Opening weekend has come and gone for the 2017 cross country season. More than half of our national preseason ranked teams and individuals have opened their seasons, joined by some new names to the national scene. What better time to start looking at the sport's landscape?
We've merged the best performances of the early season to see where all the big names are. These are purely reflective of what has already happened, so if a team hasn't raced yet, it wasn't included in the merge. We'll be doing a top 22 for the teams (the size of the field at NXN), and a top 25 for individuals, (over half the field at Foot Locker, to account for NXN Individuals). They will be updated every Thursday as more and more teams open up and performances continue to improve.
What Is The Speed Rating National Merge?
MileSplit NY has partnered with TullyRunners to provide a running merge of the nation's top performances. In short, a speed rating is a number attributed to an XC performance, roughly one point per three seconds, adjusted for overall race quality and depth. Using these numbers, we can compare performances on an apples to apples basis -- in terms of XC times and teams. It provides an answer to the hypothetical question, "What would happen if the best teams in the nation all raced at once?" However, these do not predict the outcome of NXN.
A speed rating is a number attributed to an XC performance, roughly one point per three seconds, adjusted for overall race quality and depth.
The merge predicts the outcome assuming every athlete had the best race of the season. NXN has many variables that will impact that outcome. More can be read about the calculation of speed ratings by clicking here.
Without further ado, here they are...
Girls Top Individuals - Click Here
Girls Top Teams - Click Here
Boys Top Individuals - Click Here
Boys Top Teams - Click Here
Bonus Material: Notes On Outlying Speed Ratings
Sometimes, speed ratings can seem "off" for their runners. Nobody complains when they are higher than normal for an athlete, but they sure notice when they feel they are too low. Neither is "incorrect" -- they just have different circumstances affecting them. Let's look at two such instances over the weekend to show the flexibility of a rating.
When Ratings Are "Too High" - Woodbridge
One of the biggest criticisms of California has always been they can only race well on California courses. Of course, this is not true, as there have been multiple NXN champions hailing from the Golden State. But California teams do generally seem to race better in California. Why? Woodbridge is a good example. A flat course, with easy footing, in good conditions, that may have been shorter this year after a redesign. All these factors elicit blazing-fast times, and similarly, fast speed ratings. Just as you would run faster ratings on a track versus a XC course, so would you on an easier course. Does this mean they will run as fast in the damp cold of NXN? More on conditions can be found below.
When Ratings Are "Too Low" - Oatlands
How capable athletes are in handling specific conditions can be a major factor in handicapping a race. You could have great speed ratings all season, then head to NXN and see mud for the first time, and quickly realize you are not a mud runner. The same can be said for athletes who have never raced a hill before. The fact that some athletes can conquer this better than others causes fluctuation in the ratings. Why did Sam Affolder improve, while some of his teammates didn't? A few years running in the muck of upstate New York probably didn't hurt. Does it mean the ratings are "wrong" for those that ran uncharacteristically slow? No, they simply aren't as adept at running in mud as others. These considerations are a major difference between handicapping/predicting a race, and what the merge tries to accomplish.