The Week That Was In Running – November 14 – 20, 2016
November 23, 2016
The big event in running last week was the NCAA Cross Country Championships. If you missed any of our on-site coverage from Terre Haute, you can find it all here in our special section but we also have a few additional thoughts on the meet below plus our regular look at what else is making news in the world of running.
Stat of The Week I / Proof That Patrick Tiernan Was a Worthy Winner on Saturday
How did Edward Cheserek lose? Some variant of that question was the buzz of the running community all weekend long. We feel the answer is best pointed out by the following stat posted by “PatCrushedIt” on the messageboard.
Splits for Edward Cheserek when he won in Terre Haute in 2014: 15:30/14:50 with 5:40 last 2k
Splits for Edward Cheserek when he lost in Terre Haute in 2016: 15:17/14:31 with 5:54 last 2k*
Splits for Patrick Tiernan in 2016: 15:17/14:05 with 5:29 last 2k*
While comparing cross country times is often a dangerous proposition as the course conditions can vary greatly (and we’re not 100% sure the last split this year is actually 2k as no distance was listed online), we agree with “PatCrushedIt” that both Patrick Tiernan and Justyn Knight are great runners who ran great races this year to beat Cheserek. Much stiffer competition for Ches than the 2013 and 2014 Terre Haute races.
More: MB: What happened to Cheserek today?
Stat of the Week II / Proof the Oregon Women Came Up Big When They Needed It Most
3 – number of the Oregon women’s top five that finished within one place of their Pac-12 finish at the 2016 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Yes, the Pac-12 is very competitive, but to equal or exceed your conference finish at NCAAs is absurd – and yet three Oregon women basically did it on Saturday. That’s why the #12 Oregon Ducks won the NCAA title. Three is also the number of Oregon women that finished higher at NCAAs than they did at Pre-NCAAs. See for yourself in the chart below.
|Oregon’s Top 5||Pre-Nats||Pac-12s||NCAAs|
Talk About Close – Colorado Would Have Won Had Each Runner Run 1 Second Faster
Much has been made about the fact that #1 Colorado failed to deliver as a heavy favorite on the women’s side. That’s certainly true. That being said, it’s a testament to the Buffs’ overall team depth that they came very close to winning despite the fact that their #1 runner Erin Clark didn’t score for them and ended up just 133rd.
Normally if you remove a team’s #1 runner from the scoring, they aren’t close to winning. If you removed Katie Rainsberger, Oregon’s #1, from the scoring, they would have been third. If you removed #1 Futsum Zienasellassie from NAU’s score in the men’s race, they would have ended up 4th – one point behind Ole Miss.
In the end, the Buffs lost the women’s race by nine points. How close is that? Well, consider this. If each of the Colorado runners in the top 5 had just run one second faster (and won the lean with any runners with the same time), then they would have won with 124 points with Oregon and Michigan tied for 2nd at 126 (Oregon still would have won the tiebreaker with Michigan. The tiebreaker compares one by one the place finish of each of the five scoring members of the tied teams – the team with the majority of winning comparisons is awarded the higher place).
Playing the “What If Game” is kind of fun. In our women’s recap, we pointed out that if Erin Clark had finished 30th overall (24th in the team scoring), the women of Colorado would be your champs. We decided to do the same for the men. Interestingly, on the men’s side of the ledger, if Stanford super frosh Thomas Ratcliffe had also finished 30th (24th in the team standings), the Cardinal would have won it all. While Ratcliffe ended up a DNF, it certainly was conceivable that he could finish in the top 30 as he was 8th at the Pac-12 meet and there ended up being eight Pac-12 athletes in the top 30.
Freshman Men Struggle While Freshwomen Shine
We’ve always said it’s very hard for true freshmen men to make a big impact in NCAA cross country. That certainly proved to be the case this year. In terms of Americans, there were just two true freshmen in the top 100 at NCAAs.
Illinois’ Jonathan Davis, who ran 8:51 for 3200 as a prep and was 13th at Foot Lockers, was the top true freshman from America in 80th. Princeton’s Conor Lundy, who was 7th at Foot Lockers last year and ran 8:49, was 94th.
Overall though, it was a tough day for American true freshmen at NCAAs. The top eight guys at Foot Lockers last year were all seniors. Here’s how they did this fall.
- Drew Hunter – adidas – Turned professional, did not compete
- Phillip Rocha – Colorado – redshirted.
- Ben Veatch – Indiana – didn’t make meet. 8th Big 10s, 18th at regionals.
- Garek Bielaczyc – Texas – didn’t race for Texas. Finished 111th at Penn State National in October.
- Paul Roberts – CSU-Pueblo – The 4-time Colorado state HS XC champ was 47th at the NCAA DII meet.
- Andrew Jordan – Iowa State – 148th at NCAAs. 9th at Big 12s.
- Conor Lundy – Princeton – 94th at NCAAs. 3rd at Heps.
- Jake Brophy – Navy – 186th at NCAAs. 9th at Patriot League.
Even looking at foreigners, there was only one freshman foreigner who managed to nab All-American honors (top 40) during his first fall as a collegian. Middle Tennessee State’s Jacob Choge barely achieved those honors as he was 40th.
On the women’s side, the true first-year collegiate athletes generally have a much easier time making an impact and that proved to be true this year. In the women’s race, 13 true freshmen from the US cracked the top 100 at NCAAs this year. Oregon’s Katie Rainsberger finished 4th in the women’s race, the best finish by a freshman since…well, since Boise State’s Allie Ostrander finished 2nd last year. But before that, you’d have to go all the way back to Shalane Flanagan (4th in 2000) to find a freshman who finished as high as Rainsberger did on Saturday.
All told there were 13 American true freshmen women in the top 100 at NCAAs this year.
- Katie Rainsberger – Oregon – the NXN champ led the Ducks to an NCAA title by finishing 4th.
- Taylor Werner – Arkansas – the 5th placer at Foot Lockers last year was 16th.
- Fiona O’Keeffe – Stanford – the US junior champ at 5000 and 10:00 3200 performer was 37th.
- Christina Aragon – Stanford – the World U20 bronze medallist at 1500 was 38th.
- Sage Hurta – Colorado – the woman who won the NY state HS champs as a 7th grader (and 11th and 12th) and was 10th at Foot Lockers was 40th at NCAAs.
- Madeline Trevisan – Michigan – the 10:31 2-miler was 46th at NCAAs.
- Aubrey Roberts – Northwestern – the 10:41 3200 runner was 50th at NCAAs.
- Holly Bullough – Michigan State – the 4:47 1600 runner, who was only 43rd at Big 10s, was 76th at NCAAs.
- Kaitlyn Neal – Washington – the Fayetteville-Manlius product, who ran 9:28 for 3k in HS, was 78th.
- Olivia Hoj – BYU – the 24th placer at Foot Lockers was 82nd.
- Claire Markey – UCLA – the 10:27 3200 runner was 91st.
- Alicia Monson – Wisconsin – the 10:26 3200 runner was 96th.
- Ella Donaghu – Stanford – the 9:24 3ker, who was 20th at Pac-12s, was 100th.
If we ignore whether someone was a redshirt or not, here is how the top 100 broke down by class per gender:
More from the 2014 Archives: *MB: 1st Freshman was 39th (Sam Wharton). Worst place ever for 1st Frosh??
*Top American frosh two years ago was just 83rd.
Three Top-10 Finishes
NAU’s Futsum Zienasellassie and Villanova’s Patrick Tiernan became 43rd and 44th runners to post three top-10 finishes at NCAA XC. Zienasellassie was 4th in 2013, 3rd in 2014 and 4th in 2016. Tiernan was 9th in 2013, 2nd in 2015 and 1st in 2016. Oregon’s Edward Cheserek was already in the club and became just the seventh man to finish in the top 10 four times.
The Only Four-Time NCAA Champ
Edward Cheserek did not complete his quest to win a fourth straight NCAA XC title on Saturday. That means the only man to have ever won four remains Abilene Christian’s Nicodemus Naimadu, who claimed four straight D-II titles from 2004 to 2007 (h/t friend of LRC David Graham).
Had Cheserek won on Saturday, the Oregon sports information department says he also would have moved into sole possession of most NCAA individual track and field/cross country titles as in their mind he’s currently tied with UTEP’s Suleiman Nyambui with 15. We don’t agree with this assertion. Two of Cheserek’s NCAA titles have come on relays – the DMR at NCAA indoors in 2015 and 2016. Sure he did the bulk of the work, but those aren’t individual titles.
Nyambui won 15 individual titles – 7 outdoors, 7 indoor and one in XC. Cheserek has won 13 individual titles and 2 relay titles. It’s not fair to punish Nyambui because he wasn’t on a team that won the DMR.
Suleiman Nyambui’s 15 NCAA Titles
1 Cross Country – 1980
7 Outdoor -5,000-meter run 1980-81-82, 10,000-meter run 1979-80-81-82
7 Indoors – Mile run 1979-80-81-82, two-mile run 1979-80-82
Edward Cheserek’s 15 NCAA Titles
3 Cross Country – 2013-14-15
5 Indoor Individual – Mile 2015, 3,000-meter run 2014 & 16, 5,000-meter run 2014 & 16
2 Indoor Relay – DMR 2015 & 2016
5 Outdoor Individual 5,000-meter run 2015 & 16, 10,000-meter run 2014-15-16
It’s Award Time
We thought it would be fun to hand out some awards from NCAA XC. Without further ado.
The Learn To Pace Yourself / You Can’t Say The Didn’t Go For It Award
This award has to be handed out to the UTEP men, who were in first place at the first split and wound up 29th. Getting out well did prove to be important for some teams, however: NAU, Stanford and Syracuse were running 2-3-4 at split #1 and finished 1-2-3 in that order.
The “Watch Out For This Team in 2017” Award
The Stanford women were 5th even though their presumptive #1 at the start of the season, Elise Cranny (NCAA 1500 runner-up, 12th at NCAA XC in ’14) didn’t even score for them on Saturday (she was their 6th runner in 158th). Cranny’s health has been a question mark during her three-year career in Palo Alto, but with just one senior in their top seven (#4 Danielle Katz) and freshmen at #1, #2 and #5, Stanford will be scary good next fall, with or without Cranny.
The “Purple Heart” Award
To NC State’s Elijah Moskowitz, who was spiked in the face during the race and still finished (he was 243rd in 32:55.9).
After Bloody Fall at NCAA XC Champs, NC State’s Eli Moskowitz Is Recovering Well Who said cross country isn’t a contact sport?
*MB: Elijah Moskowitz of NC State looks like he got punched in the face at NCAA’s
The “How Did They Lose?” Award
The Colorado women finished third on Saturday, but ran one of the most interesting races of any team. Consider:
-CU’s spread was 10.8 seconds. The next-smallest was 30th-placed Yale, at 28.8.
-Colorado’s #6 runner, Makena Morley, finished in 43rd place. She beat the #4 runners of both Oregon and Michigan and would have finished as at least the #3 runner for the 28 other teams in the field.
-Colorado had six finishers in before national champion Oregon had four. Here’s how the finishing order went:
- Katie Rainsberger (Oregon) 19:51.1
- Alli Cash (Oregon) 20:08.2
- Samantha Nadel (Oregon) 20:14.0
- Dani Jones (Colorado) 20:14.2
- Kaitlyn Benner (Colorado) 20:15.6
- Mackenzie Caldwell (Colorado) 20:23.8
- Sage Hurta (Colorado) 20:24.1
- Tabor Scholl (Colorado) 20:24.9
- Makena Morley (Colorado) 20:27.6
- Ashley Maton (Oregon) 20:37.0
- Maggie Schmaedick (Oregon) 20:38.1
Normally, if you have six in before another team has four, you beat that team. But in a dual meet, if a team goes 1-2-3, it’s mathematically impossible for them to lose the meet. At NCAAs, Oregon had three in before Colorado’s #1. And even though the next six finishers were all from Colorado, the deficit up front was just too much to make up.
The Men’s Regional Winners Had A Better Day Than The Women’s
While it was easier for the freshwomen to excel than the freshmen, that certainly wasn’t true for the regional winners. In terms of regional winners, 4 of the 9 (44.4%) regional winners on the women’s side of the ledger failed to make All-American (top 40) whereas just 1 of the 9 (11.1%) regional winners on the men’s side failed to come in the top 40.
Here’s how the regional winners did at NCAAs for the men and women.
Erin Finn – Michigan – 2nd
Malachy Schrobilgen – Wisconsin – 25th
Annie Bothma – Coastal Carolina – DNF with back pain
Amon Terer – Campbell – 35th
Alice Wright – New Mexico – 19th
Futsum Zienasellassie – NAU – 4th
Tessa Barrett – Penn State – DNF
Patrick Tiernan – Villanova – 1st
Elinor Purrier – UNH – 7th
Justyn Knight – Syracuse – 2nd
Karissa Schweizer – Missouri – 1st
Luke Traynor – Tulsa – 13th
Anne-Marie Blaney – UCF – 45th
Jacob Choge – Mid. Tenn. State – 40th
Amy-Eloise Neale – Washington – 8th
Edward Cheserek – Oregon – 3rd
Devin Clark – Arkansas – 118th
Emmanuel Rotich – Tulane – 85th
Meet Karissa Schweizer’s Little Brother (and Sister)
Missouri’s Karissa Schweizer won the women’s individual title in a big upset thanks to a devasting kick.
What a finish in Terre Haute!
Schweizer of Missouri takes home the victory! pic.twitter.com/nFEbrBqj8e
— TrackTown USA (@GoTrackTownUSA) November 19, 2016
She’s not the only person with a good kick in the family. Her little brother, Ryan Schweizer, is a freshman at Notre Dame this year. He redshirted the cross season but is a big talent. As a prep runner for Dowling Catholic in Iowa, he set a state record of 1:50.30 for the 800 and also ran 4:05 for the mile. At the state meet in track the last two years, he won the 800, 1600, 3200 and was on the winning DMR team as well. According to the Des Moines Register, he’s the first boy to win three individual state titles in back-to-back years in Iowa since 1964.
And just as we were getting ready to publish this, we came across a Runner’s World article on Schweizer that reveals her whole family is full of runners. Her grandfather and mom and dad all were standouts in college at Minnesota State-Mankato and her grandfather was the coach at Dowling Catholic for 42 years. Karissa has a younger sister, Kelsey, who ran 58.8 and 2:15.7 as a freshman this spring (faster than Karissa did at that age – Karissa’s HS pbs were 2:12 for 800 and 4:34 for 1500 and 9:54 for 3000).
More: MB: Karissa Schweizer won NCAAs this year and didn’t even qualify last year (and was 155th in 2014)
*Dowling’s Schweizer cements track dynasty with one last record
*8 Things to Know About the Surprise Women’s College Cross-Country Champion
Déjà vu at DII NCAAs
In the men’s race at the DII champs, history repeated itself – except the roles were reversed.
Last year, Adams State won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) but lost the national title to in-conference rival Colorado Mines. This year, Colorado Mines absolutely dominated the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference as they won their first conference crown by going 2-3-4-5-6 but Adams State got the last laugh at D2 nationals as they won their 7th NCAA title in the last 9 years with 54 points, as Grand Valley State was 2nd with 79, and Colorado Mines third with 153.
At 8.8 km, Grand Valley State actually had the lead on Adams State, 49 to 62, but over the final 1.2 km Grand Valley’s 5th man went from 19th to 80th (he actually wound up as their #6) and the Adams State runners picked up 8 places themselves. In the women’s race, Grand Valley State was the winner over Adams State, 116 to 139. GVS was led by individual champ Kendra Foley (16:17 pb), who won the individual title by 24.6 seconds in 20:01.8. The men’s individual race at DII wasn’t close either as Missouri Southern’s Vincent Kiprop (14:15/29:20) of Kenya won by 28.9 seconds.
In the DIII ranks, the #1 North Central (Ill.) men absolutely dominated with 60 points as #2 SUNY Geneseo had 204. Let us put the rout in context for you. Between the two teams, SUNY Geneseo had the first finisher in. Then North Central put its next six in before SUNY Geneseo’s #2. North Central could have scored all seven of its runners and still won by 50 points! Wisconsin-Platteville’s Ian LaMere (28:38 pb) won the individual title by 28.6 seconds.
In the women’s race, the Johns Hopkins women did Baltimore proud by winning their fourth title in the last five years by scoring 128 to Wash U‘s 202. Amy Regan (16:23 pb) of the Stevens Institute won her 2nd individual title by nearly 15 seconds (14.8).
5 Quotes of the Week (that weren’t quote of the day)
This week the first four of our five featured quotes come from Dan Petty articles in The Denver Post. Kudos to The Denver Post for being the only major paper to send a reporter to the NCAA championships. We didn’t get their post-race articles up on the homepage but want to highlight them now as they were excellent:
#1 What Happened To The CU Women?
“They were out a little too tentatively, in fact a lot too tentatively, and then it was a catch-up race the whole way,”
-Colorado coach Mark Wetmore talking about his women’s team to Dan Petty of the Denver Post after the meet.
#2 Erin Clark Knows She Didn’t Run Well
“I feel really awful right now because I didn’t do my job for this team today, and I wish I could have. The gun went off, and pretty quickly it went downhill from there. I don’t really know why. Within the first mile, something about my legs, they just felt so heavy.”
– Erin Clark of Colorado, talking through tears in the same Denver Post article.
#3 Oregon’s Top Runner Didn’t Even Think an NCAA Title Was Possible
“I don’t think it was something I went into the race thinking could happen. But I thought if we played our cards right and everything came together, that something special could happen.”
-Oregon #1 Katie Rainsberger talking to Petty after leading the Ducks to the NCAA title with a 4th-place finish as a true frosh.
#4 Mark Wetmore Assesses What Went Wrong
“If both teams do that (get out too slow and struggle), times seven runners, then you have to look at the coach, and have to say: How did I fail to communicate with them the necessitates of this event?”
#5 Usain Bolt On What His Retirement Will Be Like
“I just want to shut myself away.
“I want to lock my phone, not talk to my manager, not talk to my best friend, not talk to my coach, not talk to anybody.
“I just want to be in my room with fast food, Gatorade, TV and video games for at least three days.
“Just locked away from everybody. Just doing nothing. That’s my idea of heaven . . . fast food, video games, TV. That’s good.”
–Usain Bolt talking to The Sun in the UK about what his retirement will be like initially.
Most Ridiculous Quote of The Week (Fans Suffer With NCAA Cross Coverage)
“This is a move in the right direction as we continue to look for ways to bring our championships to a broader audience and ways to improve the overall student-athlete experience.”
-An NCAA official speaking in a press release about how the NCAA Division I XC Championships, which used to be free on NCAA.com, were this year being moved behind Flotrack’s paywall (a free 7-day trial was available for new subscribers).
We don’t get how moving something that used to be free and did not require a registration behind a registration/pay wall helps it reach a “broader audience” and we certainly don’t get how it improves the “overall student-athlete experience.” We’d think most student-athletes and their parents would prefer to click on a link and hit play – not sign up for a service that might cost them more than $200 a year.
We understand that broadcasts cost money (though we imagine the cost of the broadcast could easily be covered with a $50 payment from each of the NCAA DI programs) but don’t insult our intelligence. If the NCAA is going to continue to sell itself to the highest bidder, then just admit it. Don’t give us some BS about improving the student-athlete experience and reaching a broader audience. If the NCAA wanted to reach a broader audience, it could have given the rights to Facebook and they could have instantly put it in front of most running aficionados in the country.
The fans of the sport really suffered on Saturday as in addition to the meet being being a paywall, the live stream crashed before the men’s results were announced (totally unacceptable). Then there were timing problems for everyone. There were problems with the mid-race live splits and then after the women’s race, no results were announced until the men’s race was about to start (the men’s race went off one hour after the women’s race began). We fully understand that the NCAA didn’t want to do what it did a few years ago – announce the wrong winner – but the fans, both those there in-person and watching online, deserve to get near-instant results.
The parents and fans of the 15th-place team don’t care that it was too close to call between Oregon and Michigan. Here’s what you should do going forward. Release the results right away but if two teams are within 5 or 10 points, put them in a tie for the same place with a disclaimer of “Under review/Too close to call.” If you did that, everyone gets the results they crave, no one makes a mistake and as an added bonus, it builds drama. Instead of building drama on Saturday, the NCAA did the exact opposite and aggravated the hell out of the fans by delaying the results for more than a half hour.
We loved the way the DII splits were done by Leone Timing. For every split, you see how much the team and individuals have moved up from the previous split. You also see the distance of each split. For the NCAA DI results, the distance was not listed, nor was the change in place.
Many fans in Terre Haute were also upset with the lone video board on site as the bottom third of it was cut off. Blame that on Mother Nature. The NCAA was prepared to use two large video boards but ended up only using one in cut-off fashion as they were fearful the high winds would knock them over.
More: MB: What a joke..Flotrack now has exclusive broadcasting rights to the NCAA XC Championship
MB: Can someone tell me how the NCAA’s deal with flotrack isn’t in direct violation of the NCAA’s own written policy?
JFK 50-Mile Course Record Gets Crushed
While most distance fans were focused on the NCAA Cross Country Championships on Saturday, the JFK 50-Mile was held in Maryland. 26-year-old Jim Walmsley of Flagstaff got his third straight win and destroyed Max King’s course record by more than 13 minutes by running 5:21:28.7 (that’s 6:24.2 mile pace as the race was 50.2 miles). When you are winning by that much, you apparently have time to switch shoes. HOKA sent us an email saying that Jim wore the HOKA Tracer running shoes for nearly 39 miles, then switched into the HOKA Challenger ATR 2 for more cushion to finish the race. Vermont’s Leah Frost won the women’s race in 6:23:39.4.
Stat Of The Week III
$178,000 – amount of prize money handed out at the AirTel Delhi Half-Marathon, which was won by Eliud Kipchoge (59:44) and Worknesh Degefa (67:44) last week.
Other Pro News of Note
Craig Reedie Voted In For 2nd Term As WADA President We weren’t happy about this development as we started a petition asking for his resignation this summer.
Devon Allen Goes Pro The Oregon Duck is no longer a Duck anymore in terms of athletics. The Olympic Trials champ is going to be a pro hurdler (and later possibly try to make it in the NFL) and says rehab from knee surgery #2 is going well.
Discuss: DEVON ALLEN GOES PRO
To read our favorite reads from previous weeks, go here.
IAAF Profile On Olympic 400H Champ Kerron Clement Who Completed An Amazing 7-Year Comeback To Win Olympic Gold In Rio Clement won World gold in 2009, but through multiple injuries and surgeries didn’t make another podium again until he was on top in Rio.
Greg Rutherford Still Motivated To Go For Gold At The 2020 Olympics He knows though at 30 years old his time could be up, but he also doesn’t rule out trying the winter Olympics (he has bobsledded before).
“Did You Know” Q&A With US’s Olympic SP Champ Ryan Crouser Crouser is a unique guy and talks about hunting with a bow and arrow, fishing for sharks and his love of math.
Quotes Of The Day And Last Week’s Home Pages
To see the actual quotes of the day from last week or last week’s home page or any home page, go to our archive page.