Thursday, March 28, 2013

Weekly Rant - NXN-NW Race Divisions

So, I was taking another look at the NXN Northwest results today, and it reminded me of just how ridiculously overcrowded that Open Varsity race was (about 300 athletes signed up; 257 crossed the finish. Multiple kids that didn't sprint to the front at the start were telling me the race felt more like a fartlek workout than a race as they sprinted past runners whenever there was an opening, but there was always another wall they couldn't get passed, and they were completely recovered very shortly after finishing compared to being barely able to move after the race at state).

So, I got to thinking, what could be done to (hopefully) avoid such situations in the future?

1. Balance out the Championship and Open race so that approximately half of the teams are in one, and half of the teams are in the other. Last year, that would have been 18 teams in the Championship and 17 in the Varsity Open (and with 16 teams in the Championship race, that race would certainly NOT have been too crowded! It was fairly thin throughout parts of the field, which means you could certainly add another 14 runners to the field without any semblance of an issue)

2. Don't allow 'B' teams in the Open race. This would accomplish three things: further thin out the Varsity races so that neither field gets overcrowded; add significant competition to the JV race, making it more exciting and challenging; establish a JV Team scoring (a JV Championship!) that actually mattered (not Team X's 'B' team narrowly outscores Team Y's 'C' team")

3. If the races need to be spread out further, separate large schools from small schools in the Varsity/Open race and separate Frosh/Soph from Juniors/Seniors in the JV race.

Eventually, the fields might start to look something more like this:

Championship Race - 175-225 athletes, 17-23 teams
Open Race - 175-225 athletes, 17-23 teams
JV Race - 175-225 athletes, 17-23 teams
Frosh/Soph Race - 100-150 athletes (mostly JV, but maybe some varsity caliber frosh/soph would run this if they didn't have a team to run with in the Championship - or maybe even Open Varsity - race, and maybe more kids would sign up in the first place to see how they compare to other kids of their age)

FYI, if we (probably incorrectly) assumed that no difference would be made in order of finish/time if kids were in one race versus another, this would have been the scores for the races last year... not including any unattached runners that would have been moved to another race:

1. North Central WA 58
2. Kamiakin WA 116
3. Summit OR 160
4. Seattle Prep WA 169
5. Jesuit OR 179
6. Siuslaw OR 192
7. Nathan Hale WA 195
8. Central Valley WA 209
9. Gig Harbor WA 229
10. Eisenhower WA 244
11. Central Catholic OR 252
12. Hermiston OR 277
13. South Eugene OR 282
14. Bozeman MT 311 -- Open Race Champion, Montana 2A State Champion...
15. Rocky Mountain ID 325
16. Eastlake WA 405 -- Open Race third place; Washington 4A State Top-10
17. Lincoln OR 443
18. Star Valley WY 443

Open Race:
1. Redmond WA 70
2. Bainbridge WA 96
3. Westview OR 121
4. Lake City ID 168
5. Mountain View ID 193
6. Deer Park WA 207
7. Sequim WA 230
8. Jackson Hole WY 252
9. Skyline ID? 252
10. Bishop Kelly ID 257
11. Borah ID 264
12. Kingston WA 301
13. Victory Charter ID? 334
14. Centennial ID? 335
15. Vallivue ID 364
16. Kimberly ID 406
17. Baker OR 458

JV Race:
1. North Central WA 73 -- Open#6
2. Jesuit OR 74
3. Eisenhower WA 89 -- Open#9
4. Rocky Mountain ID 109 -- Open#8
5. Central Catholic OR 118 -- Open#10
6. Kamiakin WA 148
7. Eastlake WA 158
8. South Eugene OR 244
9. Middleton ID? 244
10. Mountain View ID 321
11. Boise ID 325
12. Capital ID 331
13. Bozeman MT 334
14. Hellgate MT 337
15. Lincoln OR 358
16. Star Valley WY 432
17. Evanston WY? 510


  1. Getting excited to see your Washington State, Regional and National Pre-Season XC Rankings.
    Any idea when they might make an appearence?

  2. The goal is to have the Regional and National Pre-Season rankings will be posted on DyeStat at the end of August.

    I will bring up topics of discussion for them throughout the summer, but not sure if I'll post full Washington State rankings (I might). I plan on making at least one poll (probably 2-4) on DyeStat soon though, to bring up some of the more interesting questions - like "Will North Central will again, or will ______ be able to take the State/Regional title away?" or the like.

    I haven't thoroughly researched all the teams yet, but it looks like this could be a VERY interesting year in the Northwest. Lots of very strong teams, and not all just from one or two class(es) in Washington.

  3. Forgive me if this seems offensive to the open participants but I am not for putting more runners into the championship race. I am for putting NXN-NW at a different location where bottlenecks don't occur.

  4. I think it's important for three reasons:

    First, the Open race may not be as "important" as the Championship race, but that's still an opportunity for kids to close out their season in a very competitive race and on the same course as they might race in the future if they are close to the caliber of athlete that would be in the championship race.

    Second, the Open race pays for a large portion of the meet. With almost 300 entries in the Open race last year, versus about 160 in the Championship race, that's paying for twice as much of the expenses of running the meet. While you might not think that's a big deal, the meet being financially stable (if not successful) can influence quite a lot of things with the meet itself.

    Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, by significantly trimming down the amount of teams and athletes allowed to compete in the Championship race, you are denying kids the opportunities to challenge themselves, and betraying the point of the meet. The perfect example is Bozeman last year: Montana 2A State Champions, but were placed in the Open race. Ran away with the open race, despite the ridiculously crowded field, and with times fast enough - despite those conditions - to be competitive with the top 12 in the championship race. One could rightly argue that a STATE CHAMPION should be in the CHAMPIONSHIP race, but they were not... why? Because it was decided that the Championship field needed to be only X teams, and Bozeman wasn't in the top X in the entries. There would be LESS of those situations (teams forced into the Open race that would actually be competitive and proved worthy by being the best team in their state by the time the season ended) when there is a LESS restrictive policy regarding the teams competing in the Championship race.

    Yes, there needs to be a limit at some point. But last year, the limit was too low (it wouldn't have been so bad if, like I suggested in the post, the Open field wasn't so overcrowded because of 'B' teams in the race and only having one race for 300 athletes on a course that can't handle nearly that many). Do you REALLY think that another 14 runners would have made the Championship race too crowded? When I was watching the race, it looked like there was plenty more room for 20-30 kids in that race, pretty easily. While the Open race needed to be trimmed drastically.

    As for location... for the most part, I like Boise. Good people running the meet, and a nice course - aside from the bottlenecks that occur. But more importantly, as long as Wyoming is in the Northwest region, Boise is the location that makes the most sense because that is about as central as you'll get. If Wyoming were placed in a more appropriate region (such as the Heartland, which would be a closer location for 80% of the state's population), then it would make sense to move the meet to, say, Spokane... but as long as Wyoming is in the Northwest, the meet should be in Boise for travel reasons alone, because accessibility should be a very high priority.