Running the Numbers for the Top All-Time Girls NXN Teams

MileSplit HQ -  Just when you thought you could switch your mind totally over to indoor track, we're hitting you with a blitz of NXN features. And XC season doesn't officially end until late March when the top senior squads from around the world will gather in Kampala, Uganda, for the biennial IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

In the meantime as the end of 2016 approaches, we are going to be running out a series of pieces that delve into the numbers, the questions, the stories behind Nike Cross Nationals. In these Running the Numbers articles, we'll be analyzing how speed ratings, 1-5 splits, and dense finishing groups known as XClumps determine who wins a race. We'll review why teams run to their Tully Runner projections, or rage against the fates and go in another direction. We'll show why the best team doesn't always win even when they have the best numbers on their side.

And speaking of the best, the first two RtN NXN pieces launch into that most fearsome of debates: Which were the best teams of all-time? Time here of course extends back only to 2004 when Nike organized its first national championship, and it does not extend back to that truly golden era of the mid 1970s when certain mostly unbiased observers are sure that the true immortals were running.

But we are starting off with Girls NXN Virtual Meet, and 40 years ago girls XC was in its infancy. In the decades since, girls have become national headliners, and from the beginning of NXN in 2004 they have gone head-to-head with the guys for attention out in Portland.  Thirteen teams have been crowned as the NXN queen bees, and in fact ten have been Hornet squads from a school up by Syracuse, NY. The 13 national champions are all entered in the NXN Virtual Meet, but to fill out the lineup with the 22 teams that have been running at NXN since it expanded in 2007, we have selected the 9 best squads from a slate of 2nd and 3rd place teams to challenge the champs. And some of the runners-up will do well.

The results of the NXN Virtual Meet are compiled from the speed ratings released by Tully Runners for each of the meets based on the assessed performances of the runners under the various NXN course set-ups and often muddy conditions. 154 runners from the 22 selected teams earned places based on their speed ratings for their race, and some runners from Fayetteville-Manlius appear up to five times as 8th grader-freshmen-sophomore-junior-senior versions of themselves as they kick muck and mire in the faces of their alternate selves.

But first before we show the race results, we are providing a pre-race synopsis of each of the teams taken from the Tully Runners projections from the year in which they ran. The speed ratings and the splits between the first and fifth runners are the numbers they had entering the race, and it's no spoiler alert to tell you that few teams come close to exceeding or matching their season's speed ratings at NXN, and most have large drops. These 22 teams are the best of the best, however, and for them the story is a little different.

Without further ado, let the mud fly.

The NXN Girls Virtual Race

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The Pre-race Lineup

Results of the Race