Assembled in order of importance. Rankings handy right there next to each team from the Coaches and LetsRun polls, respectively. You can thank me later.
Dellinger, Griak, and more, after the jump.
THE BIG MEETS
Oregon Bill Dellinger
Wisconsin - 1, 1
Oregon - 3, 3
UTEP - t6, 7
Portland - 11, nr
Alabama - 17, nr
UCLA - 21, nr
Cal Poly - 22, nr
Washington - 30, nr
Others: Colorado State, Georgia, New Mexico, Ohio State
In the same way that Eugene has hijacked the "distance running mecca" label from Boulder (see: Nike's Pre legacy campaign, Lananna's recruiting, Salazar, Gouchers, Ritzenhein, etc.), Oregon's Bill Dellinger Invite has left ND, Griak, and the rest of this weekend's meets a bit lacking. And don't tell me Eugene has always been the mecca. Boulder has been that ever since Running With the Buffaloes showed us how hardcore/intelligent Mark Wetmore is, and Ritzenhein laid the foundation for the sometimes volatile - but only because they like the make-up sex - relaationship between the Internet and running in 2001. Oregon spending seven years or more being totally irrelevant to NCAA cross country didn't help.
Dellinger is the premier meet this weekend only if these two teams run their good runners, obviously. There's been a lot of letsrun speculation about Portland, so their finish-placing alone might be worth checking out the results for on Saturday afternoon, before you destroy your mind with some alcoholic or chemical substance. Dyestatters especially will be interested in the Footlocker all-star team that Oregon looks to be building.
What2Watch4 - Portland's top three... and 4 and 5. Some say top ten nationally, others top 5?!?!! I'll say I've never rooted for a team in purple (save my early adolescent year as a Toronto Raptors fan. I was young and confused; we all were back then) but I might change my mind for this spunky "cross country first, track, second" team.
Notre Dame Invitational
North Carolina State - 9, nr
Notre Dame - 12, nr
Providence - 14, nr
Brigham Young - 20, 10
Florida State - 24, nr
Michigan - 25, nr
Others: Liberty, Butler, Cornell, Eastern Michigan, Illinois, Indiana State, Kent State
"No TRUE cross country runner cares about their times and PRs."
You may try to convince yourself of that statement or you may be willing to admit the truth. Either way, there is always the track compulsion to compare PRs with other people, thus asserting your place on that theoretical all-time list that we all know exists. It is because of this list and what it means to the self-worth of all runners that the Notre Dame Invitational is so important. Every runner at Notre Dame will run :45 to a minute faster on Friday than they ever have before or will again, sorry to say. And they will hold up that PR proudly, much like others might hold up a degree or spouse, any time someone asks them what they got out of college. It is pathetic and a sorry commentary on the state of all college cross country runners... mainly because I never got to run the Notre Dame Invitational.
As for this year's race and field, in particular... two words: "been" "better." In the past, there were a number of top ten teams, particularly top west coast teams like Stanford, that would show up. This year, there is one top ten team (NC State or BYU from the coaches' and letsrun polls, respectively).
What2Watch4 - Josh McDougal, king of the NCAA Invitational and Mr. Course Record (he holds about 90% of them around the nation), makes his first appearance on the fast ND course.
Minnesota - 18, nr
Northern Arizona - 19, nr
Michigan State - 23, nr
Virginia - 28, nr
Iowa State - 29, nr
Others: Arizona State, Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Lamar, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Washington State
Griak is a great meet. The course and the atmosphere are nice. The competition is always heated with inter-regional point-scoring the main focus of most teams. You get to hang out at the Mall of America while you're waiting to go to the airport.
The Mall of America, by the way, I usually equate to purgatory. There's a lot of stuff to do, but you really don't want to do any of it and are constantly tired for no reason and have nowhere to sleep. That might be a personal association, I don't know.
Either way, the results of this meet will probably mean nothing until the regional meet early in November when it matters that Kansas beat Virginia. Until then, you can probably skim results for people you beat in high school.
What2Watch4 - Lopez Lomong's (if he races) first cross country race while on the radar.
Iona - 4, 4
Princeton - 27, nr
With Iona's image as mainly foreign (and thus, unlikeable by any red, white, and blue-blooded American like myself) and Princeton's image as the hippest of the Ivy League, it would be nice to see Princeton dust off the ol' back-door offense and sneak up on Iona.
What2Watch4 - Where is Kiplagat's younger brother?
Oklahoma State Cowboy Jamboree
Arkansas - 5, 6
Oklahoma State - 8, 9
I am planning on looking up these results mainly because I want Arkansas to lose. (It's a phobia/loathing of southern culture thing I picked up while growing up with only a rive separating me from Kentucky - don't ask.) I also don't care for Oklahoma State, though, mainly because the wear bright orange uniforms and they are from Oklahoma. That type of flamboyance has no place in such a Great Plains state.
Side note: Jamboree?!?!?! Are you serious, Oklahoma State? 'Dust off the possum skewer, Ma, the cross country meet's coming up this week!'
What2Watch4 - Nothing. Nothing interesting at all could come out of this race besides some yokel on LetsRun claiming "Arkansas is back."
THE BLAH...BLAH...BLAH MEETS
Colonial Inter-Regional Challenge
William & Mary - 13, nr
Georgetown - 16, nr
It's difficult to be excited for a meet with such a bland name. William & Mary is another one of those XC-first teams (like Portland) that you can't help but root for.
Rocky Mountain Shootout [Colorado 2, 2]
Nothing Colorado does outside of Terre Haute, IN matter... ever.
Stanford Invite [Stanford - t6, 5]
Used to be a good meet. Lananna owns Stanford.
Greater Louisville Cross Country Classic [Louisville - 15, nr]
Coach Mann is good, but Louisville being the 15th-best is tough to believe. This meet isn't going to convince anyone, of course.
Auburn Invite [Florida]
Irrelevant results and times on a course 0.5 miles short.
Not Competing [Texas - 10, 8]
I wouldn't want to compete either if it meant missing a night on 6th Street in downtown Austin. Public nudity is legal there... NUDITY... LEGAL!
Friday, September 28, 2007
Assembled in order of importance. Rankings handy right there next to each team from the Coaches and LetsRun polls, respectively. You can thank me later.
THE GIRL WHO JUST BROKE UP WITH HER BOYFRIEND
She's way more attractive than you and normally wouldn't look at you twice, but at the moment she's emotionally unstable. Perfect. You will be the direct benefactor of what is either her revenge-minded hedonism or her desire to do anything to get her mind off that asshole Brad. But be advised - most high-reward endeavors are high-risk as well, and if she ends up getting back together with Brad while you're all still at the bar, you're probably going to get your ass kicked: Oklahoma State, Texas.
THE HOT GIRL IN A BIG GROUP OF HER FRIENDS
A terrible idea. There are like 8 of them and there's no way you and your two roommates will be able to hold the group's collective attention by quoting Borat, your usual, and now quite dated, go-to social table setter: Stanford, Arkansas, NC State.
THE PLAIN GIRL IN A BIG GROUP OF HER FRIENDS
A much better mark. With so many of her friends around she could easily get lost in the shuffle. The odds are good that she'll respond to any attention at all, so pounce already. Besides, everyone loves the grateful type: Princeton, Notre Dame.
THE INTERNATIONAL STUDENT
You don't speak her language but god you wish you did: UTEP, Iona, Alabama.
Sure, you feel kind of slimy, being opportunistic and seizing on her inexperience, but there are no bonus points for added challenge. And, if you didn't, you know somebody else would have instead, anyway: Iowa State, Georgetown.
THAT GIRL FROM YOUR ECONOMICS OF SOCIAL CHANGE CLASS
A prudent investment. Built-in conversation-starter, and you feel like you already kind of know her because you've noticed how she cocks her head and purses her lips in that cute way when she's taking notes. Your friend told you she lives in the same dorm as you, so all you have to do is plan a joint study session, drop a little Keynes, and you're in like butter. Invisible hand, baby. Invisible hand. William & Mary.
THE GIRL PASSED OUT IN THE UPSTAIRS ROOM
The low-hanging fruit. Step one in your quest to Nationals. You excuse yourself to the keg and locate her, her face buried in a tangle of hair and what you hope is only drool, and then it's easy pickins. At least, until that girl who lived two floors up from you freshman year walks in looking for her coat, realizes what's going on, and starts yelling downstairs to her boyfriend Andrew, that douchebag with the blowout who was always listening to shitty house and trance music freshman year, bumping the bass so hard you couldn't even think even though you lived at the far end of the hall from him, and having him come in and shove you around for a bit and then wait for you outside the party with that buddy of his who you always saw him going to the gym with whose name was George, I think, and who, it turns out, is that passed-out girl's boyfriend, and things are looking pretty fucking ugly even though you keep telling them that you hadn't even had the chance to do anything by the time her friend walked in, and then Tom chucks a couple bottles at them from an upstairs window, and one catches Andrew square on the cheek and you take that opportunity to sprint out of there and across campus and hide out behind the rec center on the lacrosse field for like, three fucking hours, all the while thinking thank god for Tom, thank god for teammates, Jesus Christ thank god for Tom Grossian, that lanky bastard: I am never going to make fun of his stupid bandana and patchy beard again.
In other words, do NOT fuck with Florida State or Providence. Unless you can verify they are at least semi-conscious and romantically unattached.
YOUR BEST FRIEND'S EX-GIRLFRIEND
That's just not cool, man.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
1. Syracuse beats Providence at BC, and now supplants them at #2 in the Northeast, and debuts in the National Poll for the first time ever, at 26th. Do we credit the pollsters for actually taking the time to look at the results from last week and voting accordingly? Or do we discredit them for not looking carefully enough to notice that Providence sat Max Smith and probably would have won the meet... to say nothing of the fact that they were voting Syracuse into a spot that correlates to an automatic bid to Nationals.So looking ahead to late November... 3 teams in the Northeast in the National Poll = 3 NE teams to Terre Haute? Not likely. Still, we'll operate under the premise that the 30 teams in the poll are our 30 teams at Nationals:
2. Do we applaud the pollsters for seeing American place 4th at Navy and dropping them from 3rd to 8th in the Mid-Atlantic? Or do we shake our heads over the fact that LaSalle was one of the teams that pushed them to 4th in that meet, yet were voted behind them at 9th in the Regional Poll? (Admittedly, American did look a bit improved at Iona.)
3. And finally, the press-release headline says it all: "Wisconsin solidifies hold on top spot." Stop and think about that a minute. Reflect on the performances turned in by the Buffs and Ducks over the past two weeks, and compare them to those of the Badgers who apparently "solidified their hold." Frankly, Wisconsin did no such thing. The voters did.
The Race for 31stAfter a less-than-awesome showing at Sundodger, Wazzu slipped a bit, and we'll take that opportunity to unofficially slide Weber State into 31st position. I feel like we should automatically disqualify a 3rd team from the NE Region, and award a bonus spot, but them's the breaks, Liberty.
Sandwich teams: LIBERTY (4th, NR) courtesy Virginia (5th but 28th). WEBER STATE (3rd, NR) thanks to both Northern Arizona (4th, 19th) and BYU (5th, 20th). (Wacky, I know, right?)
Others Receiving Votes: Weber State, Florida, EMU, Nova, Wazzu, Butler, Texas A&M, Kansas, Liberty, THE Ohio State University, American, Illinois
First out in Regional Polls (ORVs removed): Lamar
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
I'll say it: Iona certainly looked like the #3 team in the country on Saturday. Cornell held its varsity out, but the Gaels still beat a bunch of the better teams on the East Coast, while sitting several of their studs. Plug in Father Abraham and Harbert the Love Bug and the Gaels probably go 1-5-6-7-8 against a handful of teams just beyond the borders of at-large-land. Oh and what's that? Ledwith didn't race either? Yeah. Iona looks dominant.
But I'd say it ends there. They only LOOK like the #3 team in the country. The biggest knock on these guys (knocks by all you xenophobes notwithstanding) has been that nobody's certain that Iona has the top-10 type guy they'll need to offset Rupp or Vaughn/Pifer or Eagon or Chelanga/McDougal (OK, kidding on that last one). Khadraeiou-and-sometimes-y made big strides last year to move up to 12th at Terre Haute, but for whatever reason, he doesn't seem to give his team that same swagger up front that those other guys do - maybe because the others look like contenders for the individual title on the right day, and no one is comparing Mo-K to Ricardo Kiplagat at this point. Sadly, he did little to dispel that notion this weekend, nosing out a win against a fella who is talented, but probably borderline All-American caliber, with a couple others who didn't even crack top-20 regionally last year close behind. Maybe Okuti will step up to hit clean-up, but it also doesn't help matters that Matthew Kiplagat is no longer listed on the Iona roster. (Bet ya didn't know that yet, huh?) Joe Parks and Chase Pizzonia ran well Saturday, and may equal Kiplagat's performance at Nationals from last season, but I'm sure Iona supporters were plugging improvement at the 5-spot into their calculations for this season.
The bottom line is this: a hypothetical 7 in before Brown and Penn State's 1st, and Navy and American's 2nd... it's quite good, but none of those teams have looked capable of making noise nationally this season in the first place, and in the second place, all Iona showed on Saturday was their depth, and unless we're talking 8-10-11-15-17-in-Terre-Haute depth, depth alone isn't even going to get you in the national title discussion.
Which leaves us at... third place. Iona were ranked 3rd pre-season and, frankly, going into the year I felt they could take home the team title if things broke right. But now...? Given the number of teams with depth 1-6 this year, I think third would be a very solid showing for the Gaels.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
puts down Washington , and solidly. Henry Rono is not walking through that door. Washington State thwarts Navy who thwarts LaSalle who, in a bit of a surprise, thwarts American. Wesley Korir outruns the golf cart, whatever that means. Louisville
- NC State DID post results, albeit not under the "Schedule / Results" page. They also hung a perfect score on Wake Forest. Ouch. Deacons, you are in a BCS conference! This shouldn't happen! Your football team is better than you right now! Gone are the glory days of the 1980s with John Sence clad in the gold and black, clearly.
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Lotta Friday action this weekend:
- Indiana State over the state of Indiana. (IU hangs a brutal, 36-point 5th after going 1-5-6-7, to place 2nd.)
- Something happened at Texas Tech but still no results up. Same with NC State. Whoops, forgot - it's football season so there's clearly more important things for your SIDs to be doing on a Friday...
- Syracuse took down a Max Smith-less Providence squad, with BC 3rd, Stony Brook 4th, and Iona's Scrubs 5th. Of course, I had to go to Syracuse's website to find the results from BC's MEET. So add a Boo to the Boston College SID to the tally above, and a doff of the cap to the fellas over in Providence (who provided a recap) and Syracuse.
Friday, September 14, 2007
The National and Regional Rankings dropped earlier this week, but really, it’s too early to quibble too much with them, as few teams have taken the reins off yet and really let their big boys race. A couple things did jump out as far as how teams related to each other last year and where they're placed now in the first poll. So let's dust off ye old transitive property and see why if A equals B, and B equals C then, A must equa- ah screw it:
> … by comparison, BYU loses champ Josh Rohatinsky and plummets 8 spots in the polls from their 11th-place showing? In addition to Fagan, Providence also lost their 5th and 7th men from Nationals, but not only did BYU return everyone other than the rider of Rohan, they also picked up Michigan State transfer Stephan Shay who was 108th last year, and who looked pretty solid last week in early season action. My math es no so good, but I expect BYU to be much closer to
> Louisville was 15th, brings back #1-5 and their #7, plus 36th place in the region, and the coaches have them… still at 15th. Really? They won’t be ANY better? Meanwhile, NC State has a similar personnel situation – #1-4, then #6 and #7 back, plus Bobby Mack and Freddy Torres (24th at regionals) – but the prognostications have them leaping from 16th to 10th. Then again, the Pack beat the Cardinals at Regionals in 2006… by a whopping 16 points. 4 teams are really going to get between these teams at Nationals? I’d use the buddy system in ranking these two until shown evidence that begs to differ.
> Now for one of the big questions of the season – will Sammy Chelanga “transfigure”
> Finally, I don’t pretend to have any knowledge of how these poll things are put together, but Washington… 8th in the Pacific behind Wazzu and Arizona State… 30th in the country in the national poll… with the Cougars and Sun Devils notably absent… hmm… As a matter of fact, that happened in a couple of spots:
- NAU - 3rd in the Mountains, 20th nationally; BYU - 4th and 19th
- Iowa St. - 2nd MW, 25th nationally; Minnesota -3rd MW
, 18th in all the land - 5th GL, 26th in the country Butler - 4thGL, not ranked nationally; Michigan - 5th in the Southeast, 28(tie) nationally; Virginia - 4th in the Southeast, but NR in the US. Liberty
Me? I'd take Minnesota over ISU, Michigan over Butler, and, of course, you can deduce that I'd take Liberty over UVA. more on this in a moment.
Me? I'd take Minnesota over ISU, Michigan over Butler, and, of course, you can deduce that I'd take Liberty over UVA.It's an interesting hiccup, if nothing else, but
more on this in a moment.
How many bids are awarded to each region is an annual point of consternation, hand-wringing, and Oh No, They Didn'ts. Based on the polls, things would break down like so:
West - 6
Mountain - 4
Great Lakes - 4
South - 3
Midwest - 3
South Central - 2 (no bonus points for guessing those without looking)
Mid-Atlantic - 2
Northeast - 2 (again, no bonus points awarded)
In other words, it looks much like last year, only sans the UTEP slight (whether real or perceived). Now, what makes no sense to me is the poll stops at 30, despite there being 31 slots at nationals. Do a top 25 like other college sports, or make it relevant to your sport and go all the way to 31... ranking 30 is utterly incomprehensible in terms of reasoning.
But now for the fun part: if we can assume that the 30 teams in the poll are expected, from a pre-season vantage, anyway, to make an appearance in SW Indiana, who is that mysterious final, 31st team? Well, going back to the discrepancies between polls, the following teams were those "sandwich" teams - caught between nationally-ranked teams in their respective regional polls, but unranked themselves: Washington State, Arizona State, Butler, and Liberty. You have to figure one of those teams is the likeliest recipient of the 31st-most votes, along with Weber State, Kansas, Iowa, EMU,
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
No, this has nothing to do with running, but I don't care.
Now, the natural urge is to make an Edgar Allen Poe reference here, but then I would have to hate myself repeatedly in the face. Let's just say last night was a big win because it took down a division foe, helping the Bengals get out in front in the tough, tough AFC North, to say nothing of being an encouraging gauge of things to come: the offense will be more productive simply because Carson Palmer can only play better the next 15 weeks... and things will really start clicking, either when the O-line gets a little healthier, or when a solid complement to Rudi Johnson gets healthy/emerges. Or both.
Of course, the best part of last night was the defense. I'm not expecting the D to hold teams under 20 points week to week; all I want to see is the ability to make plays, shake things up, and swing the momentum back our way every now and again. Everyone certainly came out aggressive early and demonstrated that play-making ability throughout the game. Still gave up a couple of back-breaking conversions on 3rd-and-long, something that's plagued the defensive unit the past few years, but again: just get to the quarterback to shake things up, and try to create me some turnovers, and I'll be a happy camper.
Season to date: 1-0.
Fluid Prediction: 13-3 (Patriots, @Ravens, @49ers)
Next: @ Browns.
Monday, September 10, 2007
This past weekend saw an intra-regional skirmish take place at Van Cortlandt Park, as Princeton, Penn, and Navy -- the 4th, 8th and 9th place teams at the Mid-Atlantic Regional in 2006 -- visited the Bronx for the Fordham Invitational. With Villanova and Pitt (2006 MA 3rd & 6th) ravished by graduation, and Penn State and LaSalle (5th & 7th) losing their low-sticks to that same, awful fate, the Tigers, Quakers and Goat-type-things look to be in prime position to battle it out for the prestigious honor of placing 3rd in the Mid-Atlantic and being one of the last teams left home from Nationals. And who doesn't want that? So, a lot was on the line when they took to the course Saturday morning and did battle.
And by, "did battle" I mean, of course, "ran workouts." But in their singlets. All three squads appeared to be keeping it in their respective pants, running under control in packs by team and never mixing it up, even with an opposing pack just 5 seconds ahead. All in all, not a terrific meet for the spectator, what with the lack of racing and the oppressive heat/humidity making for slow times, overall. The single point of note was the surprise of seeing a newcomer take home top honors. From NYIT, of all places; I don't even know what division they compete in. Kigen Evans played the role of poor-man's Sammy Chelanga (that role being "unknown breakout winner at Fordham Invite" - not "McDougals' wingman at Young Life social events") clocking 26:03, which, in my expert opinion, is a pretty respectable time on that course, in those conditions, for Week Two. DePaul also visited the heretofore Big East Championship course, where it took fourth behind the aforementioned Mid-Atlantic teams. After a healthy run at VCP and a year at Franklin Park in Boston, the Big East Champs will be crowned in Louisville Kentucky this year. Which is fitting, because when I think "Big" and "East," I immediately think of Louisville KY. Pictures!
Navy's pack to the front around 1200m.
Princeton and Penn follow.
Reid McEwen (Penn) and Kigen Evans (NYIT) lead, exiting the backhills around 4k.
Evans (L) comes home the winner, 26:03
McEwen (R) settles for 2nd in 26:16.
Navy's John Olson, John Kress and William Prom come home 5-6-7 in 26:36 and 26:37 - Princeton's pack is visible frame-left, content to stride home about 40m arears.
Princeton's pack cruising to 26:42 and 8th-11th place (12th place, also P-town, is obscured). No Dave Nightingale for the Tigers on Saturday, but they still get bonus points for the Cincinnati Bengal-esque tiger stripes in the "P" on their jerseys. (Hehehe... "P" on their jerseys...)
(post-script: If you ran in the Fordham Invitational, and they didn't have your photo over at Trackshark, e-mail us with your bib number and we'll check to see if we took a photo of you. Though I'm not really sure why you'd want one of my lousy, lousy photos. Also, we'd be more than happy to send you hi-res versions of any of these posted pictures, too, if any strike your fancy - email LessThanOurBest [AT] gmail [DOT] com.)
Let’s get this out of the way right up front: yes, you are faster than us, so no, our opinions are not as valid as yours. Now that that’s cleared up, we’d like to take a moment to thank those folks slower than us, for providing us with opinions against which ours still have credence. So, Thanks a million. To both of you.
Seeing as this is our first post, I feel like I should say something to kind of, you know, lay out the premise of this little webpage here. But, you know what... you're going to figure it out pretty quickly anyway, so I won't bother.
OK, I caved and I’m ashamed of how quickly; but frankly, I felt I'd be remiss if I didn't frame this guy at least a little, as a sort of public service. So, here goes: in short, this is your one-stop shop for under-informed commentary on all things distance-running-related, brought to you with little effort and even less impartiality. And, most likely, an overabundance of semi-colons and ellipses. So if you don’t like Wordsworth or Dickinson, you should go find yourself another one-stop shop for under-informed, lackadaisical and completely biased commentary, tough guy.