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A Look at NTN & Footlockers - Runners Who Ran Both Races
Bill Meylan ... (December 15, 2004)
|Purpose of this article ... 2004
was a banner year for high school cross country in the US ... The
first-ever NTN (Nike Team National) Invitational was held in Portland,
Oregon bringing together forty-one of the nation's best boys and girls
teams for head-to-head competition ... One week later, the annual
Footlocker National Finals were held in San Diego, CA ... A fair number
of runners competed in both NTN and Footlockers ... This article briefly
examines the performances of runners who ran in both races and the
possible impact of NTN on Footlocker runners and the Footlocker race.
With respect to this article, it should be noted that I am strictly a "journalist-spectator" having no "conflict-of-interest" (meaning I have absolutely no contact or part of NTN or Footlocker as an employee, volunteer, ranker, associate, or gift-receiver (money, travel-expenses, shoes, bags, clothes, or anything else).
The Basic Numbers ... Race results for the NTN - Footlocker runners are listed in a table below ... Twenty runners (12 girls, 8 boys) competed at both NTN and Footlockers ... Therefore, with a total of 80 runners entered, 25% of the Footlocker runners raced the week before at NTN (that's a fairly significant percentage).
How well did they run at Footlocker?? ... Only one of the twenty NTN runners finished in the top five at Footlockers (Ramsey Kavan finished 3rd) ... Brie Felnagle (6th) and Robbie Barany (8th) were the only other NTN runners who finished in the top ten ... Five of the eight boys (all of them finishing in the top 13% at NTN) finished in the bottom 20% at Footlockers ... On the girls side, all 12 NTN runners finished in the top 10% at NTN ... but at Footlockers, 8 girls finished in the bottom 50% ... Yes, statistics can make it seem worse than it might be in reality (because the overall quality of individual runners at Footlockers is much better than NTN), but overall, the Footlocker performance looks pretty dismal.
Girls ... I think both Ramsey Kavan and
Brie Felnagle ran very good and relatively consistent races at both NTN
and Footlocker ... By comparing the time differences between Kavan or
Felnagle and the other girls at both NTN and Footlockers, it becomes
apparent most of the other girls ran slower races (on a relative basis)
at Footlockers (some of them much slower); Allison Eckert is the one
Quick Comparison to Footlocker-Only Runners ... Let's be honest - the NTN runners do not have exclusivity on "off" performances at Footlockers - some of the Footlocker-only runners share the spotlight very nicely, and that's always been the case at Footlockers ... For most runners, the biggest challenge is qualifying for Footlockers at one of the four regional qualifying races which typically requires an "all-out" or peak performance (and the subsequent race at Footlocker Finals is "less than peak") ... But there is one big difference between NTN and Footlocker in this regard - the poor performances at Footlockers are always off-set by some exceptional and/or better-than-expected performances (Ken Cormier is a perfect example) ... NTN runners had no such performances at Footlocker.
Performance Conclusion ... When viewed as a group, the NTN runners did not run as well at Footlocker as they did at NTN ... although a few NTN runners ran well at Footlockers, most ran poorly by comparison.
Reasons for Slower Performances by NTN Runners at Footlockers ... Enter the world of conjecture and subjective judgement ... There is no definitive answer ... But, I believe that "disruption of normal patterns" might have something to do with it.
Consider the normal high school race preparation ... train during the week, get on the bus race-day, run the race, go home the same day (reasonably close supervision by coaches) ... Occasionally, an over-night trip, but much the same as before (and this even applies to racing at Footlocker regional races). By comparison, NTN and Footlocker Finals are very very different ... Travel distances for most runners are much longer ... Time-zone changes and jet-lag will affect some runners ... arrive on a Thursday, attend special events, meet famous people, rub elbows with Suzy Favor-Hamilton, Alan Webb and others, socialize, have photos taken often and answer endless questions, attend banquets, dances, have a great time ... and, oh yes, run a race! ... Obviously conducive to a "peak performance" (just ask Aislinn Ryan or Ken Cormier, but they went through it only once) ... The NTN runners did this twice in back-to-back weeks ... talk about disruption of a training regime!
Interestingly, three of the NTN runners who ran decently at Footlockers (Felnagle, Barany, Bethke) are from the west, and are not subjected to the time-zone changes as are the eastern runners.
Impact of NTN on Footlocker .... This really depends on your point-of-view ... possible examples:
Runners point-of-view ... This is great ... What could be better than two weeks of incredible fun?
NTN point-of-view ... No problem here ... NTN was a great event!
Interested Fan point-of-view ... Both NTN and Footlocker are super events ... It is great to see the best race head-to-head ... But it is disappointing to see many outstanding runners perform at sub-par levels at Footlockers because they ran the week before at NTN ... Is Footlocker just a good-time anti-climax for the NTN runners??
Skeptical Fan point-of-view ... Why does Footlocker need the NTN runners at all?? ... They had almost no impact on the individual results (and hurt some regional team scores) ... Footlocker use to be special because everybody had to compete head-to-head at regional qualifying races, and now there's 40 runners instead of 32 ... Why change something that was so special?? ... Does Footlocker really think this is better??
My Own point-of-view ... I'm not really certain ... maybe some of all the above (I haven't decided yet) ... I wonder what the Footlocker point-of-view might be?? ... Initially, I was in favor of combining NTN and Footlocker into one race ... After thinking about it and talking to a few runners, I don't think it's fair to the Footlocker runners - I think it detracts from the special nature of a national individual championship ... And like it or not, NTN is an "invitational" race - it is not a true championship race for several reasons, (1) worthy teams are left out because ignorant State associations won't let them come and (2) there are no regional head-to-head qualifying meets ... Don't get me wrong, the NTN ranking process worked fairly well with the involvement many good people - and the best teams in the nation did win, so NTN is a huge accomplishment. But Footlocker has a history of excellence as a separate entity.
An acquaintance posed an interesting question to me ... If I was a contestant on Donald Trump's TV show "The Apprentice" and was given the task of managing the Footlocker National Finals to make it the best race possible, how would I do it?? ... Heck of a question (I'm a scientist, not a politician) ... He gave me a hint - He said if I left it exactly the same as this year - "You're Fired!".
|Race Results for Footlocker - NTN Runners 2004|
Place Runner Club-School Time Rating ----- --------------------- ------------------ -------- ------ NTN Results for Footlocker Girls 1 Ramsey Kavan 3-D Running 18:05.37 (161.2) 2 Brianna Felnagle Hilltop Belles 18:15.02 (158.0) 3 Nicole Blood Kinetic RC 18:20.72 (156.1) 4 Katelyn Kaltenbach Sisu XC 18:24.41 (154.9) 5 Keara Sammons Sisu XC 18:24.72 (154.8) 6 Hannah Davidson Kinetic RC 18:34.66 (151.4) 7 Lindsey Ferguson Kinetic RC 18:36.40 (150.9) 9 Crystal Reed Fount Val 18:52.72 (145.4) 11 Brooke Upshaw Southlake XC 18:55.10 (144.6) 12 Caitlin Lane Kinetic RC 18:58.57 (143.5) 13 Allison Eckert Four-Pointers XC 19:07.31 (140.6) 14 Miranda Walker Southlake XC 19:07.70 (140.4) Footlocker Results for NTN Girls 3 Ramsey Kavan (12) Yankton SD 17:47 (162.3) 6 Brianna Felnagle (12) Bellarmine Prep WA 18:02 (157.3) 11 Keara Sammons (11) Smoky Hill CO 18:20 (151.3) 15 Katelyn Kaltenbach (12) Smoky Hill CO 18:28 (148.7) 21 Nicole Blood (11) Saratoga Springs NY 18:34 (146.7) 22 Allison Eckert (10) Sioux Falls Roosev SD 18:35 (146.3) 23 Hannah Davidson (9) Saratoga Springs NY 18:40 (144.7) 24 Lindsey Ferguson (11) Saratoga Springs NY 18:48 (142.0) 28 Brooke Upshaw (11) Southlake Carroll TX 18:54 (140.0) 31 Miranda Walker (11) Southlake Carroll TX 19:01 (137.7) 36 Crystal Reed (11) Fountain Valley CA 19:40 (124.7) 38 Caitlin Lane (9) Saratoga Springs NY 19:50 (121.3) NTN Results for Footlocker Boys 1 Sean Mc Namara Kroy XC 15:43.9 (203.4) 2 Brandon Bethke Beach Dudes XC Club 15:55.5 (199.5) 3 Robbie Barany Yakima Harriers 16:02.1 (197.3) 4 Matthew Dettman Kroy XC 16:08.5 (195.2) 8 Robert Bedsole Birmingham XC 16:15.9 (192.7) 9 Thomas Gruenewald Stotan XC 16:16.6 (192.5) 12 Benjamin Schulz The Woodlands XC 16:25.2 (189.6) 18 Andrew Mc Cann Stotan XC 16:33.5 (186.8) Footlocker Results for NTN Boys 8 Robbie Barany (12) Eisenhower WA 15:35 (201.7) 11 Brandon Bethke (12) El Toro CA 15:41 (199.7) 12 Sean McNamara (12) York IL 15:42 (199.3) 32 Robert Bedsole (12) Hoover AL 16:21 (186.3) 34 Matt Dettman (11) York IL 16:30 (183.3) 36 Thomas Gruenewald (10) FM NY 16:33 (182.3) 37 Andrew McCann (11) FM NY 16:47 (177.7) 38 Benjamin Schulz (12) The Woodlands TX 16:49 (177.0)