The New Era of the New Year

By: Garrett Zatlin

For the past few years now, our top PA alum have included names like Brenden Shearn, Alec Kunzweiler, Ned Willig, Tom Coyle, and many more. Of course, all good things must come to an end. All of these guys will be graduating out of the NCAA after this spring. 

This is the last time we will see Brenden Shearn give life to a once forgetful Penn program. This is the last time we will see Alec Kunzweiler navigate through a tactical mile enroute to a top finish. This is the last time we will see Ned Willig[1] dominate the Ivy League (now BIG 10) middle distances. This is the last time we will see Tom Coyle drop sub 4 minute miles or lead off Stanford's DMR. 

But as they leave, new names are emerging. In the past year, some of the best performances from our PA alum haven't necessarily come from juniors or seniors. They have come from freshmen and sophomores. The young guys are progressing rapidly and their development is unheralded.  

Who would have thought that in 2016, Kevin James would be among the top seven runners for the defending national champions (Syracuse) as a redshirt freshman? The same goes for true freshman Jake Brophy who was a key scorer in Navy's quest to qualify for nationals[2]Brophy was the only underclassman in their top seven.

Or how about Villanova's redshirt freshman Andrew Marston becoming the first PA alum since 2014 to qualify for XC nationals as an individual[3]? Additionally, Marston is one of only five PA alumni since 2010 to qualify for NCAA's as an individual. The other four? Dan Lowry[4], Vince McNally, Kyle Dawson, and Matt Fischer. That's some nice company to be part of.  

Meanwhile, John Lewis (as a true freshman) proved to be one of the most consistent PA alumni in the nation. He recorded NINE sub-1:50 efforts throughout his indoor and outdoor track campaigns which resulted in a collegiate PR of 1:48. But while John Lewis was logging great race after great race, Columbia freshman Alek Sauer was preparing for a killer post-season as he ripped open a 1:48 PR to make the NCAA East Region finals. Lewis was the first man out of that final.

Yet, the biggest surprise was Penn State's Colin Abert. It was easy to dismiss Abert when you considered his youth and inexperience, but he posted some impressive times of 3:45 (1500), 4:03 (mile), 8:08 (3000), 14:10 (5000). Does 2017 hold a sub-4 mile for Abert? What about a sub 14? Dare I say a nationals appearance? After that first year, it's tough say any of those won't happen...

Freshmen and sophomores are hitting times that past alumni didn't run until they were juniors or seniors. Could this be the start of PA alumni consistently qualifying for nationals? Having multiple All-Americans? Becoming conference champions? How about an individual who earns multiple All-American honors? These aren't unrealistic goals.

And the best part? We haven't seen the full potential of guys like Sam Webb (Penn), Elias Graca (Penn), Matt McGoey (Pittsburgh), Sam Ritz[5] (Columbia), Casey Comber (Villanova), Paul Power (Villanova), Griffin Molino (Syracuse) and pretty much all of the 2016 recruits that just finished up their first collegiate season of cross country.

For some, it will take time to find their groove. They might have to deal with injury or illness or just having a bad season. Everyone is human. It happens. 

But this is a special group and they have given us good reason to set expectations high. They bring a new sense of excitement and a stronger conviction to the phrase "PA Don't Play". Whatever your thoughts about 2016 may have been, the new year will almost assuredly be better.
[1] Willig is taking the same approach as Dan Lowry by completing his undergraduate education at Brown and finishing his last year of eligibility at Michigan as a grad student.
[2] It was the first time Navy had qualified for the national championship since 1997. 
[3] Matt Fischer was qualified as an individual in 2014.
[4] Dan Lowry qualified for nationals as an individual twice in his career.
[5] Ritz is a name to watch as he is coming back from injury.

Before the Record: Henderson and O'Hara

by Jarrett Felix

As we head into 2017, the story for this indoor track season should be similar to what was the story during cross: how will the Affolders and Carlisle shake up the PA landscape? The arrival of the brothers has already had some speculating on the possibility of a sub 10 flat DMR during the indoor season. That would put them alongside the national record and just ahead of PA’s all-time best from Cardinal O’Hara at 10:00.75 (which is #2 all-time).

The O’Hara DMR victory in 2014 was just one chapter in an epic rivalry between the Catholic league power and the Ches-mont’s West Chester Henderson. The boys from Henderson ended up running 10:04.45 at Nationals, which would have been a state record in its own right if not for O’Hara. 

It was a Friday night and I was watching the race with future blog writer Alex Fox at Muhlenberg College. O’Hara junior Kevin James did an excellent job keeping his nose at the front of the race and handed off near the front in 3:03. After a 51 second quarter leg, it was O’Hara’s Nick Smart, a 2012 transfer from Garnet Valley, who broke the race wide open with a blazing 1:53 carry to take the lead. That gave them an almost 8 second advantage over Henderson who sat in the middle of the chase pack.

O’Hara’s Jim Belfatto got the baton and went after it looking to hold the lead. He knew that Henderson’s anchor, Tony Russell, was the reigning state champion in both the mile and cross country. Ultimately, Belfatto held on to his advantage and event managed to increase it. When he crossed the line I was stunned to see the time of 10 flat streak across the screen. It broke the state record that was already in house at O’Hara and Belfatto set a massive PR to cross with a 4:11.51. Russell gave it everything he had on his anchor carry for Henderson, splitting 4:07.16, but ultimately was unable to defeat their nemesis on this occasion.

The final splits were as follows (according to Delta Timing):
O’Hara 10:00.75 – James 3:03.83, Cooper 51.72, Smart 1:53.69, Belfatto 4:11.51
Henderson 10:04.45 – Moy 3:08.44, Thompson 51.54, Stratman 1:57.31, Russell 4:07.16

But naturally the story for these two historic relays did not begin in mid-March when nationals was contested. Just like Carlisle in 2017, O’Hara and Henderson were once just numbers on a piece of paper with speculation our best guesses for what the future might hold.

The 1200m Leg
Kevin James, Jr O’Hara
Prior Year PRs – 3:04.4, 1:59/4:15y/9:13
Indoor Bests Prior to Nationals – 3:09, 2:00/4:21y/8:42 3k

Kevin Moy, Sr Henderson
Prior Year PRs – 1:55/4:16
Indoor Bests Prior to Nationals – 1:57/4:25

As just a sophomore, Kevin James showed a real knack for the rarely run 1200. He ran a gutsy 3:09 split at indoor nationals and then dropped an impressive 3:04.4 split at the Penn Relays to help set up O’Hara near the front of the field. Although he lacked some of the 800 speed of the traditional 1200 runners, he made up for it with heart and strength, boasting a 4:15 full mile best and a 9:13 best at 3200. In his final meet before nationals, he placed 4th at indoor states in the 3k.

Kevin Moy was a little known member of the Henderson squad before he exploded to the top of the state in the spring. He dropped a blazing quick 1:55 for 800 and also ran 4:16.0 for 1600 meters at the district championships. At states, in windy conditions, Moy had one of the best races of his career as he passed Tony Russell in the state finals and earned his first state medal. He was the top junior in the 1600 finals. The following indoor season, Moy dropped times of 4:25 and 1:57. He ran the 800 leg of the state championship winning DMR in his last race before nationals.

The 400m Leg
Isaiah Cooper, Jr O’Hara
Indoor Best Prior to Nationals: 54, ran on 3:27 4x4

Stephen Thompson, Sr Henderson
Indoor Best Prior to Nationals: 1:58/53  

Prior to the 2014 season, neither runner had emerged as a top flight 400 meter runner. Even during the season, neither of them were at the top of the state qualifying lists with open bests of just 54 and 53 respectively. Thompson was more of an 800 meter specialist who moved down to the 400 to fit a need. He had a best of 1:58 during the 2014 indoor season and ran the 400 leg on the state championship winning DMR. Cooper ran a key leg on the 3:27 4x4 that O’Hara clocked at indoor states, likely alongside Jim Belfatto and Nick Smart.

The 800m Leg
Nick Smart, Sr O’Hara
Prior Year PRs: 1:55.14
Indoor Best Prior to Nationals: 1:54.34

Eric Stratman, Sr Henderson
Prior Year PRs: 1:57.24
Indoor Best Prior to Nationals: 2:01/4:30

After transferring to O’Hara in the fall of 2012, Nick Smart began popping up as a critical building block for the team in the spring of 2013. He ran a strong 1:55.14 in the 800 and ran on their excellent 4x800. Then, in his first season as a full time varsity XC runner, Smart finished 11th at the state championships, helping O’Hara capture a 3rd place finish as a team. As his senior indoor season progressed, Smart continued to excel. In the fast paced 800 final, he ran 1:54.34 for a new PR in the event. He was 4th behind only Kyle Francis, Jeff Wiseman and Joey Logue.

Eric Stratman was one of Henderson’s most consistent performers. He was a varsity member of both of Henderson’s XC state champion squads and quietly ran a 4:19 and 1:57 during his junior track season. During his senior indoor campaign, Stratman ran 2:01 and 4:30 in the open events, but bowed out of the individual mile so that he could be fresh for a critical role: anchor leg on Henderson’s state championship DMR. The fact that Stratman was trusted to take up that job speaks to just how reliable of a piece he was.

The 1600m Leg
Jim Belfatto, Sr O’Hara
Prior Year PRs: 1:55.19/1:54s, 4:22y, 9:22
Indoor Best Prior to Nationals: 4:17y, 1:58

Tony Russell, Sr Henderson
Prior Year PRs: 1:58/4:14y/9:07
Indoor Best Prior to Nationals: 4:11y State Record

In the DMR, the anchor leg is to the key. The other legs matter of course, but you need a good anchor. Both of these teams had fantastic anchor legs certainly, but they came from two very different places to get there. We start with Tony Russell. As a junior, Tony Russell rolled to a dominant victory at the XC State Championships before adding a regional title. On the track, he ran 4:14 for a full mile and 9:07 for 3200 meters. As a senior, he doubled down on his XC accomplishments with two more wins at states and regionals. Then he torched the indoor circuit with a 4:11 mile state record, besting the long standing mark from Blair Mancini. He also ran 4:12 for the indoor mile, just barely missing Paul Springer’s state meet record. Russell was on top of the PA state landscape, one of the all-time greats, and ready to attack the anchor leg of the National Championship DMR.

Jim Belfatto started as an 800 runner. He ran on O’Hara’s 2012 medal winning 4x8 as a sophomore with a clutch anchor carry. In the next fall, he ran cross country and worked his way into a consistent scorer for the state champion hopefuls. He finished in the top 50 at states and delivered as the #5 man the team desperately needed. But one of the defining moments of Jimmy’s XC careers came on the track. In a small 3200 at Henderson, used to tune up for regionals, Jim Belfatto ran with a top pack that included 3 state medaling teammates and bested them all to run 9:22 in what may have been his first ever 3200. That was good enough at the time to be O’Hara’s school record according to Coach Kennedy.

Despite that 3200 performance, Belfatto was still more of an 800 guy on the track. He ran 1:55 in the open 8 and split 1:54.2 on O’Hara’s Penn Relays DMR. While he did clock a 4:22 mile at the Henderson Distance Festival to end his 11th grade year, it seemed like he was a more logical choice for lead off while Kevin James would step into the anchor role.

But Belfatto continued to defy expectations and drop time. He ran 4:22.16 for the mile at the PCL championships, finishing 3rd just behind teammate Kevin James. That gave the team the confidence to move him to the anchor leg at Meet of Champs. Then he dropped another big PR, running 4:17.1 at the indoor state championship to grab the silver medal.

Everything came together perfectly for Belfatto to drop a massive 4:11 anchor leg at the national championships. The 1600 meters split was roughly 5 seconds faster than his converted mile time from states (which was already a PR). It was a magical race in a critical moment, with all the pressure and none of the competition in sight.

So now the question becomes, how does Carlisle stack up? Well on paper, they have the following:
Noah Affolder – XC State and Regional Champ, 8:48, 4:07y, 1:56
Sam Affolder – Regional runner-up, 4:20y, 1:57, 9:16 steeple all as a freshman
Isaac Kole – XC State Medalist, Top 35 Region, 1:59/4:27/9:33
Jack Wisner – XC Top 50 finisher, 2:00.33/4:32 as a freshman
Prince Gaye – 11.03/22.75
Jared Griffie – 53.08/2:03.52

Clearly they have plenty of talent. If you compare their guys at this time to the guys that O’Hara and Henderson had at this time, they match up pretty darn well. But what Carlisle might be missing is a rival. Someone that can push them to their limits the same way O’Hara and Henderson pushed one another. That could come from current XC state champs CR North or perhaps reigning All-American DMR Germantown Friends.

A lot can happen between now and season’s end. But I’d keep your eyes open for a shot at history.

Etrain's Favorite Posts of 2016

by Jarrett Felix

It’s been an amazing 2016 for us here at the blog. And we’ve made a ton of posts. As the founder of this blog and the guy with my name across the top (sort of), I thought it might make sense for me to review all of the wonderful posts and ideas that we’ve tried out here in 2016. After careful re-reading and clicking around, I picked out my favorite posts from the 2016 Calendar Year on the blog and I’ve shared them with you below. These aren’t necessarily the most viewed posts of the year (that would be these three: Carlisle-Hershey Double Preview, District One Live Results, XC States Week is Here), but instead are the posts that I feel best represent what we do here as a site and how we approached the 2016 year.

One of the things we enjoy doing here is making lists. During the XC season, we have top 50 lists for high and collegiate individuals. It’s probably the #1 identifying feature of the etrain brand (often imitated never duplicated as they say). So when the 2015 XC season officially wound down, I decided to go full on list with a look back at the decade long coverage from 2006 through 2015 and determine who I felt were the top 101 PA XC runners during that span. Let me know what you think.

You can see more top 50 lists by clicking on the label the50 on the side of the blog.

Our main man in the collegiate section, Garrett Zatlin, is not just a great writer, he’s also a great thinker. His bearish/bullish twist on rankings and analysis is one of the cool combinations of each of those talents. And here is one those posts that was particularly well done in 2016.

We love running. That much is probably obvious. But we also love getting all our writers involved in fun group posts. Alex Fox, Caleb Gatchell and Sean Collins were the brains behind this February post that combined those two loves.

More lists! More history! If you are reading this site, you probably either 1) Like that etrain mixes in a variety of historical context, stats and the occasional race video or 2) don’t care about any of that crap and just want to know what’s going on right now in the PA track world. If you are #1, you will really enjoy this post above. If you are #2, you can probably just stop reading now and refresh until the Burdette Recap comes out.

Sometimes, I don’t talk about running. In this post, I talked about music. I know. It was bold. And that’s probably the reason I haven’t done it since.

Ok, this was kind of cool. This was the first ever episode of “TheRoundHouse”, a video roundtable show where the etrain writers would debate some of the running related topics of the day. We have had a bunch of episodes since, covering a variety of topics and getting a shout out from our buddies in the Ivy League (huge shout out to them). We are trying to work out some technical difficulties, but hope to be back on camera soon. Shout out to Season One’s individual champion, Caleb Gatchell, who was the best Roundhouser.

To see all the episodes just use the label roundhouse

We make a lot of predictions here. It’s another thing we do that people seem to enjoy (including us). I made predictions for all three seasons (and we had a bunch for NCAA as well, including a set that got featured on LetsRun), but I picked these because they ended up being really wrong when the upsets finished their laps. And those results are always more fun than being correct.

We did a special edition of TheRoundHouse specifically about PA High School States. It was also an episode that featured a surprise guest from penntrack webmaster Dan Beck. Huge shout out to Dan for being involved in our prediction contests, fantasy football league (I lost to him last week even though he hasn’t set his line up since Week One) and of course this episode of TheRoundHouse. We appreciate what you’ve done to support us in 2016 my friend.

There ended up being two more that have extra links about O'Hara and Henry Sappey of DT West

The Etrain 11 started in 2015, but I figured it was worth a mention in 2016. These posts are meant to recognize some of the stellar performances during the track season (and recently during the XC season as well) in a more article style post rather than the traditional blogger, recap, analysis stuff. I try to be more professional and not say words like stuff. You see all of these type of posts using the label “the11”.

I wanted to also specifically recognized the WPIAL vs. post which combined TheRoundHouse and The Etrain 11 into one major post on the site. Big shout out to both our writer Evan Hatton and the WPIAL 3200 foursome of Wolk, Migliozzi, Susalla and Gunzenhauser for jumping on to talk with us.

We dipped into the professional ranks in 2016 through TheRoundHouse, The Fox and the Profound (a spin off show) and a couple well done posts like these from Alex Fox and Caleb Gatchell. I had goals for publishing previews on every single olympic event (on LXV+) but I couldn't quite bang them all out. Here's the 800 preview. Feel free to click around on that site for the others that were published.

When NCAA and PA High School meet you get posts like this from our own GZ. This is a cool look at how high school talents could potentially translate to the next level. 

The first ever Etrain Oscars Blog award show happened this year. It’s still a work in progress, but I think it gave everyone a chance to honor their fellow runners with votes, nominations and sometimes even acceptance speeches. Thanks to those who dealt with the lame puns and watched live!

One of my two pet projects that I do in the shadows of the blog. This is a fiction story about 4 PA runners journey to the state championships. It went from Chapter 11 through Chapter 25 in 2016. I think most people’s favorite character is Ben Havleck (although I haven’t talked to many people about it) so here’s a Ben Havleck centered chapter to check out. You can see all the chapters using the label TRD.

This is what happens in August. I get excited about Cross Country and I come up with weird ways to talk about it.

We like numbers and statistics here at the old blog. Here’s a post that uses a bunch of numbers and tables to breakdown the NCAA team title picture in early September.

One of the coolest things that happened in 2016 was the addition of a new writer. Blake Behney of Camp Hill/Shippensbury joined the contributors of our site and had an awesome rookie season. I think this may have been my personal favorite post of his on his District’s stand out performers this past fall. Huge shout out to Blake for joining the team. You can see all Blake's post using the lable bbehney. Each writer's first initial and last name is the label for their posts so check out everyone's best stuff!

I like the Sixers. I like Philly sports. The Sixers suck. Philly sports kinda suck. But it doesn’t mean I will ever stop loving them. So when I see even the tiniest glimmer of hope I pounce. Can’t wait for Nets-Sixers in Brooklyn to kick off my 2017!

Another cool alumni related post that I liked and wanted to link. Garrett wrote this one, but Caleb was our big time report for alumni news throughout the season and did a fantastic job.

This is about Steph Curry. There are more of these kinda posts in 2015, but none of those have as great of a title as this one. This is on here basically only because I love the title.

My other pet project is All My Friends are Runners. It’s a history novel/autobiography that talks about the PA High School scene and my journey to become a blogger/runner. There were a bunch of these kinda chapters in 2016 but I think the 3 part Weller-Springer match up may be the most intriguing so far. These posts have the label AMFAR.

A tradition unlike any other. The 2014 edition was my first post that got any sort of real traction/comments. Now we move forward to 2017 with high hopes to continue this amazing ride.

The Last Recap of 2016? Burdette Invitational

By Jarrett Felix

Just one day after Christmas, the Burdette Invitational was housed in the Lehigh fieldhouse. The meet marks the last major invitational of 2016 (on PA soil at least) and is a great opportunity to run fast before full on break fever sets in. The meet started with a SMR that has 400-200-200-800 legs of the four person relay. Wissahickon won the event, winning heat 3 of 4 with a final time of 3:42.85. It was over 3 seconds faster than heat 4’s winner (CB South) and almost five seconds ahead of the heat 3 runner-ups (Boyertown). The Wissahickon splits were apparently 53.0 (Rasheed Wright), 23.2 (Shamere Dunswell), 24.6 (Matt Selverian) and 2:03.3 (Chris Cameron).

In the mile, junior Brendan O’Toole from North Penn returned to potentially his favorite event after battling at 3k last week. He ran 4:36.91 to just edge out Syed Shah of Upper Darby who ran 4:37.11. They were the only two PA runners under 4:40 in the meet. Wissahickon junior Ben Hoyer was 4th overall, winning his section of the mile with a 4:46.58. That time was about 9 seconds faster than the next best mark from his heat, set by Owen Zila of CB East.

In the most anticipated race of the day, a stacked 800 field did battle with junior Kamil Jihad taking the gold. He ran 2:00.52 to defeat sophomore Mat Eissler of Pennridge who ran 2:00.84. Jihad, who ran 1:52 last spring, is an early favorite for the state title in this event, but Eissler, Radnor’s Peter Cooke and Quakertown’s Hudson Delisle all were within one second of the stand out speedster. Cooke won his heat of the 800 at indoor states a year ago and, although he had a relatively quiet spring, I believe he may have been battling injuries. Delisle is fresh off a strong mile showing.

Collin Ebling of Pottsville in District 11 was 5th in a time of 2:02.59 and North Penn’s Daniel Santiago ran 2:04 for 6th. Ebling ran 1:57 as a sophomore last year in D11 and is a real talented under the radar guy. Keep in mind D11 produced two monster 800 guys last year in Joe Espinal and Calvin Schneck. Josue Marcelin became the second straight slow heat winner in the 800 for Paul Robeson as both Marcelin’s have run 2:06 in winning efforts over the past two weeks. Dave Whitfield of Boner placed 10th in the open 8, but also split a 2:03 on the SMR not long before.

Juniors went 3 for 3 in the individual distance events as Avery Lederer beat out Evan Minor of out of state Voorhees 9:14 to 9:18 in the 3k. These two were the only runners to break 9:30 as Daniel Bici of Masterman ran 9:30 for 3rd overall in a strong showing. Masterman has had state medalists the past springs in Julian Degroot-Lutzner and Joe Previdi.

In the distance relays, North Penn posted a dominant 4x800 victory. The 2007 meet record holders, eased to an 8:23.03 gold medal performance that was 17 seconds faster than the runner-ups (Wissahickon). North Penn was likely operating with at least a couple tired legs as O’Toole and Santiago both posted strong marks in open events. In the DMR, Cheltenham claimed gold for the second straight week, posting the first sub 11 of the year with a 10:59.50. Cheltenham likely won’t be playing around much in the quest for a state DMR birth after just barely missing a year ago. They seem focused and determined from day one and that could make them dangerous contenders down the stretch.

Close behind was CB East and Boyertown who each ran 11:03. CB East has earned state medals each of the past two seasons in the DMR, thanks in large part to anchor Jake Brophy, but they return a great core of mid-distance talent to fill in for him. David Endres, who led off in 3:18, is perhaps the most important developing piece of that group. Boyertown has been a solid program in the DMR in their own right, nearly stealing a state title in 2011. They likely got a strong anchor performance from Dominic Derafelo.

In quick sprint news, Abington’s 4x400 ran away with the gold medals, running a quick time of 3:29.16. They didn’t face off against Upper Dublin’s A team in a rematch from last weekend although Aaron Sooknanan of Abington and George Weems of UD did take the top 2 spots in the open 400 with Weems getting the victory in 51.48. Wissahickon continued to crush the slower sections with Rasheed Wright’s 52.10 victory in section 4 of 6. That was good enough for 4th overall behind only the top 3 in heat 6. Junior Shamere Dunswell also won the 5th of 7 sections in the 200 meters to place 3rd overall. The winner of that 200 was Terrance Laird of Coatesville who ran a blazing fast meet record of 22.32. His time edged out the record previously held by Ernie Terrell of Norristown, a name that (slightly) older track fans will quickly recognize as an all-time great.

Bold Predictions for 2017

They say hindsight is 20-20. Well for Nostraindamus, foresight is also 20-20. Ironically, his present-sight is the only sight that is not 20-20. That's why he wears glasses.

With each passing year, the legend of Nostraindamus grows grander. In 2013, Nostraindamus correctly predicted that Kyle Francis would set a meet record in the 800 meters in addition to O’Hara’s state record DMR. A year later, he correctly predicted that indoor states would be held on a Sunday and incorrectly predicted Incredibles 2 would be made. In 2016, he nailed literally every prediction. Go ahead and check the post. Nostraindamus predicted that he would not become obsessed with Ish Smith, it would be a leap year and the Olympics would be held in Rio. That’s right, we go bold here in the bold predictions post.

And now comes 2017. Nostraindamus has been staring at his almighty orb, asking the track spirits to lay out their plans for him in its glowing surface. After careful consult, Nostraindamus is ready to once again rock the blog community to its core with his 4th straight year of new year predictions. We present these predictions below …

1. I will cheat multiple times during this prediction post to turn one prediction into like 5 predictions

2. Michael Slagowski will set the NCAA 1k national record and Domenic Peretta will break 4 minutes in the mile during this upcoming indoor season.

3. The blog will pursue sponsors for the first time.

4. This is the year for Incredibles 2! I can feel it!

5. There will be an etrain writers intersquad 4x4 showdown at the outdoor state meet

6. Caleb’s team will win by a large margin

7. Caleb’s team is just Caleb running a mile

8. Not even a 1600. A full mile and he still gets the W.

9. Just kidding a 1600. These predictions are bold, but not that bold.

10. Josh Levin will win this season’s American Ninja Warrior

11. After the search for sponsors gets off to a poor start, etrain’s productivity and positivity will steadily decline until he yells, “I’m a real journalist! I interviewed Clayton Murphy BEFORE IT WAS COOL!” at a random old woman who asks for directions

12. I’m going to give “Balling on All Cylinders” another shot. 2016 wasn’t the year, but maybe 2017 will be.

13. The AAA distance state titles will all be won by competitors wearing green jerseys.

14. Pitch Perfect 3 will be worse than Pitch Perfect 2. Guaranteed. There’s no Jesse! No Jesse! Why do they even bother??!!

15. Etrain will announce his retirement

16. My American Ninja Warrior Fantasy Team will grab my league title thanks to his victory

17. We will add a new writer to the fold and he (or she) will be balling on all cylinders

18. It will be a guy. Let’s be real. No girls read this blog.

19. We’ve reached the awkward Rita’s Water Ice Date part of the predictions. This year we are going after Ford Palmer and it’s a double date. Alex Fox, etrain, Ford and that’s it. We will share Ford.

20. Etrain will announce his unretirement

21. TheRealTrain blog will add an “American Ninja Warrior” tab

22. It will be right next to his Pitch Perfect tab

23. The blog will crack the 1 million views barrier.

24. Etrain will be responsible for 300,000 of the views by himself as he refreshes the new American Ninja Warrior tab, hoping that someone will eventually discuss it with him

25. TheRoundHouse will be back and better than ever!

26. People will finally figure out what TheRoundHouse is and start watching!

27. We as writers will finally take the time to figure out what a roundhouse actually is.

28. We will come up with cool nicknames for all the other writers so they can have cool alter egos like etrain

29. Someone will alert Jarrett that alter egos like etrain and Nostraindamus are not actually cool

30. And that he is an adult who is about to get married and he needs to grow up

31. will debut in January 2018