Thursday, August 28, 2014

As promised, here is the preview for the top six women's university Cross Country teams in Indiana based on their finishing position in last year's NCAA Great Lakes Cross Country Regional Championship (GLXC): Butler (2nd), Notre Dame (4th), Indiana (6th), Purdue (13th), IUPUI (18th), and Indiana State University (20th). Because I am a (running) Professor Emeritus from IUPUI, I will start with the Jaguars and then take the Dawgs, Irish, Hoosiers, Boilermakers, and Sycamores in order.

IUPUI. Like most of these teams, two of the Jags runners from last year's GLXC used up their last year of eligibility. Nevertheless, with a strong core of young runners and some new additions, IUPUI hopes to remain well within the top 20 and may threaten the top 15.
2014 Women's Cross Country
IUPUI Women's XC Team 2014

Rachel Zajac and Allie De Baker provided the 1st and 5th place finishers last year. But even though Zajac finished 35 places ahead of the 2nd runner in, Jordan Hanaway, there were only 36 seconds between them. Hanaway seems poised to continue to move up and by season's end, she could well run faster than Zajac did last year.
Jordan Hanaway
Jordan Hanaway

 If she is joined by junior Leah Brooks, who has been one of their steadiest runners, and  sophomore Savannah Turner, who is hoping to build off of a dynamite track season, the Jags could be dangerous.
Leah Brooks
Leah Brooks
Other runners who may move up include senior Amy Mattingly, juniors Lexi Hunt and Julie Riggins,
Savannah Turner
Savannah Turner

and sophomore Valeria Guzman. Coach McDaniel also pulled in a lot of talented runners this past year and some of those recruits may push up into the top bunch by the end of the year. Zoey Johnson and Marina Konow, at least on paper, appear to be the two most likely to make that kind of transition.

Butler. The Dawgs appear to be loaded again this year. Although they lost the runners who finished first and fifth for them last year, Katie Clark (4th overall) and Kirsty Legg (23rd), they have the runners to fill in pretty much without a break. The trio of senior, Mara Olson, junior, Olivia Platt, and
Mara Olson
Mara Olson

 sophomore, Lauren Wood, should form a formidable trio at the top. They finished 9th, 15th, and 16th
Olivia Pratt
Olivia Platt
Lauren Wood
Lauren Wood.
last year at the GLXC and were all within 25 seconds of Clark. Senior Katie Good is another top 30 runner from last year's GLXC who would seemed poised to make another big contribution. As with the Men's team, Coach Matt Roe is transitioning away from dependence on British runners. Last year, their first and 5th finishers at the GLXC were British; this year it looks like the top 3 will all be Americans although there are a couple of Brits who are seniors who may be an important part of their overall mix.

Notre Dame lost their two top finishers from last year's GLXC in Kelly Curran (3rd) and Alexa Aragon (20th) so a slide might be the most likely outcome in 2014, although probably not far. The next four were all sophs and juniors who finished within a minute of Aragon. Junior, Molly Seidel
Molly Seidel
Molly Seidel

(33rd),and seniors, Gabby Gonzales (37th) and Hannah Eckstein (41st) will be aiming at top 30
Gabby Gonzales
Gabby Gonzales

finishes and if one or more can break up into the top 20, any Irish slide will be short indeed.
Hannah Eckstein
Hannah Eckstein

Senior, Emily Frydrych, will also likely figure in the top five.

Indiana University loses almost as much at the top with their 1st runner last year, Samantha Ginther (10th) and their third runner, Erica Ridderman (35th). To maintain their position comfortably in the top ten, their terrific trio of sophomores, Amanda Behnke (31st),
Amanda Behnke
Amanda Behnke

Bethany Neeley
Bethany Neely
Bethany Neely (67th),
Chanli Mundy
Chanli Mundy
and Chanli Mundy (75th),
will need to show solid improvement this year. If Behnke can crack the top 20 and Neely and Mundy advance into the top 50, the Hoosiers should be in good shape.If junior Brianna Johnson, and senior, Kelsey Duerksen can also make steady strides toward the top, the Hoosiers might not need much of a contribution from strong new recruits, like Jill Whitman.

Purdue like others here, relied on seniors last year in their top five--their first runner in was Blair Doney (53rd), and fifth, Linsey Daluga. But the Boilermakers were not as dependent as some others on their leading senior. They had five runners who are coming back who finished within 45 seconds of Doney. If they can keep that tight pack together and move up as a group, Purdue should definitely move up in the region. Key contenders in that pack include juniors Laura Maibuecher (68th)

Laura Maibuecher
Laura Maibuecher
Michelle Potter
Michelle Potter
 and Michelle Potter (69th)
as well as senior Kristen Fritts (86th).
Kristin Fritts
Kristen Fritts

Their promising freshman from last year, Brynn Olingar (84th), does not show up on this year's roster so they will be counting on junior Sharise Lund (95th) to step up.

Indiana State. The Sycamores relied on seniors last year; their 2nd through 4th finishers in the GLXC were all seniors, Jessica Zangmeister (93rd), Leeann Michi (111th), and Kalli Dalton (146th). So their position in the top 20 is definitely at risk.They should be led by senior Nicole Lucas (83rd),
Nicole Lucas
Nicole Lucas
their top finisher at GLXC last year .And she should get solid support from sophomore Sydney Dickerson (158th).

Sydney Dickerson
Sydney Dickerson
Red-shirt frosh, Taylor Austin, may also be among the leaders.
Taylor Austin
Taylor Austin
But after that it is hard to see who can step up to form the remainder of a contending pack of Sycamores.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Preview of Top Men's University Cross Country Teams for 2014 Season in Indiana

I promised a preview of Indiana college cross country and here it is. But I am only including Division 1 and only teams that finished among the top 20 in the 2013 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Cross Country Championship {GLXC). At first thought, one might think that restricts us to only 2 or 3 Indiana universities, but not so. On the men's side there are six: Notre Dame (3rd), Indiana (4th), Butler (6th), Purdue (8th), IUPUI (11th), and Indiana State (16th). The women's side includes the same six, but in a slightly different order: Butler (2nd), Notre Dame (4th), Indiana (6th), Purdue (13th), IUPUI (18th), and Indiana State (20th). I will post the mens preview today and the womens preview later this week. Please feel free to comment below if there are mistakes or important missing information or if you like the article.

Let's start with the men. Because I am a Professor Emeritus at IUPUI, I follow the IUPUI Jaguars more closely than the other teams. So we'll start with the Jags and then take them in order from Notre Dame through Indiana State.

IUPUI finished 11th last year but is hungry for more and have some reason for optimism. Of their seven finishers in the GLXC there were no seniors and only one junior (who was their 5th man in). Furthermore they picked up a top runner in the off season. Tom Ohlman, pictured below, who ran for Xavier but missed his senior XC season due to injury, is starting graduate work at IUPUI and will be running for the Jags. If he can carve out the necessary training time from his graduate 

Tom Ohlman
program, stay healthy and resume the trajectory he was on, he is a threat for a top ten individual finish. He finished 20th at the 2012 GLXC. Here's a pic of the usual top 4 for IUPUI last year at their conference championships: from the left, Miguel Lozano, Ryan Cutter, Joey Zielinski, and Sam .

Roudebush. Damon Pruett, pictured below, broke into the Jags top 3 as a freshman at the GLXC. Peyton Reed was another freshman in the top 7 at the end of the year and

may be expected to improve. And there are several runners who were outstanding in high school, upper classmen who have yet to deliver on their promise as top HS XC runners and freshmen who will get their first chance this year. A top 10 finish at the GLXC is certainly possible and I am sure they have set their sights higher. Here's their team pic currently posted on the Jags XC website:Men's Cross Country

Now for the other top Indiana men's XC teams. Please keep in mind that I have no inside information on many of these teams; my comments are based on internet research only. If it's not posted on the internet,  I don't know about it.

Notre Dame finished third last year. Unlike most of the other teams considered here, Notre Dame relied on three seniors at the top of their order. They will need to replace Jeremy Rae, Martin Grady, and J.P. Malette who finished 5th, 6th, and 14th. This is a tall order and Notre Dame may be hard pressed to maintain a top 5 finish at the GLXC. But never count the Irish out. Presumably junior Michael Clevenger, 22nd last year, and senior Jake Kildoo, 27th, will lead the charge for the Irish.But they
Michael Clevenger
Michael Clevenger

 will need help from the likes of junior Timothy Ball who finished 66th.
Jake Kildoo
Jake Kildoo

Notre Dame, of course, has loads of runners in reserve who might have, but did not, run in the GLXC. Some who might contribute include junior Kevin Durham, who was a Foot Locker XC participant in HS, senior Jason Hoard who was a top distance runner at Brebeuf Jesuit prep school in Indianapolis, and sophomore Scott Milling.

Indiana finished 4th but had no seniors in their top 4 and only one in their top 6 so they have more proven strength returning. Of course, like Notre Dame, the Hoosiers are loaded with talent and it is

Evan Esselink
Evan Esselink
probably just a question of who else will step up this season. Their top returning runners are: Evan Esselink (11th), Jason Crist (13th), Carl Smith (15th),
Jason Crist
Jason Crist
Matthew Schwartzer (17th), and JR Ricker (19th). Aussie, Rorey Hunter, is also expected to be an impact runner for the Hoosiers this year.
Butler should be tough with their top 3 GLXC finishers from last year coming back.Tom Curr (16th), Erik Peterson (18th), and Harry Ellis (35th) should be leading the Dawgs this year. They will be hoping to move up in the GLXC, possibly on Notre Dame, but it is very tough to move up much with such tough teams ahead. Another big deal for Butler this year is that they are hosting the Big East conference championships at Northview Church in Carmel, IN. on October 31st. Here's a team shot:
 (Photo by John Fetcho)
Butler is now restocking their roster with a set of strong regional and national additions. Two of the three leaders noted above are from England; that has been the standard at Butler for the last decade or more. But this year their top recruits are from the U.S. One of them is probably being counted more for the track than XC but with a 4:10 1600m on the track and a 14:40 3 mile XC time in HS, Johnny Leverenz,will be a runner to watch. It will be interesting to see if Butler continues this transition towards national rather than international recruiting over the next few years.

Purdue has moved up since 15th place finishes in 2008 and 2009 to be a solid top ten team at the GLXC. But even with Matthew McClintock who finished 2nd overall, Purdue could only manage an
Matthew McClintock
Matthew McClintock

 8th place finish in 2013.  If McClintock can repeat at the top and their likely next two runners, Caleb Kerr (48th)
Caleb Kerr
Caleb Kerr

Jake Waterman
Jake Waterman

and Jake Waterman (53rd), step up big this season, Purdue can move up; otherwise they may be pressed to stay in the top ten.

Indiana State has all 7 of their finishers from last year's GLXC coming back so they will expect to move up. Like Purdue, they need their depth runners to close some of the gap to their top runner. Last year the Sycamores' John Mascari battled Purdue's McClintock to the wire, winning the
John Mascari

 championship by two seconds.  But it was nearly two minutes before the next Sycamore crossed the line and another minute before their third place finisher. If this is a real step-up year for Taylor Head,
Taylor Head
Taylor Head

 Andrew Krump and/or David Timlin, Indiana State could well do some damage to the list of teams
Andrew Kump
Andrew Krump

 in front of them.
David Timlin
David Timlin
Otherwise a finish in the middle of the second ten again seems likely.

USTFCCA pre-season regional rankings:
IU (1), Butler (4), Notre Dame (7), Purdue (8), IUPUI (11), ISU (13).

It should be a great season to follow the top university teams in Indiana. I'll be posting updates as the season unfolds.

Some key dates include:

August 30: Butler Opener at Northview Church in Carmel, IN. [Butler, IUPUI].

September 19: Indiana Intercollegiate Meet. Bloomington, IN. [all but ND]

October 3: Notre Dame Invitational [Butler, IUPUI, ND, Purdue]

October 18: ISU NCAA Pre-National Meet.  Terre Haute, IN. [all but ND]

October 31:
ACC Championship [Notre Dame]
Big East Championship. Northview Church. Carmel, IN. [Butler]

November 1
Missouri Valley Championship. Carbondale, IL. [Indiana State]
Summit League Championship. Fargo, ND. [IUPUI]

November 2
Big Ten Championship. Iowa City, IA. [Indiana, Purdue]

November 7 Hoosier Invitational. Bloomington, IN. [Butler, ISU, IU]

November 14 NCAA Great Lakes Regional Championship. Madison, WI. [all]

November 22 NCAA National Championship. Terre Haute, IN. [qualifiers from Regional]

Friday, August 22, 2014

Solution to Distance Running Puzzle 1            






        L A P  



    W   B R O O K S  

  M I L E     R      
                L   N I N E T Y  
        P       L         G      
    F L A G         L     O      
        C       S H A L A N E
  L A W I     G     N        
        N     R O A D  

        G A B E     R  

          L   G     Y  

      C O E            




2. In 10K on the track, Galen Rupp will ___ runners.

 5. Sponsor of Beasts.

7. Bring back the ____.

8. Minimum age-graded score for a world class masters performance. NINETY
10. Altitude training in ____staff.

12. She broke the American record at Boston this year.

13. NCAA Champ Lalang.

15. AJC Peachtree ____ Race.



1. Organizer of Boston marathon

 3. Mary Cain turned ___ this year.

 4. First name of bearded miler.

5. Mr. True who won the Gate River Run this year.

6. Nike ______ Project.

9. Marathon runners must practice good ______to run well

11. Male winner of 2014 Cherry Blossom 10 Mile Run.

14. First name of last American to win Boston before Meb

17. Possible quaff after Harpoon 5 miler


Thursday, August 21, 2014

On Being Injured

It seems to come with the territory. Every elite athlete, whether young or old, occasionally hangs out with ol' man injury. My roommate in college during the 1960s had been one of the fastest quarter-milers in Massachusetts when in high school. He remarked how surprised he had been to encounter injury during his junior year in high school. "Here I was, in the best shape of my life, able to run faster than almost anyone else in the state, but I could barely walk down the hall or climb up the stairs." That's the trick, of course, for the competitive athlete. One is always on the edge; if one is not pushing the boundaries, someone else is. There is always some competition coming up, some test of one's ability. Who has not marveled at the speed and grace of Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world? But he has missed competitions due to injury. Sometimes the injury is dramatic and public as

when an athlete pulls up lame or falls to the track clutching his or her hamstring. But often the injury occurs during training and the public simply learns of it when told that the expected athlete has scratched and gets the DNS (Did Not Start) designation.

I am musing on this because I am currently injured. While not the fastest runner in the world at my distance I am one of the fastest long distance runners for my age. Among other things, I am the 2014 Half Marathon champion of the USA [for my age group]. Yet last week I could barely jog and certainly could not run much faster than a weekend jogger. Climbing stairs was a little painful,

walking was awkward and if I had needed to break into a run when crossing the street it would have been worrying. Yet the week before I had run a 5.0 mile road race in 32:24 seconds and finished well ahead of most folks half my age and younger.

The aggravating thing is that I am not quite sure of the cause. I have ideas of course but there is no smoking gun. The injury came up to me gradually and will, I suppose, go away gradually--at least that is the pattern so far. About a week before the Beach to Beacon race I noticed a slight tightness in the upper back of my right leg- where the hamstring meets the gluteus maximus; I remember mentioning it to my son. But all of my workouts that week had gone very well and I have no recollection of any difficulty or impairment while running. Of course running is what I do best; I have noticed occasionally in the past when I have some minor injury or ache that makes walking or jogging awkward, once I increase my pace for a normal workout I can feel relaxed and graceful again. Still one would think there would be a proximate cause.

What happened during that week was that my workouts were pretty normal. They varied from short, easy runs of about 4 miles up to a longer run of about 8 and a half miles. Two days were fairly hard workouts, one of about 6 miles over rolling hills where I was definitely pushing up the hills and one day of speed work where I ran approximate 440's along a dirt road.

Was the dirt road the initial culprit? Maybe? But I had also pushed my training over several weeks and maybe did not schedule enough easy or rest days. But the result was a dull pain in the background, a sense of tightness in the upper back of my right leg. I hoped it wouldn't affect me much in the race and that seems to be about right. If it affected me at all, the effect was minor. I did not run my fastest race but it was within 40 seconds of my fastest 10K of the past year, 40:39.

That day and the next day we drove back home to Indiana from Maine. The second day was a long one in the car, about 12 hours all told. And that was not good for the muscle strain; it stiffened up. So I ran an easy 4 miles the next day but with some pain and considerable tightness. The next day I had planned on some speed work on the track as I was now pointing toward the USA Masters 1 mile road

 championship in a couple of weeks. But I was not able to do it; I could not even get up to half marathon race pace. Certainly not the mile pace I was looking for.  Did running on the track with its relatively tight turns add to the problem? Plausibly, it contributed, but I do try to alternate from counterclockwise (standard on the track) to clockwise--which should help--but maybe not

 enough.The next day I had a longer run planned and took some ibuprofen to help with the inflammation. I ran better but did not test it with speed. The following day I ran about 5 miles and was able to include a 93 second quarter mile and then the last 0.75 mile at 7:30 pace. So I was feeling like perhaps the worst was behind me. The next day I stayed fresh by jogging a bit and throwing in 5 surges of 25-50 yards at a brisk pace. The following day, Saturday, I was entered in a 5.0 mile race. I went and warmed up and still felt a little tight but after a good warm-up, felt reasonably okay at the starting line. Once again you could not detect the injury from the race. Once it started I went out well and kept up a good pace all the way, averaging under 6:30 per mile.

Except for background dull pain in the upper right hamstring/glute area, the next two days of

workouts seemed pretty normal.Sunday I ran about 7 miles in about 59 minutes, maybe a little slower than some other times but not problematically. The following day was speed work on the track, with 220's at about 40 seconds and 440's from 89 down to 81.5--a very good workout! But maybe that was too much, aggravating the injury. In any case that was the last 'normal' workout I've had. The next day called for an easy 4 and a half miles or so; ordinarily that would take low to mid 30 minutes time; this day it took 41 minutes and a bit of pain. The following day I had planned a longer (6 + miles) fairly easy day. Again a lot of background pain and it took about 46 minutes to run about 5 miles-so much slower than normal. Then took a couple of days off then tried again--no power and not much of a workout. Took 4 more days off and tried again--not that much better. Finally consulted my current running guru, Thom Burleson, co-owner of Athletic Annex, a coach of some female post-collegiate elite runners, and a top Masters runner in his own right a few years my junior.
 He suggested some core exercises, additional stretching, staying off the track for a while and adding a heel lift to my running shoe. At least outside his shop, running felt better--not entirely normal
but better than it had been without the lifts. I also got a new pair of trainers as my existing pair had done its 500 miles--that seems to be close to my maximum. When I get near or beyond 500 miles I seem to notice a difference.

So what was the cause? Not sure but probably it was a mixture of things--probably over-training, pushing too hard, combined with running on a 'crowned' dirt road, then too much track work, and a pair of trainers that were gradually losing their middle cushioning.Hoping that a few days to a couple of weeks with the new running shoes and lifts and exercise, I will be back on top of my game--I will let you know.