[TullyRunners Home Page]

  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.

General Comments

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
1 Alexa Efraimson

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 Alexa Efraimson 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.

2 Elise Cranny

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.

3 Sarah Baxter

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.

4 Tessa Barrett

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.

5 Hannah DeBalsi

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.


Caroline Alcorta

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.
7 Anoush Shehadeh

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.

8 Makena Morley

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 other races).

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.


Anna Maxwell

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 Fiona O'Keeffe

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 next year.

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 Brianna Schwartz

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.

12 Stephanie Jenks

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.

13 Lucy Biles

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.
14 Taylor Werner

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
1 Grant Fisher

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.

3 John Dressel

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.

4 Matthew Maton

11 Summit OR 199 FL Matthew Maton had excellent performances all season long ... Won Footlocker West, the Oregon-WA Border-Clash and States handily.
5 Tanner Anderson

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 Haney.

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.