Friday, November 26, 2010

NCAA Cross Country.....10,000 meters doesn't come easy.

So rather than alienate half of my friends by going off on the latest crazy story of ineptitude by our political leaders I thought I would kick this off with a review of the greatest sporting event in the history of mankind...NCAA DI Cross Country.  Let me be clear, I always preferred indoor and outdoor track to cross country.  I was never that great of an XC runner neither did I care for the madness of hundreds of runners, poor footing, constant changes in the terrain and running in the cold.  That said, you can't beat the fact that there is just one race, one winner, one victorious team.  We don't have to discuss at length if the guy who won the 5K could also have beaten the guy who won the 3K steeple.  Also, XC is short.  Track meets drag on for hours, no days...I've submitted my teammates to enough torture by making them hang around long into the night so I could run 25 laps on the track.

To follow the rambling nonsense that follows it would help to have the following open and available (http://www.letsrun.com/2010/ncaamensresults-1122.php) and at the end (http://www.letsrun.com/2010/ncaawomensresults-1122.php).

Ok, Ok State delivered the goods big time and stomped all over the rest of the country.  The knock on their team was the lack of depth and weak 5th-7th runners.  To say that now just sounds stupid.  Those guys ran strong.  The 5th and 6th runners could have dropped out and the #7 guy would have carried the day for them.  German Fernandez was hurt most of last year after a killer freshman season (2008).  I can't wait to see him and Matt Centrowitz (Oregon) face off in the mile/1500 this year.  Hats off to Dave Smith, the coach.  Last year OkState won but tried to give the title away by having no depth at 5-7.  This year they slammed the door shut.

Never in my life would I have expected to see FL State as the second best XC team in the country.  I know nothing about their runners or team.  They've had a couple of foreigners in the past who have run well in the 1500 but this wasn't on the radar.

Nice to see Wisconsin back....the entire Big-10 is a running mess, although Indiana ran well.  It used to mean something to be Big-10 Champs and for a couple years it didn't, now it does again.  Wisconsin's #3 blew up in the last few hundred meters and staggered in....something medical?  ran out of gas?  who knows but they would have been a solid #2, with Ok State just out of reach.  Next year looks good for the Badgers...they return everyone and so does Ok State.  There's gonna be a showdown.

Oregon; 6th place, they didn't have it.  The teams ahead were just better.  Puskedra and Centro ran very well.  6th place in an off year isn't too bad.  Lannana was just weak when he commented about how Oregon has to spread the effort/money over three sports (XC, indoor, outdoor) and can't just concentrate on distance running like some other schools (jab at OkState, Iona, Portland).  Yes, those schools can put all their money into scholarships for distance runners.  No, they do not have world class facilities and coaches, deep pots of money to travel, trainers, large admin staffs, close relationships with Nike nor are they big name schools with long histories of success.  How many stud runners have walked on at Oregon or Stanford (back when Vin was there) having turned down scholarships at other places because they wanted to run for the machine, be a part of Pre's legacy, and train with the best runners in the country?  Answer: too many to count.  How many guys would do the same for the schools that Vin poo-pah'd?  Answer: zero.  Rule #32: No excuses, Play like a Champion  

Hat tip to Oklahoma and Martin Smith.  After getting run out of Eugene for being a winner he stuck the knife into Oregon and Nike and showed them why he's the man.  I've been to Norman, OK.  This is not an ideal place to grow distance runners.  The conditions are extreme.  It has no history of being good at running.  He turned water into wine by finishing 5th.  Except for Schwab, I've never heard of any of the rest of the team.  Their 6th man was 95th.  That says something.

Stanford.....the best for last.  I made a dig at my old assistant coach and ex Stanford 800m man for the Cardinal performance.  I was lashing out because I'm a Pac-10 die hard and really wanted them to do it after blowing up last year.  They did get stomped, I stand by that, but they didn't run all that bad.  Looking at the results, yes Heath had an off day and had he been where he should have been then they catch Wisconsin for 3rd.  Stanford could have put their top 3 in front of OkState's top three but that was as good as it was going to get.  Even forgetting that Stanford 6 and 7 did nothing to help the cause, I don't see any way that Sullivan and Olson could have made the magic happen.  The Cardinal team could have done a little better but not much.  They deserve a hat tip and they need to stop running Pre-NCAAs and raising everyone's expectations.  I'm coming around to the Oregon, Wisconsin, OkState tactic of skipping Pre-Nats every year.       


Women's side:  Thumbs up to Oregon's Jordan Hasay.  Steadily improving and is a big time threat now.  Thumbs down to all the rest of the Pac-10, my Huskies included.....11th, 12th, 13th and 16th place finishes for AZ, UO, Stanford, and UW.  Thats not right.  How many Footlocker finalists are on those teams combined?  Thumbs up to Georgetown and New Mexico.....where did that come from?