Cross Country End-of-the-Year Awards - Some Quick Thoughts
by Bill Meylan (Jan 2, 2014)

Dan Doherty selected the New York State Girls Runners-of-the-Year for 2013 and MileSplit NY selected both Boys & Girls NY All-Stars ... I'm happy that somebody other than me picks the runners for these awards ... I'm a bit uncomfortable selecting subjective awards unless the choice is obvious to everybody .... I decided to jot down some thoughts about this using an example from Washington State based on a recent inquiry ... Using an example from another State mean NY runners won't be mad at me.

A coach from Washington State sent me an e-mail after Footlocker Nationals ... He wanted the opinion of an "outsider" regarding "who would should be the Washington State Boy's Runner-of-the-Year in 2013".

Much of this depends on what you personally think "Runner-of-the-Year" means ... Is it a season-long best overall performance selection?? ... Is it the runner having the best single performance with a "Wow" factor ... Is it the runner having the best performances in championship races?? ... Is it a runner having the best head-to-head record with his competition ... or could it even be a #5 runner on a team that exceeded expectations and helped his team win a championship??

Based on the e-mail, it seemed that four guys were being scrutinized ... Kai Wilmot, John Dressel, Tanner Anderson and Joe Hardy .... My own opinion of "Runner-of-the-Year" considers the entire season with emphasis on the championship portion of the season and head-to-head races.

On DyeStat's final individual National rankings for the season, the four guys under consideration (Kai Wilmot, John Dressel, Tanner Anderson and Joe Hardy) were ranked 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 9th respectively ... Washington had 4 guys in the top 9 nationally, so there's bound to be some disagreement regarding subjective awards ... Kai Wilmot and Tanner Anderson both attend North Central HS while John Dressel and Joe Hardy attend other schools.

Head-to-Head Consideration

Head-to-head results are an obvious consideration ... The table further below lists various results from the whole 2013 season ... I included invitational races and championship races ... I also included the only league meet race where John Dressel ran against the North Central guys (Kai Wilmot skipped that race) ... I excluded the dual meet results between Wilmot and Tanner.

Joe Hardy raced Kai Wilmot 3 times and Joe Hardy won all three (States, BorderClash, Richland).

Joe Hardy raced Tanner Anderson 3 times and Joe Hardy won two (BorderClash, Richland) and lost one (States).

Joe Hardy raced John Dressel 4 times and John Dressel won twice (Footlocker Nationals, Footlocker West) and Hardy won twice (States, Richland).

Kai Wilmot raced Tanner Anderson 8 times and Wilmot beat Anderson 5 times (NXN Nationals, BorderClash, Richland, Bob Firman, Tracy Walters) with Anderson winning 3 times (NXN Northwest, States, Districts).

John Dressel raced Kai Wilmot 6 times with Dressel beating Wilmot 5 times (States, BorderClash, Districts, Richland, Tracy Walters) and Wilmot winning one (Bob Firman).

John Dressel raced Tanner Anderson 7 times with Dressel beating Anderson 6 times (BorderClash, Districts, League, Richland, Bob Firman, Tracy Walters) and Anderson winning one (States).

All Races are Not Equal in Importance ..... I tend to believe that championship races are generally more important than in-season races, but it depends on what you are talking about ... I also know that some people will argue that the OR-WA BorderClash race should be excluded from this exercise because not all the runners give a 100% effort in that race ... even though I know that's true, the BorderClash is a nationally recognized post-season race where runners willingly accept invitations to compete, so the results should and do become part of their records.

Individual runners also have their own opinions on what races they think are most important ... A number of top New York runners have told me they focus on winning the State Meet, and other races (Feds, NXN, Footlocker) are simply nice extras ... Several top runners have told me the Footlocker Northeast race is most important because that's the race that gets them to San Diego ... the same can be said about the NXN regionals because those races punch tickets to Portland Meadows ... some runners do focus on specific in-season races .... and I assume that NXN Nationals is the most important race for the Fayetteville-Manlius girls.

The important point being ... There is a difference of opinion in what races are most important ... Combine that with a difference in opinion of what "Runner-of-the-Year" means, and that's why I don't like picking subjective awards.

Conclusion (sort of):

The head-to-head consideration favors John Dressel and Joe Hardy ... Dressel beat Hardy in both national Footlocker races, so I give an overall advantage to John Dressel ... There are some NY coaches who believe "Runner-of-the-Year" should focus on just races in the State (exclude NXN and Footlocker Nationals) ... Now wouldn't that complicate things, especially with respect to Kai Wilmot.

Kai Wilmot won NXN Nationals with an impressive season-best performance ... Some believe that single performance should rank Kai Wilmot #1 nationally ... without that race, Kai Wilmot would probably not win the "Runner-of-the-Year" award, but that race did happen ... So how important is a single race versus a whole season??

John Dressel was not at NXN, so how well he would have faired against Kai Wilmot at Portland Meadows is impossible to know .... We do know that John Dressel and Kai Wilmot raced "head-to-head" four times in October and November and Dressel beat Wilmot in all four races including the State Meet ... The problem is Tanner Anderson and Joe Hardy beat both of them at States.

John Dressel was a very good 2nd at Footlocker Nationals while Kai Wilmot is NXN National champion ... Does that alone decide "Runner-of-the Year"?? ... I think the solution is simple - Flip a Coin.


Washington State 2013 - Head-to-Head Races

Footlocker Nationals (Dec 14)
     (2) John Dressel - 15:10
     (5) Joe Hardy    - 15:22

NXN Nationals (Dec 7)
     (1) Kai Wilmot      - 15:00
     (3) Tanner Anderson - 15:09

Footlocker West (Dec 7)
     (2) John Dressel - 15:41.2
    (10) Joe Hardy    - 15:53.3

OR-WA Border-Clash (Nov 23)
     (2) John Dressel    - 13:40
     (3) Joe Hardy       - 13:47
     (4) Kai Wilmot      - 13:49
     (5) Tanner Anderson - 13:53

NXN Northwest (Nov 16)
     (1) Tanner Anderson - 15:19.4
     (4) Kai Wilmot      - 15:35.0

Washington State Champ 3A (Nov 9)
     (1) Tanner Anderson - 14:44.83
     (2) Joe Hardy       - 14:45.16
     (3) John Dressel    - 15:05.36
     (4) Kai Wilmot      - 15:17.89

WA District 3A Champ (Nov 2)
     (1) John Dressel    - 15:41
     (2) Tanner Anderson - 15:45
     (3) Kai Wilmot      - 15:52

Greater Spokane League (Oct 23)
     (1) John Dressel    - 14:47
     (2) Tanner Anderson - 14:50

Richland Invitational (Oct 6)
     (1) Joe Hardy       - 14:47.66
     (2) John Dressel    - 14:49.59
     (3) Kai Wilmot      - 14:51.65
     (4) Tanner Anderson - 14:54.27

Bob Firman Invite Idaho (Sept 21)
     (1) Kai Wilmot      - 15:10.0
     (4) John Dressel    - 15:19.8
     (6) Tanner Anderson - 15:25.1

Tracy Walters Invite (Sept 7)
     (1) John Dressel    - 15:00
     (2) Kai Wilmot      - 15:17
     (3) Tanner Anderson - 15:33