2017 NXN Boys’ Preview: Brodey Hasty Is Favored as Loudoun Valley (VA) Battles Great Oak (CA) For Team Title

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By LetsRun.com
November 29, 2017

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Brodey Hasty, a senior at Brentwood (Tenn.) High School, has certainly had an interesting year. In August, an internal investigation by the Williamson County school board found that Guy Avery, a former volunteer assistant coach (and de facto head distance coach) at Brentwood was accepting payment from parents of his athletes for his coaching despite signing an agreement to serve in a volunteer capacity (several of those parents have since risen to Avery’s defense). In addition, Hasty and five of his teammates — who finished 3rd as a team at NXN last year — were excluded from the new coaching staff’s communication over the summer. As a result, those six elected not to run for Brentwood this fall, competing in a pair of open races before finishing sixth at NXN Southeast last weekend.

While the saga with Avery — who denied the findings of the investigation — has made for a strange fall, there is no denying Hasty’s talent. He finished 7th at NXN as a sophomore in 2015 and was 3rd last year, the top underclassmen in the field. Last week, he set a meet record of 14:36.2 at NXR Southeast — a race he won for the third consecutive year. On Saturday, he’ll try to close out his high school XC career with a national title.

The team favorites, Virginia’s Loudoun Valley High School, also hail from the Southeast region, and if that name sounds familiar, it’s because Loudoun Valley is the alma mater of 2015 Foot Locker champion Drew Hunter, who ran 3:36 and made the 1500 final at USAs as a 19-year-old professional last summer. The Hunter family still has a big impact on the Loudoun Valley program as Drew’s parents, Joan and Marc, are the head coaches and Drew’s younger brother Jacob is on the team. The Vikings have rolled through the competition all year, including a perfect score of 15 at the Virginia 4A state meet. At NXN, their biggest competition figures to be Great Oak (Calif.), the 2015 NXN champion that won its fourth straight Division 1 title at the California state meet on Saturday.

Once again, the championships will be held at Portland’s Glendoveer Golf Course. In total, 22 boys’ teams, 22 girls’ teams and 90 individuals (five boys and five girls from each of the eight NXN regionals plus the California state meet) will be in the fields on Saturday. We break down what you need to know heading into Saturday’s meet. Our boys’ preview appears below; our girls’ preview is here.

Event details

When: Saturday, December 2, 2017. Boys’ race at 1:05 p.m. ET, girls’ race at 2:35 p.m. ET.

Where: Glendoveer Golf Course, Portland, Ore.

How to watch: Stream the meet live for free here (coverage starts at 12:30 p.m. ET)

Regional results: Heartland * Northwest * Midwest * Southwest * South * Southeast * Northeast * New York * California state meet

At-large team qualifiers * California team/individual qualifiers *2016 results * All 2016 LRC NXN coverage

Boys’ Individuals: Hasty Leads the Way

We’re now in year 10 of NXN allowing individuals to qualify and ever since NXN began accepting individuals in 2008, the nation’s talent base has been split between NXN and Foot Locker. We’ve come up with a solution to the problen (Foot Locker giving a bye to the top 5 individuals from NXN), but until things change, we won’t have a true national champion.

Hasty was 7th at NXN as a sophomore, 3rd as a junior, and will be looking to win as a senior in 2017. Photo courtesy Brodey Hasty

Hasty was 7th at NXN as a sophomore, 3rd as a junior, and will be looking to win as a senior in 2017. Photo courtesy Brodey Hasty.

Here’s where the top 10 boys in the Dyestat national rankings will be competing in the postseason:

  1. James Mwaura, Lincoln (WA): NXN only
  2. Brodey Hasty, Brentwood (TN): NXN only
  3. Dustin Horter, Lakota East (OH): NXN only
  4. Alex Maier, Flower Mound (TX): NXN only
  5. Aidan Troutner, Timpview (UT): NXN only
  6. Danny Kilrea, Lyons Township (IL): NXN and FL
  7. Dalton Hengst, McDonough (MD): FL only
  8. Drew Thompson, Fairfield (CT): FL only
  9. Conant Smith, Middletown (OH): NXN only
  10. Dylan Jacobs, Sandburg (IL): NXN and FL

So of the top 10 boys, eight (including the entire top six) will be at NXN and four will be at Foot Lockers.

Our favorite metric when evaluating high school runners is speed rating, a statistic devised by Bill Meylan of Tully Runners. Tully is a site that assigns speed ratings to performances achieved at dozens of meets around the country. These speed ratings are inexact, but they’re meant to compare performances achieved on different courses and different weather and generally Meylan/Tully does a very good job with it. Under the Tully system, each point equals three seconds in a 5k race so someone ranked at 202 would beat a 197 runner by 15 seconds.

And based on speed rating, Hasty is the favorite at NXN as his 199 rating at NXR Southeast is the best speed rating by any boy this season — impressive considering that was the only race Hasty has run against high schoolers this year. The next-best speed rating belongs to Danny Kilrea, who recorded a 197 at FL Midwest, which means that, under Meylan’s system, Kilrea’s run was worth about six seconds slower than Hasty’s performance at NXR Southeast. We should also note that Hasty won NXR Southeast by a massive 22 seconds — easily the biggest margin of any of the eight NXN regional meets.

So Hasty is the top returner and he’s got the best speed rating of the 2017 season. But what about his track times?

Turns out, they’re spectacular as well. As a junior indoors, Hasty ran 8:45.16 to win the 2-mile New Balance Nationals; outdoors, he ran 8:45.95 to win the Brooks PR 2-mile and clocked 4:01.75 in the mile, the #3 time ever by a U.S. HS junior. Both times put him head and shoulders above the rest of his competition on Saturday.

Hasty is certainly the favorite, but he’s not invincible. James Mwaura (8:54 3200), not Hasty, was actually #1 in Dyestat’s most recent rankings (November 16), but those were before Hasty destroyed the field at NXR Southeast. Still, Mwaura, who was born in Kenya before moving to the U.S. as a toddler, is undefeated this fall, won NXR Northwest by 10 seconds, and clocked 14:48 to win the Washington 3A state meet, the #3 time in meet history. Mwaura (18th at 2016 NXN) may not have hit his ceiling yet, and racing Hasty could propel him to a new level in Portland.

Other contenders include junior Alex Maier (5th last year as a sophomore; has run 4:10/8:52 but lost at NXR South), Kilrea (4:12/9:00; won FL South but lost at NXR Midwest), and Dustin Horter (4:07/8:56), who has won nine of his 10 races this fall, including a victory over Kilrea at NXR Midwest. Horter did lose at the Midwest Meet of Champions back on September 30, but it required a Herculean effort from Zach Kreft (Delaware, OH), who ran the fastest 5k in the country this fall (14:30.0; Horter’s 14:36.8 in that race is #3).

Below, we’ve listed the top 10 individuals based on their best 2017 Tully speed rating.

Name                  Grade  School                State    Rating    Region
--------------------  -----  -------------------   -----    -------   ---------
Brodey Hasty            12   Brentwood               TN       199     Southeast    ** Individual
Danny Kilrea            12   Lyons Township          IL       197     Midwest      ** Individual
James Mwaura            12   Lincoln Senior          WA       196     Northwest    ** Individual
Dustin Horter           12   Lakota East             OH       196     Midwest      ** Individual
Aidan Troutner          12   Timpview                UT       195     Southwest    ** Individual
Dylan Jacobs            12   Sandburg                IL       195     Midwest      ** Individual
Derick Peters           12   West Central            SD       194     Heartland    ** Individual
Conant Smith            11   Middletown              OH       194     Midwest      ** Individual
Alex Maier              11   Flower Mound            TX       193     Southwest      
Ryan Raff               12   Lehi                    UT       193     Southwest    ** Individual

Boys’ Teams: Loudoun Valley vs. Great Oak

Among Dyestat, MileSplit, and Tully Runners, the consensus is that NXN will come down to Loudoun Valley vs. Great Oak. And while both of those squads are very strong, the boys’ race at NXN is not as predictable as the girls’ race, where Fayetteville-Manlius (N.Y.) has claimed 10 of the last 11 titles: last year, eventual champion Bozeman (Mont.) was ranked just fifth in Tully Runners’ pre-meet projections.

Below, we’ve compared Loudoun Valley and Great Oak’s top seven using data from Tully Runners. We included Tully’s overall speed rating (SR) for each athlete as well as their state meet speed rating (for both Loudoun Valley and Great Oak, the state meet was their best performance of the season to date).

Loudoun ValleyGreat OakEdge
#1Sam Affolder, JR (4:08/9:02)Carlos Carvajal, SR (4:16/9:08)LV
Overall SR191.5185.5
State meet SR191.3185.3
#2Peter Morris, SR (4:20/9:12)Tyler Tickner, JR (4:26/9:27)LV
Overall SR189180.4
State meet SR189.3179.5
#3Colton Bogucki, SR (4:14/9:13)Jacob Korgan, SR (4:23/9:16)LV
Overall SR180179.9
State meet SR179.7179
#4Jacob Hunter, JR (4:17/9:27)Chris Verdugo, SO (4:30/10:30)Even
Overall SR178.9179.9
State meet SR179.3181.2
#5Connor Wells, JR (4:28/9:40)Gabriel Abbes, SO (4:27/9:30)GO
Overall SR171.4178.5
State meet SR176.7179.7
#6Kevin Carlson, SO (4:32/9:39)Gavin Korby, SR (4:19/9:42)GO
Overall SR171.2174
State meet SR172.3174.1
#7Kellen Hasle, SO (4:50/10:11)Ryan Shields, JR (4:25/9:49)GO
Overall SR165.8173.3
State meet SRN/A174.7
Loudoun Valley after claiming the NXR Southeast title last week. Photo courtesy Joan Hunter.

Loudoun Valley after claiming the NXR Southeast title last week. Photo courtesy Joan Hunter.

As you can see, it should be a great matchup. Loudoun Valley has the advantage up front, and the key will be for its top two, Sam Affolder and Peter Morris, to finish ahead of Great Oak’s #1. Great Oak, meanwhile, has better depth as their projected #7 man, Ryan Shields, has an overall speed rating two points better than LV’s projected #5, Connor Wells. That gives Great Oak more margin for error if one of its guys runs poorly. Wells will be the key man for Loudoun Valley. If he runs like he did at the state meet (eight seconds behind Hunter), LV will be favored to win. If he runs like he did at regionals (20 seconds behind Hunter), Great Oak has the advantage. That 12-second difference may not sound like a lot, but at NXN, it equates to roughly 20 places, which could be the difference between winning and losing.

For Great Oak, sophomore Chris Verdugo is the guy to watch. During the first five meets in which Verdugo ran with Great Oak’s top group, he finished no better than fourth on the team. At states, he was the team’s second man, with a speed rating (181.2) significantly higher than anything else he had done this year. If he replicates his performance from states, that could swing the meet in Great Oak’s favor.

One thing Great Oak has going for it is experience. The Wolfpack, as they are known, finished 6th at NXN last year, and four guys from that team (Carvajal, Tickner, Korgan, and Korby) return. Loudoun Valley did not qualify; Morris, who finished 55th last year after qualifying as an individual, is the only runner with NXN experience. If Great Oak can win, it will join fellow Golden State squad Arcadia as the only school to win two NXN boys’ titles.

Both teams will be shooting for a score just over 100 points. Over the last five editions of the meet, no winner has scored more than 114 or fewer than 105.

While it’s easy to frame this as a Loudoun Valley-Great Oak battle, 20 other teams will be on the start line on Saturday. As we saw with Northern Arizona and BYU at NCAAs, even if a meet looks to be a two-team race on paper, things can change once the gun goes off. And considering that it’s more difficult to compare high school teams than it is college teams (even with speed ratings), there are several teams who could take down both Loudoun Valley and Great Oak. One team in particular that’s coming on strong is Mountain Vista, the Colorado 5A champion, which scored 80 points to win the perennially tough Southwest regional, well ahead of runner-up Springville (Utah), a squad that Dyestat ranks #5 nationally. Downers Grove North (Ill.) is another team to watch: DGN’s 73 points at the state meet was the lowest by a 3A squad since Illinois went to three divisions in 2007 (and that includes the national-champion 2007 Neuqua Valley team).

Here’s what Tully Runners has as a rough projected score using speed ratings:

Overall Morning-Line Team Scores - Boys                                                     
   1   Great Oak              CA    159  (California)
   2   Loudoun Valley         VA    179  (Southeast )
   3   Mountain Vista         CO    190  (Southwest )
   4   Springville            UT    207  (Southwest )
   5   Downers Grove North    IL    229  (Midwest   )

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MB: NXN Predictions?