TSR Mailbag



"How big of a deal is Ben Veatch's 13:57 US Junior Record?" - DillyDilly

Here's the problem with Veatch's US Junior indoor record...he may not have actually gotten it. If you look back to 2009, you'll see that Chris Derrick (formerly of Stanford) actually ran 13:48 at NCAA's as a freshman. Even if Derrick was a redshirt freshman, he would have still been 19 and eligible for the record. There are certain all-time lists that don't have him listed. Why that 13:48 hasn't been ratified is still unclear, but if there is some technicality that prohibits Derrick from owning that title, then Veatch does have the official record (unless there is another name that I missed).

However, whether or not Veatch has the record isn't really all that important to me. What truly impresses me is that he opened up his collegiate track career with a sub-14 minute win over a strong and experienced field. Taking down Portland star Jeff Thies, a wicked fast miler who is coming off a breakout cross country season, as well as the MTSU duo, is a strong way to build your resume. I'm expecting at least one of those three individuals to make it to NCAA's in the 5k this winter. We can't get too excited, but the people he beat and the way he did it is a great sign of things to come.

"Wayne Phipps resigns with WSU: Good call or bad?" - WashXDTR

This is a tough one to answer simply because I'm just a guy behind a computer screen who isn't out there seeing the everyday developments of a distance program. Still, when I look at the new Phipps contract, I find myself conflicted about the deal.

When you look at the program from a cross country perspective, the Cougars have been a respectable squad that consistently makes Nationals year-in and year-out. To do that in a loaded PAC-12 conference and West region is something that should admired. On the flip-side, Phipps failed to make NCAA's in his first season with WSU and has had some very average finishes at NCAA's over the past three years (although 2016's 14th place finish was a nice performance).

On the track, we haven't really seen a whole lot of crazy results from the Cougars in terms of the mid and long distance events. Jesse Jorgensen was a stud 800 runner with a 1:46 PR while Joe Whalen and Drew Jordan were able to crack just under the 14 minute barrier with personal bests of 13:59 and 13:56, respectively. Those are solid times, but some of these guys were developed under a different coaching staff and only worked with Phipps at the tail end of their college racing careers. Since Phipps entered the program in 2014, no WSU Cougar has dipped under 4 minutes in the mile or under 8 minutes in the 3k.

With that in mind, Phipps may be unfairly criticized at times. Distance running stars like Joe Whelan and Michael Williams have progressed incredibly well under Phipps while the rest of the squad continues to get deeper and deeper with each passing year.

There is a lot of back and forth to be had with this topic, but I think it's only fair that the Washington State program gives Phipps more time to develop and refine his training methods. He has had solid production while staying competitive in the toughest/deepest conference and region in the nation. Right now, it may be too early to tell if the Phipps contract is a good deal or not. I'm still waiting to see what else he'll be able to produce.

"Which is a bigger deal for BYU? Casey Clinger leaving or Connor Mantz returning?" - ShouldaWoodchuckChuckWood?

This is an awesome question that I didn't really think about until it was brought to my attention. Then again, I think everyone forgets how good Mantz was in high school. With high school personal bests of 4:07, 8:53 (at altitude), and 14:51, you can't help but think of the crazy potential this kid has. A little over two weeks ago, he returned to the BYU squad and made his collegiate debut with a time of 8:19 (unattached) at the BYU December Invite. If you give the proper altitude conversion, that time is right around 8:09. He may just be getting back into shape after returning from his mission trip, but the first performance of this season has already been super impressive.

Still, the weight of Clinger leaving is something that we can't ignore. He was an absolute stud this past cross country season with incredible finishes that most top athletes are never able to achieve, much less as a freshman. Losing a two-time NXN champion is never going to bode well for you. Trying to replace your top finisher at NCAA's in cross country is a feat that very few coaches and programs ever accomplish.

HOWEVER...

If you can't retain a two-time NXN champion, then replacing him with a three-time Footlocker All-American is probably the next best thing. Yes, I'll confess, we don't know how good Mantz is going to be until we actually have cross country performances to compare. Based on what we've seen so far, I don't think it's far-fetched to say that Mantz could compensate for the loss of Clinger.

Simply put, the net benefit/loss for bringing back Mantz and losing Clinger is about 0 in my mind. Clinger's absence will hurt, but by the time cross country rolls around and Mantz is fully integrated back into the BYU system, the Cougars will most likely have one less scoring replacement to worry about.

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