The first three were interesting theories we heard from many of the coaches we talked to while here in Terre Haute and the last three we came up with.
1) Everyone is talking about the mud, but the real story will be the cold/wind.
Take a look at the forecast. http://www.weather.com/weather/hourbyhour/graph/Terre+Haute+IN+USIN0660:1:US?pagenum=2&nextbeginIndex=6 Low 31s with huge winds. It's going to feel like it's 21.
We 100% agree with this sentiment. After having gone to the 2013 World Cross Country Championships, it's clear to us runners can run easily in very slippery conditions. That course was snow filled, featured steep hills and sharp turns and worked just fine.
2) Guys who run on their toes, more mid-d runners are screwed.
The theory is that you need to be more of a 10k runner to do well on a course that will run more like an 11k time wise than 10k. Also guys/gal that prace around with high leg kicks might struggle as you need to be strong and push through everything.
The theory seems logical to us but there will be some 1500 studs (Chris O'Hare) that do just fine. But the race will take longer and you don't want to be a big toe guy.
3) People think the slop is a great equalizer but the mud might really benefit a front-runner like Kithuka/D'Agostino.
This theory is pretty interesting and comes from an old-timer who says the muddiest NCAA meet he could remember was 1983. There Virginia's Lesley Welch got a lead early and never looked back. At the end, he said the entire field was covered in mud except for Welch who just got wet, not muddy as no one was around her to cake her in mud.
We do like the contrarian, think outside the box thinking.
We don't know about mud but do think the windy conditions could potentially benefit the favorites like Kithuka/D'Agostino. If Kithuka pushes from the gun, anyone slightly gapped who dreams of staying with him is going to have to push alone in the cold, wind to stay close. They might be tempted to just give up and say, "I'll stick with this warmer pack."
4) Might the muddy conditions actually be bad for Colorado?
Everyone seems to think the Buffs are great in these conditions. But as Wetmore said every team is different. That’s certainly true. Do you realize that freshmen sensation Ben Saarel was 11 years old when the Buffs last won a men’s team title in wet conditions in 2006. So it’s not like any of the guys on this team had anything remotely anything to do with that win.
Moreover, this Buffs team has a lot of guys with a lot of history in the mile which makes us a bit nervous because of point #2.
The Buffs top 3 guys at Pac 12s all have strong connections to the mile.
Theorux - 4:01 miler who ran mile indoors at conference.
Winter- 401 ran 1500 at conference.
Saarel - 4:02 miler in HS.
Contrasting that, however, is the fact that the Buffs guys seem to on a whole be much better at xc than in track which one would seemingly think would mean they’d be good in the slop.
Here’s a question. Is it possible to be a much better xc than track runner but suck in muddy conditions? If you know, post away (it seems unlikely because if you are good on only hard, firm grass in xc, you’d think you’d be good at track).
5) Are the CU men too young to win on the men’s side?
On the men’s side, teams normally when with a lot of senior leadership. It’s hard to win with young guys on the men’s side. Juniors and seniors tend to dominate. Yet the Buffs top 6 at Pac 12 consisted of just one senior and just one junior but three sophomores and a freshman.
All week long we were thinking the Buffs would pull of a stunner but now we’ve talked ourselves out of it. Maybe next year.
6) No matter how high the score, someone has to win on the women’s side.
We regret not having time to do a women’s team preview but hey if Providence coach Ray Treacy doesn’t have to come to the pre-meet press conference, then we don’t have to write a women’s team preview (we actually love Ray so don’t think we’re ripping him).
So here’s our mini preview. The coaches at the coaches’ press conference said 6 or 7 women’s teams might win. We understand why they say that because the top 3 teams in Providence, Arizona and Arkansas are all flawed and looking for a fifth runner at a minimum. The three teams raced at Wisconsin and Arizona came out on top as shown by these results:
Here’s the perfect example of how they need a 5th. Here is the 1-5 spread for the teams at their conference meet.
1) Arkansas 54 seconds.
2) Providence 59 seconds.
3) Arizona 88 seconds.
The good news for those three teams is that on the women’s side, you can often win with a lot of points. Only once in 17 years has a men’s team won with more than 100 points but on the women’s side it’s totally different. In six of the last 8 years, the winning women’s team has had over 100 points.
The last time it was sloppy in Terre Haute – 2006 – Stanford won with a record high of 195.
We’re looking for history to repeat itself and will be stunned if any women’s team wins with less than 150 points.