Here we are in the nest at Reggie Lewis for the 2015 New Balance Grand Prix Meet. Last year, this was all about Mary Cain and her coming out party as a professional superstar in Boston. This year, it's all about the amateurs.
When the editors at Milesplitmass asked me to write a piece about the Berkshire Running Camp for their annual "Camp Week" series, I wasn't totally sure as to how to sum up the experience of our campers in 2013. I can't compare the BRC experience to anything else. For me, I had never attended a running camp in my illustrious (non-existent) running career, nor had I been to one as a coach, so all I had to go on were the experiences of my athletes, past and present, good and bad, in the camps they attended. When it was time for me and my fellow directors to organize our first week, we knew more about what not to do than what to do. We had some athletes tell us camp had been too strenuous (one former athlete did a 14 mile run at her camp, despite telling the staff that her longest run had been 8), others say their experience wasn't challenging enough. Some said their weeks were too structured, others not structured enough.
Over the years, we've seen a great deal written by college coaches, high school coaches, and "experts" about the best way to be recruited into a collegiate track and field and/ or cross country program.
Far more often than ever before, a freshman enters his or first XC season with certain expectations from coaches and teammates. Could this be the one who fills in our gap from 4th to 5th. Could it be that diamond in the rough my opponents always seem to get? Could this group give us the depth we so badly need? Could this whole class bring us a state title three years down the line? But anyone who has ever been a freshman knows that those expectations, however possible, are foolish to lavish upon a group of kids who are so busy worrying about the Pretty Little Liars finale and finding a TBT pic for Insty, that they either don't notice them or don't care... or much worse, crumble underneath them. This is for them... those kids joining their respective teams for the first time this week. Nervous, bewildered, excited, or apathetic, here's everything you need to know about cross country.
I would imagine I'm like most people on this website. I love track, I love comparing my team to the best in each division, and I wish I had the time and energy to get in and watch all five divisional meets. But, I have a family I love spending time with, and whatever is left of a social life (in my mid-30's, that is slim pickins these days). So, I have to settle for the next best thing. Watching the meets unfold online.
Each year, the first weekend in February results in the fixing of all eyes on Boston's Reggie Lewis Center for the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix, an opportunity for some of the world's best track and field athletes to showcase the midseason form their indoor seasons might have brought. The main event for the future of American distance running came in the women's 1000 meters, with Bronxville's (NY) Mary Cain, just 17 but already under the tutelage of Alberto Salazar's Nike Oregon Project, battling another teenage sensation in Ajee Wilson, as well as a star-studded field that included. Cain appeared surprisingly comfortable through a 29.3 opening lap, and a 60.3 opening quarter, trailing only the race rabbit and Treniere Moser, the 2013 U.S. 1500 meter champion. With only a slight dip in the pace during a sharp third lap, Cain never hesitated to surge by Moser during lap number four. The contest became tighter as Cain surged, with race favorite Chanelle Price challenging her at the 500 meter mark, and Sarah Brown and Molly Beckwith making overtures of their own. Cain, after a 2:04 half mile, never budged, never seemed to notice the oncoming traffic behind her. The crowd noise was numbing, the energy was palpable, and the teenager didn't seem to notice or care. She has the composure of a concert cellist and the steady hand of a surgeon. When the dust had cleared and the crowd stopped cheering, the world junior mark (2:39.25) she set a month earlier was shattered, Cain surging to a 2:35.80 time, ahead of Price by nearly a second.
Over the years, we've seen a great deal written by college coaches, high school coaches, and "experts" about the best way to be recruited into a collegiate track and field and/ or cross country program. The truth is, there is no perfect way to do it, every athlete and coach will have a different set of expectations they are looking for, and even if a kid does everything right, he or she still simply has to be good enough to make it happen. I've compiled 10 pieces of advice, taken from conversations with various local and national college coaches from all levels and divisions. I'm no expert, and athletes can take my advice or leave it, but these are straight from the horses' mouths, so feel free to heed the call, and good luck!
There was something in the air at Coakley Middle School on Saturday. Maybe it was the moisture-free course that runs around the fields and woods of Norwood. Maybe it was the perfect temperatures in the low 50's. Maybe it was the pre-race meals everybody ate. Or maybe it's just that the Bay State Conference is becoming just that good.
To celebrate what promises to be a great day of action at the New England Championships, Milesplitmass will be on the scene with its first ever Live Blog. Mike Miller and others will be providing instant results and commentary for all of the action, giving you, if you can't be there yourself, the next best thing. So sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the show.
Stars Will Shine Bright at New England Championship
Jen Kimball from Weymouth won todays State Pentathlon at Reggie Lewis Center.
In November, Lowell and Newton North were the respective on paper favorites to win indoor track All State titles, on the boys and girls sides, respectively. Lowell was coming off a dominant victory in cross country, with a great shot putter, high jumper, and 300 runner added into the mix. Newton North had a Renaissance in the fall, adding Maeve Greeley, Cookie Koch, Christina Galvano, and Michaela Smith to a dominant group that already included Carla Forbes, Madi Nadeau, Evie Heffernan, and Meghan Bellerose, who had a breakout fall to add to an already stellar track resume. For both teams, it was going to require some names that were once borderline anonymous to pull these ones off.
In most years, one can count the number of true All State Meet contenders on one hand, even if you're missing a few fingers. A team battle that comes down to 2-3 athletes, simply figuring out where the teams' studs are deployed and who can add four of them together for a relay is usually the recipe for predicting a winner. This year, in both the girls and boys team competitions, that isn't quite so simple. Expect a real battle to ensue, and with no team guaranteed to reach 30 points, expect the unexpected when it comes to hoisting trophies.
Had you told the top 10 coaches on Saturday morning that the DI girls met would be won with 40 points, a gleam would have fallen across their eyes, knowing that they had a chance. How close this meet ended up being, even with 7 teams scoring within 5 points of one another at the top, was surreal. It was sublime. It was ridiculous.
After Saturday's stellar DI battle, all eyes turn to Sunday and the DII Championship meet, which features a great team battle on both sides. The boys meet pits Woburn, Reading, Chicopee, North Attleboro, Mansfield and a number of other teams that could get themselves in the mix, and the girls meet looks an awful lot like the DI meet, where Notre Dame plays the role of Newton North- solid favorite on paper, but the field of Whitman-Hanson, Marshfield, Concord-Carlisle et al will come and get them if allowed. As always, DII should be as tight as it gets.
While Saturday's DI Championships each have a significant favorite, Acton-Boxboro on the boys side and Newton North on the girls, the teams behind them are talking about strategies to take down the beasts above. A-B asks superstar Brian Sommers to score up to 30 points, and Newton North will be buoyed by Meghan Bellerose and Michaela Smith. But what truly separates these two teams from their respective packs is the incredible depth they both possess. Today, we break down the DI Championship meet, arguably the most talented of the classes.
Friday brings us the 2nd divisional championship, and while the schools are small, they are not short on talent. While the girls meet could be a runaway, the boys meet has a plethora of contending teams. On both sides, the matchups for the individual races make for some high drama, and where coaches place their arsenals will have huge implications on both individual and team titles.
The divisional meet season kicks off on Thursday night at the Reggie, with the DIII Championship pitting some of the state's best talent against itself in what will be an interesting meet to watch, given the affect the recent storm had on training. This class will be, in a sense, the guinea pig for the rest, determining just how much the loss of work impacted the athletes.
There are few opportunities in sports for high school-aged athletes to run in the same venues as the professionals. Massachusetts basketball players revel in the fact that they play their sectional finals at the TD Garden, the same parquet on which the Celtics compete. But, imagine that those kids played their high school games right after the Celtics finished. Or, better yet, at halftime. Well, the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix goes a step farther, not only allowing athletes to compete in the same meet as the pros, but allowing one athlete to even compete against them.
"A Jack of all trades and a master of none". We all know the expression about someone who is so well-rounded that he or she can't really excel at any one thing. Weymouth's Jen Kimball, however, is a jack of all trades and a master of many, a rare quality in an athlete that gives her coach options, her teammates comfort, and her opponents fits.
We all know that track and field and cross country are on the lowest rungs of the totem pole of collegiate athletics (see Richmond, University of for further proof), so it's no suprise that the latest wave of conference realignment has everything to do with football, a bit to do with basketball, and very little, if anything, to do with track or XC. However, these changes do affect cross country and track and field programs to some extent, so we're going to take a look at some of the winners and losers in the conference realignment scenarios that have unfolded in the past few months.
For the second straight weekend, Northeast runners invaded an Ivy League campus, and for the second straight weekend, the results left few regrets in making the trip.
For the second straight weekend, Massachusetts runners invaded a New England Ivy League campus, and for the second straight weekend, the results left few regrets in making the trip. A week after several DII and DIII teams headed North to Dartmouth, Brookline, Lowell, Norwell, Weston, and Weymouth runners headed South down I-95 to Yale's Coxe Cage and the 31st running of the Yale Track Classic.
The Buffalo Bills made 4 straight Super Bowls in the 1990's, meaning, to even the casual NFL observer, that they won four straight AFC titles. But, when quarterback Jim Kelly or coach Marv Levy are asked about those years, the AFC titles are never mentioned, giving way to talk of what never happened, a Super Bowl victory. Now, Phil Maia and Scott Ouellet, the MA #1 Lowell Red Raiders coaching tandem that took the runner up trophy the past two years, as well as a 4th place in 2009 with a team good enough to win, have avoided the fate of those Bills. They will forever remember the first All State title, one that everyone seemed to know was coming, but Ouellet and Maia knew better than to take for granted.
Mike Miller recaps the Western Mass State Championships at Northfield.
Mike Miller recaps the Central Mass State Championships
Mike Miller does a fantastic job recapping al of Saturdays Divisional Championships.
Coach Miller made his predictions known in August for the upcoming fall season, and while he nailed his share, boy was he off on a few. The burly coach revisits his predictions in this divisional meet preview and points out what he hit on, what he missed on, and where he wasn't even in the ballpark of. We move on to the Eastern Mass. girls to see where he was right and where he was wrong.