Digits: Distance Depth

By: Michael Weidenbruch

The weekend before NCAA Regional Championships begin is one of the most quiet weekends of the competitive season in terms of performances. With no big meets to write about, we got a little creative. With Regionals coming up this weekend at The University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida and California State University, Sacramento in Sacramento, California, everyone is in full championship season mode.

Come NCAAs, the individual races will surely be thrilling but what may be more difficult to predict is the team champion. Part of this difficulty lies in a few athletes on a given team’s ability to perform on NCAAs weekend. It is rather common for teams to win championships off the backs of a handful of superstar athletes competing over multiple events, overwhelmingly those in the sprints/field events categories. While victories in the distance events certainly help with point totals, teams are seldom in the mix for the title from their distance squads’ efforts alone.

The University of Florida is the top ranked D1 men’s track and field program in the NCAA heading into regionals, but they only have four athletes entered in events 800m and higher (two in the 800, two in the 1500) and it is unlikely that they will all qualify for NCAAs in Eugene. This made me think, what if there was a distance only national championship to crown the best team from 800 to 10000? You may be thinking that this already exists with cross country, but that only covers the high end of that spectrum, and a winning cross country team can be successful with seven 10,000m specialists and no middle distance.

What I’ll be doing is looking at the 2018 season bests for 800m, 1500m, 3000m SC, 5000m, and 10000m of the top 11 distance schools, as determined by the top five NCAA cross country teams from 2017, and six others that I feel deserve to be in this conversation. I will then compile a decathlon style score using the IAAF scoring tables (These can be found at https://www.iaaf.org/news/iaaf-news/scoring-tables-2017 but need to be downloaded. There is a score calculator available at http://tfcalc.herokuapp.com/calculator that is much easier to use).

These scores range from 0-1400 and are used to assign a value to a performance, which is useful in comparing the caliber of performances across different events. The calculator rounds down to the nearest point. The team with the highest score will win.

In the situation that one individual has the season best for more than one event on their team, I will take their better time as determined by the IAAF score and use the second athlete’s time for the other event. At this hypothetical championship, athletes are limited to competing in only their best event.

The top five from the 2017 NCAA cross country championships are: Northern Arizona, Portland, BYU, Stanford, and Arkansas

My top six other schools are: Oregon, Virginia Tech, Colorado, Ole Miss, Syracuse, and Georgetown.

I’ll throw in Florida as well to see how they would do as the top ranked overall program for the 2018 outdoor season.

Northern Arizona University

800m: Ryan Lanley, 1:50.18 - 1021

1500m: Luis Grijalva, 3:41.21 - 1090

3000m SC: Kyle Havriliak, 9:11.66 - 946

5000m: Andy Trouard, 13:21.07 - 1134

10000m: Tyler Day, 28:04.44 - 1125

Total Points: 5316

University of Portland

800m: Kris Braunberger, 1:59.06 - 784

1500m: Trent Mazelli, 3:43.57 - 1059

3000m SC: Simon Grannetia, 8:40.07 - 1078

5000m: Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse, 13:58.01 - 1006

10000m: Noah Schutte, 28:34.51 - 1079

Total Points: 5006

Brigham Young University

800m: Patrick Parker, 1:50.87 - 1001

1500m: Abraham Alvarado, 3:41.17 - 1091

3000m SC: Matt Owens, 8:39.41 - 1081

5000m: Clayton Young, 13:37.60 - 1076

10000m: Connor McMillan, 28:09.55 - 1117

Total Points: 5336

Stanford University

800m: Hari Sathyamurthy, 1:49.93 - 1028

1500m: Sean McGorty, 3:40.57 - 1099

3000m SC: Steven Fahy, 8:48.79 - 1041

5000m: Grant Fisher, 13:36.77 - 1079

10000m: Sam Wharton, 29:11.33 - 1025

Total Points: 5272

University of Arkansas

800m: Kieran Taylor, 1:50.65 - 1007

1500m: Jack Bruce, 3:39.86 - 1108

3000m SC: Kyle Hosting, 8:53.73 - 1020

5000m: Gilbert Boit, 13:50.36 - 1032

10000m: Austen Dalquist, 29:08.60 - 1029

Total Points: 5196

University of Oregon

800m: James West, 1:49.67 - 1035

1500m: Sam Prakel, 3:36.84 - 1149

3000m SC: Jackson Mestler, 8:55.77 - 1012

5000m: Cooper Teare, 13:46.46 - 1045

10000m: Tanner Anderson, 29:07.39 - 1030

Total Points: 5271

Virginia Tech

800m: Vincent Ciattei, 1:48.29 - 1075

1500m: Diego Zarate, 3:43.38 - 1062

3000m SC: Fitsum Seyoum, 8:49.26 - 1039

5000m: Peter Seufer, 13:53.35 - 1022

10000m: Jack Joyce, 30:33.18 - 908

Total Points: 5106

University of Colorado

800m: Justice Ramos, 1:51.67 - 979

1500m: Eduardo Herrera, 3:43.92 - 1054

3000m SC: Adam Peterman, 8:54.86 - 1015

5000m: Zach Perrin, 13:37.06 - 1078

10000m: Ryan Forsyth, 29:40.63 - 982

Total Points: 5108

Ole Miss

800m: Waleed Suliman, 1:47.29 - 1105

1500m: Robert Domanic, 3:36.33 - 1156

3000m SC: Sean Tobin, 8:53.09 - 1023

5000m: Mark Robertson, 14:23.30 - 923

10000m: Robinson Snider, 31:16.59 - 849

Total Points: 5056

Syracuse University

800m: Nathan Henderson, 1:56.18 - 857

1500m: Justyn Knight, 3:36.07 - 1160

3000m SC: Aidan Tooker, 8:45.79 - 1054

5000m: Philo Germano, 13:50.48 - 1032

10000m: Colin Bennie, 28:37.04 - 1075

Total Points: 5178

Georgetown University

800m: Rey Rivera, 1:48.04 - 1083

1500m: Amos Bartelsmeyer, 3:43.56 - 1059

3000m SC: Nicholas Wareham, 9:09.07 - 957

5000m: Michael Crozier, 14:07.87 - 974

10000m: Jonathan Green, 28:36.44 - 1076

Total Points: 5149

University of Florida

800m: Kyren Hollis, 1:48.20 - 1078

1500m: Jack Guyton, 3:43.57 - 1059

3000m SC: Bryce Statham, 9:23.04 - 901

5000m: Magnus Pettersen, 14:46.46 - 851

10000m: No recorded performances - 0

Total Points: 3889

Final Results:

1. BYU: 5336

2. NAU: 5316

3. Stanford: 5272

4. Oregon: 5271

5. Arkansas: 5196

6. Syracuse: 5178

7. Georgetown: 5149

8. Colorado: 5108

9. Virginia Tech: 5106

10. Ole Miss: 5056

11. Portland: 5006

12. Florida: 3889

So there you have it, the NCAA championship if only distance events were contested. The top four are no surprise, except I would have expected Syracuse to be in there. Portland’s second to last finish was also a surprise, but they surely would have finished higher if they were running guys in the 800. I’m certain they have guys who could run well under 1:59, so they suffer a bit there. Syracuse and Arkansas would have each done a lot better if the same athlete could score for two events, as Justyn Knight and Jack Bruce both have 5000m times that are scored only slightly lower than their 1500s. However, I wanted this scoring system to showcase depth over anything else and scoring the same athlete multiple times would take away from that.

As for Florida, they performed much better than I expected. Their 800m and 1500m times hold up against the more distance oriented schools, but they fall off slightly in the steeple and 5000m. Their big loss here comes from not having had anyone race the 10,000 this season, but they would have needed to score 1117 points (28:09.31, which would be good for #2 in the entire NCAA) just to beat 11th place Portland.

If you think I left out any teams that would have done well in this format, feel free to tweet @w0nderbuck and @TheStrideReport to let me know who you would’ve included and I’ll reply to you with a score for that team.