Sunday, October 11, 2015

Reviewing the weekend and the national team picture

Quick notes about results from the past weekend:

If there was any doubt that might have been lingering after the VVS Invitational results came out a few weeks ago, this weekend should have eliminated any question about who the #1 girls team in the nation is. Fayetteville-Manlius NY destroyed the field at the Manhattan Invitational, averaging 14:36.86 over the 4k course. "How good is that?" you might ask... well, that is an average of 2 seconds per runner faster than the 2004 Saratoga Springs NY squad (14:38.8 average) that some claim is the best team ever, and only 1.5 seconds slower than the 2009 Fayetteville-Manlius NY girls (14:35.44). Manhattan is a race that is extremely well tested, with all but one NTN/NXN Champion team having run on the course and many other NTN/NXN qualifiers to test it as well. Only seven other teams have averaged under 14:50 per runner on the course, and every single one of them won the NTN/NXN title that year.

The #2 girls team in the nation, Great Oak CA, also ran well last weekend as they scored 34 points to beat Arcadia CA (100) and Southlake Carroll TX (132) among others at the Clovis Invitational. Their time at the meet stacks up well, putting them at #5 on the All-Time Woodward Park list and only about half a minute (total team time, not team average) behind where they were when they set the course record at this meet last year.

The question still remains: who is the third best girls team in the nation? We've seen a very strong duo up front, but what about the rest of the nation?

Sunset OR still seems to be somewhere up there, having lost only to Great Oak CA while beating multiple US Top-25 caliber teams at Woodbridge and Nike Pre-Nationals already this year. They scorched the course at an always-fast (and probably short?) 5k at the Sandelie Golf Course, but is notable that they averaged within a minute of one of the best individual athletes in the nation in Ella Donaghu (17:55.0 vs. 16:59.6) and their #5 keeping within 80.4 seconds of a runner of that caliber is very impressive (for example, 80 seconds behind the #10 finisher at last year's NXN race, Ella Donaghu, was the 41st team scorer). I'm not sure they are US#3, but they definitely seem to be in the running for US Top-5.

The picture on the guys side is a bit more wide open, as many of the top teams haven't really faced off against eachother yet. What we do know is that:

-Sandburg IL is tearing it up in Illinois
-Lafayette MO is tearing it up in Missouri/Arkansas/Tennessee
-American Fork UT hasn't been healthy enough to continue their annual course record setting efforts in Utah
-Timpanogos UT came out on top of the biggest meet of the season to date, the Bob Firman Invitational, over Great Oak CA and several of the best from California and the Northwest
-Hopkins MN looks like the top team in the Heartland
-St. Ignatius OH has looked mighty impressive in Ohio
-and Downingtown West PA might be the best team in the Northeast after their win at Manhattan, though don't look like a potential US Top 5 team quite yet

What that all means, I have no idea.