His name is Ben Saarel, fyi, but this point is correct. There are the outliers like Saarel, Derrick, Cheserek, Ritz, (Nico) Young, Puskedra, Kennedy, Goucher, but beyond those guys (and I'm sure there are a few more, that's just the top of my head) finishing place at NCAA xc as a freshman is almost never a true indicator of one's potential in the NCAA.
I had a faster time and a higher finishing place than Lex on a tougher course against tougher competition as a 17 year old freshman at the NCAA. And I didn't have super shoes or "supplements." In high school I was nowhere near 4 flat, 8:35 or 13:35. Something went terribly wrong for Lex this season.
You didn’t have tougher competition, even if the rest of your statement is true. And tougher course? I guess if you’re talking about Stillwater last year, sure. If you’re going back longer than that, the course might have been tougher but the competition was not, lol.
Also, the poster who said Ricardo Santos is the reason that Stanford sucks is probably correct. Obviously I don’t know exactly what’s going on there, but I don’t think Santos knows how to coach XC. I mean the men’s team ran to their ranking this weekend, it’s just that their ranking wasn’t very good. I was shocked when Charles Hicks started gushing about Santos after his NCAA XC win. Maybe the training worked for Charles, or maybe Santos let him do what he wanted to do, but I sort of think anyone who’s running well for Stanford right now is doing it in spite of the training, not because of it.
That said, in this day and age, Stanford is a tough place to be a student athlete. Balancing the academic load and athletics is very tough. It’s clear to me that each of the Young brothers made the correct college choice. Nico has gone all in on running and succeeded, setting himself up for a pro contract. Lex/Leo will come out with Stanford degrees but no where near the the running accolades. Different choices, but I think it makes sense for each of them.
The reality is NCAA XC in this day and age is extremely difficult. Harvard’s stud freshman, Ferenc Kovacs, a world qualifier, didn’t run good at all on Saturday (200+) yet Gibby gets no complaints on here. It’s tough to run well as a freshman in the NCAA, 76th is quite the performance. Santos shouldn’t be receiving this criticism as he outperformed their ranking and improved drastically throughout the season.
How is one to compare which year, season, decade, era (however you want to label it) as being “tougher” than the next. It’s cross country and the NCAA XC meet is tough “every” year…no matter the decade. Too many variables. I know, I know everyone will throw out track times and the depth of talent in today’s NCAA, but super shoes and groomed XC courses play a massive role in performance today. The NCAA has been littered with foreign runners for decades now. Teams have always had upperclassmen who’ve had 3-4 years advantages (years more training and volume and time to adjust to the college system). I believe the overflow of student-athletes who had the extra Covid year is making is definitely pushing the top tier (American) frosh down the ladder a bit. How many guys at the NCAA level right now who are on an extra year (5th or 6th) right now? More now than ever. Trust me. We will see more true American frosh in the top 10 again.
Really unfortunate we couldn't see Rocky Hansen this championship season.
In two races he went;
1-1 against Bosely (5th @NCAA's)
1-1 Wolfe (9th)
1-1 Nokes (56th)
0-2 Ky (3rd)
0-1 Nico (6th)
0-1 Blanks (1st)
0-1 Sharp (41st)
0-1 Samuel (2nd)
While I don't think the extra 2k would have helped, but there is a decent argument for him having the potential to finish around the top 10.
Yes, Lex has a disappointing season, but not as glaring as Sprout. The fan in me really wishes the Young twins would have joined their big brother. Maybe they would have if not for the Sahlmans. I can expect some better times with the twins this spring, like we saw with Colin. Very interesting to follow, can't wait to see Aaron too and his first race under Smith.
XC courses were harder not easier in the past. Super shoes are directly responsible for a 10-30 second improvement in PRs for 5-10k on the track however XC course records have not followed suit. D1 NCAA XC runners used to race weekly not monthly. Apples to Oranges is correct. ...But today's NCAA competition is not necessarily tougher. Racing is more currated, the best teams rarely run their full top guys together, and the season is filled with inconsequential races with Nationals being the only focus. ...But none of this means that the competition is tougher today and perhaps is weaker. Certainly, Ritz, Goucher, Kennedy, Eyestone and even Porter (NAIA!) could be drop into a modern D1 race and still dominate!