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Week 4 Class C Speed Ratings and Reality Check Review

Posted Wednesday, October 08, 2008 by Perry King
Some things just don't seem to change no matter how hard we wish them to. Two years ago the Eagles beat a Westlake team by 40 points in a dual meet at a time when the Wildcats were ranked #10 in NYS Class C. We all went "Wow!" and then "Huh???" until we learned that the ranking was a mistake that was hastily corrected the next week. 

This year the Eagles have had more "Wow-huh" moments as their consistently elite team has ping-ponged from being unranked in NYS-C in Week 2, to  #4 in Week 3, and back to #10 in Week 4. With such a silly, unstable system, you really can't take away anything of much worth to evaluate where the Eagles stand as they make their postseason title push. Believing that the kids deserve something with more substance for all the time and effort they put out on the trails, I'm adding an in-depth and hopefully more consistent and objective review of the Class C terrain in Section 1 and among the top state teams. If nothing else, it should keep the Eagle guys and girls focused on this year's goals.

With all the work and brain strain that has been put into making the NYS and regional polls as solid as possible, why are there still so many problems? Part of the answer is that the guys rating the different classes or sections all have different opinions (which is fine), but they also use different criteria and stats for their ratings and apply them inconsistently for different teams. One state power hasn't run yet when the first poll is released but gets ranked while another one has to wait until they have run in Week 3. One pollster uses the Tully Speed Ratings heavily, another seemingly very little, and another uses them pretty much but is quick to fall back on other theoretical criteria for rating when his results differ from the SRs. A Class A pollster will see a team run only three runners in a race and give the team a pass while a Class C evaluator will dock such a team to the bottom of the heap. Some pollsters look upon the teams' seasonlong body of work, while another will look upon his rankings as a weekly reshuffle of the cards based on the previous weekend's results (which is also problematic when some teams run and others don't). A girls' Class AA pollster will make small but cogent changes at the top of his list while another in Class C will keep the #1 team locked in place come hell and high mucky water.  

Since arguing about the polls may be a fun but ultimately futile and unproductive way to spend time, we'll move on to the Class C ponderings with consistent guidelines and a set of realistic rating values we'll call a Team Strength Score (TSS) that try to avoid the state rankings pitfalls. First though, a quick review one last time of the official rankings and then an expanded look at the developments in the Speed Ratings.

Team Rankings

Sadly, a final time with the published rankings and we can dispense with them for the rest of the year during the drive for November. The shorthanded boys dove down to #10 in the NYS Class C rankings to occupy a spot well below teams that average 7-10 SR points (21-30 seconds) less than them. No more comments on this except that the boys should use it as a little extra incentive to get focused for the postseason races.

The Section 1 rankings are even less worthy of comment except to say that the girls were unranked behind even a Dover team that finished last in a meet with a team average SR of 34, more than 20 points (1 minute) behind the Eagles. Meanwhile a boys' Broncos team is placed above Dobbs with the comment that their top 3 have a great SR, without mentioning that their 4-5 runners would not even be able to make the Broncos' girls' team. 

Hysterical stuff, but it does present some uncomfortable questions about objectivity when a coach\pollster plugs his own kids beyond all bounds of rationality and respect. Enough said as the rankings have returned to the cluelessness we saw during Week 2 and the kids deserve better than that.

Speed Ratings

For the four guys who ran at Sunken Meadows in the St. Anthony's Invite, the SRs were Brendan Wortner 158, Pat Newman 145, Ryan Malpass 122, and Boris Opacic 109. 

Elsewhere in 1-C, with most of the teams running in the St. Anthony's Invite, Irvington's Julian Saliani got a 164, Ian Mathews a 160, and Matt Menard a 149. Broncos Dayton Flannery got a 161, Jack Hutton collected a 157, and Christian Yoo a 145. Pawling runner Tim Yu got a 151 and Matt Jorgenson a 142.  Croton Harmon's Marco Sammon had a 157 while winning the Varsity 3 race at Brewster Bear, and Dover's Cody Orton and Corey Woodin had big jumps to 147 and 141.

For the girls, Sarah King got an 81, Izzy Natale a 58, Rebecca Wiersma a 48, and Chloe Wang got a 47. These were all well down from the previous weeks as Sunken Meadows obviously took its toll on a team that had a TSS over 60 at the difficult Bowdoin meet.

On  the 1-C girls side, Bronxville switched things around somewhat with Caitlin Hudson at 116, Amelia Phillips and Meredith Rizzo at 106, Tori Flannery at 101 and Henrietta Miers down at 95. Pleasantville's Libby Lazare got the biggest jump to a 115 as she moved toward the top of 1-C. Pawling had a big day with Caitlin Jelinek, Zoe Nagasing, and Anna Jelinek collecting 98, 94, and 88 respectively. Hastings' Emma Sander took an 80 and Nora Howe a 79. Irvington's Annie Field scored a 108 and Megan Talay a 78.

So the 1-C Top 14  or 12 Speed Ratings Leaderboard standings following Week 4 are:

Pat Wortner - DF - 170
Julian Saliani - Irv - 166
Ian Matthews - Irv - 163
Brendan Wortner - DF - 160
Dayton Flannery - Bx - 160
Marco Sammon - CH - 157
Jack Hutton - Bx - 155
Tim Yu - Pawl - 152
Matt Menard - Irv - 147
Cody Orton - Dov - 147
Viktor Mashalov - DF - 144
Evan Fallor - DF - 144
Pat Newman - DF - 144
Christian Yoo - Bx - 144
--Overview: Pat Wortner continues to maintain his hold on the top while the Bulldogs' Matt Menard and Dover's Cody Orton have emerged as ascending 1-C runners. 

TSSs for the top 6 teams are:

Dobbs Ferry - 152.4
Irvington - 148.4
Pawling - 141.8
Bronxville - 128.2
Dover - 112.2
Croton Harmon - 104.0
--Overview: Irvington has closed the gap on Dobbs but needs more from the 4-5 spots. Pawling continues to develop with depth, while Dover's decently solid team is closing the gap on a Bronxville team with no depth.

State Class C teams
Newark Valley -158.2
Canastota - 156.6
Tully - 152.0
Jordan Elbridge - 151.8
Clinton 150.2
Holland Patent -150.0
--Overview: Canastota has narrowed the gap on Newark Valley and appears the most likely winner of the Section 3 championship.

Caitlin Hudson - Bx - 114
Libby Lazare - Pl - 112
Annie Field - Irv - 110
Caitlin Jelinek - Pawl - 104
Amelia Phillips - Bx - 104
Meredith Rizzo -  Bx - 104
Henrietta Miers - Bx - 103
Tori Flannery - Bx - 102
Anna Jelinek - Pawl - 93
Zoe Nagasing - Pawl - 88
Charlotte Cooley - Bx - 88
Sarah King - DF - 87
--Overview: Libby Lazare has begun a strong campaign for the 1-C championship, and the Broncos are mixing it up behind front runner Caitlin Hudson.

TSSs for the top 6 teams are:

Bronxville - 105.6
Pawling - 85.0
Irvington - 71.8
Pleasantville - 62.8
Hastings - 61.2
Dobbs Ferry - 56.4
--Overview: Broncos are dominating and Pawling has widened its margin with Irvington. Pleasantville will have trouble beating out the Yellowjackets and Eagles unless they can get more from the 4-5 runners.

State Class C teams
Rhinebeck - 107.2
Tully - 102.6
Newark Valley - 102.6
--Overview: With their 4-5 runners developing fast behind their great 1-2-3, the young Rhinebeck team are at this point the team to beat.

Class C Review

The review features the teams in contention for the Section 1 Class C title and the State title on both the boys and girls sides. The main evaluation factors will be team and individual Speed Ratings, seasonlong development, team average time in a meet as they become available in the postseason races, and performance against quality teams. The time spread between a team's 1 and 5 runners will be given only a minimal weight since this lazy-pollster's stat is meaningless except in extreme circumstances like the Bronxville's boy's team and Pleasantville's girl's team that have an elite front runner and no depth, but the top teams are not affected by this problem.

For the boys, Dobbs is the front contender followed by Irvington, and the fast developing Pawling team. The rest of the 1-C teams are too far back, though Bronxville could have been a contender if Caitlin Hudson and Amelia Phillips could run for the boys. The 1-C winner will likely be facing two strong teams from a sextet including Newark Valley, Canastota, Tully, Jordan Elbridge, Clinton and Holland Patent, the last five of which are all from Section 3.

On the girls' side, Bronxville is the overwhelming favorite with a deep Pawling team moving into the second spot and Irvington in third. The Broncos' chief competition in the States will probably come from Rhinebeck, with Tully and Newark Valley also posing tough challenges. 

--Boys 1-C Team Review

Dobbs Ferry--
The Eagles have performed beyond expectations this year, but now is the time when they will have to use their depth to increase the gap between themselves and the 2007 champion Irvington. Pat Wortner is prepared to drive his SR up around 175 after resting last week. Brendan Wortner is now the top rated freshman in Class C and is in hot pursuit of brother Pat. The senior trio of Evan Fallor, Pat Newman, and Viktor Mashalov continue to push their SRs through the 140s as they seek to close the gap with Brendan Wortner. The development of George Epstein as a strong #6 runner gives the Eagles more depth as they head toward the next challenge at the Coaches meet.

The Bulldogs' top duo of Julian Saliani and Ian Mathews have been putting up ever greater times and are hoping to pull their champion team to a repeat title in 2008. With the emergence of Matt Menard among 1-C's top 10 runners, Irvington now has more help for the top duo. The Bulldogs' main task is to pull their 4-5 runners Sam Lindberg and Sean Lippin up far enough so that they can be evenly matched with Dobbs' 3-5 group.

Junior Tim Yu continues to run impressively among the top-10 1-C runners for a fast developing Tiger team. 8th grader Matt Jorgenson has already reached the higher levels of 1-C with a 142 SR. Juniors Pat Callan, Ben Nagasing, Dave Mayette, and Chris Carey are all in the 135-140 SR range for a team that may be still a year away from being the front runner in 1-C, but with great depth this year they are looking to be a strong contender at the Sectionals.

The Rest--
Among the runners from the other teams who could have a strong influence on the Sectional result are Dayton Flannery and Tim Hutton of Bronxville, Marco Sammon of Croton Harmon, and Cody Orton of Dover who are all above that 145 level that could make a difference in how the chips fall for the top three teams. At the team level, Dover could be the surprise team of the Sectionals as its quick development has pushed it up closer to the top teams.

--Boy's State Team Review

The 1-C winner will be facing a tough challenge from teams from Section 3 and 4 at the State championship. Fortunately, only one of the highly competitive Section 3 teams gets into the States, so the 1-C winner should be among the top 3 teams at Sunken Meadows and running on a course that is at least somewhat familiar.

Newark Valley--
No Class C team has this school's combination of top runners and depth. The reigning champ Cardinals have front runner Joey Blazey up top with a 171 SR, and he is followed by 6 more runners with a rating 145 or above. Chris Birch (162), Chris Friend (158), Jesse Payne (150), CJ Morgan (150), Devon Crispelli (147) and Ryan Meagher (145) round out this Section 4 team that will be the favorite for the State title.

The Red Raiders have the best top duo in Class C with Robbie Argentine and Aaron Walker occupying the #2 and #4 State SR positions with 178 and 175 scores. The team just doesn't have the depth of Newark Valley, with no other runner currently breaking into the 150s, with Alex Spara at 147, Jason Rice at 142, and Derek Arner at 141. They are still within 3 TSSs of Newark Valley though, so they have the best chance of unseating the Cardinals.

Tully was the Section 3 champ in 2007 but now needs to beat out Canastota to get to the States. The Black Knights are currently running a ways behind the Red Raiders. Top runner Ohure Sam has a 169 SR and is followed by Nate Weber at 164, Micah Long at 147, Tom Haskins at 143, and Zack Stewart at 137. The 3-4-5 runners have made large jumps during the season already.

Jordan Elbridge--
Another Eagles team that is trying to get to the States, JE has a top runner in Cody Stanton with a 170 SR, a solid second runner in Mike Marrero at 163, and a strong third runner with Greg Bader at 150. To overcome the teams ahead of them, they need to pull the 4-5 runners Tom Poppe and Stew Slonosky into the 140s. Might be a tough job.

The Warriors have been making steady gains behind a fairly closely packed group of runners that include Sean Dezalia at 159, Hunter Padgett at 156, JP Koening at 151, Tyler Heck at 143, and Adam Bankert at 142. RJ Szuba at 138 provides some depth for the top 5. Clinton has a hard task ahead of it but could be in the running in Section 3.

Holland Patent--
The Golden Knights are hard to gauge since their SRs took a decided drop between Weeks 2 and 3 and they were inactive in Week 4. They are the tightest packed of all the contenders with Dylan Racka at 158, Robert Baird at 156, Cody Racha at 150, Tyler Evans at 143, and Ben Moe at 143. They are a bit of a longshot for the Section 3 title, but they have good team depth.

The Rest--
Five runners in the Class C top 10 whose teams are not primary contenders for the State title include Max Straneva of Chenango Valley with an SR of 182, Steve Petramale of Lake George at 176, Colin Seidl of Sullivan West at 174, Frank Johnson of Letchworth at 171, and Gabe Sturges of Catskill at 169.

--Girls 1-C Team Review

The Broncos were expected to have a big top trio this year with a group of supremely talented 8th graders hot on their heels. Whether by design or not, the Broncos' year has instead featured a wildly fluctuating development of the runners. Caitlin Hudson has been pretty solid at the top of the pack but is the only Bronco with an SR over 105 at 115. 8th graders Meredith Rizzo and Amelia Phillips stand behind Hudson at 104, followed by Henrietta Miers at 103, and the longtime champion Tori Flannery down in the 5th spot at 102. Charlotte Cooley and Olivia Bruton provide good depth to the top 5. No other state team has the Broncos' depth or close pack of runners, but there is a question about whether they will have enough at the top to win the State title.

The Tigers have been moving up steadily this season as they entered it seemingly a little behind Irvington. With Caitlin Jelinek heading up into the top 6 in 1-C with a 104 SR, Pawling seems a lock for the #2 spot with Anna Jelinek rising quickly to a 93 and Zoe Nagasing to an 88. Winona Mold and Jamie Hom round out a team that appears to be about 13 TSSs ahead of Irvington.

The Bulldogs have been battling through the tragic situation with ex-captain Mairin Din and have not been able to build the depth they need to repeat as the 1-C runner-up. Annie Field stands solidly among the top 3 runners in 1-C with a 110, Megan Talay scores a 76, and Christina Paparo has a 68. After that the scoring gets more difficult as Sasha Zwiebel has around a 55 and Liz Hevern looks to be around a 50.

The Rest--
Top runner on a noncontender is obviously Pleasantville's Libby Lazare who should battle Caitlin Hudson for the individual title. Other runners outside the fold include Sarah King sporting an SR of 87, Croton Harmon's Sarah Costa who scores an 84, and the up and coming Hastings' duo of Nora Howe and Emma Sander who score an 83 and 82.

--Girls State Team Review

Bronxville was expected to be the top team in Class C in 2008 after two-time champion Greenwich moved down to Class D. Though the Broncos as always dominate Section 1, the competition at the State level appears to be much tougher than was projected with a high flying Rhinebeck team appearing now to be the favorite in the stats if not in the State rankings.

The Hawks place their top three runners among the top 6 in Class C, which makes it a daunting task for anyone trying to catch them. Annabel Clarke at 126, Elizabeth Marvin at 120, and freshman Anna Clark at 117 form a dynamic trio. The team's 4-5 runners Martha Alvarez and 8th grader Catherine Clarke have been moving up the chain and if they can advance into the 90's level, the Hawks will be tough to beat in the States.

Newark Valley--
Led by top Class C runner Erin Cawley and her 141 SR, the Cardinals have a solid team that is just missing a strong #5 runner. 8th grader Jenna Cupp at 107, Katie Weeks at 98, and Jessica Johnson at 96 form a good 2-4 corps, but the team needs more oomph from the 5 spot with Meghan Coleman at 71.

The Black Knights have a tight pack that spans Kelseigh Groth at 112, Ashley Evans at 105, Marietta Burt at 104, Kelly Coyne at 97, and Erica Cole at 95. A couple of the runners have made big gains lately so Tully could become a significant force in the final weeks.

The Rest--
Among the other runners on noncontenders who will be at the top in the Sectionals are Samantha Watson of Schuylerville at 119, Katie Brislin of Christian Brothers Academy at 114, Courtney Tedeschi of Berne-Knox-Westmoreland at 113, and Katie Weisenberg of Pulaski at 113.

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