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THE 2005 GROTE POLL PREVIEW 2005 Grote Polls
2005 Grote Polls
This is it. It has returned. As full of utter idiocy, factual error, poor grammar, pointlessness, irrelevance, and written by an imbecile, this is The Grote Poll Preview. Unlike The Preview of The Grote Poll Preview, The Grote Poll Preview will actually feature the initial Grote Poll Top 31 for the 2005 NCAA Division 1 Men's Cross-Country season. There will be no discussion of the women because I do not understand them and what goes on at various institutions of higher learning nationwide with runners of the fairer sex. It is more than a minor miracle that I am married, and a greater miracle that my wonderful Wife has tolerated me and remained married to me for 5 years. The NCAA Cross-Country Championship is the greatest sporting event I have ever taken part in, and the best I've ever witnessed as a fan. A great man who many that will be mentioned in this poll called it the greatest event that nobody knows about. This man attended many events worldwide, but always cherished the NCAA Cross-Country meet no matter where it was or how hard it was to get to each year. Last year, he witnessed the ultimate with his good friend's squads sweeping the men's and women's titles.
The Grote Poll Top 31 feature the 31 teams that I project to be in the NCAA meet, that is, the 18 automatic qualifiers from 9 regions, as well as 13 at-large qualifiers. Gone are the days when there were a mere 3 at-large, keeping many more deserving squads at home on the last Monday before Turkey Day. By the way, I really hate turkey. When I last put this piece of crap out, I was a vegetarian. That ended sometime betwixt the completion of 2 Ironman races. Turkey sucks. Why can't Thanksgiving be Pepperoni Day? That would rule. Or better yet, honor The Big 3…The Big 3 of course would be meatball, sausage, and pepperoni. I digress. There will also be a region by region ranking here following the Grote Poll Top 31, and finally a look at the top individuals. There will be plenty of room for further digression in the following rankings, so without further delay…The Grote Poll Top 31 begins…I am Grote, and this is My Poll. If it any time you wish to share your insights and opinions with me, helpful or not, feel free to do so, my email is [email protected] This does not mean that I will agree with or even take into consideration any other opinions or even straight facts. I am not trying to take an “I'm right, and you're wrong” type of stance, rather a point of view where I don't even consider anything beyond me…its my poll… I'M RIGHT AND I'M RIGHT.
The Grote Poll Top 31
1. WISCONSIN- They woulda won last year with Withrow or Ford, they coulda won last year if guys woulda just been a bit better, they shoulda won last year because they were just the better team. Woulda, coulda, shoulda, didn't. This is a fact that is likely not lost on the Badgers. Those returning probably have a good size bone to pick with themselves not to mention the Buffs. Each year at NCAA's, I always postulate, that there are about 25 guys on paper who could be top 10, and 50 guys who could be top 25. Wisconsin had 3 who fit the top 10 profile and the rest of their squad fit the top 25 profile. The problem is that other schools (CU) ran to the height of their potential, while some Badgers were a bit off. It would not have been inconceivable to see Tegenkamp and Solinsky 4th and 5th across the line, but they were 11th and 16th and in the really real world the Buffs' Vaughn and Schoolmeester were 4th and 5th. The difference of 4 points was more than accounted for right there. Schumacher's guys ran well, just not fabulously well. If they run as well this year, they probably win. For now they will be favored. They return an NCAA Champ, who most do not think will be the best guy on his team in Simon Bairu. Not much respect for a 28:04 guy. Redshirts Withrow, Ford, Eagon, and Wagner are a formidable 4 on their own, added to Solinsky, Nelson, etc. Choose your NCAA Champion from this squad individually, but for now count on the Badgers as a strong #1. I must now admit shamefully that I was born in Wisconsin, and lived there until I was 12. One perk of the cessation of the ridiculous girlyman vegetarian stage which lasted a decade is the ability to eat bratwurst again. The best brats are from Wisconsin. Johnsonville's seem to have nationwide distribution, but my favorite Usinger's, have to be ordered from Milwaukee. Yes, I am pathetic enough that I've ordered and had them shipped. If you eat too many of those things (say 4 or so at a time, a few times a week) you poop kind of funny. I am not sure that this will be an issue for the Badgers.
2. COLORADO- Woulda, coulda, shoulda, and most importantly actually did. The Buffs won last year, period. Since I last did The Grote Poll, CU has won 2 individual and 2 team titles on the men's side…by the way. Speaking of “what ifs” one could make an argument that a guy named Dathan Ritzenhein coulda been on the squad last fall. James Strang ran admirably as a true frosh for 49th, but I would have to project that Ritzenhein would have been a bit higher up there. Who cares? They won anyway. Question, if Dathan Ritzenhein were to pay back all winnings, contract payments, expenses, etc., would he be allowed to run again for CU? Another question, if Dathan Ritzenhein were to pay back all winnings, contract payments, expenses, etc., would he be allowed to run for Oregon? Similar questions, highly unproductive and hypothetical, but perhaps they have different answers, at least in my twisted little world they do. Anyway, back to the Buffs…#2 is not so bad, I like #2. I poop a lot. Deuce. Being the non-favorite suited them just fine last fall. They have a nice mix of experienced big guns up front, young dependable guys, and young, new up and comers, as well as the hors categorie obligatory duo from Jersey, who for very complicated reasons should be referred to as Tony Soprano and Ralphie. Hopefully Tony does not kill and then cut Ralphie's head off and put it in a bowling bag. There once was a day not so long ago, that Tony and Ralphie carried on an NJ tradition of post-long run Slurpee's on a Sunday in Boulder. The rest of the squad, unfortunately opted for Jamba Juice. Only the NJ guys opted for the frozen, artificial, syrup, dye enhanced wonder of 7-11. A guy for now known as Flamethrower accompanied, but did not indulge, good thing, as anybody known as Flamethrower might be in jeopardy inside that Sleven, at the time operated by a confusing transvestite named Felicia. Even more confusing, was a never before seen flavor called “Frawg Green”. Apparently it was some sort of apple tasting thing. I would have asked Felicia if “it” tried the Frawg Green, but from the looks of things, Felicia has tried many, many things, that I do not wish to know about. My Wife really likes frogs, our home is decorated with them, luckily our Weimaraner, Toby (who would like to meet Shady Torres someday) has not disassembled or dismembered her frogs. Well, that should just about sum up all the detail that anybody could possibly want to know about the Buffs.
3. ARKANSAS- This team is much better than last year's 204-point 3rd placer finish indicated. There were bad races by many Hogs, and no Peter Kosgei. Josphat Boit and Marc Rodriguez are back (3rd and 25th last fall) and will have plenty of support. Not many years pass before Arkansas wins an NCAA title. McDonnell always has a contender, this year the Hogs may be a strong contender. Forrest and Perkins should be effective in x-c, both All-American types. Kosgei joins Boit and has run 8:29, 13:38 and 28:08. Nevermind the fact that incoming frosh include the Foot Locker National Champion in Cormier and two others who could contribute in Barnicle and MacPherson. Neither of the three may be ready this fall, or any of them could be big right away, if I had to bet, which I don't…I don't have to do anything, it's my poll…I'd bet Barnicle to be the best candidate for immediate success. This team is at least capable of scoring 90 or 94 points as the top 2 did last year, however will either one or both of those go even lower?
4. IONA- Ahhh, the Gaels…Ali G would have a field day with that mascot name. Iona has a great, experienced coach, good talent and experience back from a 7th place squad that remembers what a top 4 trophy feels like, a monster from NJ that has been waiting for a year, and the Rockefeller Estate right at its proverbial doorstep. Right down the road from Rockefeller's, is a great 7-11 in Sleepy Hollow, frequented more than a few times by post-longrun Jerseyans. What Iona and that 7-11 do not have (fortunately, I think, depending on your point-of-view) is a transvestite named Felicia at the counter. That point goes to Boulder and the Buffs. Mohammed Khadroui enters Iona as a freshman, who was as dominant as any HS runner New Jersey has seen. MoK, not only indulges in post-longrun Slurpees, he's been known to throw the mofo's around if he feels like it. He's tough. He's from Paterson. There is no Jamba Juice in Paterson. Lots of 40s, but no Jamba. A Jamba 40 would be a total ripoff. Anyway MoK can run. After a year waiting and finishing high school, he's dying to compete. He will not need to be Iona's 1st man, Kiplagat and Chemlany can clear a path for him. They may not have the top end depth as the top 3, but I'm not counting on them being top 3, just 4th, which is good enough for a trophy. I would still give up a limb and/or a few digits for a top 4 team trophy. Connolly and Hortian have run sub14 and 14:15 respectively, which should be adequate for a top 5.
5. NOTRE DAME- The University of Portland of the Midwest. Thinks get a bit more hazy around here, really after the top 3 teams there are many between 4th and 10th or so that could be interchangeable. For now, I'll go out on my own little limb and move the Irish up well above their 11th place result from last year. Benninger is a top 10 type of threat, and Moore should be a top 25 threat, as should Van Ort. After that, they always have depth and talent, and have the home state advantage perhaps.
6. STANFURD- 6th last year, 6th in the Grote Poll Preview…one more 6 and you have the Number of The Beast. Perhaps they should have hired former Florida coach John Webb, affectionately referred to as simply “Devil” by a great, great man simply known as Night Rider. There are many things I really do not like about Stanfurd, not many of them have to do with running or their successful program. The place bothers. Athletes from others sports bother me. John Elway, Adam Keefe, worse yet Casey Jacobsen. I just do not like Stanfurd. To make matters worse, since the last Grote Poll, the Earth has turned upside down on its axis and my beloved, then denounced, then beloved again New Jersey Nets have made the NBA Finals twice. I should take great joy in this, and I have tried, but there is a bittersweet taste because there is a Stanfurd alum playing center for them, and getting good minutes. And he's a twin. Not Frick or Frack nor the Sisters Trotter, but a twin from Stanfurd playing for my Nets. That ruins it. I was angry when they traded Eddie Griffin for Jefferson, another shooting guard who couldn't shoot, and this Stanfurd twin. Eddie Griffin played at The Hall, sort of a Jersey guy. Jefferson is an all-star. Griffin is now a borderline convict. Still, due to the Stanfurd factor, I'd rather have Eddie. Go ahead, Nets, move to Brooklyn, and don't leave anybody from Stanfurd behind.
7. BYU- Maybe a bit underrated, certainly not underraged, I don't know much about BYU other than that they were 5th last year, and could certainly challenge for 4th this year, and that Rohatinsky should be much better than 32nd. I would go their website and look up some info, but I'm worried they'd find out who I am and where I was and send out some Mormons with those magazine to my front door. I had a bad experience when I was a kid…they would not let me not take the magazines…they kept coming back…”did you read it, did you read it…”. I didn't read it, I threw it away, and hoped that they would just leave me alone. Eventually they did. I realize this has nothing to do with BYU and may actually be quite offensive and insulting to them.
8. TEXAS- If there is one team and program that I definitely have the inside scoop on, its my boy Coach Vigilante's squad at Texas. The ‘Horns have high expectations this year, no longer are they a good bet for the 2nd auto qualifier to Arkansas and a 31st place finish at NCAAs. Vigilante and Texas go together, the only better place for a guy named Vigilante might be UNLV. Funny, I have heard (from my own mouth) former George Mason coach John Cook referred to as “The Jerry Tarkanian of NCAA track and field”. Stanfurd coach Andy Gerard, who won an NCAA title, leaves and goes to George Mason. Villanova hoops coach Rollie Massimino left Villanova years after a title and went to Tark's UNLV. Get the connection? Not yet? Coach Vig went to NC State and was a grad assistant there under ROLLIE Geiger. See? There you have it. Anyway, expect the ‘Horns to be racing fast, early, and often. You name it, they'll be there. Peaked and ready to go. They were running 3-a-days all summer, even had a training camp in Crawford when Bush wasn't there on vacation. That, of course, lasted only 36 hours. The key race for Texas (mind you this is right from Coach Vig) will be Pre-Nats, where he'll be extremely concerned about facing lots of teams from other regions. The same could be said for Griak at Minnesota, but it's a bit earlier so the ‘Horns will still be running 120 miles a week, just like Colorado. Well, they'll actually be running about 122 miles a week because if Colorado is running 120, Vig will have his boys running 122. Why not 121? Because despite what the rocket scientists at Stanfurd may think, Vig knows that the Buffs may claim 120 a week, but actually be running as much as 121, so just to be safe he will have them go 122. So, that's where its at for Texas, its all about Pre-Nationals. They are much more concerned about Indiana in October than Indiana in November, and nevermind the Big 12 and regional meets.
9. BUTLER- They lose alot, but still deserve the top 10 nod after last year's 4th place stunner. Coach Joe Franklin seems good at finding more guys. I remember watching his TV show in the 80s when I first got at TV and was up way too late at night. It was weird and boring.
10. ARIZONA STATE- 8th last year, again another team that is perhaps too low. I seem to be saying that a lot, this really is a crappy poll. All-American Aguayo (22nd) is back, Kyle Alcorn transfers in from Oregon, Casey Burchill (10k qualifier) is back and the Sun Devils have a great young coach. I give them the slight edge at being the 2nd auto qualifier in The West.
11. PORTLAND- My beloved Pilots. Grape Crush. Young and ready to ascend the NCAA ladder. Lurking on The Bluff. Without a track. So near the greatest burritos in the history of mankind. Are they still only $1.80? Frosh Zuber Ahmed, from hometown Benson (home of the 500m track) could make an impact early. Rob Conner called him the greatest distance recruit out of the state of Oregon in 15 years. This is not to say that Ahmed is better than Gaylord, just that Gaylord really was not a recruit. So, Ahmed wins on a technicality. Another technicality, the Pilots were pretty good last year, good enough to be in the NCAA meet, but sent only RS frosh John Moore, who since became a sub-29 guy. David Kinsella ran 14:10 and 29:20 as a frosh. They have others with cool names…Kilburg, Rolfe, and a guy named Chuck. I am too freaking old to know any of these guys, but they sound tough. I'll bet one of them rides a motorcycle. Conner does, but it shouldn't count because even though it's a Harley, its yellow for chrissakes. If I had to bet on the dude who rides a chopper, I'd go with the guy named Chuck.
12. GEORGETOWN- Only 15th last year with the departed duo of Koborsi and Lukezic. That's a lot of experience, success, and consonants that leaves. Still the Hoyas had a solid win at the regional last fall, and return Hower (7th at Mid-Atlantic), Esselborn, the very talented Dalpiaz, and others including NJ soph Justin Scheid. Incoming Andrew Bumbalough could well be the top frosh in the country, and may have made a wise move running a lowkey track season to prepare for the collegiate rigors.
13. WILLIAM and MARY- The Tribe would probably prefer not to talk about the INC from last year. Fair enough. They get the slight nod over regional rival NCSU as they return a full squad of underclassmen. Here's an easy nickname…Christo Landry: THE COUNT. As in, uhhh you know, The Count of Monte Cristo. Give or take an “h” and a “pher” its perfect. Whatever. The Count was the top US frosh at last year's NCAA meet, All-American in 38th. He could be ready for much more.
14. NC STATE- Geiger's squad loses Andy Smith, but returns enough with Mack, Wesley Smith and Coombs. The Wolfpack, the university, and the city of Raleigh still are likely scarred from the semester I was in town.
15. CAL POLY- 4 of 7 from the surprise 10th placers return, including a guy named Llamas…was he in Falcon Crest?
16. AIR FORCE- 5 of 7 back from their 14th place team. Nothing too fancy despite the ability to fly planes and stuff, but a solid team each year.
17. INDIANA- They make it more often than when Bob Kennedy was there…go figure. 2 Jeffersons and Haas, who is a different man than last fall, and a great coach, IU should scoop will scoop up one of several at-larges from the Great Lakes.
18. IOWA- 13th last year. Barring a barrage of foreign talent at OkState or big improvements elswewhere, perhaps the Hawkeyes will be the regional favorite.
19. MINNESOTA- Or perhaps the Golden Gophers should be the regional favorite. What's the difference? It will get sorted out during the season, or better yet at the regional meet. 18th last year, and returning All-American Malmin, while adding Foot Locker 5th place finisher Rombough.
20. OREGON- Vin Lananna is the best possible choice for the job in Eugene. His reputation gets the Ducks a spot possibly higher than they deserve, they may have a tough time beating the likes of Washington and Arizona to get out of the West Region. It took Vin until his 3rd season at Stanfurd to get a men's team to NCAAs. I came to the conclusion after deep, soul-searching thought, that my problem with Stanfurd had much more to do with the type of things already discussed, and nothing to do with Vin Lananna. Petty jealousy of Lananna's teams' success might be another story. I will dislike the Ducks no more or less than I should as a U. of Portland alum who also ran for Washington, due to Vin's presence. Either way, the Ducks will be on the rise soon. The roster is a bit thin this year, so this ranking might be a push out of the very difficult West Region. It does please me that the Pilots will be strong for the immediate future, and figure to be the best team in the state at least. Now, on to that roster…Galen Rupp joins the cross-country team. Galen…another name that Ali G would take issue with. Gaylord? From here on out, that is his name in the Grote Poll. I suspect he, his family, coach (?), and teammates will take offense to this. So it goes. Many figure Gaylord to be a big contender for the individual title. I do not. Gaylord has run some great times, and is still young, but the NCAA X-C Title may still be the hardest race to win in the US. Come to think of it, I really think Gaylord would be better suited to attend Stanfurd…at least for my purposes. It remains to be seen if Vin will be able to sell Oregon as well as he did Stanfurd. The academic draw is not quite the same. Word of advise, which I trust will be taken into consideration, do not take East Coast recruits (that is those from NY/NJ mainly) to Track Town Pizza. It's a cool place, neat running atmosphere, but it sucks. Sorry to be a Jersey pizza snob, but it sucks. Speaking of appalling things having to do with pizza, there is a place in Boulder that serves honey with pizza. Totally uncalled for. Things went well at first, ordering the Slaughterhouse-Five pizza, large for 2 people. I will take only minor offense that one of the 5 meats was chicken. This is for the most part, also totally uncalled for…I can name many more than 5 more appropriate meats to grace a pizza honoring Vonnegut. Here goes: pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, regular ground beef, bacon, ham, salami, proscuitto, etc. Chicken or not, that was not the issue. The issue was the honey. Honey and pizza and a lemon for one's beer are not necessary. The waiter tried to explain the purpose, and an appropriate response from me would have been the following: “Why don't you take that lemon from my beer and honey for my pizza and shove it up your rectum? I'd do it for you, but that would be gross. If you need assistance, I would advise you to visit Felicia down at 7-11, it would be happy to help you out. In preparation for the rectal jamming, you may want to down a Frawg Green Slurpee to freeze and numb your core.” I didn't say that. I'm not sure if they serve honey with pizza at Track Town, but its not very good either way. The Ducks are not very good yet, but should make the NCAA meet. The rumored Shadrack Kiptoo transfer is something I will not indulge myself in just yet. However, even his high school eligibility was something laughable to me, something I knew no facts about, but could have written my own little book or opinionated and misinformed diatribe about.
21. AMERICAN- Perhaps the most f-bomb savvy coach in the meet? Not a great showing in their NCAA debut, but look out for them this year. They could sneak up on G'town in the region and contend for a top 15 spot or more. Hallinan had a great frosh year, Fennell rebounded well from injury and recruits continue to come in such as 2-time FL Finalist Tschirhart.
22. OHIO STATE- Ranking matches their finish, how creative. Olinger leads a solid team, and could be a top 10 type, and some big recruits are added.
23. ARIZONA- Cheseret helps the cause. Trafeh could be vastly improved from last year, and there are rumors of more Kenyans.
24. OKLAHOMA STATE- Supposedly a big-time FRENCH guy is coming in to bolster Coach Weis, who's from Jersey by the way, and the Cowboys? Also, from Jersey, and about as Jersey as anybody from Jersey gets, is Joe McVeigh, previously mentioned in this poll. McVeigh, much older than any of OSU's older foreigners, lost to a French guy who sported a unitard zipped open halfway, sunglasses, and had a lot of gel in his hair at last year's NYC Marathon. McVeigh is facing bets and challenges to avenge this shameful defeat this year. Hopefully this French steepler brings a different wardrobe and style sense to Stillwater.
25. COLORADO STATE- Lose All-American Mike Nicks, but return experienced guys, pretty good program of late.
26. MICHIGAN STATE- Young team last year, Stehpan Shay is tough, could be ready to contribute in a big way. I'm counting the Spartans in as the 6th out of the Great Lakes, which last year had 8 teams make it.
27. VILLANOVA- A team I'd really like to see back in the meet. This should be the year. This spot is conservative for them, they may be closer to G'town than the Grote Poll figures so far. The whole squad from last year returns. The regional was a near debacle last year, but some guys got needed experience and tastes of disappointment. Three Jersey guys (Pelerin, Kerrigan, and Segal) make them an easy choice to root for from my end. Gotta like the objectivity.
28. PROVIDENCE- So far, figuring them as the 2nd qualifier in the Northeast, narrowly. Fagan, Dionne, Haji, and some frosh lead the habitually qualifying Friars.
29. LA SALLE- Finally the year that Torpey's TEAM makes the meet. They deserve it. Another Jersey rooting influence for me with a transfer…very solid recruiting and development. The Explorers will likely consider this ranking too low.
30. GEORGIA- I've seen 6th placer Ngata listed as a junior and senior last year. They either have 5 or 6 back from last year. Not a big fan of the South Region, thus the lower than 25th ranking.
31. FLORIDA STATE- Perhaps a bit insulting given that they were 17th last year. Quite honestly, this is getting way too long and I haven't even addressed the individuals or regions yet, so if somebody dressed like a Seminole Indian rides up to my house on a white horse carrying a flaming, feathered spear, and impales me with it, I suppose I deserve it…if not for this, for plenty of other stuff.
OTHERS NEARING THE GROTE POLL TOP 31:
Columbia, Brown, Clemson, Duke, Florida, Tennessee, Rice, Pasta, Potatoes, Texas Tech, Eastern Michigan, Michigan, Washington.
INDIVIDUALS: No commentary, just picks for the top finishers at the NCAA Meet:
1. Matt Withrow, Wisconsin
Its done. What a waste of my time and yours. Have a nice day.
2005 Grote Polls
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