Noah Affolder: Coming For That #1 Spot

by Jarrett Felix

So there's some discussion lately about Noah Affolder among PA's all-time greats so I decided to try and match up some of his numbers with perhaps our greatest ever, current state 1600m record holder Paul Vandegrift. Now it's worth noting, in the interest of full disclosure, that Vandegrift was my coach at Upper Dublin for 4 years so I'm naturally biased. It's also worth noting that I've never seen any of his high school races while I've watched most, if not all, of the big ones from Noah.

I left out Noah's NY achievements, not because they aren't spectacular or because "they don't count", but simply because I'm not as familiar with the state and the performances. I've got a good sense of the PA record books from all my research and I decided it made the most sense to keep this PA vs. PA. So now, just as I did with the DMR indoors before Carlisle took that record, let's take a quick look at these two all-time greats.

Let's start with some numbers ...

Paul Vandegrift, Archbishop Kennedy 1 AA Class of 1987
1600m - 4:03.22 (#1)
800m - 1:48.8h (T-#3)
3200m - 9:07.6h (unconfirmed meet)

State Championships (11)
1600m - 1985 (4:14.50), 1986 (4:09.22), 1987 (4:03.22)
800m - 1986 (1:53.74), 1987 (1:51.96)

1000y - 1986 (2:15.2), 1987 (2:14.94)
Mile - 1986 (4:23.0), 1987 (4:16.31)

Cross Country
PSU 1985 (15:51.8), PSU 1986 (15:39.4)

Noah Affolder, Carlisle 3 AAA Class of 2017
1600m - 4:05.81c (#4)
1600m (relay) - 4:04.95
800m - 1:53.84
3200m - 8:42.95e (#1)

State Championships (4)
4x800m - 2017 (7:45.86)
Mile - 2017 (4:15.21)
DMR - 2017 (10:13.12)

Cross Country
Hershey 2016 (15:33)

Noah Affolder, 6th - 15:10.3 (2016)
Paul Vandegrift 4th - 15:08.1 (1986)

All-Time List
Noah - 9:56.18 Anchor DMR Indoor National Record (#7 Indoors or Out)
Noah - 8:46.08 2 Mile (#10 Indoor Performance, #7 Indoor Performer)

Recent Results
Noah - 14:18 5,000m on the Track

Vandegrift - 2x Penn Relays Champion, ran 3:49.4 with 56.2 second last lap in 1987 (retired meet record)

OK so there's a big old number dump for you to deal with. Now numbers on a piece of paper don't tell the whole story, but man these both look like New York Best Sellers if you are keeping up with the metaphor.

From a team perspective, Noah has piled on some truly phenomenal performances to add to his individual legacy. Without an outdoor season to brag about, he's already grabbed 4 state titles in 5 (or 6 if you want to count the XC team title) tries. He's also been apart of the second fastest 4x8 in meet history at PSU and the Meet, State and National Record DMR. His indoor quadruple with three golds and a silver is unprecedented and nearly helped his team grab a team title.

But individually, Noah has also dominated his 2 seasons of work in Pennsylvania. He holds the indoor state record for the mile after dropping to 4:07.24 uncontested wire to wire victory at the Millrose Games. He then followed it up an 8:46.08 two mile which smashed the old state record by some 16 seconds and is actually the fastest time indoors or out by nearly 7 seconds.

His 4:04.95 anchor leg relay split has only been bested by Vandegrift and Ken Lowry of Wissahickon (and arguably Sam Ritz if you want to convert 1500 times to 1600 times). All of those marks were outdoors at the end of the year in peak conditions. Noah ran much of his relay split completely alone with only the ghost of the record to chase, although he did have some bodies to lap in the closing stages of the race.

During XC, he was undefeated and record setting through until Footlocker Nationals where he took 6th. He followed that performance up with a win overseas in the Junior Championships at Edinburgh. He holds the course record on the new state course, the course record on Carlisle and the PA course record at Manhattan's 4k.

The biggest thing is that his story isn't done yet. He's still got this outdoor season to go and starting it with a 14:18 isn't a bad place to be. I don't keep track of 5ks on my all-time lists, but I don't think it's going out on a limb to say that's a state record.

On the flip side, Vandegrift was also phenomenal. While Noah specializes more in the 2-mile/mile range, Paul was more of an 800/mile type. In fact, when he hung up his spikes in 1987, he held the state records in both the 1600 and the 800 with times of 4:03.22 and 1:48.8 (hand time). The 1600 hasn't been beaten since although the 800 has been bested by John Lewis (1:48.33), Drew Magaha (1:48.82 auto time) and, depending on how you ask, Tom Mallon (1:49.01, was ruled a "record tying performance" at the time).

Vandegrift also held the state indoor record for 800, the indoor state meet mile and 1k yard records and the outdoor meet records for 1600 and 800. I wasn't there in 1987, but according to an article I found recapping his splits, Vandegrift ran his 4:03 with splits of 61.1, 2:03.5, 3:05.1, 4:03.22. He followed that up with a 1:51.96 running 56.1/55.8. That 1:51.96 was beaten for the first time this past spring when Domenic Perretta of Beaver Falls took it away after three years of trying (Dom ran 1:50.10 after a 4:17 victory in the 1600).

Again, I wasn't there in 1987 (one of commenters was so maybe s/he can provide more insight), but according to, the silver medal winners in Vandegrift's record setting double ran times of 4:16.47 (Nick Constantino who has a PR around 4:10) and 1:58.56 (Joe Waters who won the 1989 1600m championship and, ironically, attend Beaver Falls like Dom P).

In total Vandegrift captured 11 state titles to go with his 2 Penn Relays titles (I couldn't find results of the 1985 indoor state meet, but I'm assuming he didn't pick up an extra title that year).

Like I said, I've never seen Vandegrift run, but Noah is the best PA distance guy I've actually had the chance to witness. And that's saying something considering we've had Perretta, Zach Brehm, Jake Brophy, John Lewis, Drew Magaha and Tony Russell (among others) all come through this decade (shout out to John Lewis who isn't a traditional "distance" guy, but has an absurdly stacked 800 resume that I'll have to talk about at some point).

Fingers crossed that Noah can stay healthy and add to his resume. For now, I still rank Vandegrift ahead of him in a hypothetical, who's PA resume is more impressive, but there's time for that to change. Let me know what you think and, as always, stay classy out there.

The Running Diaries: Chapter Thirty One

Chapter Thirty One
Mark Miller, May 2016          
At 9:45, they began to line up the competitors for the Boys Large School 3200 Meter State Championships. The 3200 (the approximate metric equivalent for Two Miles) was an eight-lap race around the track, the longest event the PAL offered at the State Meet.  The field consisted of eighteen runners, including five from District Three, the region of the state in which Manheim Township resided. Mark recognized a few familiar faces on the starting line, including, most obviously, his brother Jayson.
“Which one’s Springer?” Ian asked as the runners took their marks, anticipating the gun.  Mark scanned quickly before spotting a tall figure with an orange singlet and dark blue shorts.
“That one.” As if on cue, the gun sounded and Springer sprinted forth, clearing the crowded field and taking up the lead. It was a beautiful, graceful stride, effortlessly gliding to the front. Jayson followed him, running tall and powerful, a look of determination and focus engraved on his face.
“So that’s Jayson’s nemesis, huh?” Ian said, watching the tall front-runner float along the back straightaway. Jayson was tucked in among the chase pack in about fourth place. “He doesn’t seem that impressive.”
“Yeah, totally,” Mark said sarcastically, “What about seven state championships? Does that impress you at all?”
“Wait, seven state championships?” Tom asked incredulously, “Are you serious?”
“Yep. He won the 32, 16 and 800 at states last year. When he was just a sophomore.”
“Wow,” Ian muttered, watching Springer continue to lead the field. As he came through the first lap, they looked eagerly at the clock. “Did he just split that lap in 61 seconds?! How fast is he trying to run?”
“I think he’s trying to go under nine minutes today,” Mark replied distractedly as he watched carefully for his brother. Jayson came through in about 66 seconds, packed in a crowd of ten runners, looking slightly uncomfortable. The younger Miller fidgeted nervously with his short pockets.
Springer continued to easily eat up track, rolling past the high jump pit and into the back stretch. His lead was expanding, already approaching six or seven seconds. Meanwhile, the chase pack was thinning. Some of the runners knew the early pace was well over their heads. Others would find out soon enough.
At 800 meters, Springer hit the line with the clocking reading two minutes, six seconds. Next to cross the line, through in 2:14, was a runner sporting a black top with a red “C” on the chest. Jayson ran in 6th place, alongside one racer in green and another in pale blue. He seemed a bit more at ease as the pack around him continued to dissipate. But Mark seemed no less warry than a lap earlier.
“You recognize any of those guys around him?” Ian asked, peering intensely down at the track. “Looks like Gonzalez is in 8th-maybe 2 or 3 seconds back-but I don’t see Johnston.”
“That’s gotta be one of those Coatesville dudes,” Tom said pointing at the runner in black who was putting in a small surge away from 3rd place. “Those guys are machines.”
“I’m pretty sure that’s Andrew Rosato,” Mark replied, following Tom’s outstretched finger. “He’s the guy Jayson outkicked indoors in the 3k.”
“Oh, that kid?” Ian reacted darkly, “He was such a tool.” They watched as Rosato set his sights on Springer. “I hate those Coatesville kids. They’re so cocky.”
“Takes one to know one,” Tom muttered quietly.
At the halfway point, Springer held close to a seven second advantage over Rosato. He went through the mile in a blazing fast 4:24, but his pace was noticeably slowing after his ambitious start. Jayson sat back in 5th place, going through the mile in 4:34. Mark watched as his brother battled for position with the runner in light blue. He looked so much more tired than he had the previous week, even though he was racing at roughly the same pace.
C’mon, Jayson. Wake up.” He muttered under his breath. A second runner in green approached his outside shoulder, but the Manheim Township Blue Streak held his position and forced his trailer in green to go wide. It was the first time since the start that a runner had made to pass him and it appeared to shake him from his slump.
Refocusing, the tall blonde put his head down and put in a small surge. “Atta boy, Jayson.” As he battled forward, he gained quickly on third place. His head dipped back slightly as it tended to when he was tired, but he kept his face relaxed and his arms pumping.
“Yo Mark,” Tom said suddenly, tapping feverishly on his shoulder, “Look!”
For the first time in minutes, Mark turned his attention back to the front of the race. Jimmy Springer’s once insurmountable lead was shrinking quickly as Andrew Rosato continued to make up ground. Springer looked uncomfortable, his legs not popping off the track with the same bounce they had earlier. Meanwhile his pursuant from Coatesville had a wild, fiery hunger in his eyes. With the tempo to match. Gradually, the crowd began to realize a race was developing. A ripple of whispers cut through the previously still air.
The race approached the mile and a half mark, Springer’s lead down to some three seconds over Rosato. The Coatesville Raider was charging forward, making Jimmy look as though he was jogging on a treadmill. Then, as the fans increased in volume, the Union Valley star looked back over his shoulder anxiously.
“He’s scared!” Ian called, “He’s gonna get caught!”
The spectators around them must have seen things similarly as many were rising to their feet and cheering enthusiastically. Rosato was now within a second or two, but Springer was still managing to fight him off. Every step seemed to cut the distance in half, but, paradoxically, Jimmy held his lead.
Another ripple of whispers whipped through the stadium as the runners approached 500 meters to go. They were passing by the largest section of fans on the home straightaway for the penultimate time. The noise was escalating raucously all around them.
“Let’s go, Jayson!” Mark’s father’s booming voice echoed loudly around the track, causing his youngest son to snap his head around. There, streaking suddenly toward the lead, was Manheim Township’s school record holder. Now it hit Mark why he had heard that second injection of enthusiasm. It hadn’t been for Rosato’s pursuit-it was for Jayson’s.
Positively jumping with joy, the trio of teammates cheered manically for their captain as he stormed across the finish line, the final-lap-signaling bell ringing loudly in his left ear. As Jayson turned the pace up another notch, Rosato looked mentally defeated. He had worked so hard to catch Springer, only to have another, seemingly fresher, runner take over the lead instead. Conversely, the exhausted-looking defending champion had surprisingly managed to latch on to the surge, refusing to surrender his title that easily.
Overflowing with excitement, Mark charged out of the stands and down the stairs toward the near side of the track. He could hear his friends’ footsteps echoing loudly in his wake as he kept his eyes pinned to the tall blonde. Frantically, he sprinted forward, wedging himself along the fence between a duo of runners in blue shirts and a girl in white. He craned his neck down the straightaway to watch as the two harriers came storming down it for the final time, racing through a wall of anticipation and exhilaration. They were stride for stride with one another, running shoulder to shoulder as Springer swung wide to try and rally a last ditch effort to steal the gold.
The two passed directly in front of Mark’s face. He could see their gritted teeth. The sweat flying from their hair. The muscles flexed powerfully into attack mode. A second later they were on the opposite side of him. He could only watch their backs as they tore off toward the finish. From this vantage point, unable to see either face, they looked like a pair of robots charging ahead, just as easily powered by electricity and technology instead of the grit and passion that would became evident with one look at the painstaking expressions across the athletes’ faces. Then, the machines powered down as the crowd gave one final, climatic roar.
“Who won?!” Mark asked to no one in particular, standing on his toes to try and improve his view, but his spot yards down the straightaway was not ideal for determining the victor.
“I don’t know.”
They watched as the two competitors shook hands. Jayson appeared to be smiling.

Ben Havleck, May 2016
“Hey, nice race, man.”
“Thanks, you too.” Feel free to lead some next time. Ben shook the gold medalists hand without taking his eyes off the track. Much more pressing matters than sportsmanship were happening. The invincible Jimmy Springer had just taken the large school race out at suicide pace. The complete opposite of the race in which Ben had just participated. But it’s called suicide pace for a reason.
Currently running in second place, Andrew Rosato of Coatesville was quickly closing down the gap to the leader. Ben whipped out his watch and pressed a button carefully, once when Springer crossed the finish, then again when Rosato did. Thanks to the small school award presentation, he had missed the start of the race, but he was hoping to get a feel for how each harriers current pacing compared as the race’s sixth lap began.
He watched the seconds spring to life on his wrist. Still about five and half second difference. Ben looked across the track at the two lead competitors. The chaser looked so much stronger than his prey. But a lot of time’s left.
As the Union Valley junior passed in front of him, he shuffled hurriedly forward, trying to get a better sight line for the finish. He checked down at his watch as each finished their laps. That’s 72 for Springer. Yikes. He scanned for Rosato and was surprised to see how much he had cut into the lead in just the last half lap. 69 for Rosato. He’s closing.
The enthusiasm in the crowd was intensifying. He had considered his race to be loud, but that roar was little more than a purr compared to the fervor currently building within the Shippensburg stands. Ben looked up at the rows of bleachers and soaked in the grandeur of the moment. It was amazing. Never before had track and field felt so significant.
He turned back to the race just in time to see a blonde streak surging powerfully to the front. Wait, what just happened? he thought as he looked hopelessly at his timer for some type of explanation. Another runner, sporting a white and blue uniform with a lightning bolt on the chest, had moved alongside Jimmy Springer’s shoulder. He had come seemingly from nowhere and the fans were loving it.
Ben watched the Coatesville runner’s expression as he passed. Rosato looked stunned and defeated. Like he had taken a blow to the chest. Ben dwelled on him for another solemn moment before ripping himself from this disconcerting mirror and refocusing on the flurry of feet at the front of the field.
Somehow, Springer had managed to avoid folding up like a lawn chair when he had been passed. In fact, he rallied his energies and fought back. Sitting on the leader’s shoulder. Hanging by only a thread, but hanging none the less. Together, the duo sprinted off the final turn. Side by side. The crowd had risen as one to their feet. As best he could in his fatigued state, Ben hustled toward the finish line, hoping to get a better view for the tight finish. But even with a massive head start, he couldn’t beat them. Wielding a furious final sprint, the tall, lanky figures extended their bodies across the finish line.

“Who won?” He asked aloud, slowing his body to a hobbled stop. It seemed the whole stadium was waiting eagerly for the answer to the same question.

All My Friends Are Runners: The Freshman/Sophomore Relay

Chapter 18: The Freshman/Sophomore Relay
My freshman season of indoor track was odd because I had such mixed feelings about getting selected for a meet. I had to wake up early, I was trapped in a dingy indoor fieldhouse and I couldn’t shake this odd feeling of outsider-ness. But a year later, my attitude had transformed. I was excited to go to a meet, put on my racing singlet (no more gym uniforms for me!) and chase some PRs.

During the indoor track season, Upper Dublin High School was a part of the Track and Field Coaches Association of Great Philadelphia (or TFCAofGP) Meet Series. Each weekend, this organization would put on indoor meets at Lehigh, Haverford or Ursinus College and give all the schools an opportunity to enter one runner/relay per event. These meets would also include a special relay at the start of the meet for just freshmen and sophomores. Once you earned a ribbon in this race (I believe you needed to be top five to earn a ribbon), you weren’t eligible for it anymore, meaning you only had one real shot to win.

So naturally, that was the goal heading into my first frosh/soph relay of the season: a 4x800 meters. After my 56.9, I had clocked a 2:16 relay split in the first meet which gave me another big PR to feel good about. Based on that split, I got anchor duties on our relay. I would be joined on the team by my friend and classmate Todd Warszawski as well as two freshman newcomers, Pete Schartel and Mitchell Silver.

As you might remember, we didn’t have any freshmen join the cross country team during the fall so we were grateful to have a couple newbies on the track. Plus, Pete and Mitch were pretty talented runners and, as we quickly learned, strong racers. In their first relay appearance, they put us in excellent position at the front of the pack and ran some 10 seconds faster than I did in these meets as a frosh. By the time I got the baton, it was between us and Abington for the title.

Abington’s relay not only featured my childhood friend Tommy Hartsough[1], but it also featured a blazing fast freshman with a spiky haired mohawk. On Abington’s second leg, Kyle Moran[2] took the baton and shot off like a rocket. He moved his relay all the way up from deep in the pack to first place overall with a 2:07 split. However, on the third leg, we took control again and I got the baton with a small lead.

At this point, I could count on one hand the times I was leading a race with no one to chase. On the track, it was probably even fewer. I could feel Abington’s anchor close by, but I was having a hard time pushing myself to sprint away from him. I knew based on my early splits that I wasn’t running as fast as I had been the previous week, so I tried to dig deeper and find an extra gear.

On the final lap, Abington’s anchor surged ahead of me and I latched on to stick with him. I really didn’t want to lose it for my guys. On the home stretch, I prepared to launch into my final kick. I saw a small opening on the inside and I went for it. But when I did, the opposing anchor cut down on me and I was knocked slightly off balance. I then tried to swing back out wide and pass him on the outside but, over the course of just a 50 meter straightaway, I ran out of room.

It was just some stupid freshman/sophomore race, but for me that was one of my toughest losses. I felt like I had let an opportunity slip away that I couldn’t get back and, more importantly, I felt like I let my teammates down. But that’s the thing. I cared. I was officially 110% invested in this sport and this team. And sometimes it takes heartbreak to make you realize that. Perhaps in this moment, I became a runner.

[1] You may remember him as the one-year old that I ran around with at my first birthday party.
[2] I’m going off the cuff here, but Kyle may have been the best freshman half miler I’ve ever seen. I feel like his 800 abilities get somewhat overlooked in the history books because of injuries and things of that sort, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that his four years in high school overlapped with four consistently improving results for the Abington 4x8

Spring Into Recaps

By Jarrett Felix

Well guys, it’s finally time for outdoor track season. Hard to believe we are only two months away from the last state championship of the year and the conclusion of most of PA’s top runners seasons (or careers). The meets in March don’t count for any bonus points when we hit championship season, but building confidence, momentum and team chemistry can all go a long way toward determining the winners at season’s end.

PTFCA Carnival
Let’s jump right into things with the PTFCA Track Carnival. One of the biggest stand out performance in this one came from the Hershey boys. The strong competitors from District 3 won the DMR in 11:09 and also added a gold from Andrew Sullivan in the 1600, where Sullivan defeated 9th place indoor finisher Joseph Cardie 4:35-4:37. Sullivan ran in the low 4:20s for 1600 a year ago as a sophomore and is fresh off a brilliant XC season that included a sub 16 minute 5k. He could be a big sleeper to break into the top 5 at outdoor states in this event.

The other big winner of the day was Abington. The boys defeated Penn Wood in a hotly contested 4x8 with a time of 8:01. They also dropped a 3:24 to east away from everyone en route to a 4x400 gold. In between, Abington took 1-2 in the 400, led by Aaron Sooknanan and also finished 3-5 in the 800. But the 800 was also where Penn Wood got some revenge. Dennis Manyeah ran 1:58.73 to pull out the victory over Springfield Delco’s Liam Galligan, who was also under 2 minutes.

This was a big result for both of these men. For Manyeah, it was another strong win to add to his resume. After a quiet start to his indoor season, Manyeah has shown signs of returning to the form that helped him run 1:53 for 800 meters last spring at Henderson. Manyeah could potentially work his way into the state title discussion in the 800 meters, however it’s unclear how interested he is in the individual events. Manyeah has yet to contest one at either the indoor or outdoor state championships and has instead gone all in to help his teammates in the 4x8 and 4x4 relays.

As for Galligan, this is his first race since XC after suffering an injury. Liam is one of the top returners in the state at 1600 meters, having ran a gutsy, front-running style at last year’s championships and has the talent to compete for the win when fully healthy (yeah, I said for the win). A sub 2 800 is a nice start, especially in an off event. Let’s keep an eye on how he progresses from here.

Solid result from Connor Hurst of Upper Moreland in that 800 as well, running a strong 2:01.21 and finishing 4th overall in arguably the deepest field of the day.

Junior Peter Borger of Malvern Prep was the last distance event champion, running 9:46 in the 3200 to beat Thomas Matsumura of Southern Lehigh.

Tim Cook
One of the best parts about outdoor season is getting District 3 back involved in full force. It’s just not as big of a deal out that way. Of course, the best distance squad this past indoor season was from this very district, so, in a rare twist, District 3 is firing on all cylinders from Day One. Isaac Kole, one of the unsung heroes from Carlisle’s national record run this indoor season, dropped a 1:58.15 to set the meet record and defeat Tristan Connor (who ran 1:57.19 last spring). This was not the only record that Kole was a part of as, without Noah Affolder, the Carlisle boys ran 7:57.05 to win the 4x8 going away.

Listed as the leadoff man on that squad was Sam Affolder, who led off both state championship relays indoors for the Herd. Sam won the 1600 in 4:23, picking up a big win over a very strong Quinn Serfass, who came away with the silver in 4:42. Carlisle also won the 4x4 in a sub 3:30 clocking.

Chayce Macknair, a sophomore from Mifflin County, was the top PA runner in the 3200, running 9:56.17 for the silver. He defeated a Wilson 1-2 punch of Jake Underwood and Evan Royko, a very strong duo coming off excellent cross country seasons. Mifflin County also picked up a 400 victory from Seth Phillips and a 4x8 silver in 8:20.06. I really like this MC squad’s upside, especially because their listed line up was two juniors and two sophomores.

The Distance Project
Shout out to Phoenixville for making me pull out the calculator this weekend. It’s not very often you see a 4x600 or a 4x1000, but if you were at “The Distance Project” (also a sick name) then you saw just that. The 4x600 relay came down to DT East and indoor state medalists CB East, with the former picking up a narrow victory 5:45 to 5:47. For DT East, that’s an average of roughly 1:26.5 for 600. Do we know if this is meters or yards? Those times are blazing for meters and could mean big things. Regardless, that’s a great time for DT East who is pointing toward a sub 8 relay in the not so distant future.

For CB East, this was a very interesting line up as they did not have David Endres, John Brophy or Ata Shahideh in the relay, 3 members of their state medal winning 4x8 indoors. Jake Sosulis showed some potential to move up and become a contribution, dropping the fastest split for his team in 1:24.8. Keep an eye out for this kid as an x-factor on the CB East 4x8 looking ahead.

CB East also rolled in the 3200, taking the top 3 spots in 10:05, 10:07 and 10:10. Also, Declan Earles for East ran 2:07.67 to win his heat of the 800 by roughly 18 seconds.

The stand out performer of the day was Neshaminy’s Rusty Kujdych. The junior dropped a 4:21.86 to dominate the 1600 and post an impressive mark at the under distance and followed that with a 2:01.89 for the 800. Kujdych, who ran a PR at Nationals in the 2 mile against the fastest guys in the country, is absolutely rolling right now. After a hard fought silver this past indoor season, I think you can’t sleep on this guy as a title contender in the 3200. Now Noah Affolder is operating on his own plane at 3200, but if he passes on the event for some combination of 4x8, 16 and 800, things get a heck of a lot more interesting for the deuce.

Regardless of whether or not he wins a title this spring, Kujdych is putting together a phenomenal junior season. He looks like he could become an elite two miler in our state’s history if things continue to go well. Really nice start for the Neshaminy junior.

Upper Darby Relays
It’s hard to always understand the story when it comes to relay meets (so feel free to give us a heads up in the comment section with splits or things of that sort), but it looks like the SMR was a race to remember. Quakertown ended up pulling out the victory over Radnor, Roman Catholic, Chester and Bonner in a tight championship battle. Quakertown’s final time was 3:35.97. We likely saw a match up between Hudson Delisle and Peter Cooke, two of the best up and coming 800 meter runners in the state as well as perhaps Sean Brown, the indoor state medalist in the mile and Dave Whitfield at Bonner.

In the 4x8, Methacton took gold in 8:13. They defeated a couple state caliber relays in WC Rustin (indoor DMR qualifiers) and Radnor (indoor 4x8 qualifiers). Also in the mix was Central (8:19), the always dangerous 4x8 squad Penncrest (8:21) and Upper Darby (8:21). Methacton also picked up a huge JV 1600 win out of freshman Matt Varghese. He ran 4:46 to win by 14 seconds. That’s a name to remember.

Let's See How This Goes...

By: Garrett Zatlin

Our PA Alumni deserve more attention.

Not just the guys in D1, but D2, D3, and NAIA as well. Heck, even college club runners deserve some love (looking at you Evan Hatton).

I've been with Etrain for over two years now and it has been an outstanding experience. I never thought when I first joined that we would have a professional runner like Craig Lutz reach out and help promote the blog. I never thought that a random prediction article would make the front page of LetsRun. I never thought we would have national champions follow us on Twitter. All of this just from having fun and writing a few articles.

But sometimes, I have to be honest with myself. Our audience is heavily Pennsylvania based and the most read posts in the NCAA section are typically the ones discussing PA alumni. Our readers care more about how Ned Willig is doing compared to how some Oklahoma State guy got 6th at nationals when he was projected to get 2nd.

And quite frankly, I don't blame them! Our alumni are simply more relevant. These are guys we grew up watching, competed against, and read about in Etrain's articles.

After thinking about this for nearly two months, I've decided that I will be shifting the focus of my writing for the blog towards our PA alumni. There are so many guys that I simply don't know. They deserve to get more attention. How did I not know that SRU's Ryan Thompson ran 4:05 this season? How would I have known that All-American Jaryd Flank was a PA alum if Jarrett and Fox didn't point it out to me? The list goes on.

But that's not it...

We still have a solid amount of readers from outside of the state. Readers from Boston, New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and so on come to Etrain for content about NCAA distance running. Completely eliminating that focus and only benefitting the PA readers would be a bit unfair to those people in those cities.

And that's why I thought it may be a good time to experiment.

I have decided to launch my own website! It's a site that will have pretty much the same content you see here along with a few other new things that I wanted to try out. I've always wanted to start a project like this and I think now may be the best opportunity. So here it is! Expect the site to launch next week...

More Life, More Track References

Drake recently came out with a new playlist (yes, he's calling it a playlist) called More Life and it has, ironically, given me less of a life as it consumes my free time. However, after listening to album-wait, sorry, it's a playlist not an album-on repeat for the past week, I have had the chance to put together some thoughts. And, since not all of you might be in to that sort of thing, I figured I could compare some of these songs (just to clarify, are they still called songs if they are on a playlist?) to some track type things to help y'all truly understand my feelings. Comparing to tracks to track if you will (and I will ... right now).

Free Smoke
First time I heard this song, I was walking over to the basketball court by my house to shoot some hoops and man was I hyped. Almost as hype as when I listen to the song hype. Later on, I played one on one against a 10 year old kid. And I won. So yeah. So in that way it's kind of like the 4x8 at a traditional dual meet. Gets you hyped up from the jump for a great meet of running.

A couple quick questions about this song. First of all, do you think he actually bets $20,000 with Steph Curry and Kevin Durant for jump shots? Because that seems like a really easy way for Drake to lose a ton of money. Just google Drake+Kentucky+Air Ball. Second, how does the number he drunk texts J Lo with already bounce back? How many new phones with new numbers to famous people buy? How do they keep in touch with their friends? The old friends won't have the new number and we all know how Drake and co feel about new friends.

No Long Talk
This song made me hatch an interesting idea. So Drake is always ready to jump on the bandwagon of the hot new team (see "Free Smoke" and his references to the Warriors). He also calls himself a "sixer" in this song. So if the Sixers get good (sorry, I should say when the Sixers get good because, you know, Hinkie is a genius and all that good stuff) Drake is going to definitely make songs about us. And that gets me excited.

As for the song itself, it's pretty solid, but is kinda like another heat of the 4x8 after you just saw the fast heat run. Like it's still a pretty awesome race, but I'm not quite as hype anymore.

Passion Fruit
Excluding the weird cut in from the DJ, this song is totally my jam. Like I try not to exaggerate, but this may be the greatest song I've ever walked around New York City to. And that includes Empire State of Mind. Pay it no mind Hov.

This song is so smooth and so pleasant to the ear that it reminds of Matt Centrowitz just easily coasting along at 50 second pace for the last 400 meters of an Olympic Final. And much like Centrowitz, it's probably not the first song you would pick for a Gold Medal, but heck I'm completely OK with it getting one.

Jorja Interlude
This is what we call an Interlude. What's an Interlude? When I googled it looking for the correct definition, they put in a reference to theatre intermissions so it's clearly a word that the rappers of the world transformed for their own needs. Every time I think "Interlude" I just think of "Buried Alive" by Kendrick Lamar, AKA the greatest interlude I've ever heard, and how that was a song that didn't feature Drake at all but was on Drake's album.

This Interlude actually does feature Drake to be fair, but the value of this interlude is reminding us the importance of listening to this playlist in order. It flows so smoothly you can't even tell when it changes from one song to the next. So you need to listen to this playlist in order when you list. It's like if you are picking a meet order you run the mile before the 800. Never the other way around. Never. 

Get It Together
This song really grabbed my attenion. Not necessarily because of it's strength as a song, but more so because I thought I accidentally pulled down the edited version of the album. Then I remembered I just listened to Drake say a more offensive version of gardening tools and was like, nope, I think I'm good.

But what's cool about this song is the spotlight really gets stolen from Drizzy. Jorja Smith kills it out there. It's like when you are watching a slow section and they do awesome and then you are wondering, man can they hold on to win the whole meet? And the fast heat doesn't bring quite enough "A" game. Point Jorja.

Madiba Riddim
There's been a meme going around on Twitter that says something like "White Dudes googling Mabida Riddim after listening to More Life". Well I am that Meme. I've googled everything from Blem to Mabida Riddim to Philadelphia Love Run.

I may not understand what any of this means, but it doesn't mean I can't appreciate the coolness of it and such. Much like field events or the short sprints.

I'm still not 100% what Blem means, but I do know it sounds a lot like the noise I try to make when someone asks me a question right after a finish an 800. 

Believe it or not, this song is not about someone running a 44.22 400 meters. Despite the fact that is a world class time that anyone would be glad to write a song about witnessing.

I came to this playlist looking for Drake, so as much as I appreciate and respect a 44.22 400 from Sampha (who is more of a Isaac Makwala type), I'd rather see the GOAT Wayde Van Niekerk. You know?

Now we are back to getting fired up. That's kinda where I live. I'm a man who, contrary to looking at me or looking at my idea of "fun", likes to get hype. And nothing says "this song will get you ready for a 4 mile tempo run" than a hype man in the background saying random stuff/making random noises.

If I'm comparing this to a track related thing ... I don't really know what to tell you. But I will say, Drake says "Wait for the Kicker" in this song, which I can only assume is a reference to Robby Andrews. He probably thinks we shouldn't take a nap on Robby this spring for the World Championships.

Also for the next six minutes I will be trying to memorize the line "I know I said top five, but I'm top two And I'm not two and I got one, Thought you had one, but it's not one." So please don't ask me to do any math or other number related things.

Skepta Interlude
This is another Interlude. There's a lot of songs on this playlist. Just like I can't touch on every event from every event ...

People say Drake isn't relatable, but, I mean, what's more relatable than a 5s with a cracked screen? Great question. Answer is nothing.

I'm a fan of the first verse from this song when Drake gets after it, but I feel like after that the rabbit drops out and the race falls off record pace and then I'm just mentally moving on to the next time somebody gets out hard.

In other news, "Michael Jordan with the Tennis Shoes" needs to be explained to me. To be fair, I also didn't understand "The Ceiling is the Roof" so I mean I just may not be smart enough.

This is the song where everyone says "like" a lot. It's sorta like the popular girls in your 4th period English Class.

To be honest, there's one line in this song which pretty much sets the tone for how I will live my life the rest of time: "It's a marathon not a sprint, but I still gotta win the race." Just imagine someone saying that to you just like out there in normal life. I would have like fallen to the ground with pure impressed-ness.

This song reminds me of a workout with 3 sets of 300s. The first set is like Drake's verse and it's not too bad, you're feeling pretty good with smooth form. Then slowly things starting getting harder and harder and your brain gets more scrambled and more confused, making things harder to understand as you go.

Which reminds me, 2 Chainz is still a thing? Is it still cool to like him ironically even after all these years or do people, like, legitimately find his rapping enjoyable?

Nothings into Somethings
I think this song proves that Drake and I are really good friends. You may not have realized it, but the person who he is upset about not telling him they got engaged is me. He's upset I didn't wait on him. But it's OK, he will get an invitation since he wants one so bad.

I feel like there's something I'm forgetting to do here ...

Teenage Fever
I know this is a Drake song, but this song just makes me want to listen to old J Lo songs. Dude, I'm not ashamed to admit that J Lo has some hits. Love Don't Cost a Thing? That's a motto I can live by and it doesn't even from Drake's song "The Motto" ironically. So basically, this song is like when you do strides after an easy day. It's like, yeah, I understand their value and all that stuff, but it just makes me want to race a 4x4.

Holy crap things just got turned the eff up. We have a smooth song and everything is going all chill and then we switch over to KMT. It's like going from the 3200 to the 4x4. It's like doing a hill workout and then jogging back to school, thinking you are just doing a cool down and then coach says "OK, now we are doing a 2400 all out."

Also can I just point out that Giggs is a scary dude. Like that's what really turns up the intensity of this song even more. Like he just kinda seems creepy. Like I've had nightmares about that man. Like one second Drake has this nice little ode to J Lo and the next second this guy is all up in my ear drums talking about Christmas gifts and such.

Lose You
The most important thing you need to know about this song is that Lebron tweeted the chorus back in January. That just goes to show you that Lebron is one heck of a powerful man.

Lines you need to know: "How you forget to fill up with gas on the road to riches?" and "But you're mindful of it all when your mind full of it all"

Goodness. I know Drake isn't quite the empirical lyrical genius of, say, Marshall, but he has some artfully delivered, thought provoking word bombs. It's like watching the throwers 4x1 in a way. You forget that these boys can do more than just throw a ball. 

Can't Have Everything
What does Drake have against Sheraton? I thought the Sheraton was a pretty solid hotel. It just seems unfair is all.

If we ignore the cheesesteak diss (dang it, Meek, why did this have to happen to our city), then we can agree that this is a solid song with some nice casual flow. It's pretty much like a Sunday Long Run where you just go out, get in a nice rhythm and bang out 12 miles. Then maybe you stop at the official bank of Drake: Bank of America.

Ye is in the building! This one blindsided me. It's like when you are preparing to watch a relay and think the school is throwing out a B squad and then all of a sudden, Cheserek is on the anchor. And then you just have to start singing about how you feel like you are glowing.

Since Way Back
40 is the Greg Popovitch of the music industry. He just knows how to use the pieces he's been given and turn them into money. Like you can't do much wrong as long as you have 40 working. Sure Greg had Tim Duncan for a while and that certainly helps, but I think we can all agree this extends beyond Timmy Drake. Sure it's not a running reference, but insert some other track coach and it works just fine.

Also, back to back duets? Drake is nothing if not innovative.

Fake Love
Fake Love has already made it into The Running Diaries. I think it's clear how I feel about it.

Ice Melts
We are getting to the end of the playlist and, after listening for hours on end, it was tough to really formulate an intelligent opinion about this bad boy. It's kind of like the mid season slog when you just start to get tired and practice is just a typical, average distance run. Then you go home and your parents are like, "Hey, how was practice?" and you say, "Fine" and they say, "That's it?" And you're like, "Look Young Thug just doesn't inspire a lot of emotion in me OK?" and they are like, "Oh-well-", and you say, "Drake is from Canada dang it! When did he become Jamaican? And when will he go back to Houston Drake? I like Houston Drake!"

Do Not Disturb
This song wasn't too notable other than the fact that Drake claims he is taking the summer off and we won't see him until 2018. What?! That's like a runner pulling out of an entire track season just because it's not a championship year! C'mon man! We can't afford to have a lame US Championships!

Will I be lost without Drake? Of course. But can the guy who puts out songs every like 2 weeks really go 9 months without a single interjection? Wait, you think he could? Well how do we stop him? Guys? This is a serious problem! Guys?

All My Friends Are Runners: It’s All In The Family But I Am Of No Relation

Chapter 17: It’s All In The Family But I Am Of No Relation
Distance Running is a sport driven by time. And with time comes natural barriers. Just look through the chapters so far. I’ve had run ins with 6 minutes, 5 minutes, 20, 19 and 18. But as I switched my focus to track season, I set my sights on the simplest of barriers: 1 minute.

Before every new track season, Upper Dublin had a team wide 400-meter time trial. The 400 was the ideal distance for both sprinters and distance runners. It was probably too short for a distance runner, but anything longer would be way too much for a typical sprinter. The coaching staff tried to spread out the talent and then lined us up for heats on the track a couple weeks into the winter. This helped set the line ups for the first few meets of the year.

Now let’s back up a second and set the stage for this race because, although it sounds like a silly and meaningless event it was actually a monumental moment in my running career. For starters, my PR at the time was about 61 seconds. I had split it in my last race as a freshman on our Suburban One Frosh/Soph Relay. However, in practice just a few days out from the time trial, I had run 63 seconds for the last rep of our workout. So I was feeling pretty good.

I also had a bet going. I was trying to run faster than my friend Mark Pyfer in the time trial as he had been faster than me the previous year. I felt I had narrowed the gap. I’m not actually positive if the bet was with Mark or with Tanzer but there was definitely a bet. And the value of the bet was definitely a quarter[1].

So at this point, I’d say I had the perfect combination of confidence, swag and thirst to prove myself. Also it was a time trial rather than an actual race which played to my skills[2].

When the race began, I just went out and sprinted for as long as I could. I don’t remember all the specifics, but I know there was probably someone faster in my heat who I used to help pull me along[3]. Ultimately, when I finished, I could tell things went well right away. When the coaches told me my final time, I was ecstatic to hear that I had run 56.9 seconds which was a massive personal best and my first time under a minute in the one lapper. I can’t remember for sure if I actually made him pay up the quarter.

But believe it or not, this race wasn’t important because of the quarter. My time in this race beat a couple of the older guys on the team who had previously been out of my league. I think it was the first time I realized I could maybe be a decent team contributor one day. Also, just as importantly, I think it was the first time my teammates thought I could maybe be a decent contributor one day.

We had a team dinner to celebrate Cross Country at the end of the week and I was the most involved in team discussions I’ve ever been thanks to my 400 PR that day. For the first time I could really remember, I began to feel like a part of a family other than my own actual family. And let me tell you, it was one heck of a feeling.

[1] For some reason, I remember the quarter very specifically. I made a lot of bets for a quarter in my early high school years including one on a Patriots-Chargers playoff game. I might have a gambling problem.
[2] For some reason, I’m a real solid time trial. That may sound like a brag, but it’s not meant to be. I’d be much happier to brag about being a real solid actual racer. I think I just overthink the big races too much and get way too nervous which is why time trials play to my advantage. I can get the right amount of nervous for those (which is still more than the average person for a time trial as most average people don’t care much at all)
[3] Sam Ellison was also in this heat with me, before he reached true Sam Ellison level (we will get to that) and I managed to beat him. It was the only chance I would ever have to be in the same realm as him, so I’m glad I picked up the W when I had the chance.

Flash Back

It’s crazy to think how much can change within even a couple months. But in just over two months, the entire PA landscape could be flipped on its head. Think back to March 2016. It’s hard to believe where things stood in comparison to where they finished up. Wait, what was that? You don’t remember March 2016? You have the short term memory that comes with being a millennial? Well, don’t worry, I’ll give you a little flash back.

Joe Espinal was a little known 1:55 guy
Espinal was a 1:55 guy in 2015, but only sort of. He ran a 1:55.9 hand time in a dual meet, but hadn’t dropped anything faster in invitational action. Espinal actually seemed more like a miler. In 2015, he ran 4:19 and qualified for states by winning the district title in the 1600. He missed a qualifying spot in the 800, bested by Khai Samuels of Pleasant Valley.

The experience that came with back to back trips to states in the 1600, allowed Espinal to enter the 2016 meet with a little extra confidence. After running 1:55.67 to defeat a strong 800 field at districts, a new PR, Espinal rolled to a 1:54.50 in the prelims at Shippensburg. That set him up as the surprise #1 seed in the State Finals. And it also sparked perhaps the greatest comment in the history of the blog.

A day after his 1:54.50 PR, Espinal decided to drop his PR a little bit more. How about 1:51.09? That Wilson Senior cut another 3.41 seconds off his best to stun the field and steal the 800 state title. But he earned that title. His 1:51.09 puts him alongside Joey Logue of Pennridge on the State All-Time list. By my count, he’s in the top 25 800 runners eve to grace the PA high school scene. And up until state meet Saturday, he was easily outside the top 300.

In fact, the top 800 runners in the state were mostly unknown
Joe Espinal was actually a super star in the 800 world relative to some of these other top dogs. 2nd place finisher Matt Wisner and 3rd place finish Jaxson Hoey were indoor state medalists and well known stars. Brett Wolfinger of Quakertown was running in his first outdoor state final, but had an indoor medal to his name.

But the other state medalists were relatively unknown. Derin Klick of Lebanon and Justin Miller of General McLane both made massive jumps down the stretch run of the season to became 1:53 800 runners and medalists. Miller didn’t have a sub 2 time on his milesplit resume prior to 2016 and Klick was sitting at 1:57. Dave Whitfield and Justin Jones, a couple unknown PCL runners, entered the meet among the state’s best seeds with 1:53 and 1:55 district times respectively. Plus a couple State College kids that you may not have expected got in on the party.

And in the AA race, Dom Perretta got a battle he never couple have predicted, facing off against sophomore Kamil Jihad, Dave Fletcher and Dan Kuhn of Harbor Creek (who split 1:52 multiple times outdoors). In total, we had a gaggle of 1:52-1:53 types who came out of left field to become super stars and re-write the state leaderboard. Shout out to Ryan Thrush and Donovan Myers who had 1:52-1:53 type ability but opted for other events as their focus. And won state gold.

Jaxson Hoey was the most likely Hoey to win the Penn Relays Mile
After a terrific indoor campaign that included one of fastest miles in state history, Jaxson Hoey came into the outdoor season as the man to beat in the 1600 meters. He was the defending champion after his first season in the PIAA ended with a dramatic victory over Jeff VanKooten. But in the end, his brother, Josh Hoey, turned it up a notch from 4:17 miler to 4:11 mile at the Penn Relays for one of the biggest upset victories in meet history.

Jaxson, who struggled through sickness in the early part of the outdoor season, turned out alright. He transformed from miler to 800 meter runner and grabbed a district champion in his off event. Then Jaxson dropped a 1:51 800 at the state meet for a tight third overall. The 1600 state title didn’t end up going to either Hoey as a surprise upset was pulled off by State College’s top dog.

Alex Milligan was the most likely 800 meter runner to score for State College
Milligan was the top dog on paper, running a 1:53 split as a junior and anchoring the indoor state champions in the 4x800. But as the outdoor season progressed, State College got a lift from two other runners. Nick Feffer and Anthony Degleris qualified for the state meet out of District 6. But Feffer left it close. The junior qualified by just 0.01 for the state championship.

But once he got in, he made the most of it. Feffer ran 1:53.50 to finish 4th in the state championship 800 and Tony Degleris added a new PR of 1:54.17 for a critical 8th place finish. Those were part of a crazy tight finish in the team title race.

And, oh yeah, State College was a big long shot for that state team title
One of the most exciting state title battles in state history began with a beat down at the indoor state meet. Downingtown West scored 76 points, yes 76 points, while State College was the only team to score more than 20. That put DTW in cruise control for the state title.

In the time since that meet, State College developed a school record caliber 4x400 relay, expanded their individual credentials and prepared for revenge in the field events. But in the meantime, DT West continued to improve. Henry Sappey switched to the 1600, Jaxson and Josh Hoey were both individual title threats, and Josh McLemore became one of the all-time greats in the sprints.

When the dust settled, it all came down to that 4x400 relay with State College pulling out a silver by a nose, perhaps thanks in part to a storm that threw off the qualifying for the event and made it a 4 heat final.

Who could have predicted that?

A couple other favorites of mine …

North Allegheny became a 7:51.71 4x800 squad with all underclassmen. Their “big dogs” Migliozzi and Stupak ran individual events and stayed off the relay, but the Tigers still pulled out state medals for the first time in over a decade.

We talked a lot about crazy 800 performances, but how about Keion Broadus of Abington? He’s still probably a relative unknown at this point, but he split a 1:51 to anchor Abington to a silver medal at states over CB West, Pennridge and North Penn among others.

The WPIAL took over the 3200. Although they didn’t get the title in AA or AAA, they did pepper the medal stand and the state leader board. Skolnekovich and Loevner were among the sub 9:20 performers in AA while Wolk, Migliozzi, Susalla and Gunzenhauser took spots 2 through 5 in the AAA state final, beating some great runners.

By the way, Matt Kravitz won the 3200 that year. He was barely sub 9:20 before the state final, but ran a big PR in hot weather and threw down a kick for the ages to outlast a loaded two mile field.

Adding to that long list of 800 talent, Mike Kolor ended the year as one of the very fastest with a 1:51.22. That came just after Carlisle’s Matt Wisner dropped a surprise 4:14.37 full mile to kick down many of the state’s best milers and move among the leaders in his event. Both guys showed some surprising crisscrossing range.

Let me know your favorites and share your “unthinkable” predictions for two months from now in our comment section.

Now back to More Life.

PA Alumni At Nationals

By: Garrett Zatlin

Division 1
  • Ned Willig (Michigan)
    • Michigan's Ned Willig was the only D1 athlete to qualify for an individual distance event after running a 3:58 mile PR at Boston. Unfortunately, Willig drew a tough preliminary heat which included three Oregon Ducks, a 3:56 miler, and plenty of other talent. Willig was in a great spot early on in the race, but just like many other top-tier names, he wasn't prepared for the quickening pace established by Oregon. Willig eventually finished last in his heat with a time of 4:05. He may not have made the final, but this is arguably the best track season of his collegiate career so far.
  • Dan Jaskowak (Virginia Tech)
    • As one commenter pointed out, Jaskowak was never really a mid-distance guy in high school. He often thrived in races like the 3200 or 5k. However, this Virginia Tech program has really helped Jaskowak develop his leg-speed. The senior was able to split a 2:53 at ACC's in the DMR lead-off leg and was later able to get VT to the front at NCAA's where he split ~2:55. On top of that, Jaskowak was able to run a 2:22 1k earlier in the season! This guy has some really solid range.
Division 2
  • Caleb Gatchell (Hillsdale)
    • The Hillsdale senior was already an All-American in the 1500 after placing 7th at outdoor NCAA's last spring. In 2017, Gatchell returned to the big stage with the only difference being that he would run 100 meters further on an indoor track. After matching his 4:06 mile PR in the prelims, Gatchell took advantage of his raw speed to split a 2:59 last 1200 and place 6th at nationals to become an All-American for the second time in his career. That 4:06 was also paired with an 8:21 3k PR from earlier in the season.
  • Ethan Gatchell (Cedarville)
    • The younger Gatchell brother didn't flinch on the big stage when he got the baton for Cedarville's DMR. As just a sophomore, Gatchell dropped a huge 1:52 high to get his team in a great position. Their relay would eventually finish 8th to clinch the final All-American spot.
  • Ryan Thompson (Slippery Rock)
    • I'll be 100% honest, I haven't heard much about Ryan Thompson and I'm not sure why. The man is absolutely killing it! The Slippery Rock High School graduate stayed close to home and attended SRU which may have given him an edge when trying to adjust to his new collegiate-level of training. As a senior, Thompson was able to drop some incredible times. He ran a 4:05 mile PR in early February which was fast enough to qualify him for nationals. He also ran an 8:27 3k PR as well. Unfortunately, Thompson didn't advance to the mile final at NCAA's. Still, this has been one heck of a season for Thompson and he is one person that will definitely be on my radar for this upcoming spring season.
    • S/O to the commenter for pointing out my miss.
Division 3
  • Ernie Pitone (Widener)
    • It was a tough race for Pitone ended up as the first man out of the finals despite running 4:15 in the prelims. That would be a heartbreaking finish for most seniors, but Pitone made up for that with an excellent 3k performance where he ran 8:21 and placed 6th overall. After this weekend, Pitone can now boast that he is a five-time All-American throughout his collegiate career (if we include all three seasons).
  • Jon Perlman (Middlebury)
    • It was an excellent season for Jon Perlman. As just a sophomore, Perlman was able to get a 4:12 mile PR and qualify for nationals at the Tufts Final Qualifier meet. Unfortunately, Perlman's youth caught up to him and he failed to make the final after running a 4:17 in the prelims. Despite not advancing, this was huge experience for the young guy who will likely return back to the championships later on in his career.
  • Jaryd Flank (Muhlenberg)
    • What a story Jaryd Flank has been! A little known PA high schooler has now become one of the best distance runners in division three. Flank first attacked the DMR with a strong anchor leg that got his Muhlenberg teammates All-American honors with a 7th place finish. Unfortunately, I don't know the relay split, but it seems like it only gave Flank more confidence. The Muhlenberg senior dueled with Pitone and settled for 8th in the 3000 (8:23) to gain his second All-American performance of the weekend.
  • Anthony Calatoni (Muhlenberg)
    • As the 800 leg of the Muhlenberg DMR, Calatoni stepped up to the plate and laid down a solid 1:53 split to keep Muhlenberg in the All-American conversation. He's only a junior and should be able to make plenty of noise this outdoor season as well as next year.
  • Noah Falasco (RPI)
    • How did I miss a national champion?! Granted, it was in the DMR so it was easy to overlook. Still, this is a big deal regardless of what event we're talking about. One of the commenters was nice enough to point out that Falasco was on RPI's winning relay and was able to get a solid split 1:56 to keep RPI at the front. The best part? Falasco is just a true freshman.
  • Mason Hepner (Dickinson)
    • The Dickinson senior had a huge breakout season with three substantial PR's that included a 1:55, 4:12, and 8:39. That 4:12 mile PR was good enough for Hepner to qualify for D3 nationals. Hepner was the last man to make it out of the preliminaries and into a very underrated mile final. Although Hepner finished last in that final, he still got a PR (by .1 seconds).
If there was anyone I missed be sure to let me know! 

Take Aways From Nationals

By: Garrett Zatlin

It was certainly a crazy weekend of nationals with lots to talk about. Here are some of the biggest takeaways I had from the meet. You can find the full results here...NCAA D1 INDOOR RESULTS

  • Rutto, Arroyo, and Joseph fail to make final
    • When making my predictions, I kept Joseph out of the finals due to his history of struggling in the prelims. Sure enough, his prelim troubles happened again with this instance being a bit more unlucky than anything else. The final came down to a kick and I like to think that Joseph could've closed in that final like he did at ACC's.
    • Rutto was a big surprise to not make it out of the prelim. Some people thought he could win and most of our writers had him finishing in the top three. But that's what happens when you have a loaded 800 field such as this.
    • Another NCAA championship where Arroyo fails to make the final or become All-American. He's got so much talent, but just can't seem to figure out how to race in championships.
  • UTEP Frosh Duo Are For Real
    • Both of these freshmen were aggressive with their race strategies. In fact, we actually saw Saruni give Drew Piazza a nice little shove which resulted in Saruni being DQ'd. If he had not been DQ'd, Saruni finishes 6th. Korir, on the other hand, asserted himself to the front-pack, timed his move well, and ended up with a title. Could he be the next Edward Cheserek of the 800? 
    • S/O to Alex Fox who was very high on this duo early on in the season. He was impressed with their racing ability and he turned out to be right.
  • Robert Heppenstall quietly finishes 5th
    • The Wake Forest sophomore now has three track seasons under his belt. In each of those seasons, he's qualified for nationals and been an All-American. Talk about clutch...
  • First Thing's First: KERR UPSETS CHES
    • What. A. Race. The race was incredibly slow for an NCAA final with the first 800 being 2:10. When people started to make their moves and push the pace, Ches seemed cool, calm, and relaxed. He probably didn't think that a redshirt freshman from New Mexico could out-kick him in a slow tactical race. But Josh Kerr proved him and the whole world wrong when he was able to break the King with a 53 second last 400. 
    • Does Kerr still have that kick in a sub-four minute race? Maybe, maybe not. But Cheserek should've learned his lesson after getting out-kicked by Jordy Williamsz at Penn Relays in a scenario very similar to NCAA's.
    • I must admit it, Caleb Gatchell was a big fan of Josh Kerr very early on and he's looking real smart right around now.
  • Thompson and Maton Struggle
    • If anyone was going to upset Cheserek I felt confident that it would be Thompson. Of course, that didn't happen and the 3:56 miler fell back to a disappointing 6th place finish after failing to have the kick that the opposition did. 
    • I may look smart for keeping Maton out of my top eight predictions, but it still surprised me when I saw that he fell to 9th overall. Oregon usually performs extremely well at NCAA's and this was just not the weekend for Maton who also finished dead last in the 3000.
  • It Was Rather...Predictable
    • This was where most of our writers (except Caleb) did very well in the predictions. Of the eight All-American spots, I predicted four of them exactly correct with a few other individuals a spot or two off. What was predicted by most of our writers ended up becoming true...
      • Ches did his thing and got the win
      • Knight was fresh and got runner-up
      • Gilbert and Scott held their own
      • Klecker and Barraza finished off their breakout seasons with All-American finishes
  • Ben Saarel: What Happens If He Doesn't Double?
    • After finishing an unexciting 8th place in a tactical mile, Saarel ended up placing a disappointing 15th in the 3000. If he opted out of the mile, does he place higher in the 3000? If he doesn't have the 3000 later on does he push the pace in the mile? I think there were a few different scenarios that could've benefitted Saarel.
  • Polar Opposite of the 3000...Plenty of Surprises
    • Guys like Alfred Chelanga, Amon Terer, and Tyler Day really threw off a lot of our predictions. I don't think anyone doubted their talent level, but there wasn't a whole lot that indicated they could be All-Americans. 
  • More Impressive Buffalo: Klecker 4th In 3000 vs Dressel 4th In 5000
    • I just thought it was a good question to throw in. 
  • Did Anyone Want To Win This Race?
    • There were so many high quality DMR's that failed to race their best guys. Ole Miss was the only exception and it paid off with them winning the title. Here are some of the relays that left out some of their best talent...
      • Oregon didn't run any of their sub-four milers (Cheserek, Maton, Gorman).
      • Oklahoma State did not run 3:56 miler Josh Thompson or 3:58 miler Matthew Fayers.
      • UTEP's Jonah Koech had such a poor lead-off leg that they weren't able to get back into it. They didn't run Michael Saruni either.
      • Virginia Tech did not run either of their 1:46 guys (Piazza and Joseph) and did not run sub-four minute miler Neil Gourley.
      • New Mexico did not run Josh Kerr
      • Georgetown didn't run Joe White (1:46 800 PR)
  • There Were Some Good Decisions...
    • Virginia Tech still found a strong lead-off leg (Daniel Jaskowak) who ran 2:53 at ACC's and then 2:55 at nationals. Vincent Ciattei proved to be one of the most underrated milers in the NCAA after splitting a 3:58. The Hokies also had Gourley and Piazza become All-Americans in their individual events.
    • Josh Kerr wound up defeating the King of collegiate track and field. 
    • The other "no-runs" are up for debate.
  • Erik Peterson and Colby Gilbert Underwhelmed
    • In the 5000, we saw Peterson (NCAA #4) and Gilbert (NCAA #2) fail to hit expectations. Peterson held his own by placing 6th overall, but Gilbert fell to 15th overall.
    • In the 3000, we saw a flip of performances with Peterson (NCAA #8) drop to 13th while Gilbert (NCAA #1) place 5th.
    • Are these horrendous performances? No. Both of these guys left as All-Americans. Still, both of them had run so well all season and never had a bad race. I thought for sure that one of these guys would walk away with two All-American honors. I also thought that we would see at least one of these guys get a top three finish. Unfortunately, that just didn't happen.
  • Marc Scott Impressed
    • Before this weekend, Scott had never doubled on the national stage, had only one All-American performance on the track, and failed to make nationals last outdoor season. Of course, that all changed after he finished second in the 5000 and third in the 3000. Scott left College Station as the fourth highest individual scorer at the championships.
  • Foreign Dominance
    • 800
      1. Emmanual Korir (Kenyan)
      2. Drew Piazza (American)
      3. Joe White (American)
      4. Isaiah Harris (American)
      5. Robert Heppenstall (Canadian)
      6. Daniel Kuhn (American)
      7. Blair Henderson (American)
      • DQ: Michael Saruni (Kenyan)
    • MILE
      1. Josh Kerr (Scottish)
      2. Edward Cheserek (Kenyan)
      3. Sampson Laari (Ghanaian)
      4. Neil Gourley (Scottish)
      5. Adam Palamar (Canadian)
      6. Josh Thompson (American)
      7. Liam Dee (English)
      8. Ben Saarel (American)
    • 3000
      1. Edward Cheserek (Kenyan)
      2. Justyn Knight (Canadian)
      3. Marc Scott (English)
      4. Joe Klecker (American)
      5. Colby Gilbert (American)
      6. Cole Rockhold (American)
      7. Brian Barraza (American)
      8. John Dressel (American)
    • 5000
      1. Edward Cheserek (Kenyan)
      2. Marc Scott (English)
      3. Amon Terer (Kenyan)
      4. John Dressel (American)
      5. Alfred Chelanga (Kenyan)
      6. Erik Peterson (American)
      7. MJ Erb (American)
      8. Tyler Day (American)

March Madness Comparisons

For those of you who haven’t seen, we are opening up our TheRealTrain writers NCAA Basketball tourney bracket challenge league to all of you guys. Just search group name TheRealTrain and use password originalpancake to play along. If you win, I’ll throw 10 UFC points your code name’s direction.

To help get you all in the tournament spirit, I decided to compare some of our high school squads to some of the teams in the NCAA schools that compete in the field of 68 in March. Don’t read too deep into any of these comparisons or it will lose some of its magic. I apologize if anyone gets offended that their team is compared to someone they don’t like. Just be thankful I didn’t make any of you guys Louisville.

So without further ado, I give you The NCAA Basketball to High School Track Team Comparison: The List You Didn't Know You Wanted Until You Read The Second Paragraph Of This Post And Then Thought "Maybe This Would Be Cool, But It Also Could Be Etrain Getting A Little Carried Away. Eh I'll Give Him The Benefit Of The-Wait, What Is Up With This Title?!" 

Carlisle – Kentucky
Let’s face it. This team has their big time blue chip recruits. They’ve got stars who are going to be stars on the next level. They’ve got all time level talent. Carlisle has made some deep runs in the tourney, especially in 2016-2017, where they finished tight seconds at two state championships. Carlisle made some runs to the final four, but this spring they want to go all the way. And I think they could do it.

GFS – Gonzaga
They come from a conference that isn’t in the PIAA so it’s always hard to keep track of how they stack up. We know they are really good. We know they are really consistent. But how do we know if they are the best? Gonzaga is still looking for that big final four berth, just like GFS was looking for that state title in the relays this year. Maybe this spring both teams will get a national title they can feel good about considering this might be each of their program’s best ever squads.

Winchester Thurston – Wichita State
Once upon a time, Wichita State was a little known program. Now the Shockers are seen in the same light as the schools from power conferences despite their mid major status. That’s what happens when you rattle off 30 win seasons and make a final four. Similarly, the boys from WT have been rolling through the A classification and their leaders like Will Loevner and Tristan Forsythe have acquitted themselves quite well when they took on the big boys in AAA.

Plus the names kinda even sound the same.

Henderson – Michigan State
Each year, Michigan State comes into the NCAA tournament looking something like your average team, but when they start dancing, something about Tom Izzo’s coaching magic just helps them compete for a big run every year. Sometimes, they get bounced, but most times they perform above their seed. If nothing else, they have the respect of their colleagues around the NCAA.

LaSalle & O’Hara – UNC & Duke
I’m not sure we really have any schools on the level of Duke-UNC, but if I had to pick a rivalry that properly encapsulated the spirit of these ACC schools, I’d have to go with the PCL match up. Always great programs. Always a ton of talent and a ton of depth. Always a smart pick to make a big run in the tourney. I decided to match up LaSalle as UNC and Duke as O’Hara. I don’t know if this is true or not, but it feels like over the years our anonymous commenters have been quicker to throw shade on O’Hara than anybody else, despite the fact that they are consistently one of the best. That’s kinda like the Duke Blue Devils who are the target of everybody’s basketball based aggression. But I’m comfortable lining up them up either way.

Cheltenham – Miami
Everybody who has been around a while remembers Cheltenham’s sprint corps dominated the states for years. They did when I was in high school, they did as recently as 2015 with John Lewis. But recently, Cheltenham’s distance program has made a real name for themselves. This isn’t just a football school anymore.

Dallas – Butler
For whatever reason, the back to back AA State Championships for Dallas reminded me a lot of those back to back championship experiences from Butler a few years back. And thus, I wrote their names down next to each other. As long as their coach doesn’t get hired by the Boston Athletic Association, I think they’ve got a good chance to get to another title game next year.

North Allegheny – UCLA
Seneca Valley – Arizona
North Allegheny is kinda like the big time program with walls upon walls of championship honors. Just something about the name gets respect wherever you go. I will point out that none of their kids’ parents have ever come on the blog and said they are better runners that Matt Centrowitz. So it’s not a perfect comparison.

Meanwhile, Seneca Valley is that team that has asserted themselves as a force within the WPIAL. They’ve had great individual and team success and they finally got that big win they were hoping for in the PAC-12 Title Match. So now who will go further in the spring? After a strong winter, Seneca Valley may actually be the higher seed heading to outdoors.

P.S. Mount Lebanon, this means you guys get Oregon. Congrats. You earned it.

Mechanicsburg – Middle Tennessee
Manheim Central – Florida Golf Coast

The best part of any NCAA tourney is those early round bracket busters who come in and crash the party against the traditional powerhouses who’ve got hype surrounding them. This year, I’d say that was Mechanicsburg and Manheim Central. A couple schools who did an awesome job this past XC season in District 3 making it to the state championship. But these Cinderellas aren’t done yet. Both programs have monster athletes who will be ready to roll this upcoming track season. Look for Morgan to take it to the Cupp. And for Cole to Send-er-in. And also Alex Tomasko is a good runner. Sorry Alex, I was already reaching hard with Sunderland and didn’t want to push it even further. But I was leaning in the direction of Tabasco sauce. So, yeah. Headed down a bad road. Also that’s not really basketball related.