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The Grote Poll Awards
November 30, 2005
(editor's note: prior to LetsRun.com and just before the dark ages there was TNFMedia.com, which was run by John Schiefer and Ryan Grote (a national class runner). One of the highlights of TNFMedia was the Grote Poll were Grote, an NCAA XC qualifier himself, analyzed the NCAA field in his every humorous style.  If you have a thin skin stop reading. If you don't like foul language stop reading..)

2005 Grote Polls
1) Preview of the Grote Poll Preview August 25, 2005
2) Grote Poll Preview September 5, 2005
3) The Grote Poll Addendum B September 14, 2005
4) End of September/Beginning of Real Meets Edition September 27, 2005
5) 1st Weekend of October Edition October 10, 2005
6) The Post-Pre-Nationals Grote Poll October18, 2005
7) Conference Meet Preview October 26, 2005
8) The Post-Conference Grote Poll November 2, 2005
9) The Pre Regionals Grote Poll November 10, 2005
10) Nationals Preview November 15, 2005
11) 2005 Grote Poll Awards November 30, 2005

    Nearly a week has passed since the longest Saturday of my entire life.  It began at slightly before 6:00 AM on Saturday, November 19th, and ended at about 4:30 AM on Tuesday, November 22nd.  The features of this day were the NJ Meet of Champions in Holmdel, NJ, Saturday morning, preceded by a run of about 90 minutes, followed by no shower, about 5 hours of work, about 12 hours of driving, no sleep, and then another run in the same clothes on the course in Terre Haute Sunday morning.  I did all of the driving on my own, one of my cohorts consumed a Flamethrower Burger early on from Dairy Queen, and the rest of the trip was followed by merciless flatulence.  Aside from normal gas and piss stops, we elected to stop in Columbus, Ohio, after learning of OSU's win over Michigan.  We found campus and a bar on High Street that we closed down at 2:30 AM.  I've never seen so many kids geeked up about football, at least half of them were wearing jerseys.  One of the more entertaining moments was a brawl in which some kid was kicked square in the face.  We cheered from inside the bar as this took place in the parking lot.  Good stuff.  The drive from there to Terre Haute was long, flat, and dark.  A stop at Waffle House near Indianapolis resulted in all four of us making many farts and a lot of poop.  My car still smells funny.  Upon arrival at our final destination at 7:30 AM, it did not take long to discover that Terre Haute really sucks.  Chris Lear was being kind to give the place a C-minus.  With a few hours to kill before checking into The Knights Inn, we ran at the course bright and early.  I was amazed to discover that my feet and shirt that I had been wearing for over 24 hours smelled worse than the asses exploding in my vehicle.  An ugly run of 75 minutes gave me a good feel for the course, which is a great one.  By 11:00 AM, it was back to The Knights Inn.  My check-in was delayed by a smoke alarm, and ensuing drug bust on 13 kids from room 129.  Any teams who stayed at The Knights Inn were at a clear disadvantage.  Not a nice place.  Anyway, that sums up how we got there.  The voyage home was about the same, straight through, no stops at any bars in Columbus, but a speeding ticked for 77 in a 65.  On to The Grote Poll Awards.  Following, I'll present a glimpse of the first Grote Poll of 2006.   

THE 2005 GROTE POLL AWARDS

THE DICK HARTER AWARD-  Coach of the Year…it has to be Jerry Schumacher from Wisconsin.  They did nothing too creative or fancy, just a bigtime asskicking of the entire NCAA.  They did what many expected them to do and were impressive in doing so.

THE GODFREY SIAMUSIYE AWARD-  Simon Bairu of Wisconsin wins this one as he becomes the first guy since the Hog to win two titles.  I had Bairu and Withrow flip-flopped, sticking with my outlandish pick of Withrow to win and Bairu the defending champ 9th.  I'm not very smart.  Bairu is very good at running cross-country.  Many guys threw down moves in that race, and Bairu withstood them, and then threw in one of his own that he made count and stretched to a 6-second win.

THE HIROSHIMA AWARD-  While close, I will have to go with Alabama in 21st, with none of its studs in the top 50…that is a bomb.

THE NAGASAKI AWARD-  Not quite as devastating of a bomb, and a close call, but I'll go with Arizona, who trashed 6th place Stanfurd the week before and had the door opened for a podium spot by a subpar day from Colorado.  Cheseret was 10th, which is good enough, but 69th and 95th from their 2-3 was not good enough.  You get what you pay for…

THE TEDDY ROOSEVELT AWARD-  Speak softly and carry a big stick or something…how about Oklahoma State?  A good showing from the young Cowboys.  I am more impressed with their 8th this year than their 4th in Tucson in 1996.  They didn't even need any French dudes, and were proud to sport Longhorn colored Brooks gear at Arby's post-race.  

THE GRAPE CRUSH AWARD-  The Pilots of Portland were pretty good all year, but never really had a big day.  John Moore seemed a better 10k on the track guy than a 10k on the cross guy.  Last Monday, however, it all came together well, Moore became a stud in 30th, and the rest of the crew did their jobs well enough to put them into the single digits and eclipse the original Grape Crush squad of 1996, by one place.  This exceeded even the most optimistic prognostications.  Better yet, they topped all others from the region apart from Stanfurd.  Next year should be a good one, perhaps their best ever.  

THE TEDY BRUSCHI AWARD-  Coming back from many injuries, although probably not a stroke, Joe Thorne of Texas really put it together all season and came through in a big way neg-splitting to finish 15th and carry his ‘Horns to 7th place.  Not too long ago the 2nd place team to Arkansas from the region was usually picked last.  No more.  Coach Vig's Texas team is for real, a podium favorite next year, and that last place slot was clearly destined for Loyola.  

THE SLURPEE AWARD-  Iona.  Great work by the Gaels to withstand some bad running mid-season, nearly dropping out of the Grote Poll, to roar back and claim a 4th place trophy.  Great to see Mohamed Khadroui contribute as 3rd man in his freshman season.  By the way, I picked them 4th.  

THE SATAN AWARD-  Stanfurd in 6th…that's 6th last year, 6th this year…I should have kept them at 6th in The Grote Poll.  One more finish there, and its 6-6-6.  What does it all mean?  I don't know, I don't believe in this stuff, but it does mean that they are not on the podium getting a top 4 trophy.  

THE TACO BELL AWARD-  UTEP…Make a run for the border guys, I told you so last week.  All of those scholarships to foreign kids to get 14th.  Same goes for ‘Zona in 10th and ‘Bama at 21st.  Maybe UTEP should do more of whatever it was that got them stripped of one of their NCAA titles in the 80's and put on probation for x-c to bust back into the top 10.  

I'm running out of pithy, not that clever names and titles for awards so just a few other random thoughts:

-The Count…Apparantly The Count was not at his best.  There have been some very good guys who finished very poorly in the NCAA x-c meet.  His runner-up to last was one of the all-timers in that category.  Hopefully he gets healthy in a hurry and puts this behind him.  

-The University of Portland of The Midwest…Notre Dame came through in a big way to get 3rd and had plenty of support on the course.  

-The Stormon Mormon-  Josh Rohatinsky of BYU in 6th…big race from him and leaving him with another year to chase a title.

-The Value of a #1 ranking…There is virtually no scenario I could come up with that would have Arkansas possibly beating Wisconsin.  Forrest did not run well, but even if he were top 10, Wisco still romps.  

-The Knights Inn…It's a horrible, horrible place.  Lots of drugs, dirt, hair, and missing teeth.  Any team who stays there will be severely disadvantaged and wind up having all sorts of itches to boot.

-Scenic Terre Haute…running along the river and Fairbanks Park was just delightful, we experienced odors of burnt oil, sewer, ass, rotten ham/sauerkraut, more ass, and an underlying smell of shit throughout the course of an hour.  Can't wait to go back next year.

THE GROTE POLL 2006 SNEAK PREVIEW

Individual NCAA Champion:  I could stick with my Matt Withrow pick, but I will switch off and say Chris Solinsky.  He would become the first NCAA Champ that was a Foot Locker winner since Bob Kennedy to not attend Colorado.  Follow that?  Me neither.  It will not be a race for the meek.  Solinsky, McDougal, Withrow, Rohantinsky are all capable young Americans.  Look for CU's Vaughn to be back in the mix, and perhaps Billy Nelson to be highly annoyed at this year's showing.  Somebody from Eugene may also factor in.  ND's Benninger also has a shot.  Bobby Curtis should be well rested and ready to be in the mix.  The talented guys like Cheseret, Kosgei, and some dudes from UTEP will make it interesting, but this race is just too tough to win for them.  Solinsky is the pick.  

West Coast Conference Champion:  I am going with The University of Portland.

The 2006 Grote Poll Sneak Preview Top 31

1.  Arkansas-  I'm not picking them to win.  Wisconsin will win.  But I'm stupid.

2.  Wisconsin-  The Badgers will defend their title.

3.  Texas-  They could win the Big 12, unseat the Buffs and challenge everybody other than Wisconsin.  Look for some big, bad relays from them this winter and spring.

4.  Colorado-  They shoulda been 3rd this year.  They weren't.  They were 5th.  

5.  Arizona-  They only lose 1 guy and are better than they showed.

6.  Stanfurd-  They stay at 6th.

7.  Portland-  Can they match or better their all-time best 7th place finish?

8.  Oklahoma State-  Top 3 are all coming back.

9.  Iona-  Lose a few big ones, but 2 of 3 are back, and MoK could be big.

10. Notre Dame-  2-3-4 are gone.

11. Kansas-  12th place showing, with so-so runs from top 2, and all are back.

12. UTEP-  Last Kenyan guy must be a quarter-miler!?!?

13. BYU-  If they drank a lot and ran on Sunday, top 10 for sure.

14. Florida-  Bad end, but full squad is back.

15. William and Mary-  The Count with a bone to pick.

16. NC State-  May be back in top 10 with redshirts back in singlets.

17. Georgetown

18. Dartmouth

19. Oregon-  May threaten top squads in region again, 2nd best team in the state.

20. Minnesota

21. Alabama

22. Villanova-  Disastrous season, but things are not as bad as they seem.

23. EMU-  Very young.

24. Ohio State-  Lose the heavy hitter.

25. American

26. Arizona State

27. NAU

28. Michigan

29. Providence

30. Louisville-  Can't be much longer before Ron Mann's team is in the meet.

31. Norfolk State

That should do it for the year.  Many of you will be relieved to not hear anymore from me this year.  Those same people still seem to be reading every week, though.  Weird.  No promises, but I hope to be back at the meet next year.  If I am, I think I'll try a plane, and will sooner sleep on the street on a  cut-up cardboard box before returning to The Knights Inn.


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