3,000m Recap

Nate Henderson entered the race looking for that elusive first state gold. Although he mentioned in his post race interview, that the original plan was to hang back, he felt confident about his strength and decided to get out of dodge early and take up the early pace. That proved to be a fitting strategy as, unfortunately, one of the top competitors in the race, Ben Bumgarner of Waynesburg Central, suffered a mid pack fall about 800 meters in and was, understandably, not able to quite regain his steam.

At the front, Henderson clicked down gradually after a first mile at about 4:39. Slowly but surely, he grinded away and broke his competitors in turn before turning on the final burst he needed to sprint away from Rusty Kujdych of Neshaminy. As has been mentioned in the comment section already, it really seemed like Kujdych might have enough left to go by Henderson at some point, but Nate had the gear he needed when it counted most.

Again piggy backing off another point made by one of our readers, the last two state championships had ended with the man doing most, if not all, of the work out front (Dominic Hockenbury) being out kicked dramatically on the final lap. In 2013, we also saw a brilliant kick from Max Norris who led the charge away from Tony Russell of Henderson among others. Henderson also becomes the first person in the last decade to win the 3,000 after being the top returner in the event the previous season.

For Kujdych, I feel that that was a big breakthrough. He ran 8:37 for 3,000 meters, which converts to a PR for him indoors or out. His second place finish is also his best state championship finish and a huge improvement on last year's result in this event. Rusty is a huge talent who joins a select group of juniors to finish in the top two at states, either indoors or out, in the longest distance event offered. With each extra piece of experience, he becomes more dangerous for the future.

Also grabbing top medal honors were Zach Lefever of Ephrata, Connor McMenamin of Souderton and Seth Slavin of Pleasant Valley. Lefever has now earned his 3rd state medal in his last three attempts. He finished 6th last outdoors in the 3200 (ahead of other D3 runners and all D1 runners), took 4th in XC (behind only 3 Footlocker finalists) and now takes 3rd in his first ever indoor state championship. I think this could be an interesting name to watch come outdoors. Slavin earns a second straight medal in the event with a nice PR of his own for 3k while McMenamin has now earned medals in the mile and 3k in his last two championship appearances.

Avery Lederer and Matt Scarpill both posted new personal bests for their first individual state medals in 6th and 7th, while Bumgarner recovered from his fall enough to barely edge out Aaron Pfeil of South Fayette for the 8th and final state medal.

This was a fantastic race, featuring 9 runners who cracked the 8:50 barrier. However, things could potentially look even better this coming spring. If we introduce the Affolders to AAA and Footlocker Finalist Zach Skolnekovich to AA, we add three super stars to the championship fields. And don't forget, a year ago we saw runners from the WPIAL take spots 2 through 5 in the AAA 3200 and took 6 of the AA medals. No AAA WPIAL runners took home medals in this meet and just one WPIAL runner in general (Bumgarner in 8th) left with hardware in the 15 lapper. 

How many sub 9 minute runners will we have? If any? In 2014-2015, we had a total of 10 sub 9 minute performers including a pair of underclassmen in Dahl and Brophy, but in 2016 we didn't add any to the list. While District 7 was the one to watch a year ago, that may transition over towards District 3 this year. After taking the top 4 spots in the state during XC and 9 state medals in AAA, they could set the tone for the rest of the state.

District 1 should be very interesting to watch. Last year, they had just 1 state medalist (8th place finisher Jake Brophy) in a fairly unprecedented occurrence. The 8 district qualifiers from a year ago featured a lot of fresh, new faces with limited state experience. However, this year some of those guys are back like Will Griffen, Matt D'Aquila and Brian Mass. It should be interesting to see how they mix in with McMenamin (who has experience from 2015), Lederer and Scarpill. Keep an eye out for CB West's Ben Bunch as well.

District 12 should be unleashed a little more this spring. O'Hara won't have the DMR to chase and that could mean their trio of stud milers move up to perhaps their more natural distance of 3200. Ryan James, Gavin Inglis and Patrick James will lead the charge. LaSalle didn't seem particularly absorbed in the 4x8 this indoor season so we could see a heavier focus on the 3200 for some of their top dogs. Maybe there is another Frank Livolsi lurking on that loaded roster.

TFRRS All-Time Ranks ('09 to Present)

By: Garrett Zatlin

As I write up The Weekend Review and prepare for my last exam before spring break, I was able to compile a few GoogleSheets which ranks all the times from the TFRRS data base (which dates back to 2009). Feel free to look around and explore the spreadsheets...


Weekend Review and state entry predictions will be coming soon!

Mile Recap

Heat 1
With nothing to lose, the runners in Heat 1 bolted out to try and make it into the medal picture. One of the pioneers in this chase was Springfield Delco's Joseph Cardie who did a lot of work out front. After a little bit of jostling, Colin Mihalak of Coatesville worked his way into prime chase position, but in the final stages of the race, it was all Cardie.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Roman Catholic's Sean Brown came flying into view. I was watching milesplit's video, knowing that Brown wins the heat, and starting to think I somehow read things wrong. I'm not sure he came into view until the last 30 meters or so and then he flew down the straightaway and pulled out a victory.

That kick ended up being hugely important as the Brown-Cardie duel decided the 8th and final medal spot on race day. Cardie definitely deserves a lot of credit for taking on the work here and nearly hanging on. But Brown leaves with the hardware for finding that one extra gear. A great reminder of what states is all about. Pushing the limits and bringing out the best of one another.

Heat 2
In Heat 2, we unsurprisingly saw a bit of a tactics on display early. There was some jockeying for position out front, but Noah Affolder was mostly able to control the race. He brought the race through in about 2:11-2:12 before really cranking things up. His brother Sam, who the team was hoping to sneak a couple more points out of, dropped out mid-race. It seemed like he started the race with the intention of finishing, but the effects of the 4x8 may have still been in his legs.

On the third quarter, Noah significantly dropped the pace. Forsythe and Addison covered the move well, keeping the pressure on the Carlisle senior and pushing through a difficult surge in the race. However, that surge (about a 61-62 second 400) was tough to maintain. As Noah started to pull away, guys like Liam Conway and James Abrahams made up ground on the fourth 400, dropping pace a bit more evenly on their final splits. That ended up being most beneficial to Conway who surged by Forsythe and Addison at the race's conclusion to take 2nd overall.

The final standings put Noah just 4 tenths of a second ahead of the field, but he was well clear with 50 meters to go and, once again, doing quite a bit of looking around and energy conserving on the final straightaway. That being said, the guys behind him all ran phenomenal races. Those mile times convert to PRs indoors and out for Conway, Forsythe, Addison and Abrahams.

5 Biggest Takeaways
#1 - A 4:07 miler is going to be tough to beat at all times. Noah had a PR that was some 10 seconds better than anyone else who finished the race this weekend before it began. That kind of deficit was going to be tough to make up. Maybe that's why the race for second was so exciting to these guys. Noah almost feels like he's in a different league.

#2 - Four of the top 7 runners in this race were juniors. That doesn't even account for sophomore Sam Affolder who was one of the favorites coming in but had a DNF.

#3 - Watch for Jacob Shulte of Bishop McCort this outdoor season. I believe he will race in AA on the 400 meter oval. Shulte had a big race last weekend just to sneak into this field and then, thanks in part to a strong finishing kick, finished in the top 10 overall in the state. I'd imagine for a school like Bishop McCort, with little indoor track history to speak of, the focus will be more on the spring and that could mean big drops for a confident looking Shulte.

#4 - We learned the 4x8-Mile double under this new schedule won't be a cake walk. Although Noah made it look easy, his brother Sam was apparently still feeling that hard 800 in his legs. I believe Sam Owori of Seneca Valley also tried the 4x8-Mile double and, although he had an admirable race and put himself in the front earlier, he faded a bit to a 4:32. Of course, those two guys are both just sophomores and Noah is a senior. So maybe I've overplaying the difficulty of this one.

#5 - Let's look at outdoors again. Noah and Sam will continue to be factors on the state championship landscape, but it's still not obvious what their outdoor schedule will be. The 3200-4x8-1600 triple? that would be another absurd multi-race performance to add to Noah's increasingly legendary resume. Along with the Affolders, we have Josh Hoey, the reigning 800 meter state champ who has run sub 4:10 for the mile already. Will Liam Galligan be back this spring? He and teammate Joseph Cardie could make a great set of training partners as they push for a seat in the state 1600 meter final. Galligan ran about 4:15 last spring when at full strength and was a 2016 indoor state medalist.

Tristan Forsythe is the clear AA favorite as things currently stand, however, we could see someone like Ben Bumgarner or Zach Skolnekovich potentially try their hand in this shorter event if they are feeling confident. Phoenix Myers of Seneca is another name that could be interesting in the AA landscape.

4x800m Recap

by Jarrett Felix

Heat 1
As has been mentioned, this was a big chance for Bishop Shanahan to get some points on the board early and set the tone for a run at the state championship. However, the Shanahan boys decided not to run their star 800 runner and future state champ, Josh Hoey, on the relay. Instead, it was freshman Jonah Hoey who took those honors. Now it's a very bold move to lead off a freshman at the state championship, but it paid off as Jonah split about 1:59.8 and handed off in the lead group. Leading the way was Dennis Manyeah of Penn Wood, who has been a stable as the lead off leg for Penn Wood each of the past three seasons. Also in the top group was what looked to be Sam Owori of Seneca Valley. Owori, just a sophomore, appeared to also run under 2 minutes and set up SV at the front of the field.

The big movers on the second leg were CR South. One of my favorite teams on paper entering the meet, South's second leg (don't know who it was) ran a beautiful race to bring the team from mid pack all the way through to a strong lead. I estimated the split in the low 1:56s from my vantage point in the video. Whoever that was, it was a big time split.

Although South had an advantage, their opposition fought back on the third leg. Still in the lead group were Penn Wood, North Penn, Seneca Valley and Bishop Shanahan. They jockeyed through to the anchors in a pretty tight pack. CR South still held the edge on the final exchange, but the always dangerous North Penn squad was lurking nearby. Shanahan got the baton in 5th.

North Penn moved up into the lead on lap one of the anchor leg, I'm assuming Daniel Santiago was the man doing the carry, but shortly after BS's Logan Yoquinto made a strong bid for the lead. From here, Yoquinto powered around the track and opened up an advantage. He stopped the clock right about 8 minutes and split around 1:56 anchor carry. I believe this was Logan's first race since he suffered an injury at the last chance meet that required him to leave the meet in an ambulance. North Penn fought well and came up about a second behind in 8:01. Historically speaking, both those times are medal worthy every year. However, with the 4x8 first in the order and two heats of talented relays, trends were in jeopardy.

Heat 2
The boys from Carlisle were looking for their own statement race to set the tone for the day. Both Sam and Noah Affolder were featured on the for the Herd along with what appeared to be Jack Wisner (2nd leg) and Isaac Kole (3rd leg). Those four runners all finished in the top 40 at this past year's XC state championships.

But Germantown Friends came in on a mission. Having scratched from the individuals, Nick Dahl put everything he could into his lead off carry. For the second straight year, Dahl led off the 4x8 and went to the front, ready to hammer the pace. Sam Affolder of Carlisle was the best bet to give chase with CB West, CB East, State College and Abington all also in the picture. Dahl handed off around 1:54 in the lead with Affolder roughly a second back. The next pack appeared to come through in a bunch around 1:57.

With the lead, GFS's second leg went to work on trying to hold the advantage. Meanwhile, Carlisle's #2, Jack Wisner, sat back a bit. Similar to the way his brother races, it appears Jack likes to run an even, steady pace. However, that strategy made things tricky as the field pushed valiantly to try and get back to the lead. Most notably, CB West's second leg made an impressive surge. Ultimately, Wisner surged at the perfect time and executed with a great kick to run around 1:57 high by my watch and give his team the lead.

From here, Isaac Kole had the lonely job of hammering the pace from the lead. CB West and GFS were in contention for second, but Carlisle had a clear advantage. Kole didn't settle in and did his best to keep the pace honest and open up a lead to give Noah Affolder some cushion at the front and allow him to save some energy. However, GFS's 3rd leg was ready for the challenge. He split about 1:56 to move GFS into contention and Jonnie Plass started his anchor leg by shooting to the front.

Meanwhile, back in the pack it apeared that Joey Feffer from State College made a really nice surge to put his squad in contention with CB West. Those two teams had separated a bit from Pennsbury, CB East and Abington.

Back to the top group. Jonnie Plass fearlessly shot out to a fast start against Noah, making things a little tricky for the super star from Carlisle. However, Noah was able to settle into the pace and take over on the second lap. From here, Noah glided along and broke away from Plass with a strong close. The race in hand, Noah was able to look around on the final straightaway and coast in across the line in roughly a 1:54 split. Plass ran around 1:55 high by my watch and put up a great fight in his own right.

Even with the easing, Carlisle was able to run 7:45.86, the 2nd fastest time in meet history. GFS's 7:47 ranks in the top 4 for the meet, with only 2011 being better. In the fight for 3rd, Jake Claricurzio of CB West and Nick Feffer of State College went all the way to the line, both runners sprinting like mad men on the final straightaway. In the end, Claricurzio was just barely able to out lean Feffer 7:51.22 to 7:51.31.

If you go back and look, this is the third straight state championship anchor that Claricurzio has ended on a photofinish. Last year, he had two incredibly tight finishes with Abington's Keion Broadus (Jake won indoors, Broadus outdoors). Now he gets another tight one with Feffer. These two may see each other again outdoors with a lot more pressure surrounding them as GFS will be back in the independent league and Carlisle will potentially invest more in the individual events like the 3200, which comes before the 4x8 at Shippensburg.

5 Biggest Takeaways
I gave some flash takeaways on the meet in general, but having actually watched the two heats now, I've got a bit more to say.

#1 - Carlisle could have had the state record if that was the goal. Obviously, they were after the much more coveted team title so Noah slowed up, but seeing as they were just 0.8 second away from the record and Noah very noticeably eased up to save energy, this 7:45.86 is even more impressive than I initially thought. And of course, we have to give credit to Wisner and Kole who provided splits well under 2 minutes and both handed off in first place during their legs, handling high pressure situations well. How fast could these guys run in a pushed race this spring? We may never find out as the DMR is a much bigger draw, but all the makings of a great team.

#2 - The 4x8 continues to get faster. This year it took 8:00.72 to medal. That's crazy for the indoor state meet, but the new order and the fact that there are two heats now have made this race really exciting. I mean, 7:51 ended up 4th this year. That's pretty unprecedented as well. Worth noting, under last year's qualifying system, Shanahan would not have made the 4x8. But with the expansion to 16, they get in and get 6th. Maybe a sign to pump this thing up to 20 next year? I would love to see it.

#3 - Although there were two relatively new 4x8 squads at the top (has district 3 ever had the 4x8 indoor state champs before?), the traditional powerhouses still peppered the top. 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th and 9th were all state champions during the past decade of running. Regardless of what these programs graduate, they always seem to pull together the pieces to put together a strong relay.

#4 - Mike Kolor and Jake Brophy were two of the biggest names around last year. However, without their star runners, both programs still pulled out phenomenal performances. Seneca Valley finished 10th overall in 8:04, a strong showing for them although they were probably hoping to get in the medals. Then CB East finished 7th overall in 8 flat. That's one of their fastest times in school history and a 9 second improvement on their time from meet of champions.

#5 - Outdoors is going to be really interesting. How many of these teams will actually want to load up a 4x8? I'd be surprised if Carlisle does it again as the 32-4x8 double seems tricky (although is there anything Noah Affolder can't do?) and I think priorities may end up being different. GFS moves back to the independent league after this as well. So your top teams are gone.

CB West will almost certainly load up. As with State College, Pennsbury, CB East, Abington and North Penn. Shanahan could have a really good team if they had Josh Hoey to the picture and remove their slowest leg (we are talking at least a 10 second swing based on times run this weekend). And they may need the extra 4x8 points this spring when the event schedule gets switched up.

Personally, I still really like what I saw from CR South. They've got strong upside. CR North could switch their focus from DMR to 4x8 come spring (or maybe individual events will be the focus). Lots of good teams to contend, but remember a maximum of just 8 can come out of District One. That District had 9 of the 17 state qualifiers this winter and the first six teams to miss out as well.

Also never count out Cumberland Valley. Always a 4x8 powerhouse to keep an eye on.

2017 PTFCA Indoor State Championship - Quick Reactions

So unsurprisingly, I've seen all the indoor state championship results (looked like a fantastic meet as always). Unfortunately, I haven't seen the actual races just yet. I gave it a shot, but it looked like you needed a full on flotrack account to watch things rather than the simple milesplit account. I would have paid $5, probably even $10+, to check this one out for a one time fee, but wasn't willing to go up over $100. Hopefully, I can track down some videos at some point for a cheaper cost and be able to give a bit deeper analysis.

In the meantime, if you guys out there could provide some insights on how the races themselves played out, who ran on what relays, any splits ... all that good stuff. I think it would not only be helpful for me, but very interesting to the readers who were not able to catch the meet live or online.

Now, with all that said, I do of course have a few quick takes for the readers out there who like to hear what I have to say (I think there's like 4 of you and the rest of the bunch are just here for the comments. It's cool guys, I'm not offended).

1) Noah Affolder is, in fact, some type of alien. Again, I haven't seen the videos, but I have to imagine he was on both state championship relays and also added a mile state championship and an 800 state championship. If a couple things go Carlisle's way, they somehow pull this one out with almost exclusively distance running. Hopefully, these kids have something left in the tank for Nationals where they've got a nice shot at that DMR record.

2) Shanahan earned this title. Carlisle gave them a heck of a run, but BS pulled out some clutch runs. I think the 4x8 scoring at the start of the meet was big. Did Hoey run on this relay or did they pull that out without him? Either way, that was a clutch result that got them 3 extra points in distance. Then, Josh Hoey pulled out the win over Noah in the open 8, another key 4 point swing.  The 4x2 (by 0.01) and 4x4 plus Alleyne winning the 400 by 0.03 show you that every hundreth really matters out there.

By the way, Hoey's time was really fast. 1:52.21 is pretty darn good (a shade faster than Perretta ran last year) and, according to the all-time list I keep is just inside the top 50 in state history. Noah's awesome day should be point #1, but Josh is an incredible talent in his own right. Who is back next year by the way.

3) Pumped to see Nate Henderson, along with Josh Hoey, get their first individual state titles. With the arrival of the Affolder boys, it looked like these two may never get the chance to win state gold. However, when the window opened, both kids fearlessly took advantage. Nate picked up a strong 2.5 second victory in the 3k for his well deserved gold. He joins Jake Brophy, Max Norris and Dustin Wilson as the only Footlocker Finalists to win state 3k gold over the last 12 seasons.

4) Let's show some love for GFS. The independent league school decided to go all in both relays and left the meet with two silvers. I was really rooting for these guys to win as they clearly made some individual sacrifices for team glory and I would have liked to see them rewarded. Their 4x8 squad ran 7:47 which would almost any year (only 2011 was faster than Carlisle's win today). They also ran excellent 10:21.64, which would have won the DMR each of the previous 3 seasons and 5 of the last 6. Nick Dahl has now passed on the individual events 3 straight seasons (he would have been one of the big favorites in the mile and 3k this year and last year) to try and help his teammates do something they will remember forever. I'm sure they were hoping for just a little bit more, but to get two silvers, run two excellent times and push perhaps PA's greatest ever relays to record and near record times? That's probably going to be a lifelong memory in it's own right.

And by the way, I doubt it was in Carlisle's plans to have to run 7:45 to start out the day. It didn't look like it had much of an effect on Noah, but Sam apparently dropped out of the mile individually trying to double back from the relay. That was another swing that effected this compelling state title race.

5) Earlier, I tweeted that Liam Conway had a "heck of a day". He finished a tight second in the mile and doubled back to run 1:55 and medal in the 800 as well. All this for a kid who had never medaled at a state championship before today and was injured at the end of last cross country season. That's a cool redemption story for sure and also goes to show you that experience and age can play a role.

Some other guys in the "heck of a day" club today:
Sean Brown  pulled out a strong 8th place showing in the mile, running a second straight season best (and large season bests) to win the slow heat and get some hardware. He went from being left out of the state meet to state medalist in basically two weeks. That's clutch running with your back against the wall.

Hudson Delisle was in the middle section of the 800, but that didn't stop him from getting after it. The Quakertown junior ran 1:54.99 and put serious pressure on the fast heat. Ultimately, that time ended up being good for 3rd overall in the race. He also bested his old training partner Brett Wolfinger's best indoor time and finish at states.

Matt Scarpill of CB South had a heck of a day in the 3k. Much like Brown, he went from out of the meet to state medalist in a two week stretch. But his two week stretch came in the meet's most grueling event. He made the bold decision to scratch the mile for the 3k and it paid off with a big PR under 8:50 and a state medal for the trophy case.

Also in this race, Aaron Pfeil came less than a hundredth of a second from a medal with a sub 8:50 clocking. I was worried about this kid since he was running his 3rd straight 3k, but he proved that he could handle the work and nearly stole a medal. South Fayette having an excellent 2016-2017 year. Shout out to that squad.

And lastly, to State College. Carlisle took 1-1, GFS took 2-2 and State College took 4-3 in the relays at this meet. The story line will probably be those first two teams but the Little Lions (a team I don't think I even picked to medal) ran 7:51 and then added a 10:22 in the DMR to beat a pair of fresh squads. This outdoor season, SC will be going for an absurd 4th straight season at 7:41 or faster in the 4x8! I'm fairly certain no one has ever done 3.

Not having a "heck of a day"? Etrain in the prediction contest. I got 4th in the top 5 contest and 4th in the top 8 contest out of 10 entries and 4 entries (so yes, I got last) respectively. So shout out to all those who bested me. I'll release those scores a little later on. Congrats to DK who, according to my math, won the Top 5 contest and to Claig x Claig, who took home the Top 8 contest.

Thank you to everyone for playing!

And that's all I've got for now. I'm off to bug people for splits, search for race videos and try and get some names to go with these relay results! Again, if you've got anything to help out the people with, feel free to throw it up!

Stay classy my friends.


Double Trouble: The Greatest Doubling/Tripling Performances in State Meet History

By Jarrett Felix

There are sure to be plenty of fantastic runs at the upcoming PTFCA Indoor State Championship this weekend. Some runners are attempting herculean doubles, triples or maybe even quadruples to help their team chase a title. Therefore, I thought I would take a quick moment to look back at some of the greatest doubles from the last decade of state meet’s past. Let’s check it out.

Jason Weller, Boyertown 2007
Jason Weller was always fearless and, at the 2007 indoor state championship, he put that trait on full display. First, he went toe to toe with defending state champion Paul Springer in the mile. The two rivals dueled to a very fast mark, as Springer ran a then meet record of 4:12.61 and Weller took second in 4:15.14. But Jason wanted a gold medal. On the double, Weller ran a blistering 8:26.21 for 3k, the second fastest 3k in state history on the indoor oval. He won his race by 13 seconds. Running on empty after two herculean efforts, the Boyertown senior finished off his day with a 7th place DMR, where he ran the anchor leg. It ended a stretch of nearly 4 miles of racing.

Tom Mallon, CB South 2009
When Tom Mallon was a senior in high school, he tripled Mile-800-DMR anchor for a very busy indoor state championship that resulted in a gold, a 4th and a 5th place medal. But I’d argue his junior year double was even better. To start his day, Tom did battle with Upper Dublin’s Mike Palmisano in the 800. Having only run 1:57 so far that indoor season, Tom still hadn’t shown flashes of the potential he indicated won he ran 1:52 outdoors as a sophomore. But in the high pressure moment of the state championship, Mallon rolled around the track and sprinted home with a big kick over the final 200 meters to drop a 1:51.79. At the time, Mallon’s time was a state record and one of the 12 fastest indoor times ever. It seems crazy to think that now considering the assault we’ve had on the all-time list in this event, but back in ’09 this time was even crazier than he already sounds. And, to reiterate, the kid was a junior.

For an encore, Mallon doubled back in the 4x800. CB South was the favorite, but they had to deal with a hungry North Penn squad that was two time defending champions. After three legs right around 1:59, Mallon took the stick and took over the race. He carried home in 1:52 to clinch the victory over North Penn and break the race open. He stopped the clock at 7:49.01, just 0.02 off the then meet record North Penn had set the year before.

Matt Gilmore, Cheltenham 2011
Look, I don’t normally talk about sprinting and, naturally, this was supposed to be a distance focused post. But Matt Gilmore’s 2011 state championship is one for the ages. The Cheltenham senior had been a part of a legendary 4x4 in 2010, but his two main partners in crime graduated in June, leaving him alone with a team title to defend. After a rocky season, Gilmore came into the state championship a little dinged up. However, he opted to try a difficult quadruple on race day.

Gilmore started with a 49.23 which won the fast heat by just 0.21 and was faster than the next fastest heat by just 0.06. That was huge as the 2nd and 3rd place finishers were his team title rivals from Abington. This race warmed Gilmore up as he then transitioned to the 200 meters, running 21.89 to pick up the gold in impressive fashion. There was little time to rest as he then ran on the state championship 4x2, defeating Strath Haven. Finally, his day ended with a 4x4 to decide the state championship. His counterparts, Abington, were state record holders in the 4x4 with a 3:16 seed, while Cheltenham came in at just 3:23. Ultimately, Gilmore came up just short of the title, but he pulled his squad to a 3:19.18 and within 0.38 seconds of a 4th gold.

Keep in mind this came a year after Gilmore ran 48.9-21.9-4x2 gold-4x4 gold as a junior for his original absurd quadruple. What a runner.

Wade Endress, Altoona 2011
Wade Endress had a certain magic about him on the PSU track. As a junior, Endress finished 3rd in the mile behind superstar Toms Kehl and Mallon. Then he came within inches of a dramatic upset in the DMR, just barely being edged by Will Kellar of Henderson. So what did Wade have on tap for his senior year?

Well it started with the mile. Wade came in with a 4:20 seed, putting him right in line with the other top seeds. But on race day, Wade turned it up to another gear. He raced to a 4:13.34, surviving a terrific mid race surge from Nate McClafferty and bringing home the gold in one of the fastest times in meet history. However, he wasn’t done. A short while later, Wade took the track in the 800. He was up against defending state champ Luke Lefebure and future outdoor state champ Hong Cho, but it was Abington’s Kyle Moran who charged to the front early. Wade hung on as best he could before blasting off again on the final lap. When he hit the line, it was revealed that Endress had clocked a 1:51.73 to break Tom Mallon’s meet and state record. For added fun, Wade contributed a 49 split on Altoon’s 3:29 4x4. That was good enough for 14th.

Ned Willig, Great Valley 2012
Ned was already a newly crowned state record holder in the 800 meters from his run at Yale. But after a tough loss at Millrose and a disappointing set of runs in the previous state championships for the DMR, he had a lot to prove on State Championship Saturday. It started with a strong, poised victory in the mile. He ran 4:15.66 to defeat future champs Tom Coyle and Jack Huemmler for Ned’s first ever title. But then he had some history to make.

In the DMR, Ned took the baton on the lead off leg. In a relatively unprecedented move, Great Valley opted to lead off their super star rather than run him on the anchor leg as was conventional wisdom. After a tune up at the Meet of Champs, Ned hit the track again and split right about 3 flat for the 1200 to blow the race open. It’s the fastest 1200 split in state meet history (possibly state history). Although HG Prep made a good run at GV’s anchor leg, the Patriots ultimately held on for the title, giving Ned his second gold of the day.

Sam Ritz, Germantown Academy 2015
The 2015 season had been the year of Sam Ritz. He had clocked a state record for the mile at Boston and run 1:52 for 800 meters. But still, there were doubters. Like me. And we were stupid.

He entered the mile hoping to drop a fast time. And he did just that, defeating Kevin James of Cardinal O’Hara, Ritz ran a time of 4:09.56 to win state gold and thrash the state meet record previously held by Paul Springer (you know, the guy at the top of the post). That right there would have been enough to put Ritz in the all-time great category. But Sam lined up next for the 800 meters, prepared to battling our greatest 800 runner of all time, John Lewis, on tired legs. Ritz gave it everything he had and, although he finished 3rd, clocked the fastest ever 3rd place finish in state meet history. His final time, 1:51.79, equaled the mark Tom Mallon had run back in 2009. Just six years earlier, he would have had a second state record. But in 2015, he found himself stunningly tied for 7th in state history.

The state 800 has really seen quite the remix, starting with Mallon in 2009.

Mallon 1:51.79 2009
Endress 1:51.73 2011
Willig 1:51.10 2012
Francis 1:50.55 2014
Wiseman 1:51.36 2014
Lewis 1:50.57 2015
Graca 1:50.86 2015
Ritz 1:51.79 2015
Peretta 1:50.58 2016

Before Mallon, no one had ever broken 1:52 from Pennsylvania.

2017 Prediction Contest

Well, my predictions are now officially out in the open. Now it’s time for you to make your counter offers.

We will host another prediction contest this year for the 2017 PTFCA Indoor State Championships. Here is how it will work. For each of the five distance events we’ve previewed (mile, 800, 3k, DMR, 4x8) you can post either 1) a top five (normal contest) or 2) a top eight projected finishers in the event (super contest). Each prediction is scored based on the following criteria:

a) -3 points for correctly predicting the winner
b) +2 points for each top 5/8 finisher missing from your list
c) You will receive a positive amount of points equal to the difference between your predicted runners finish and the actual finish. For example, if I predict Caleb to get 3rd and he gets 1st, that’s +2. Similarly, if I predict Alex to get 2nd and he gets 7th, that’s +5. That maximum amount of positive points you can receive for any one runner is +8.
d) Lowest score wins

If you are participating in the Etrain Ultimate Fan Challenge (which offers the chance to win free t-shirts for you and your teammates), this competition can get you points. If you are competing in the normal contest (i.e. top 5), for every event that you score better than Etrain, you will get 3 points in the UFC. For every event you score better than Etrain in the super contest (top 8), you will get 5 points in the UFC.

That means you can receive as many as 25 points for the UFC which, considering our current leader has 9 points, would be a big swing. So best of luck to all! Hope to see your predictions posted shortly.

2017 Indoor State Predictions: DMR

Heat 1 (Etrain Projected Line-Ups)
Carlisle – Sam Affolder, Jared Griffie, Isaac Kole, Noah Affolder
Germantown Friends – Colin Riley, Eli Schwemler, Jonnie Plass, Nick Dahl
Cardinal O’Hara – Gavin Inglis, Obinna Iherjirka, Patrick James, Ryan James
CB West – Ben Bunch, Carter Laatsch, Alec Hofer, Brian Mass
CR North – Bryan Keller, Mike Welde, Sam Early, Ryan Campbell
WC Henderson – Jack Downing, Myles Cooper, Josh Richard, Spencer Smucker
State College – Nick Feffer, Joey Feffer, Chris DiPerna, Owen Wing
LaSalle – Brendan Price, Peter Nelson, Mac Costinis, Evan Addison
Lower Merion – Theodore Neckowicz, Romaine Rhoden, Diarmid Rae, Matt D’Aquila
DT West – Ryan Barton, Jared McIntire, Chase Seymanyk, Shaun Bullock
WC Rustin – Edward Harpstead, Vincent Giordano, Billy Covert, Brandon Hontz
Cheltenham – Andrew Crosby, Darren Giles, Asad Grant, Will Griffen

Again, similar to the 4x8, these are only my projected line ups. I’m just working off gut instincts and milesplit times so don’t take those line ups as fact.

People have been getting on me about looking for other teams that can steal this title from Carlisle. But, hey, I think it’s in play. If GFS went completely fresh for this relay, I’d feel really good about picking them to win against a tired Carlisle team. They could be seeing Noah on his 4th race of that night on that anchor leg and a fresh Dahl could run 4:10 or faster to make Noah work very, very hard. But GFS will have the 4x8 in their legs so that makes things tougher.

I think O’Hara will go fresh for this relay, but they are entered in the 4x8 so no guarantees they actually will. If they go fresh, this team is a very realistic threat for a three-peat against some other tired teams. Especially if Gavin Inglis proves he can pick up where livestream poster boy Rob Morro left off in the 1200 position.

But Carlisle’s biggest competition may come from the team that gave them trouble during cross country: Council Rock North. I think Bryan Keller is a near perfect 1200 leg. I think he could have a really impressive showing. They have one of the best 400 runners in the entire state in Welde. Early can run under 2 minutes and then Ryan Campbell could be this year’s Ryan James and bring home the surprise title. It would take a lead, but there’s a reasonable set of events to get them that lead going into the anchor leg.

LaSalle has a ton of talent, plus an anchor leg with serious chops. If LaSalle gets Evan Addison the baton with a chance for a rematch against a tired Affolder (either one), maybe he is able to turn the tables on the superstar. Along with LaSalle, WC Henderson is one of the most successful DMR programs in the state’s history and they will put out an experienced line-up that medaled last year.  

I really like WC Rustin’s team. They’ve won their last two heats going away with big anchor legs from Hontz. Put them in a race with ideal competition and give Hontz a chance to chase or, at least, run with competition, and they could have a massive season best performance. They will have the added incentive of taking on DT West and WC Henderson, the two teams that made it to states in XC after Rustin bested them at Ches-monts.

Not sure what State College will have in the tank. They’ve got the talent and either Feffer or Wing would be a strong 1200 runner to set this team up well. But I think their focus will be on the 4x8 with the DMR as more of a “bonus” so I’m not sure I see them as true title contenders. Unless they have a heartbreaking result in the 4x8 and find a little extra fire. Then it’s game on in front of the hometown crowd.

At the end of a long, mentally and physically exhausting meet, I like teams that have fresh, focused legs. If Carlisle runs all their guys in the 4x8, the open events they are entered in and then the DMR and then wins the DMR? It will be the most impressive set of racing I’ve ever seen. This relay will determine if the Affolders are human or not basically. We found out Brehm was, in fact, not a robot two years ago at outdoor states. But Noah and Sam may have fixed the glitches.

I’m looking at teams like Lower Merion (like this squad a lot with a team centric mentality), DT West, CR North, and Henderson for strong medal spots. Then I kind of fill in based on projected anchor legs. A lot of the DMR comes down to the anchor certainly, but you need other guys to set it up. Especially if your anchor is already feeling tired and isn’t motivated to go out on a herculean chase.

One of our commenters brought up a good point about Carlisle’s relay. They may anchor Sam and put Noah on the lead off to try and make his busy schedule a bit more manageable. Sam should have a decent amount more in the tank than Noah, especially if he isn’t on the 4x8. And honestly, they could go with Kole-Wisner-either Affolder and potentially win this thing. That makes them hard to pick against.

As you guys probably know by now, I like to have fun with predictions. It’s just who I am. So I’m not going to sit back and let my last set of predictions be predictable. Of course, if you’ve been reading my posts this year you probably did, in fact, predict this was coming.

1.      Germantown Friends 10:19.42
2.      CR North 10:21.49
3.      Carlisle 10:22.90
4.      O’Hara 10:24.13
5.      LaSalle 10:30.09
6.      WC Rustin 10:34.67
7.      WC Henderson 10:35.81

8.      Lower Merion 10:36.45

2017 Indoor State Predictions: 4x800m

Heat 1 (Etrain Projected Line-Ups)
Penn Wood – Dennis Manyeah, Todd Jackson, Tyshaun Truitt, Inerji SIrleof,
Seneca Valley – Luke Bellack, Sam Owori, Seth Ketler, Alex Dixon
O’Hara – Derek Sacks, Jack Becker, Eddie Issertell, Tom McNicholas
North Penn – Elgin Horton, Dan Santiago, Tariq Baines, Brendan O’Toole
CR South – Evan Kutney, Collin Ochs, Thayne George, Andrew Zawodniak
Bishop Shanahan – Jonah Hoey, Jonathan McGrory, Bradley Ingraham, Jack Ettien
Radnor – Doug Rosin, Frank Brown, Jack Bell, Jordan Lian
Bensalem – Aqeel Bacchus, Isaiah Thomas, Tommy Brewer, Kevin Rodriguez
Mount Lebanon – Cameron Potts, Bryce Brandenstein, Jack Cameron, Nate Everhardt

Just to reiterate, the line-ups posted above are completely speculatory. Just like my predicted scratches, odds are they won’t be 100% accurate.

A couple of things to remember here quickly. Shanahan had two sub 2 guys this year in Josh Hoey and Logan Yoquinto which could turn this squad into a contender. However, I believe Yoquinto got hurt at the Last Chance Meet and I think Hoey will go fresh in the open 8. O’Hara has a really strong team on paper, but I’m in the camp that believes they will save up for the DMR and run a “B” squad. They ran both relays hard last year though and it worked out just fine. North Penn’s Brendan O’Toole is entered in the mile so, if they have a suitable replacement, they may give O’Toole the chance to run fresh. Same goes for Sam Owori on Seneca Valley’s squad. Lastly, Bensalem’s Aqeel Bacchus and Radnor’s Peter Cooke are both in the open 800 later in this meet. Cooke is a very legitimate medal contender so my guess is he doesn’t run this relay, but there is a chance he does.

In my opinion it seems incredibly likely one of these teams gets a medal. The odds of none of the top 8 teams blowing up is slim. The top contenders in my eyes are Seneca Valley, North Penn and CR South. I’m a huge fan of this CR South team. I think they could come close to 8 flat on a perfect day. And did you see that 3:26 4x4 they dropped at Lehigh? That’s pure speed right there.

North Penn is a storied program with more 4x8 state titles than I have track blogs (and that’s saying something). And Seneca Valley’s last 12 months have been incredible. Do not doubt this team. SV hasn’t faced the level of competition they will in this meet yet this season which, I think, is a good thing. They can cut big time off their 8:09 seed.

Penn Wood will be a wild card here, led by Dennis Manyeah’s presence. He typically leads off and could set them up with a nice lead or, at the very least, great position. And, hey, don’t sleep on Mount Lebanon. Although they come in as the last seed, I actually really like this team. They could surprise with their first opportunity on a real fast track. I’d be curious when the last time Lebo even had a relay compete at indoor states was. I can’t remember any time even remotely recently. Would be a cool story to see Lebo medal.

Heat 2 (Etrain Projected Line-Ups)
Germantown Friends - Nick Dahl, Dan Stassen Colin Riley, Jonnie Plass
Pennsbury – Eric Kersten, Javier Linares, Aidan Sauer, Jed Scratchard
State College – Owen Wing, Chris Diperna, Joey Feffer, Nick Feffer
Carlisle – Sam Affolder, Isaac Kole, Jack Wisner, Noah Affolder
CB West – Luke Fehrman, Tegan Fortna, Alec Hofer, Jake Claricurzio
LaSalle – Brendan Price, Mac Costonis, Luke Ullmann, Dan Boyle
CB East – Marc Motter, David Endres, John Brophy, Ata Shahideh
Abington – Cameron Mitchell, Tim Smith, Josh Coleman, Aaron Sooknan

This is going to be an incredibly compelling race. You know how just like two seconds ago I said the winner of the slow heat is almost guaranteed to get a medal because somebody has to blow up out of the 8 in the fast heat? Well who the heck is going to blow up? All these teams are phenomenal. Even LaSalle without Evan Addison (a speculatory prediction) has 4 very capable legs. Abington’s seed time comes from all the way back in December, but this is a program that is hard to doubt given their recent success. It’s pretty reasonable to see them as a sub 8 kind of team.

I’ll be watching which teams get out of traffic early. That’s going to be huge. State College had a 2:06 lead off at Millrose, but that kid is a 2:01 guy who just needed a little extra big race seasoning. Make one small order change and this team is right there with the rest of the state (Owen Wing was their lead off last year and is incredibly experienced in this spot). Of course GFS’s Nick Dahl lost a shoe at Millrose and ran just 1:59. Take 5 or so seconds off that relay team’s time and they are out of traffic and sub 7:50.

Eric Kersten has led off state championship squads in the past and Marc Motter, assuming CB East gives him the stick first, is a 1:57 man with a big kick and a lot of heart. I’m not positive what CB West will do with their line-up, but they seem to have like 6 sub 2 guys every year, so I think they know what they are doing. I just learn to sit back and watch with those guys.

And of course Carlisle. If they end up leading off Sam Affolder, I’m not sure anybody else can beat him who doesn’t share a roof with him. A Dahl-Affolder match up would be a ton of fun though.

As usual, the fate of this race rests with Carlisle. I think they need both Affolders to win. Leave one off, you could have a 10+ second swing and fall down towards merely borderline medalists. I think some of these relay rosters are fantastic. Anybody who has an off day is very vulnerable.

It’s worth noting that Carlisle’s projected 3-4 guys Isaac Kole and Jack Wisner are both capable of sub 2 splits, maybe even more. Those guys are excellent runners. Carlisle ran low 7:50s in the 4x8 last spring long before the New Yorkers showed up, so you have to give credit where credit is due. In theory, Carlisle could be in record territory in an all-out effort, but they won’t do that in all likelihood considering their schedule (also the state record in the 4x8 is really good, sitting at 7:45.0).

I like GFS’s team. I think they’ve definitely got a chance to win this. Not a lot of weakness on the roster, a superstar in Dahl and an up and comer in Jonnie Plass. But for whatever reason, I feel like this will come down to State College and Pennsbury (along with Carlisle, assuming it’s their full “A” team). Those two programs are excellent 4x8 schools and have combined for the last 3 indoor state titles. Why not make it four?

Don’t sleep on CB West. Jake Claricurzio can anchor this thing in 1:53. He’s a true gamer who has some experience anchoring state title caliber relays from his past two seasons.

My dream for this race is Dahl-Affolder-Feffer-Claricurzio all getting the stick together and dropping some monster anchor splits. I’d love to see a 1:52 kind of carry out of one of those dudes.

1.      Carlisle 7:48.62
2.      State College 7:51.11
3.      Germantown Friends 7:52.02
4.      CB West 7:54.51
5.      Pennsbury 7:55.16
6.      CB East 7:57.90
7.      Seneca Valley 8:03.38
8.      CR South 8:04.20

If Carlisle doesn’t run their full “A” team, this whole race dynamic changes. I think that’s possible for sure and I wish I knew what the official plan was. But for now, I’ll guess based on my hunch. 

2017 Indoor State Predictions: 3,000m

By Jarrett Felix

Heat 1
Ben Bumgarner, Waynesburg Central
Nathan Henderson, JP McCaskey
Rusty Kujdych, Neshaminy
Connor McMenamin, Souderton
Seth Slavin, Pleasant Valley
Zach Lefever, Ephrata
Will Griffen, Cheltenahm
Aaron Pfeil, South Fayette
Noah Beveridge, Butler
Sean Rahill, William Tennent
Avery Lederer, Penncrest
Matt Scarpill, CB South

The 800 will be a lot of fun. It’s a wild race with lots of heats that will make things interesting throughout. But I think the 3k will end up the best race of the day. It’s only a 12 man field so, obviously, everyone is very much in play for a medal. And there’s a lot of talented guys at the front.

I know it doesn’t have anyone named “Affolder” or “Hoey”, but look at the XC credentials from these guys. Bumgarner is a state champ and top 20 in the region guy. Henderson, Kujdych, McMenamin, Lefever and Beveridge are top 10 finishers from this past AAA XC state championship. Aaron Pfeil is a AA XC Medalist. Slavin is a AAA XC Medalist and District champ. Then Griffen, Rahill, Lederer and Scarpill are all sub 16 guys who placed top 50 at states.

I’d have to go back and revisit all the heats, but my guess is we have never had a 3k state championship that featured exclusively top 50 finishers from the XC state championship from the previous fall. That’s just fantastic top to bottom depth. And, oh yeah, no doublers in this event. Only Griffen even has an event after this one, so these guys will be very focused.

The other thing that’s cool about this field? These guys all like to go fast. We don’t have kickers in this bunch. Nate Henderson knows how to push the middle section of a race and keep it fast. Same goes for Ben Bumgarner who used that strategy to break Zach Skolnekovich in XC. Rusty Kujdych is a front runner, having already been at the front of a 3k field at states just last year. Everyone down to Scarpill won’t be afraid to get in the front pack and mix it up.

I will say that I always hesitate to put a lot of stock in guys who have already run a lot of 3ks on the season or a lot of 3ks in a row. For example, Aaron Pfeil ran a phenomenal solo 8:52 state qualifier at TSTCA. But this will be his 3rd 3k in a row so there’s a chance for a let down due to tired legs in a grueling event. Of course if you want to argue that putting Pfeil in his first truly competitive 3k in 2 weeks could mean a drop into the 8:40s, I would tell you that’s a great point too. I think Rahill is also on a big 3k racing streak of 3 or so weeks so we will see how much fire he has left.

One other small concern I have: when was Kujdych’s last open race? I feel like it’s been a while. He dropped out of MoCs but that may have been to try and help Neshaminy qualify in the 4x8. I hope he’s healthy and ready to roll because I think he will play a big role in deciding how this one plays out.

Ultimately, I think this race will come down to three potential winners: Nate Henderson, Ben Bumgarner and Connor McMenamin. Nate Henderson should be the favorite. He’s been excellent in his few races this year, is running better than he did this time last year when he finished a tight 3rd, and had an absolutely monster XC season. That being said, I think both Bumgarner and McMenamin have real shots to defeat him. Keep in mind C Mac just ran 8:48 to win big at MoCs and almost break 2012 state champ Dustin Wilson’s meet record. And Ben Bumgarner is already a state champ. He’s got chops.

The wild cards are Kujdych, Beveridge and Lefever. I think all of these guys are really good. Lefever clearly has a clutch gene. He medaled this past spring in that hot state 3200 ahead of Henderson and finished 4th at XC States with a big kick to get ahead of Beveridge and McMenamin. He matched up head to head with Henderson already and was bested, but he still ran a fantastic 8:51. Kujdych’s skills are undeniable. He’s run low 9:20s for 32 as a sophomore, has experience and, unlike the other top names, ran his seed time in January. Beveridge’s stretch run to XC was incredible and I’m sure he can run faster than his early season 8:56, but he’s got something to prove after a third in the mile at TSTCA. Plus a junior hasn’t won the 3k at states in the past decade+, a stat that works against Kujdych as well.

I’m feeling what some may consider an upset here, in a sprint finish. I think Bumgarner by a nose over Henderson. I just like the way this kid runs at the state meet and, after he made me look good at XC states, I’m gonna ride with him again this winter season.

1.      Ben Bumgarner 8:33.16
2.      Nate Henderson 8:33.43
3.      Zach Lefever 8:38.88
4.      Connor McMenamin 8:41.14
5.      Rusty Kujdych 8:44.50
6.      Noah Beveridge 8:47.93
7.      Seth Slavin 8:48.05

8.      Will Griffen 8:51.09

2017 Indoor State Predictions: 800m

By Jarrett Felix

Heat 1
Isaiah Bailey, Penn Hills
Matt Kraus, William Tennent
Frankie King, Greensburg Salem
Dave Whitfield, Bonner
Robert Dupell, St. Joe’s Prep
Derin Klick, Lebanon
Aqeel Bacchus, Bensalem
Dylan Binda, Greensburg Salem

I think this heat is really good. It’s an excellent set up for a slow heat. You have some guys who I think will get out hard and not be afraid to run fast. And you have talent. A ton of talent. Bailey, Whitfield and Klick have PRs of 1:54, 1:53 and 1:53 from last outdoor season. Dupell has run 1:22 for 600 meters. And Matt Kraus is the reigning Meet of Champs champion against a loaded field.

I don’t usually do things like this but I can almost guarantee you a medalist is coming out of this heat. I’ve probably just jinxed this whole heat so my apologies. The big question is, who will come up with the win? I like Bailey. He’s got some strong wins as of late and he’s assembled a nice level of consistency lately. But my pick is Derin Klick of Lebanon. I really like what I saw from him last year at the state meet during outdoors. Plus I think in some random post a while back I outlined him as a possible medalist in this exact scenario.

So why not hold true to my natural intuition from some time I can’t remember?

Heat 2
Collin Ebling, Pottsville
Hudson Delisle, Quakertown
Luke Everidge, CD East
Christopher Cameron, Wissahickon
Liam Conway, Owen J Roberts
Jed Scratchard, Pennsbury
Derek Jones, Cathedral Prep
Kamil Jihad, Neumann Goretti

This will be another incredibly exciting “slow” heat. I expect it will be quick, although I can’t pin point exactly who will be bold enough to help keep things fast. But there’s plenty of talent here to push each other. I think Jihad will be perfect for this spot. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think the Neumann Goretti junior has lost an 800 heat yet this year. Sure, in the overall standings he’s been defeated (most notably at MoCs), but he’s a really good racer. If these guys can give him good push, things don’t get too crowded and he has a fast close, Jihad could run 1:53.

I’m in the Chris Cameron fan club from Wissahickon, even though they are my ex-rivals. I could see him running a nice time. Hudson Delisle is another guy who could pop a big time. He’s got great experience and watched his now graduated teammate Brett Wolfinger grab a medal in this event last year. Luke Everidge hasn’t raced a ton this year, but when he has, he’s been phenomenal.

Jed Scratchard and Liam Conway are both very talented guys, but they will likely both be doubling. So we will see how much they have in the tank.

Heat 3
Noah Affolder, Carlisle
Ryan Thrush, Brookville
Nick Wagner, Penn Trafford
Joe Cullen, Wyomissing
Jake Claricurzio, CB West
Peter Cooke, Radnor
Matt Eissler, Pennridge

While I love the first two heats on paper, I don’t have as strong of emotions for this heat. I’m assuming Josh Hoey will not be featured on the Bishop Shanahan 4x8, but even still we have at least 3 guys scheduled to double in Noah Affolder (who may be on his third race of the day), Ryan Thrush and Jake Claricurzio. Plus Peter Cooke of Radnor might try the 4x8 to help his teammates as well.  You also have a sophomore in this heat, Matt Eissler of Pennridge. Eissler is super talented, very fast and has raced a lot of top competitors this year. But he’s still just a sophomore on the big stage. And history says that only a small percentage of sophomores medal at states (side note: I made a post about this a few weeks back, I’ll link it up if someone is interested).

Thrush’s 4-8 double is, in my opinion, incredibly difficult verging on impossible. If he runs under 1:55, I’ll be super impressed. Especially if he’s already won a 400 meter state title (possible). Noah could be tripling here! Tripling! If he runs on the 4x8, I doubt he will be able to just jog a leg against GFS, Pennsbury, State College and CB West. The mile won’t be a walk in the park (although maybe 4:12 for him is walking-he’s really good). I don’t have super high expectations for the self-admitted slightly injured Carlisle senior.

In other words, this is Hoey’s race to win. He ran 1:54.50 back on January 7th. He’s run 4:09 for the mile. He will likely be fresh. Only Nick Wagner is within 2 seconds of his seed when comparing fresh competitors.

Pete Cooke had a real nice race at this meet last year. He hasn’t quite matched the 800 performance he had at Kevin Dare in 2017, but I like the way he races. Nick Wagner is a super talented guy who ran 1:53 two years ago in the summer. He’s been among the state leaders in this event each of the last three seasons and finished 8th last year. But here’s arguably the biggest sleeper for the win in the meet: Joe Cullen. He ran a 1:56 at Yale, picking up a dominant win in his heat. He split 1:54 at states last year as a sophomore and took his game up a couple notches during XC from 10th to 11th grade. I’m not sure he’s ready for this stage, but if he is I could see 1:53 for him.

Madness. I think this race could be won from the slow heat. The race may honestly come down to Nick Wagner and whether or not he wants to get the pace out hard. Otherwise Josh Hoey will have to be the one to set the pace as I can’t imagine a tired Noah Affolder or Ryan Thrush will be ready to take this out in 54 seconds. Does Hoey want to try and lead wire to wire? That doesn’t strike me as his style, but I think he’s smart enough to not let the pace completely drag.

And if I had to guess, somebody from the slower heats will run at least 1:54 which only 3 dudes have done so far this year. The last slow heat winner came in 2010 when Luke Lefebure won heat 2 and knocked off defending state champion Tom Mallon (who was doubling off the mile that season).

No clue what to do with Noah Affolder. I respect the guys talent, but if he’s on that 4x8 and the mile and still has a DMR to go? I’m not sure how this race plays out. Out of respect (and the outside chance he is not on the team’s 4x8), I’m putting him in the medals. But there’s a world where some slow heat guys make him sweat.

Ultimately, I’m going to have to pick some upsets during these predictions. I won’t be able to sleep at night if I don’t. And I’m predicting a winner comes out of the slow heat this year in a surprise turn. It’s just a gut feeling I’ve been getting watch the 800 unfold this year. And I’m doing a trust fall with my gut right here.

1.      Kamil Jihad 1:53.31
2.      Josh Hoey 1:53.67
3.      Joe Cullen 1:54.38
4.      Noah Affolder 1:54.76
5.      Chris Cameron 1:54.82
6.      Hudson Delisle 1:55.11
7.      Peter Cooke 1:55.56
8.      Derin Klick 1:55.82