed to make it to nationals. Other popular misses were Ned Willig, Myles Marshall, Drew Piazza, and Jake Burton. Of those four, only Burton made the finals (but ended up five spots out from the cut).
Yet, the biggest miss of all had to be Andres Arroyo (Florida). For the past year, Arroyo has failed to run well at a championship meet. He has dominated the regular season, but can't seem to put it together at nationals. His failure to even make NCAA's this season just further solidifies the idea that he can't perform when it counts. A bit harsh, but true.
It seems like the decision to run the 1500 instead of the 800 was a good idea for Kidder and Murphy as both of them finished as the top two qualifiers. Murphy was the top qualifier in both the prelims and finals and looked very good in both races.
With most of the favorites getting in, there were others who were on the line that either made it, or just missed. The biggest miss has to be Ahmed Bile who has been known as one of the biggest miler threats in the nation throughout his career. Unfortunately, Bile never seemed quite right after his indoor nationals showing and has now missed NCAA's for outdoor. Graham Crawford and Julian Oakley were also two big names that were left off the qualifying list. A faster heat with guys full of kicks pushed Crawford and Oakley out enough to miss the cut. Penn State's Robby Creese will also end his collegiate running career early as he did not even make the finals.
Other top names like Joel Hubbard and Garrett O'Toole just simply had bad days and finished as the bottom two names in the finals. I can't remember the last time a sub 3:40 1500 runner missed NCAA's (O'Toole). He is still just a sophomore, so the lack of experience on the big stage is a bit understandable.
There weren't too many surprises, but David Timlin (Indiana State) and Ben Malone (Villanova) were definitely two guys who weren't picked to advance. They've developed some really solid leg speed and it showed in a final that came down to a kick.
There were very few surprises here as the region full of top-tier talent pushed their best guys through. Iona junior Brandon Allen was one of the only guys not expected to make the cut before clocking an 8:42.
As for the big names who didn't make it, Stuart Robertson and Nick Tuck ended the day with a DNF next to their name. I'd be curious to hear what happened there. However, it was Meron Simon that was probably the biggest surprise of all. The 8:39 man ended up two spots out from making NCAA's.
The 5k was very difficult to gage because so many of these guys had already qualified in something else beforehand (the 1500, steeplechase, or 10k). There were a lot of cuts or guys who simply just didn't push it knowing that they were already into NCAA's.
Both Luis Vargas and Graham Crawford did not even get on the line while guys like Henry Wynne and Neil Gourley hung back and did what was most likely a workout to end their weekend at regionals. Even more disappointing was seeing Ben Rainero end his season with a DNF. He was picked by a lot of the writers to advance to NCAA's, but couldn't cross the line.
Although those guys didn't make it, I have to credit where credit is due. Not a lot of guys were sure that James Dwyer was for real (including myself). Clemson isn't typically known for their distance running, so to see Dwyer grab the final spot to NCAA's is a great step forward for that program.
The small(er) school programs didn't come to fool around either. Campbell qualified their duo of Terer and Kipkoech while Flynn (George Mason) and Guillorel (Samford) proved that they could run on the big stage (both of them qualified for NCAA's).
Out of all 10 distance events this weekend, this was by far the hardest event to predict. A lot of guys were on the line of making it and it could've gone either way.
Philo Germano and George Parsons reminded everyone why Syracuse and NC State were so successful this past XC season by grabbing the last two spots to NCAA's. Lawrence Kipkoech and Amon Terer were able to gather qualifying marks before they would later qualify in the 5k as well.
However, the biggest surprise was is for the man who DIDN'T make it. 10k stud Matt McClintock failed to make NCAA's with a 14th place finish. In a race that favored kickers, McClintock couldn't cover the moves and didn't have the speed to keep up over the final 2000 meters. He was one of the very few 10k picks that everyone had chosen to advance.
Other notable misses were Ernest Kibet, Dan Lennon, Brian Masterson, and Wes Gallagher.
With inclement weather knocking out day one of trials completely, the 800 skipped over the prelims and went straight to the finals with each heat allowing 1 automatic qualifier and the next 6 fastest times qualifying for NCAA's.
The system certainly wasn't perfect as a lot of big names missed out. Favorites such as Goaner Deng, Robert Ford, Carlton Orange, Grant Grosvenor, and Collins Kibet all missed out on NCAA's. Had there been two rounds, I'm not so sure that all of those guys would have missed the cut.
While plenty of the big names cruised their way into the final, it was the lesser-known names that were able to get into NCAA's thanks to the changed qualifying system. Both Robert Uhr (Texas) and Mitch Hechsel (Minnesota) were able to qualify out of their somewhat weaker heats. Both of these guys are juniors, so the experience on the big stage will bode well for them next year.
The younger guys also seemed to prosper with the new qualifying system. Freshman Brian Bell (Houston) will join sophomores Clay Lambourne (Utah State) and Carter Lilly (Iowa) in Eugene. The youth of this 800 class continues to impress me.
Out of all the races this weekend, it was the west 1500 that really shocked me with a lot of big names missing the cut, and many lesser-known guys having an impact.
Some of the qualifiers like Yorks and the Oregon trio weren't too surprising. However, it was two freshmen and three juniors that really came out of nowhere to get a spot at the big dance.
Alex Rogers (Teaxas) and Josh Kerr (New Mexico) both qualified despite only being freshmen. While many of my fellow writers were sold on Kerr, I questioned his inexperience at a championship meet. Kerr proved me wrong by throwing down a 3:43 and grabbing an auto spot to nationals.
Juniors Matt Dorsey (Air Force), Andy Trouard (NAU), and Chase Horrocks (BYU) took me by surprise when I was looking through the results. None of those three were favored to make NCAA's or really even be close. In fact, none of the writers (or Flotrack) picked any of those three to make NCAA's.
The dramatic overhaul of new comers left out some pretty big names such as Josh Thompson, Jack Bruce, Nick Harris, Zach Perrin, Will Crocker, and anyone who wore Stanford singlet. With so many experienced milers and strong kickers missing the cut, the race at NCAA's should be very interesting.
Unlike the 1500, the steeplechase didn't provide too many surprising results.
Benard Keter (Texas Tech) really impressed me with his win. Keter dominated the competition on the last lap and looked effortless doing so. I'll keep that in mind when making my predictions...
The only true surprise of all the qualifiers was freshman Bailey Roth out of Arizona. The freshman got an automatic qualifying spot in a very deep third heat. I don't typically like to pick younger guys to medal at NCAA's, but after proving he can handle the big stage, I may have to reconsider my self-imposed rules.
It was a bit surprising to see guys like Connor Winter, Colby Wilson, Cale Wallace, and Trac Norris not make the cut. Winter and Walllace were pretty close, but guys like Wilson and Norris were towards the bottom of the results (Norris was actually last).
It still puzzles me as to why Wallace didn't go after the 1500 with a 3:40 PR, and I'm sure he's probably wondering the same thing right now.
The field was just too good to allow many surprises here. Cheserek and Kincaid led their respective heats and brought along some of the best names in the west region.
Vegard Oelstad (OKST) and Rory Linkletter (BYU) were the only ones who made the cut when they weren't favored to do so.
Unfortunately for Colorado, it wasn't their best event. Morgan Pearson did qualify, but five other Buffalo's failed to make the cut. To add injury to insult, John Dressel was the first man out, only 1 second off the cut.
Notable names that chose to not toe the line were Jack Bruce, Futsum Zienasellassie, Lane Werley, and Reid Buchanan. Bruce deciding not to race the 5000 after he failed to make the 1500 may indicate a possible injury (but that's just speculation).
The 10k turned out to be a pretty wide open race, with only a handful of favorites in the field. Unexpected qualifiers like Ryan Rutherford (Illinois State), Reed Fischer (Drake), and Charles Mathenge (S.F. Austin) upset sub-29 minute runners like Evan Landes (Kansas), Timo Goehler (Portland), and Andrew Ronoh (Arkansas).
Brian Barraza (Houston) was a favorite to make it, but finished in the unfortunate 13th place (first man out spot) and ended his season earlier than he would've liked.
Barraza's decision to not enter the 5k is still very strange to me. The 10k (his preferred event) would've been run before the 5k and he would've had a full day to recover. Yes, his chances of qualifying for nationals were higher in the 10k, but why would you bet your entire season on just one race when you can always have a backup plan? I'm still trying to make sense of that.
A long time ago, I went through a phase where I called Dominic Hockenbury, Dominic "Huckleberry". I'm not too proud of that. A not quite as long time ago, I went through a phase where I picked against Dom in seemingly every major state championship. I'm not too proud of that either. But I'm at least happy that, in his final race, I was able to jump on board (for one of the few predictions I got right).
Here's the thing about Dominic. He doesn't worry about what anyone else is doing, he goes out, runs his race and gives it everything he has every time. As a result, in Hockenbury's trophy case are 5 state gold medals and 3 more silvers over one of the best 8 year stretches in recent memory. He ended up outside of the state meet record (not too surprising considering the conditions, could find a way to hold this race at night in the near future??), but still ended up finishing off his race with a nearly 8 second margin of victory. In his three state title runs in the 3200, Hock ended up winning by a combined 30.25 seconds. That's pretty sick.
I would love to see him and Dahl and some others get together at Henderson for another battle over 3200, maybe finally clocking that sub 9 if the weather is right. From his interview, it sounds like that might be a pipe dream, but we'll see. He's definitely not 100% satisfied with how things ended which may provide the spark for one more go.
Zach Skolnekovich of Quaker Valley finished 2nd overall and will enter next season as the top returner in both XC and track for a state championship run. Skolnekovich crossed the line first for the WPIAL who dominated this race with 6 of the 8 medal positions (all the guys who finished the race for D7 ended up with state medals). Ben Bumagarner, just like outdoors, came through with a fantastic finish to move up to 4th. Will Loevner added a 3rd straight 3200 medal and Winchester Thurston's Ben Littman grabbed one of the more surprising medals of the day, taking 7th in a big Pr of 9:30. WT has been cleaning up on the medal stand over the past three years in this event.
Breaking up the D7 onslaught on race day was Bryce Descavish of Central Cambria. He too performed incredibly clutch on the big stage for the third time in a row. Bryce finished as the top team scorer in XC and now adds a bronze medal in a loaded field to his accomplishments. Despite the fact that many guys around him had faster PRs or season's bests, Bryce excelled through the heat and top competition with a strong 9:22 mark.
Matt Kravitz wasn't the name on top of everyone's contenders list heading into the Saturday's state championships. In fact, some people on my writing staff even went so far as to say he should have been in the 1600 at states. Of course there was a small forshadowing for Kravitz's gold as Penntrack's Merbz96 said simply, "Don't sleep on Matt Kravitz" just days before the title was awarded to the North Pocono senior.
Kravitz has always been a strong runner, but during his senior season he really turned things up a notch. Matt finished as PA's top runner at Paul Short and then finished 3rd in AA State XC Championships at Hershey, with a time under 16 minutes. Up until his trip to Shippensburg, Kravitz had been completely untested. With all due respect to his competition, Kravitz had dominated everyone he faced en route to a pair of sub 9:20 marks and a 4:17 1600. However, he didn't attend the big meets like Baldwin or Henderson. He didn't have the flashy school next to his name and he came from District 2: a district not many seem to care about until you make them care about it.
But at states, he made us all care. I was trying hard to watch the race via Periscope while riding in the car up to Delaware and managed to see the outlines of Kravitz outkicking the field in a blistering close. I believe he was under 60 seconds or so for the last lap, but would have to check. The 32 switch proved to be an extremely clutch decision and he drops a massive 10 second PR to leave with gold. A classic reminder that PRs don't tell the whole story as, for the second straight year, the top guy in the field run massive personal bests to cross the line first.
The District 1 vs. WPIAL debate had raged all season and, in the key moment, the 7 came to play. District 7 took 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 10th with their top 5 guys and showcased just how strong their area has been this year. This came on the heels of last season where D7 put just one guy on the medal stand in 7th. Nick Wolk, as he has done all year, led the charge with a PR of 9:10. Marc Migliozzi of North Allegheny, Jake Susalla of Plum and Todd Gunzenhauser of Mount Lebanon rounded out the top 5. It was a tale of three different stories this season for those three guys as Migz went from relative unknown, buried on a loaded NA depth chart, Susalla overcame a disappointing end to last season with a perfectly timed peak and T-Gunz, the WPIALs top returner in this event from a year ago, lived up to high pre-season expectations with another medal. The guys each finished with medals in XC and medals in the 32.
How about this for a surprise. The top returner from next year's 3200m state championship is ... Zach Lefever! The junior from Ephrata had a solid 2015 track season, but probably wasn't even the best 2 miler on his team (Nate Becker is another strong 3200 man). Now Lefever, after a monster XC season that met an untimely end with a hospital trip just before Hershey, Zach finally had a chance to show just how talented he is. After a strong 9:22 PR, he runs 9:19 in the heat with a negative split to finish as the top junior. I wonder how far up this XC Top 50 rankings this will put him ...
Big shout to Kevin Lapsansky of Easton. He grabbed 7th in this field with a pretty large 3200 PR. Running behind Colin Abert for most of his career was pretty tough, but quietly Lapsansky has grabbed 2 XC medals, multiple D11 championships and now a state medal in the always packed 3200. Great career Kev.
And speaking of great careers, although Jake Brophy finished "just" 8th in this race, the kid has had an amazing career. Three state championships, a sub 9 3200 and a resume that puts him up there with the greatest distance guys are state has ever seen. He's a selfless team player who wasn't afraid to risk his own individual success to help his teammates. Congrats to Jake on a fantastic career.
Worth noting, awesome races from guys like Moser, Livolsi and Shea who finished 11th, 12th and 13th in this race. Moser proved he was a gutsy, determined runner this season, emerging from obscurity to a 9:21 3200 guy who nearly stole a state medal. Livolsi was buried in a pack of loaded LaSalle talent and has since made a name for himself individually as a top flight distance runner. And Shea, who barely even punched a ticket for the state championships last week, runs a Pr at the perfect time and finishes as the #4 returner for next years race.
Lots of young guys will be back with a ton of valuable experience now under their belts. Should be yet another amazing 3200 finish in 2017.
Ultimately, what I decided to do was give a top 3 predictions for each event and then list all the competitors in the AAA and AA competition in order of finish. You get -3 points for correctly picking the winner and -1 point for each person in your top 5 that finished in the top 5. Then you get positive points for how far away you were on each runner in your top five's place. For example, if I had Domenic Perretta 4th and he finished first, that's a +3 (and then a -1 because he is the in the top 5). There was a maximum of 10 for each individual person. If a runner didn't make the finals, they counted as place #13.
Any questions? Feel free to ask. Also, feel free to double check my math. Here we go!
1. Sean Collins - 10
2. Etrain - 11
3. 3200m Commenter - 17
1. Etrain - (-3)
T-2. Bluebird - 2
T-2. Thelonius - 2
T-2. Zoom'n'Boom - 2
1. Sean Collins - 2
2. Etrain - 5
T-3. Thelonius - 7
T-3. Zoom'n'Boom - 7
T-1. Sean Collins - 16
T-1. 800m Commenter - 16
3. Blue Bird - 17
AAA Final Results
1. Sean Collins - 32
2. Etrain - 38
3. Blue Bird - 55
4. Dylan Jaklitsch - 58
5. Thelonius - 62
6. RJJL - 64
7. Zoom'n'Boom - 67
AA Final Results
1. Etrain - 15
2. Sean Collins - 29
Congrats to Sean Collins for his victory and a huge thank you to everyone for participating in this prediction contest! It's always a lot of fun! Good job by everyone out there who #DerailedTheTrain this weekend.
Hello everyone. Lovely to see you all again. It was definitely a bit sad yesterday missing what I personally feel was one of the greatest state championships of the decade (it was #10 for me in my "career"). Of course, I have no regrets and was definitely not missing my brother's graduation (shout out to Luke Felix who created my first blog and convinced me to start this back in the day), just a little sad they had to overlap.
I am going to make an effort to head up to the PA Distance Festival next weekend. Our own Garrett Zatlin will be in attendance and likely competing there so it would be cool to cheer him on and see the races (should be some fast ones). There's also a chance we would be producing another batch of etrain shirts special for the event if there's seems to be demand. We would, unfortunately, have to sell them as financially I'm not sure I could throw out a ton of free t-shirts (... again). That's still very up in the air and would certainly have to check with Coach K before doing that, but if there's enough demand I'll do what I can to make it happen.
Anyway, this isn't about me, it's about all of you. What an amazing state championship. I can't stress this enough. It was truly unlike anything I've ever seen. You had some of the greatest historic achievements in the state (Domenic and Dominic completing the triples) but you also had some of the most exciting, jaw dropping and wide open state championship finals in recent memory.
But perhaps the most unbelievable part of the meet was the team championship race. That's what really puts this thing over the top. The AA boys race was decided by just 3 points and the AAA boys race was decided by just 1! DT West ends up just missing out on the sweep of the titles across the three sports which, at least recently, had never been completed. I honestly rarely remember who wins the state title in a given year. If I'm being entirely truthful, I often don't care. And neither do most people. But this year, the outdoor championships received genuine hype about two truly unbelievable teams. Although each team had their stars, each time had a boat load of scorers across a variety of disciplines. And, at the end of the day, the meet came down to the final race, where both teams finished in the top 2!
Here's what's crazy to me personally. Weather played a huge role in deciding who was crowned state champions. You could say this started Friday night when storms forced the officials to cancel the 4x400 heats for AA and AAA boys (and AAA girls) and, instead, run the event as a 4 heat timed final on Saturday. But you would also have to remember that at Shippensburg the previous weekend, District 3 schools faced brutal conditions at the end of the meet, just trying to finish with any sort of strong seed times for states.
That meant that Camp Hill, Milton Hershey and Central Dauphin East were forced into tough spots that, arguably, swung the championships. Camp Hill ran in the first of 4 heats in the AA 4x400. They won their section by roughly 4 seconds. When the dust finally settled in the final section, Camp Hill ended up with the 4th fastest time overall. If they had finished second (roughly 3 seconds faster) they would have tied for the team championship. If they had placed 1st (roughly 4 seconds faster) they would have won the title. Could they have made up that ground? We won't ever know for sure, but it's kind of funny how fate works out.
On the flip side, State College, knowing DT West was likely going to win the 4x4, needed to get 2nd. They waited and watched first as CD East ran 3:18 from section 2 in 3:18.14 (roughly 4 second margin of victory). Then district 3's Milton Hershey clocked a 3:16.66 to move into the top spot heading into the final. Worth noting, District 3 won heats 1, 2 and 3 in the AAA 4x4 and no district 3 teams competed in heat 4.
SC ended up beating Hershey by just 0.09 seconds when the numbers were finally calculated for their heat. If they had let up by a fraction of a fraction of a second, they would have lost the state title. If Milton Hershey, CD East and State College had raced in the final together, would the order have changed? Again, we'll never know. And, personally, I like it that way.
Next, I will turn my attention to the state championship recaps where I'll break down my thoughts on each of the 4 distance races in AA and AAA. But before I go on, I'd just like to, again, get all philosophical with you. I will definitely be trying to highlight the great races rather than dwell on the off days. Bad days happen to everyone, sometimes on the biggest stage. I don't pretend to know the whole story (could be injuries, personal problems, literally anything) and it's not really my business to know the whole story.
But I do know this. Every kid who competed at the state championships this weekend should be very proud. You qualified for a spot in the top track and field invitational in our borders and one of the best meets in the nation. Many of you are coming back next year to high school and can use this day as motivation. Others are going on to compete in college and will continue to get stronger with each adversity faced. Still others may be done running, but they'll never be done competing. Whether it's at a job, in a relationship or just a pick up basketball game among friends, we runners are too strong, too fierce and too determined to not be competitive in something. And that's what makes runners and the running community so strong. That's what helps make us who we are.
So if you ran well, hold your head high. If you are disappointed, hold your head high too. Because I still think of all of you as winners. And I promise, you're family, friends, coaches and teammates do too.
As always, stay classy and, if you're into that sort of thing, get pumped for the event recaps coming soon to a computer screen near you.
Jarrett "etrain11" Felix
P.S. For those who haven't read it, definitely check out RJJL's comments on the team title race in the post just below this one. It's a fantastic read. You've still got a job here if you want it kid ...
P.P.S. The Prediction Contest Results Are In! This one was crazy, particularly in the 800 and 3200, but Sean Collins navigated the field en route to a victory. He was the only one to pick Alex Milligan as state champ in the 1600 and made some other key predictions to get the W. Check out the post on the index on the side of the screen for the full break down of scores.
Autos: Harbor Creek, Lewisburg, Beaver Area, Camp Hill
At Large: Wyomissing, Freeport, Trinity
The defending champions, Wyomissing, were caught in a close one here, finishing 5th in this heat and having to briefly sweat it out for a spot in the finals. They were one of three District 3 squads to qualify for the finals, including D3 champs Camp Hill. CH’s anchor, Cooper Leslie, looked pretty in control and was able to cruise a bit on his leg to save something for his 1600 trials later in the afternoon.
At Large: Warrior Run
At Large: Abington
At Large: LaSalle, Carlisle, Cumberland Valley
Lastly, shout out Eastern York on a strong season. They finished as the first team out of the finals as an underrated squad without any big names or star power. Fantastic job by these guys. Sad to see them out of the final, but no reason to hang your heads regarding this effort.
At Large: Hunter Crawley
AA 1600m Heat 2
At Large: Riley Lamison, Will Kachman, Colton Fox
At Large: None
At Large: Noah Falasco, Jesse Cruise, Brody Beiler, Henry Sappey
With Milligan and Stupak’s squads both qualifying for finals in the 4x8, the race for 3rd-5th tomorrow is going to be phenomenal. Anyone who made the final could realistically grab a top 5 spot. That’s pretty darn rare and makes this a fun watch tomorrow.
AA 800m Heat 1
Autos: Kamil Jihad, Dan Kuhn, Anthony Clement, Mike Sheptuk
At Large: Aaron Morris, Dominic Mussoline, Brandon Anglemyer
AA 800m Heat 2
Autos: Domenic Perretta, David Fletcher, Ben Heim, Joe Previdi
At Large: Tyler Leeser
At Large: Cole Sunderland, Justin Miller, Tucker Desko
At Large: Calvin Schneck
Next year’s field should be another wide open affair considering the guys returning. Can’t wait for these finals.
2016 States Predictions AA
Heat 1: Harbor Creek, Beaver Area, Camp Hill, Wyomissing
Heat 2: Seneca, Avonworth, Masterman, Mount Carmel
Time Quals: Lakeland, Warrior Run, Lewisburg, Neumann Goretti
Heat 1: Mackey, Forsythe, Crawley, Upham
Heat 2: Perretta, Leslie, Boyd, lamison
Time: Leech, Myers, Scheib, Lott
Heat 1: Kuhn, Jihad, Sheptuk, Morris
Heat 2: Previdi, Fletcher, Thrush, Perretta
Time: Mussoline, Helm, Reichenbacugh, Boyd
Heat 1: CRN, BS, CBW, Abington
Heat 2: SC, Pennridge, CBE, Carlisle
Time: MH, LC, COH, NP
Heat 1: Milligan, Signor, Hoey, Delany
Heat 2: Kolor, Kennedy, Galligan, Conway
Time: Stupak, Sappey, Snyder, Alpaugh
Heat 1: Bailey, McClellan, Desko, Feffer
Heat 2: Hoey, Wisner, Whitfield, McGinnis
Time: Bove, Degleris, Klick, Espinal