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Quick Thoughts Concerning NXN At-Large Selections 2011

by Bill Meylan (November 30, 2011)


I have received a number of e-mails and phone calls wondering about the NXN At-Large selections for 2011 ... People want to know why those teams were selected and why other teams were excluded ... Not surprisingly, the primary question is the exclusion of the Rush-Henrietta boys.

For starters, I am not included the NXN selection process ... Several years ago, I was invited to be on the NXN selection committee, but I turned down the invitation ... I am not a fan of "design" or "selection" by committee ... I am not fan of the At-Large selection process for the NY Federation Meet ... My problem with committees in this regard is their difficulty or inability to maintain observance to design criteria or selection criteria.

When contacted about participating on the NXN selection committee, I was told the main criteria was to select the four at-large teams who would perform best at Portland Meadows ... It sounds good and I like that criteria, but the criteria is too abstract for a "committee" to reach a sensible consensus (too many cooks in the kitchen) ... I suggested that one or two "selectors" could do a better job, and the committee could rubber-stamp it ... I wanted no part of that either ... I just don't like these types of selections even though they are absolutely necessary for the current format of NXN ... My moto is: "Let somebody else take the heat for the selections, and I can be one of the people throwing the heat".

It must be remembered, this is Nike's party and Nike (the selection committee) can do whatever they want ... they can change the selection criteria anyway they want ... they can pick any at-large teams they want (and they will).

It should also be remembered that all teams had the opportunity to toe-the-line and finish either first or second and qualify automatically ... Everybody has their own criteria for selecting the At-Large teams (including me, and I would have selected Rush-Henrietta for several reasons, but that's not the purpose of this article).

Why Were the At-Large Teams Selected??

Even though I'm losing interest in NXN, I think that question is interesting ... I've been on many committees in my professional career and most have been a "waste-of-time" with respect to their stated purpose (however, some have been decent social gatherings) ... Even when committees reach a consensus, members frequently have their own opinion of why that consensus was reached ... I suspect that applies to the NXN selection committee as well ... Not too dissimilar from a jury verdict (I've served on both grand juries and juries in Syracuse ... I got dismissed from one case when the judge ordered we accept that the "drug" confiscated from defendant was heroine, and I refused stating the field-kits currently used by local law enforcement were subject to "false-positives" and wanted to see the real laboratory results which apparently didn't exist ... scientists on juries??).

So I love to ignore the opinions of committee members when decisions are reached and focus strictly on the decision which frequently tells you lot more.

When I first saw the NXN At-Large selections, the selection criteria was obvious to me (and not that much of a surprise) ... The selections were based on performance at the NXN Regional meets ... That one criteria explains why:

 ... Westfield was selected over Rush-Henrietta (Westfield did better in the merge and average time in that one race consideration).
 ... the Bozeman MT girls were not selected due to an "off" performance (even though they were 3rd having a team sickness that nearly closed their school and they were clearly NXN-caliber based on prior races)
 ... the Midlothian girls were selected on their one good performance at NXN regional (and it was a worthy performance).
 ... Thank goodness the North Shore girls raced decently at NXN regional or they'd be out (it got them in last year).
 ... and Why Four California teams got selected.

The selection committee may have debated Palatine versus Seattle Prep, and looked at other races, but that's about it as far as criteria actually used.

Since the criteria was performance at one particular race, I can't complain too much about the at-large selections because they make sense in that regard.

But I do have one major concern ... IF I was designing a criteria to ensure two California teams would be selected as at-large teams (both boys and girls), then this criteria is perfect ... It is the biggest advantage any region could possibly have.

Why?? ... Most top teams around the nation focus on peak-performance at their State Meets (California included) ... But California is the only NXN region where designed peak-performance coincides with the NXN qualifying race (the Redondo Union girls are the perfect example) ... Due to this, California is virtually assured that their top power-merge teams will look good compared to the rest of nation.

The California State Meet is contested on a standard California speed course that is familiar to the runners ... For NXN regional races, many teams have to travel to out-of-State courses which are unfamiliar which results in performances somewhat lower than their respective State Meet performances (not to mention they wanted to peak at their earlier State Meet) .... Some viewers wanted to know why my speed ratings for the California State Meet look so good compared to most NXN regional races, and this is one important reason.

Many State Championship teams have their best performance at States (some by a significant margin) ... These performances are now being dismissed (apparently) by the NXN Selection Committee in preference to one NXN regional race ... That's their choice (it's Nike's race) ... But why are they giving California this advantage?







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