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|End-of-Season - Top National Individuals (Hypothetical Race Possibilities)|
... posted December 22, 2013 by Bill Meylan
|At the end of each cross country season, I
briefly evaluate the top individual runners for my own information ... I
typically focus on the underclassmen because they will be returning next
year ... Since the inception of individual runners at NXN, it's fun
to imagine a race matching the top individuals from both the Footlocker
and NXN National Meets ... I have never posted any structured version of
this in the past, but decided to post something this season.
Deciding Footlocker versus NXN match-ups for 2013 is much easier because the Portland Meadows course was finally firm and ran faster than it ever has in the past because it was frozen .... The incredible Portland Meadows swamp of 2012 would be a handicapping nightmare if another race took place the following week ... Most handicappers would simply throw-out those NXN results and look at other results for making a bet.
Since I'm a horse player, my premise in this exercise is straightforward ... Put together a hypothetical race containing 20 runners selected from both National meets ... Decide on approximate morning-line odds and think about who I might bet and how I might bet the race ... Assume the hypothetical race is one or two weeks after the National races and is conducted at a neutral course under good weather and course conditions.
I selected a representative field of 20 runners using NXN and Footlocker Nationals as the source trying to include the 20 top girls and 20 top boys ... Selection was reasonably easy for about 80% of the runners ... Selection of the final 20% was much more difficult because many runners are so close in ability and overall performance ... Other runners could be selected, but my final selections are listed below.
The lists below are sorted in a ranking order by speed ratings ... Each runner for my hypothetical race is assigned a speed rating I thought representative based on speed ratings for the Nationals races, qualifying races, State Meet races and others ... Link to my Footlocker National ratings ... Link to my NXN National ratings ... Speed ratings from the National meets are most important ... I spent a fair amount of time deriving those speed ratings initially, and following an additional re-evaluation, I am satisfied on their accuracy and appropriateness as handicapping tool for betting an upcoming race (because that is their purpose) and as an evaluation tool for what happened in those specific races.
Girls FL & NXN Races ... At the very top-end, NXN had the advantage with the quality and super performances from Alexa Efraimson, Elise Cranny and Sarah Baxter ... Tessa Barrett matches-up decently with NXN top three ... Which of those four runners I would bet to win would depend on their betting odds (I think it is that close with respect to a betting opportunity) ... Excluding those four runners, Footlocker had a noticeable advantage in terms performance and quality in my opinion ... 12 of 20 selections competed only at Footlocker and two other girls competed at both NXN and Footlocker (and their Footlocker performances were better in terms of speed rating) ... 13 of 20 selections are underclassmen.
Boys FL & NXN Races ... Overall, the quality at this upper level was fairly evenly split between Footlocker and NXN ... Four of my top 5 selections are underclassmen - that bodes well for next year at the very top
Girls - Top Individuals 2013
|Name||Gr||School||St||Speed Rating||National Meet||Comment|
|11||Camas||WA||165||NXN||Alexa Efraimson won NXN with the best
cross country performance of her career ... Several times she appeared
to be dropping off the pace set by Sarah Baxter and Elise Cranny, but
rallied at the end with a super kick to win in an all-out effort.
5-2 ... In a hypothetical race combining the two national races, I would make Efraimson a slight morning-line favorite at odds of 5-2 ... As a bettor, I would consider that her last race was an all-out maximum performance (not easy to duplicate in a short period of time).
After winning in that exciting fashion, I expect Efraimson would end up as the betting favorite ... Since the race is close, I would be looking at odds on other runners hoping to find some betting value.
|12||Niwot||CO||164||NXN||Elise Cranny showed she had the ability
prior to NXN to potentially pop a performance comparable to NXN (just
like Efraimson and Baxter) ... Cranny followed Baxter's pace very
efficiently at NXN ... with 800 meters remaining in the race, I thought
Cranny was the winner, but Efraimson surprised her with that amazing
burst to take the lead ... Cranny finished well at NXN, and appeared to
have something left if the race went farther.
3-1 ... In the hypothetical race morning-line, I would make Cranny, Baxter and Barrett all co-second choices with odds of 3-1 ... If Elise Cranny's odds began rising significantly above 3-1, I might start reaching for my wallet.
|12||Simi Valley||CA||163||NXN||Sarah Baxter is a sensational runner and
was undefeated in high school XC races entering NXN 2013 ... she won NXN
2012 and 2011, and beat Mary Cain at both races ... I don't think Baxter
was quite as "sharp" during the 2013 XC season as compared to last year,
but that's speculation ... It's hard to tell with the fragmented
division competition in California because top runners just don't face
each other head-to-head that often ... Baxter had no serious competition
in any CA races.
Baxter's effort at NXN was all-out (she left nothing in reserve), and that's an important handicapping consideration ... For once, Baxter had company on the lead at NXN and she likely had to force the pace a bit more than normal ... and the competition from Efraimson and Cranny was definitely not normal for this season ... However, depending on where the hypothetical race takes (someplace warmer), I could start liking Baxter's chances ... Baxter forced to set the pace in a cold wind with competition, and that's a hard thing to do.
|12||Abington Heights||PA||162||FL||If pari-mutuel wagering was available at
NXN and Tessa Barrett was in the field, I almost certainly would have
bet Tess Barrett ... not because I thought she would win ... but because
I thought she "might" have a chance to win and she would have been a
longshot (betting-wise) compared to the top three ... I like betting
opportunities where the chance of winning are much better than the
actual betting odds.
Barrett was never totally extended in any XC race ... When challenged late by a top runner at both Footlocker Northeast and Nationals (Hannah DeBalsi), Barrett simply opened a lead and won going away ... I don't know how much more she has, but I would willing to bet serious money if the odds were right.
|10||Staples||CT||157||FL||Hannah DeBalsi showed excellent ability
at both Footlocker Northeast and Nationals ... at Nationals, she closed
up the gap on Barrett to make it a race and then held on very nicely to
finish 2nd ... Footlocker Nationals was her career-best performance.
Morning-line odds ... with talent like the top four, the morning-line odds have to long for everybody else ... For DeBalsi and the next three, typical odds would probably start on the order of between 8-1 to 15-1; but as a bettor, I would want higher odds ... And the morning-line for odds for everybody else would be on the order of 20-1 to 50-1 ... At race time, those odds could be significantly higher.
|12||West Springfield||VA||156||FL||Caroline Alcorta ran a very impressive race at Footlocker Nationals ... she ran an all-out performance (the best of her career) ... a great way to finish high school cross country.|
|11||Phillips Andover Academy||MA||155||FL||Anoush Shehadeh's Footlocker race was
one of the most impressive performances in a National race ... In a
post-race interview, Shehadeh said she fell and did a "face-plant" early
in the race and dropped back to next-to-last place (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cid2P0wDpgk&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PLL-uGrJHu0M5JC9A-8b1OTUvdtxguaJKN)
... video clips of the race showed her gapped behind the field in
next-to-last place in the opening 800 meters ... she can then be seen to
steadily move through the field and finish strongly to take 4th-place
with a super effort .... Anoush Shehadeh is a NY resident who would be
attending Mamaroneck high school in downstate NY, but she attends a prep
school in MA.
Anoush Shehadeh and Hannah DeBalsi are early co-favorites for next year's Footlocker ... I'm assuming Alexa Efraimson will run NXN again.
|11||Bigfork||MT||155||FL||Makena Morley ran a decent race at
Footlocker Nationals, but she had better performances at other times
during the season ... She forced Alexa Efraimson to expend some effort
in winning NXN Northwest as an example ... At Footlocker, she never got
into the race as a challenger (which I think deviates from all of her
For my hypothetical race, I think Makena Morley could be a good choice for gimmick wagers (exacta, trifecta, superfecta) ... Her best speed rating of the season (159 at States) is bettered only by the top four.
|12||San Lorenzo Valley||CA||153||FL||Footlocker Nationals was Anna Maxwell's best performance of the season ... Overall, I think Anna Maxwell and Fiona O'Keeffe are roughly even-up in XC performances with O'Keeffe being slightly better during the season and Maxwell having a slightly better national performance ... So in these situations, I give the advantage to the senior.|
|10||Davis Senior||CA||153||NXN||Very talented sophomore ... I expect
Fiona O'Keeffe will be a challenger for the win at either National meet
California girls who qualify for NXN at the State Meet don't need to run another qualifying race, so NXN has an advantage in gathering CA talent.
Fiona O'Keeffe is one of the key national runners to follow next autumn.
|11||Shaler Area||PA||153||FL||Missed some summer training due to an
injury ... Improved nicely to pop a season-best performance at
Footlocker Northeast which was slightly bettered at Nationals.
At Footlocker Nationals, Brianna Schwartz was in about 20th-place with a mile to go and finished in 6th-place.
|10||Linn-Mar||IA||152||FL||Stephanie Jenks is not on the XC team at
her high school, she is on the swim team (she competes in triathlons)
... Stephanie Jenks had limited XC competition during the season, but
she stayed with Tessa Barrett for a decent time in mid-race when Barrett
was pressing the pace ... Jenks tired near the end of Footlocker
Nationals, but still finished 9th.
The handicapper in me knows that Jenks' Footlocker National effort might be a very good "tightener" for an upcoming hypothetical race.
|11||Herriman||UT||151||FL||Led the Footlocker National race with quick opening splits of 65.5 (400 meters) and 2:32 (800 meters), and still held on to finish 7th with a season-best performance.|
|10||Ste. Genevieve||MO||151||Both||Ran both Footlocker and NXN in 2012 and
2013 .... Finished 40th at NXN in 2013 and 5th in 2013 ... Hard to
compare because comparing NXN conditions in 2012 to 2013 is like
comparing Miley Cyrus to Mother Theresa
... Taylor Werner was 13th at Footlocker in 2012 and 10th in 2013.
Her 2013 NXN and FL performances were approximately equal for handicapping purposes (with Footlocker being slightly better in terms of speed).
|15||Amelia Paladino||12||University HS||WV||151||FL||Footlocker Nationals was her season-best speed rating performance.|
|16||Briana Gess||9||Haddonfield||NJ||150||FL||Reasonably consistent performances at States, Footlocker Northeast and Nationals|
|17||Katie Rainsberger||10||Air Academy||CO||149||NXN||NXN was her season-best speed rating performance.|
|18||Sarah Feeny||12||Ogden||UT||149||FL||Footlocker Nationals was her season-best speed rating performance.|
|19||Devin Clark||11||Smithson Valley||TX||149||Both||Ran much better at Footlocker than NXN|
|20||Lauren Gregory||9||Fort Collins||CO||148||NXN||NXN was her season-best speed rating performance.|
BOYS - Top Individuals 2013
|Name||Gr||School||St||Speed Rating||National Meet||Comment|
|11||Grand Blanc||MI||201||FL||Grant Fisher was undefeated all season
... Won States and Footlocker Midwest handily ... Opened the winning
margin impressively at the end of Footlocker Nationals when needed ...
and seemed to have "more left in the tank" if required.
3-1 ... In a hypothetical race combining the two national races, I would make Grant Fisher the morning-line favorite at opening odds of 3-1.
|2||Taylor Kai Wilmot
|12||North Central||WA||199||NXN||Excellent season-best performance in
winning NXN ... made a race winning move and nobody followed ... Taylor
Kai Wilmot battled injuries during the 2012 XC season, but had shown
this level of ability in the past ... Gave NXN 2013 everything he had,
and it paid off nicely in a well-deserved win.
4-1 ... In the hypothetical race morning-line, I would make Wilmot, Dressel, Maton, Anderson and Geberkidane all co-second choices with odds of 4-1 ... Realistically, I should spread it over odds of 4-1, 9-2 and 5-1, but it looks fairly even-up overall.
|11||Mt. Spokane||WA||199||FL||Season-best performance at Footlocker
Nationals ... John Dressel's experience in racing top competition in WA
and the Northwest was certainly helpful in preparation for Footlocker.
Has the ability to both lead a race or follow top competition and remain competitive.
|11||Summit||OR||199||FL||Matthew Maton had excellent performances all season long ... Won Footlocker West, the Oregon-WA Border-Clash and States handily.|
|11||North Central||WA||199||NXN||Tanner Anderson ran very nicely at NXN
Nationals, but it was slightly below his performance levels at NXN
Northwest and the Washington State Meet.
In a hypothetical upcoming race, I would give Tanner Anderson lots of consideration for a winning performance.
|6||Cerake Geberkidane||12||Denver East||CO||198||NXN||Cerake Geberkidane dominated his
competition throughout the season with excellent performances ...
He ran as part of the pack in the first half of the NXN race, when I
think his normal race strategy was to set and maintain his own pace and
let others react to him (if they could).
In the second half of NXN, Cerake Geberkidane looked "uncomfortable" to me ... I was somewhat surprised he held on to finish 4th because NXN was not one of his best performances ... In another race, he would definitely require winning consideration.
|7||Mickey Burke||12||Rush-Henrietta||NY||198||FL||Mickey Burke ran consistent performances
at Footlocker Nationals and when winning Footlocker Northeast.
7-1 to 12-1 ... In the hypothetical race morning-line, I would give the next seven runners morning-line odds ranging from 7-1 to 12-1 ... and some of them would have a legitimate shot at winning.
|8||Joseph Hardy||12||Seattle Prep||WA||197||FL||Joe Hardy raced decently at Footlocker Nationals, but his best performance of the season was at the Washington State Meet where he lost to Tanner Anderson by less than one second, but handily beat both Kai Wilmot and John Dressel.|
|9||Blake Haney||12||Stockdale||CA||196||NXN||Blake Haney's performance at NXN was
easily his best XC performance of the season ... His seasonal XC performances
were below expectations based on his track abilities, but better than XC
2012 ... Haney finished 3rd in the Division 1 race at the California
State Meet and four guys from the Division 3 race ran faster times than
Although beaten by Haney at NXN, I moved Tanner Anderson and Cerake Geberkidane up on this list due to better overall XC performances.
|10||Elijah Armstrong||11||Pocatello||ID||196||FL||Elijah Armstrong finished 2nd at NXN Northwest (only 4.7 seconds behind Tanner Anderson) and 10.9 seconds ahead of Kai Wilmot ... he opted to run Footlocker West instead of NXN Nationals (where he finished only 0.4 seconds behind John Dressel).|
|11||Estevan De La Rosa||12||Arcadia||CA||196||NXN||NXN was Estevan De La Rosa's best performance of the 2013 season (just like NXN in 2012) ... Estevan De La Rosa seemed to be improving entering NXN 2013, and that turned out to be correct.|
|12||Conner Mantz||11||Sky View||UT||196||FL||Conner Mantz raced well at Footlocker Nationals in both 2012 and 2013 ... both were season-bests.|
|13||Aaron Templeton||12||Hardin Valley Acad||TN||196||FL||Aaron Templeton may be 13th on this list, but I would be giving him serious consideration for gimmick wagers (exacta, trifecta and superfecta) in an upcoming hypothetical race.|
|14||Wolfgang Beck||12||Gig Harbor||WA||195||NXN||NXN was his season-best speed rating performance.|
|15||Blair Hurlock||12||De La Salle||CA||195||FL||Footlocker Nationals was his season-best speed rating performance.|
|16||Connor McMillan||12||American Fork||UT||195||NXN||NXN was his season-best speed rating performance.|
|17||Taylor Caldwell||12||Brentwood HS||TN||194||NXN||NXN was his season-best speed rating performance.|
|18||Obsa Ali||12||Richfield||MN||194||NXN||NXN equaled his season-best speed rating performance.|
|19||Josef Holt-Andrews||12||Telstar Regional||ME||194||FL||Footlocker Nationals was his season-best speed rating performance.|
|20||Alex Ostberg||11||Darien||CT||194||FL||Footlocker Nationals was his 2nd-best speed rating performance; Footlocker NE was better.|