Part II Of Our Weekly Recap
February 28, 2013
This week, we had to split our weekly recap up into two pieces. Earlier, we recapped the pro action here:
Given the fact that the majority of the NCAA conference meets were held last week, we had too much to say about that and thought it deserved its own piece. So below, we recap the week in collegiate running. Note, before you fire off an angry email, there is no way we could possibly do justice to what happened at all 66 conferences (29 D1, 13 D2, 24 D3) but hopefully the stuff below is interesting. Actually, that’s one of our consistent goals at Letsrun – to make running/track and field interesting.
Below, Arkansas’ Chris Bucknam gets praise, the nation’s longest winning streak is snapped, we talk about the arbitrariness of victory and Mississippi State’s one-woman track team, and introduce you to Nick Rivera, a freshman at Texas Tech who hasn’t broken 1:52.03 this year but is a Big 12 champ. Plus props for the Virginia Tech and Washington State men, Betsy Saina, Abbey D’Agostino and Johns Hopkins in the D3 ranks.
The Arbitrariness Of Victory
Undoubtedly, there were a lot of close meets. We know of at least two one-point wins. And the weird thing about one-point wins is there are seemingly an infinite different ways it happened, but what people often forget is a track and field meet is also determined by what other teams not even battling for the win do.
For example, at the D3 level, a Gettysburg runner emailed us to tell us how his team helped knock Haverford out of the winners circle at the D3 level:
Gettysburg College had Joe Sharp and Ryan Rausch took 2nd and 3rd in the Centennial Conference 800m out of the slow heat, bumping Haverford out of the points it needed to win. Johns Hopkins would win by one point.
We got another email about that meet which reveals it was John’s Hopkins first ever conference title and that it was a very exciting on the 4 x 400. The email read in part:
At the Centennial Championships (DIII) Johns Hopkins Men’s Team took down the reigning champion Haverford in a team battle that came down to the last race. Quoting from the Centennial Conference website:
The race seemed in doubt after senior Rob Martin courageously limped to the finish line at the first exchange with a pulled hamstring, but the team of Collin Rozanski, Colin O’Connor and Andrew Carey managed to finish in second place – three places ahead of Haverford.”
After the conclusion of the race, the team stormed the track and it was like being at a basketball game when a buzzer beater was just shot. Really awesome team performance to take down the distance powerhouse of Haverford.
At the D1 level, LetsRun.com co-founder Robert Johnson watched his old Cornell team edge his alma mater Princeton by one point at the Ivy League champs. Afterwards, a friend called and said, “Man, Cornell got lucky that the Dartmouth sprinter false started in the 60m.” Robert saw the false start but since he’s not a coach any more he didn’t think too much about it, but the false start knocked out the #1 seed and enabled the Cornell runners to move up two spots – 4 points (To be truthful, Robert really enjoyed watching the meet as a spectator. As a coach, it’s hard to enjoy the meet if you are battling for a close team title. There’s the stress, and then when other guys on other teams screw up, you don’t mind it.).
Breaks go for you some years and against you in others – that’s why it’s hard to win every single year.
Speaking of wining every single year …
The Nation’s Longest Win Streak Comes To A Halt
A shout out to the Loyola Chicago men, who ended the longest win streak in collegiate track and field at the division one level. Coming into the 2013 Horizon League indoor track and field champs, the Wisconsin-Milwaukee men had won 18 straight conference titles in track (9 years in a row of indoor and outdoor) but the Loyola men emerged with a 190 to 140 victory thanks to some big distance points. It was the program’s first men’s title since 1980. The Loyola Chicago runners went 1-2-3-5 in the 800, 1-2-3-4 in the mile, 1-2-4-6 in the 3k, and 1-2-4-5 in the 5k. Yes, we know it’s not all that strong of a distance conference (8:43 and 15:13 scored in the 3k and 5k), but that’s impressive regardless and the Loyola Chicago does have a stud in 800 runner Declan Murray (1:47 guy) who won the 800, was second in the mile and anchored the 4 x 400.
Actually, we just realized the women also won the program’s first ever conference track title so we guess a Thumbs Up should go to the whole program that is run by second-year coach Randy Hasenbank.
A One-Woman Track Team
There are some bad women’s teams at the bottom of the women’s SEC (4 teams had less than 20 points) but there is one very good individual on one of those teams. Mississippi State’s multi-eventer Erica Bougard had a busy weekend as she competed in 5 events: Pentathlon, 60m hurdles, LJ, TJ, and 4 x 400m.
In the end, she scored 13 of Mississippi State’s 14 individual points and was on the relay that scored 4 more, so she played a role in 17 of their 18 points. Plus, had it not been for a lane violation at the end of the 800 in the pentathlon, the sophomore would have scored 4459 in the pentathlon (side note: 4459 would place her 4th on the NCAA all-time best performer list for the NCAA) and placed second, and thus would have scored 21 individual points herself and been the high point scorer in the women’s meet (Kimberly Duncan of
Texas A&M LSU ended up with that title as she won the 60 and 200 and scored 20).
Here is a little recap of Bougard’s SEC performance.
Pentathlon: 13th 3582pts (PR in first 4 events, DQ in 800, would be 2nd)
1:50pm 60m hurdles prelim: 8th 8.40s
3:00pm Long jump prelim/final: 2nd 6.23m
12:45pm 60m hurdles final: 7th 8.51s
2:00pm Triple jump prelim/final: 6th 12.73m *School Record
4:40pm 4 x 400m final: 5th 3:39.28 (3rd leg split ?54.1x?) *School Record
While we’re talking about the SEC, Florida’s junior Cory McGee had a good weekend – 18 points, 1st Mile, 2nd 3k, 10 points 1st DMR. And of course, the person who actually won the pentathlon at the SEC meet, Makeba Alcide of Arkansas, set a new collegiate record at 4569.
Chris Bucknam Gets Some Praise
When legendary Arkansas coach John McDonnell retired in 2008, it was certainly a bit of a rough transition for his replacement, Chris Bucknam. After all, how to do you possibly expect to equal a legend like McDonnell – the John Wooden of collegiate track and field?
Simple answer, you don’t.
McDonnell won 40+ national titles while at Arkansas. He won 34 straight cross-country conference titles. Bucknam came in and the Hogs proceeded to lose two straight conference cross-country championships and the alums, many of whom were unhappy with the seeming disrespect they thought McDonnell was shown by the new AD which led to his retirement, ripped Bucknam consistently on the Letsrun forums (for example, see this thread ripping him after the 2008 XC loss).
Well, the Hogs haven’t won any national titles under Bucknam, but they still are a pretty darn good team – definitely the best complete program in the SEC. They’ve won the last three SEC cross-country titles (making it 3 out 5 for Bucknam), and after last weekend’s SEC indoor victory have now won 4 out of 5 there (3 out of 4 outdoors).
Not too shabby – and amazingly, LetsRun, perhaps for the first time, received an email complimentary of Bucknam’s performance.
On Tue, Feb 26, 2013 at 1:20 AM, *** wrote:
I think one of the most impressive things from conference weekend was the Arkansas men’s team dominating the high-end SEC meet, and they did it without needing any huge heroes. It really goes to show the overall depth and high-quality of the program across the board that they didn’t have to over extend their top guys and still got the easy win. So, maybe that makes the coaches the heroes? Or the whole team?
Don’t worry though. Bucknam likely won’t get too big of an ego. Even if a few fans are begrudgingly starting to give him a tiny bit of praise, Bucknam’s now got to deal with the fact that there are now tons of small D1 programs that are upset with him for saying they should be booted from D1 and moved to I-AA.
Speaking of McDonnell, a biography on him is coming out soon. If you are interested in reviewing it for LetsRun.com, please email us.
Since we brought up the men’s SEC, well we guess we’ll start there as we hand out some more praise for some fine individual performances from last week. Thumbs Up to Texas A&M 400 man Deon Lendore, who ran 45.15 in the open quarter then peeled off a 44.51 come-from-behind anchor FTW. Pretty incredible.
Praise certainly should go to the Virginia Tech distance men. The Hokie team won the ACC title as the VTech men won the 800, 3,000, 5,000 and DMR and went 2-5-6 in the mile. If only phenom Ryan Hill of NC State had not been in the mile, then a clean sweep would have been possible.
Thumbs Up are also in order for Washington State. The Cougars are seemingly overlooked in every sport in the PAC- 12 so we thought we’d give them some praise for having runners win both the 3,000 and 5,000 with big kicks at the pseudo PAC-12 indoor meet. (There isn’t an official PAC-12 meet indoors. There is a MPSF meet).
Junior Todd Wakefield got the win in the 3,000 in 8:02.06 as junior Drew Jordan won the 5,000 in 13:54.35 in a race where six broke 14:00. Those victories helped them finish 4th (70 points) ahead of traditional power Stanford (66 points).
Props to the UAB women as their mid-d and distance crew scored 71 points at the Conference USA meet as Elinor Kirk was the meet’s high point scorer with 26 points (she won the 3k in a CUSA record 9:23.36, 2nd in the mile in a school record 4:43.73 (under the old CUSA Champs record) and 2nd in the 5k in 16:33.35).
In terms of the best individual mid-d or distance performances, Oklahoma’s Pat Casey had the best weekend of any male in the country. In the competitive Big 12, over the span of 5 races in two days, he won the 1,000, mile, and and anchored the DMR to victory as well.
In the past, we criticized Casey when he left his native Montana State for greener pastures. Clearly it worked out for him from an athletic standpoint as that’s some unreal running and for that he deserves to congratulated.
As for him leaving, we guess we shouldn’t be too upset as he is just following the example he is shown by everyone else involved in college sports.
The “adults” involved in college sports have long forgotten they are supposed to be educating young men and women. Instead of teaching them about loyalty and commitment, the schools nowadays are by example teaching everyone – “If it’s in your best interest, do it. Period. Everything else be damned.”
The coaches do it when they make promises in recruiting that they break when they leave with not even a face-to-face meeting with the team, the teams do it when they bolt their traditional conferences for another with more money and the athletes do it as well when they bolt. We guess that’s the way much of the modern world operates – but educational institutions should stand for something higher – what we aspire to be, not what we actually are. But hey, maybe the schools are just getting people ready for the cruel, real world where loyalty has seemingly been forgotten in the obsession with profits. In today’s world, a company will make $1 billion in a quarter and then layoff 8,500 people as it wants to make more.
The women’s performer of the week in our minds was Iowa State’s Betsy Saina. Saina, the 2012 NCAA cross-country champion, did what one would expect the fastest 10,000 woman in collegiate history at 31:15 to do – dominate. She won the mile (4:44), 3,000 (9:17) and 5,000 (16:07) at Big 12s.
The 2012 NCAA runner-up in cross, Abbey D’Agostino of Dartmouth, was pretty special herself. She set meet records at the Ivy League/Heps meet with a 4:32 mile and 15:47 5,000 win before splitting a 2:07.1 880 on the 4 x 880 relay (so a 2:06 800 m split as Harvard has a yards track).
As for negative performances, these aren’t very comfortable to talk about. Thus we loved the message board post by TK1451, who wrote:
The Big 12 women, SEC women, Big 10 M&W, and Heps M&W were all decided by 5 or fewer points. Find anyone who was a favorite on a losing team and finished worse than 5th or so, there’s your goat.
Indeed, there were a lot of close finishes. The fact that 5 teams finished within 4 points of first in the men’s Big 10 meet means it was totally wild. The fact that the 4 x 400 anchor for Illinois, Stephon Pamilton, was unable to finish makes it must-see TV (Noon on March 2nd on Big Ten network) for those who weren’t there.
Hopefully, the 4 x 400 gets put up on YouTube soon after the airing as the people who were there (like us) still don’t quite understand what caused him to stumble and be a DNF.
It should be pointed out that without Pamilton, Illinois wouldn’t have been in position to nearly win its first
ever Big 10 indoor crown since 1989. Earlier in the meet, he won the 400 (46.07) and was 3rd in the 200 (26.07).
You win as a team and lose as a team.
Speaking of the Big 10, a big props go to Penn State senior Cas Loxsom for running the fastest indoor 600 in American history at 1:15.42 (it isn’t the American record as it was run on an oversized track). Props to LetsRun.com’s Robert Johnson for predicting it in the Big 10 preview. Of course, if you talk enough, you are bound to get some things right by pure chance. Robert can’t claim to be a all-knowing as he said there was “no way” Florida’s Sean Obinwa would win the SEC 800 as he hadn’t broken 1:50 all year – well guess who won? Obinwa (for the record, Robert wants to point out that he also called Robby Creese‘s victory over NCAA outdoor 1,500 champ Andy Bayer).
Speaking of guys who haven’t broken 1:50 but are major conference champs. Props should go to Texas Tech freshman Nick Rivera. Rivera hasn’t cracked 1:52 this year but he won as a frosh. The Big 12 is certainly down in the 800 this year (only one sub-1:50 on the year) but a win is a win and Rivera is a stud as he ran 1:51 and 4:11 in HS in California.
We couldn’t possibly recap everything that happened over the weekend on the college scene, so we suggest you check out the message board thread on this topic:
But before we leave, we must admit we liked the in-your-face tone of this post from “big man on campus”:
NE-10 men’s side. Umass Lowell announced they were moving up to Division 1 a few days before conferences. Stonehill promptly beats them by 2.5 points.