November 29, 2017
Expect domination in the girls’ race at 2017 Nike Cross Nationals. Two powerhouses from New York — one an established program with a history of success, the other a young phenom from just north of New York City — will head west to Portland, Oregon, this weekend and should return to the Empire State with some serious hardware. Fans who appreciate greatness will want to watch this race.
If you don’t know Katelyn Tuohy‘s name yet, you will by Saturday afternoon. The sophomore at North Rockland (N.Y.) High School has spent the fall tearing up course records in the Northeast, and this weekend she’ll take her show on the road to NXN.
In the team race, everyone knows the name Fayetteville-Manlius. Over the last decade, F-M has become synonymous with domination as the Hornets have won 10 of the last 11 NXN titles and will be favored to do so again this year after returning six of the seven runners that led F-M to a 41-181 rout over Davis (Calif.) at 2016 NXN.
Once again, the championships will be held at Portland’s Glendoveer Golf Course. In total, 22 boys’ teams, 22 girls’ teams and 90 individuals (five boys and five girls from each of the eight NXN regionals plus the California state meet) will be in the fields on Saturday. We break down what you need to know heading into Saturday’s meet. Our girls’ preview appears below; our boys’ preview can be found here.
When: Saturday, December 2, 2017. Boys’ race at 1:05 p.m. ET, girls’ race at 2:35 p.m. ET.
Where: Glendoveer Golf Course, Portland, Ore.
How to watch: Stream the meet live for free here (coverage starts at 12:30 p.m. ET)
Girls’ individuals: Meet your new prep phenom
In each of the past two years, there has been a clear favorite in the girls’ race at NXN. And in each of those years, the clear favorite — Katie Rainsberger in 2015, Brie Oakley in 2016 — won. Which means that, if history is any guide, Katelyn Tuohy will be your 2017 NXN champion as Tuohy is a far bigger favorite than either of those two girls.
It’s not hyperbole to say that Tuohy has put together one of the greatest high school cross country seasons of all time. At the Manhattan Invitational on October 14, she ran 13:21.8 on the 2.5-mile course at fabled Van Cortlandt Park, smashing the previous course record by over 30 seconds. Three weeks later, she ran 17:10.4 to take down Aisling Cuffe‘s 17:16.9 course record at Bowdoin Park. Then, at the New York Federation meet, she took the Bowdoin Park CR to a new stratosphere by running a mind-boggling 16:52.4. That’s 24.5 seconds faster than Cuffe’s time — and Cuffe went on to win Foot Lockers that year by 34 seconds. If Tuohy had run her 16:52.4 a week later in the boys’ race at NXR NY, it would have placed her 24th out of 214. She would have been the #2 scorer on all but two boys’ teams in the state. Oh yeah, and Tuohy is a sophomore.
The obvious comparison for Tuohy is Mary Cain. Both hail from the same area of New York (Section 1 for state qualifying purposes) and both were very good, very young. But while Cain and Tuohy were both phenoms on the track, there’s no debate about who was the better cross country runner: it’s Tuohy, by a mile.
|Best VCP time||13:21.8||14:31.1|
|Best Bowdoin Park time||16:52.4||18:19.4|
*Cain’s PRs at the end of her sophomore fall in high school
Our favorite way to compare high school XC runners is by using the speed ratings devised by Bill Meylan of Tully Runners, which are meant to compare performances achieved on different courses under different conditions. And by that metric, Tuohy is head and shoulders above the competition. Check out how Tuohy compares to her top competition at NXN:
Name Grade School State Rating Region -------------------- ----- ------------------- ----- ------ --------- Katelyn Tuohy 10 North Rockland NY 172 New York ** Individual Kelsey Chmiel 11 Saratoga Springs NY 158 Haley Herberg 12 Capistrano Valley CA 153 California ** Individual London Culbreath 10 McKinney North TX 152 South ** Individual Camila Noe 12 Bozeman MN 152 Tierney Wolfgram 9 Math & Science Academy MN 152 Heartland ** Individual Katelynne Hart 10 Glenbard West IL 151 Midwest ** Individual Claire Walters 10 Fayetteville-Manlius NY 151 Emily Covert 11 Minneapolis Washburn MN 150 Heartland ** Individual Fatima Cortes 11 Great Oak CA 150
Tuohy’s top speed rating was 172 from the NY Federation meet. No one else running NXN has come within 14 points of Tuohy’s top performance, and under Meylan’s system, every point equals roughly three seconds. So Tuohy’s best performance was 42 seconds better than what anyone else in the field has done this year.
And the results back that up. The #2 speed rating this year (158) was recorded by Saratoga’s Kelsey Chmiel (who was 5th at NXN last year) in the same meet where Tuohy ran her 172. And in that race, Tuohy beat Chmiel by…40 seconds. The two also raced at NXR NY last week, where Tuohy beat Chmiel by 2:21 (a bad race for Chmiel) and at the NY state meet, Tuohy beat Chmiel by 41 seconds. Clearly there is a huge gap between the two runners, and that’s crazy because Chmiel’s best speed rating (158) is significantly faster than the #3 girl in the field, Capistrano Valley’s Haley Herberg.
But even if Tuohy runs poorly, she should still win on Saturday. Meylan assigned a speed rating to eight of Tuohy’s 10 races this fall. Here they are: 172, 167, 167, 168, 160, 166, 159, 158. Tuohy’s worst race would still go down as the best race of the year by any other girl in the field. Saturday’s race should not even be close.
What’s more interesting is how Tuohy’s 2017 season stacks up historically. The 172 speed rating she recorded at the NY Federation meet was the best by a girl in 16 years. Here’s how she stacks up on the all-time list (with the caveat that these results are limited to races that Meylan has evaluated):
Time Speed Rating (Year) -------- ------------ ------ Amber Trotter (12) Redwood Valley CA 16:24.07 180.3 180 (2001) - FL finals (Orlando CR) Melody Fairchild (12) Boulder CO 16:39.2 177.9 178 (1990) - FL finals (Balboa Park CR) Cathy Schiro (12) Dover NH 16:46 173.7 174 (1984) - FL Northeast (VCP 5k record) Julia Stamps (10) Santa Rosa CA 16:41.9 173.0 173 (1994) - FL finals (Balboa Park) Katelyn Tuohy (10) Thiells NY 16:52.4 171.5 172 (2017) - NY Feds (Bowdoin Park CR) Janet Smith (12) Edison NJ 16:43.7 170.4 170 (1983) - FL finals (Balboa Park) Aisling Cuffe (12) Cornwall NY 16:53 170.3 170 (2010) - FL finals (Balboa Park) Katelyn Tuohy (10) Thiells, NY 17:01.0 169.7 170 (2017) - NXR NY (Bowdoin Park) Cathy Schiro (12) Dover NH 16:48.1 169.0 169 (1984) - FL finals (Balboa Park) Jordan Hasay (9) Mission College CA 17:05 169.0 169 (2005) - FL finals (Balboa Park) Erin Keogh (11) McLean VA 16:43.8 168.4 168 (1985) - FL finals (Balboa Park) Aislinn Ryan (11) Warwick Valley NY 16:56.31 168.2 168 (2004) - Great American ROC (WakeMed,NC) Aislinn Ryan (11) Warwick Valley NY 17:31 167.7 168 (2004) - FL finals (Balboa Park) Erin Sullivan (11) Mt. Mansfield VT 17:22.2 167.6 168 (1997) - FL finals (Orlando) Katelyn Tuohy (10) Thiells NY 15:55.3 167.6 168 (2017) - Rockland County Champs (Bear Mountain 3-mile) Aisling Cuffe (12) Cornwall NY 17:16.9 167.4 167 (2010) - NY Feds (Bowdoin Park) Erin Sullivan (12) Mt. Mansfield VT 17:35.70 167.1 167 (1998) - FL finals (Orlando) Erika Odlaug (12) Bannockburn IL 17:04.30 166.9 167 (2001) - FL finals (Orlando) Nicole Blood (11) Saratoga NY 17:27.3 166.9 167 (2004) - NY Feds (Bowdoin Park) Katelyn Tuohy (10) Thiells NY 17:51.4 166.9 167 (2017) - NY State meet (Wayne HS) Sara Bei (12) Montgomery CA 16:55 166.7 167 (2000) - FL finals (Orlando) Natasha Roetter (12) Lexington MA 17:05.14 166.6 167 (2001) - FL finals (Orlando) Katelyn Tuohy (10) Thiells NY 17:10.31 166.6 167 (2017) - NY Section 1 meet (Bowdoin Park) Katelyn Tuohy (10) Thiells NY 13:21.8 166.3 166 (2017) - Manhattan Invite (VCP 2.5-mile record)
For reference, the best speed rating at NXN or Foot Locker over the past five years was Alexa Efraimson‘s 165.3 from 2013 NXN. Tuohy has recorded six speed ratings better than that performance in 2017. Either Meylan is vastly overrating her performances (possible, given that they have all come from New York courses, which Meylan is most familiar with) or Tuohy has had a season for the ages.
Unfortunately for running fans, the girl with the best chance to defeat Tuohy — reigning Foot Locker champion Claudia Lane — is running Foot Lockers instead and won’t be at NXN that weekend. Ember Stratton, the top returner from NXN last year (2nd) hasn’t raced since September and won’t be at NXN. Tuohy has already spanked Chmiel, the #2 girl in the field by speed rating, three times in the past month. The next-best girl by speed rating is California Division II state champ Haley Herberg, but she has already been beaten on three occasions this year. Another sophomore, London Culbreath of McKinney, Tex., may be the best bet for second as she’s undefeated on the year, including a 16:56 5k at the Texas state meet and a 14-second win at NXR South. But it’s hard to imagine anyone coming close to Tuohy. Brie Oakley set the NXN record for margin of victory last year by running 17:10.1 to win by 28.1 seconds; that’s the number to watch on Saturday. 2015 champ Katie Rainsberger holds the Glendoveer course record at 16:56.8.
Girls’ teams: F-M should roll again
F-M is the consensus #1 team in the country as the Hornets occupy the top spot in the Dyestat and MileSplit rankings and are heavily favored in the Tully Runners projections. We see little reason to doubt them.
Remember, last year F-M scored just 41 points at nationals (second-lowest in meet history) and of their five scorers at NXR NY last weekend, four scored for the 2016 title team at nationals. Those four — sophomores Claire Walters and Phoebe White and seniors Rebecca Walters and Sophie Ryan — have been rock solid. The only scorer from NXN last year who did not return was graduated senior Reilly Madsen, but she was replaced at NXN NY this year by her younger sister, senior Palmer Madsen, who was the team’s sixth finisher (114th overall) at nationals last year.
Based on F-M’s result at regionals, the Hornets should cruise this weekend. In 2016, F-M scored 40 points at regionals and 41 at NXN; this year, F-M scored 23 points at regionals. That doesn’t mean they’re going to score 24 on Saturday, but it does mean that they ran even better at regionals this year than they did in 2016, which should scare everyone else in the country.
The one concern for F-M is that there has been a large gap between their #4 and #5 runners in each of their last four meets.
F-M’s gap between #4 and #5 finishers
NXR NY (November 25): 41 seconds
NY state meet (November 11): 67 seconds
NY Section 3 champs (November 4): 44 seconds
Salt City Athletic Conference champs (October 18): 26 seconds
That hasn’t been a problem yet because F-M’s top four are so incredible, and if they get the job done at nationals, it may not be a problem there either. Consider that last year, if you replaced F-M’s #5 with the last-place finisher in the field, F-M would still have won the team title. In that case, it helped that runner-up Davis scored 181 points, but 181 is still a terrific score for a team at NXN. But because F-M routinely scores well under 100 points, it seems less impressive by comparison.
Still, the blueprint for an upset is there. F-M’s #5, whether it’s Palmer Madsen or freshman Grace Kaercher, has to have a bad day. And one of the challengers needs to have an amazing day. Remember, even when F-M lost in 2013 (the only time since 2006 that the F-M girls did not win the meet), the Hornets still scored 120 points — a total that would have been good enough to win in 2014, 2015, and 2016. But F-M was slightly off and Wayzata (Minn.) ran out of their minds (108 points) to spring the upset. That’s what needs to happen again in 2017 to prevent an F-M four-peat. The best candidates are Great Oak (Calif.), who have finished 2nd, 3rd, and 3rd in the last three NXN finals, and Wayzata, who once again have a very strong team and scored just 65 points at NXR Heartland. In fact, going by Tully Runners’ speed ratings, Great Oak’s performance at the California Southern Section meet and F-M’s performance at the NY state meet were dead even. If Great Oak runs its best race and F-M is off, F-M could lose.
But we’re predicting that F-M keeps the tradition alive and leaves Portland with an 11th girls’ title in 12 years. The conditions should help as well. It’s supposed to rain every day between now and Saturday, and the forecast for Saturday calls for a high of 47 degrees and more rain. That favors a New York school over a California squad, even if Great Oak has run well in Portland in the past. Expect mud.
Here’s what Tully Runners has as a rough projected score using speed ratings:
Overall Morning-Line Team Scores - Girls 1 Fayetteville-Manlius NY 102 (New York ) 2 Great Oak CA 183 (California) 3 Wayzata MN 184 (Heartland ) 4 Naperville North IL 199 (Midwest ) 5 Keller TX 229 (South )
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MB: NXN Predictions?