Sunday, October 31, 2010

Athlete of the Week - Andrew Benford

The AotW for October 25th-31st is Andrew Benford of the University of Richmond. Mr. Benford won the Atlantic-10 Championships over the weekend in a time of 24:12, leading his team to the team title as well. He is a graduate of Ravenswood High and won numerous state titles in his time there. His next stop should be Regionals where he'll try to qualify for nationals. Best of luck to him as he continues to storm through his season.

Bunch of Tips 'o the Cap this week... CMHS for the incredible job with the State Meet, honestly the WVSSAC should just award it to them on a 10-year basis... Jacob Burcham for the jaw-dropping performance to win AAA Boys. Gonna be fun to see the scalps he takes at NXN... Sarah McCauley for that thunderous move in AA-A Girls... Midland boys for putting together one of the top WV team performances I've ever seen... University girls for refusing to lose, again... Propst for closing things out in style... Woodford for running the hard race and repeating... and to all the kids (collegiates too) who hit their goals this weekend.

Regionals, Nationals, BoP, NXN and Footlockers... let's finish this one off.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What I think that I think.

Here's your 1,000% certified W-preview of the 2010 West Virginia State XC Meet. Like always, there won't be any real predictions but remember to turn up the tunes! (Some tunes are slightly NSFW, for naughty language reasons.)

10:00 am -- AA-A Boys

On the individual side, there's two Shaffers and a Woodford who seem to have somewhat seperated themselves from the rest of the state. On the team side, it looks like it's a fight between Grafton, St. Mary's and maybe Phillip Barbour. But, this is AA-A boys. If anything over the past couple years, AA-A boys has been chaos. Those three individuals could win, someone out of the field could win, those three teams could win, some group of dudes could come out of the sticks and 15 point the state. I don't know and neither does anyone else. I miss the old predictable days of Ravenswood dominance, where no one had to care about point totals because we all knew the outcome. This race will be fun, just remember to buy a program beforehand. I guarantee you'll need to use it.

10:45 -- AA-A Girls

This looks like it'll be the Philip Barbour show on the team side of things. While they've got the girls up front to run away with this thing, it only takes one bad race to let Scott and others slip by. But, all eyes are going to be on...

HARRIS v. MCCAULEY... cage match! The girl who can run forever versus the girl with an incredibly explosive kick. The immovable object versus the unstoppable force. Yin versus Yang. Water versus Fire. Spikes versus trail shoes. Defending champ Maggie Drazba will be protecting her title and has the firepower to do so, but it'll take an upset at this point to get by both the favorites.

1:00 -- The Main Event

There's going to be three intense battles within this race: Individual title, the last All-State spot and the team title. Individually, this will be a race that will go down in WV distance running lore. It's far to close to call, but the winner will certainly come out of the Big Four of Burcham, Cody, Dayton, and Doughty. How this will play out is a complete and total mystery. Each of these runners are fully-trained and apparently healthy. There will be no excuses and no rankings or polls to fall back on. The winner will be better than the other three, period. If you want to step onto the track with a shot a victory, the price of admission is going to be sub-5min/mi pace. Good luck.

The last All-State spot will be a wild finish. If you consider that the Big Four will almost certainly take four All-State spots and E. Graff-Salmons will likely take two more, all of a sudden you have the rest of the state running for only four places! Born-StobbeBrown-Schwarzenberg were within one second at NCACs. Waugh-Campbell-Harmon-King were within 13 seconds at MSAC. I expect these seven, and a few more, to merge into a monster third chase pack. There's going to be ten to twelve guys trying to squeeze into those four spots and not everyone is going to fit.

In the team title, everyone seems to have annointed Cabell Midland as the 2010 champions. I think they're the favorites but that the race is much closer than most people are saying. Jefferson has an outside chance on a normal day, but can close the projected gap very quickly with only one person running an above-average race. The State Meet can be a very strange place, and as Mark Twain said, “It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.”

1:45 -- AAA Girls

This should end up being your convential WV State Meet race. A prohibitive favorite (Propst), the rest of the field in a long string behind her, and a couple teams fighting it out for the team title. The only thing that could beat Propst is something unforeseen: an injury, a fall, someone who runs out of their mind, ect. It would be an upset, to put it mildly.

The field behind Propst is pretty murky. Scherich and Phillips are obviously having great seasons and there's a slew of ladies only a few strides behind them. Really, everything from 2nd place to last place is up for grabs. There will certainly be some unexpected finishes and a top-15 dominated by freshmen...

The team title will have dozens of parents counting finishers and crunching numbers as if their lives depended on it. UHS and Preston are incredibly close, seperated by only 2 points at NCACs. Only those two teams can win because no one else has a chance against the Mon/Preston powerhouses, right? Well, Hampshire seems to have been taking notes from another Eastern Panhandle team last year... I smell an ambush. It'll be a wild ride and the top three teams will probably be seperated by less than ten points.

There you go, that should be all the major players. The typical best viewing strategy is to watch the start, climb the hill behind the track to the one mile/two mile marks, then run back down the hill and catch the finish. Things to watch for that could make or break races: Grafton's #5 guy v. St. Mary's #5, where is Scott's #5 girl, how hard can Harris take the first mile out, where is Jefferson's #5 guy, are Cabell's #4 and#5 guys in the top-15, can the other three break Doughty by 2mi, and how far up the field is the Hampsire girls' pack located. The weather looks beautiful and it should be a great day of racing.

Good luck to everyone... you're gonna need it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Athlete of the Week - Stewart Jones

The AotW for October 18th-24th is Stewart Jones of Wheeling Jesuit. Mr. Jones wins his AotW by finishing third at the Walsh/Malone Invitational (3K) in a time of 9:07. Mr. Jones is a 2007 graduate of Weir High School and is in his third year at WJU. Next up for him should be the WVIAC Championships on 07 November. Best of luck to him.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Athlete of the Week - Clara Grandt

The Aotw for October 11-17 is Clara Grandt. Clara ran the Tuft's 10K on Monday and finished as the fifth American in 33:23. Tuft's 10K served as the USATF women's 10K road national championship. Clara moved up to 12th in the USARC standings with her finish. Great job Clara, best of luck through the rest of the year. (Feel free to play "Where's Waldo" with this picture and find Clara...)

Very special tip 'o the cap to Andrew Benford. Mr. Benford won an AotW a few weeks ago and came within 40m of winning another on Saturday. If you haven't seen his finish at pre-nats, go here and fast-forward to about 24:00. The next time someone gives you the old cliche of "I gave 100%!" have them watch that video. How he could draw so much out of his body that he hit the literal point of collapse is a testament to toughness. Best of luck to him through the rest of his season, here's hoping he brings home an All-American.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Athlete of the Week - Dayton McVicker

The AotW for October 4th to 10th is Dayton McVicker. The senior at West Fairmont earns his AotW via his 16:28 win at the 23rd Times Invitational. His time was the fastest recorded at Times in the era. An impressive win over stiff competition. Best of luck to Dayton through the rest of the fall.

Special tip 'o the cap to the middle school runners that were at Times. Both races were extremely deep and fun to watch. The future looks promising.

(Photo: - Where there's also video and further, in-depth coverage.)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Athlete of the Week - Andrew Benford

The AotW for September 27th to October 3rd is Andrew Benford of the University of Richmond. The Ravenswood High graduate earns his AotW by placing third at the Paul Short meet in Lehigh, Pa. He covered the 8k in 23:52 for third place, trailing THE Sam Chelenga by only 18 seconds. This outstanding result helped lead his team up to sixth place. Best of luck to Andrew throughout the rest of his season.

Tip o' the cap to the high schoolers this past week for taking some big, out-of-state scalps... it's almost time.